Information and History
This document provides general information about Maryland's most
successful and nationally recognized wrestling club, Southern
Maryland Wrestling Club. The winner of eighteen National Club
Championships and many state and regional titles, SMWC is an open
all-age and junior age all-star club. The club is well respected
among regional high schools and colleges, and features a number
of national champions and one recent Olympian on its roster.
History of Our Club
The current SMWC was originally called the Kettering Cougars, and
was sponsored by the Kettering Boys and Girls Club. Two teams
were maintained by Kettering, one beltway level practicing at
Largo High School, and one junior league at Kettering Middle
School. Largo High School was used exclusively by the club after
1984, except for the two years when, because of small numbers, it
combined with Bowie wrestlers and established Bowie's beltway
team at Bowie High School.
Tracing its roots back to the 1970's, it has been the foundation
program for a large number of Maryland's most successful
wrestlers. When Tom Hogan took over from Fred Smith as head
coach in the early-1980's, he brought in two new assistant
coaches, Criss Tooth, a former club member and Bruce Gabrielson,
a former West Coast high school and college coach. Bruce had
moved to this area from California in early 1984, and had started
coaching the Kettering team the following fall. Bruce's son
Jason was the smallest member of the
Kettering's squad. The following spring (1985) Bruce established SMWC,
mostley for older wrestlers at Calvert High School.
Tom soon moved on to other interests, leaving Criss and Bruce to
run both the beltway level and junior league teams.
About this time, Criss and Bruce recognized that in order
to fully develop the
potential of the many quality wrestlers in their program,
additional higher level wrestling skills were needed. Like
many other successful coaches, they subscribed to the philosophy
that knowing only one style of wrestling limited the athletes
ability to adjust to different competitive techniques at the
national and international level. To correct the deficiencies in
their own club, and to allow those athletes who dedicated
themselves to wrestling the opportunity to continue in organized
wrestling through the off season, SMWC was merged with Kettering
and formally moved to Largo HS in the fall of 1986.
About the Current Program
Up until the 1989/90 Folkstyle season, the team was called
Kettering Cougars in the winter months and SMWC in the spring.
It now uses the SMWC
name year around. From 1978 until 1991, the club entered
regional Beltway and junior league competitions (as Kettering,
Bowie, or SMWC), but with the development of several successful
wrestlers, has since become too dominant to compete in
league functions. Most members now compete with other seasonal
folkstyle clubs, or with high school or college
teams during their regular
Current concentration is on young national
caliber wrestlers during the winter, while still providing
quality practice time and advanced level coaching support for
high school and open wrestlers. There were 81 total members on
our 1995/96 roster, with members split between kids (23), high
school (37), open (15), and master (6) age wrestlers.
SMWC has long been considered a national contender, having won
its first national club/team Freestyle title in 1984.
In 1995, the team successfully defended its 1994 national AAU
GR title and set an all-time AAU team record by finishing first
in Greco-Roman in Midgets, Cadets, Elite, and Espoir, plus
placing high in the other G-R age divisions. In Freestyle, the
team also finished first in Midget, Cadet, Elite, and in Espoir.
Espoir, Cadet and Elite are high school and early college age
SMWC's Record 1995 Grand National Championship Team
When Southern Maryland Wrestling Club was established as an
international style club, the original Kettering scholastic style
team began to become more national rather then local in
character. Not only did the team gain recognition as it began to
travel to different areas for tournament competition, but
wrestlers from these other areas began to join the club and show
up for practice on a regular basis. Often attending practices
are wrestlers from as far away as Pennsylvania, West Virginia,
and Western Maryland. Virginia is just down the street, so many
members are Virginia wrestlers.
Many college wrestlers, area coaches, and officials are SMWC
members. In addition, the sons of many area coaches and
officials belong to and compete for SMWC. Among our current
local college members are Kahlil Malik,
Todd Beckerman, Robert Alexander, Mike Pecha, Mat Allman, Carl Colston,
Mike and Marty Kusick, Aaron Chandler, Sean Stone, Tyrone Neal,
and Royal Howard.
visible older wrestlers are 1992 Olympian Buddy Lee, former three time
National Greco-Roman Champion
Jim Howard, and all-time collegiate record holder Wade Hughes.
SMWC's 1992 Olympian & Coach Buddy Lee
Coaching Staff's Background
Current SMWC coaches include not only several local high school
coaches, but also outstanding coaches of other open, junior, and college teams. Successful
moves and organizational skills honed at weekly SMWC practices
are regularly taught at many other wrestling practices throughout
the region. Some of the skills developed at SMWC have also
helped coaches, such as Thomas Stone's Joe Higgs, go on to
develop their own successful wrestling programs. The SMWC
active coaching staff includes Head Coach Bruce Gabrielson, Jim
Howard, Wade Hughes, Mike Sola, Dave Boger Steve Arslanian, Eric Lewis, Randy
Long, Buddy Lee, Andre' Prue, and Craig Herwig.
Head Coach Bruce Gabrielson, a Level I Freestyle official, is a
long time wrestler and coach. Bruce wrestled his high school years
in Oregon under Coach jim Smith before
moving to Southern California for a successful college career,
and then to Maryland in the early 1980s.
While he seldom still competes, in 1994 he
won the 180.5 lb class at the World Masters SOMBO Championship
and placed 3rd in the overall pool at the AAU National
Greco-Roman Masters in 1996. He was also the team coach for the US SOMBO
Team which took the 1995 FIAS World Team Title in Montreal. A
wrestler and former assistant coach at
California State University, Long Beach, he also was captain and
acting coach of the U.S. Army Team at Ft Ord for one year. He
has been a high school coach for several teams, most recently for
the Suitland Rams during their undefeated 1990/91 season, and for
DeMatha HS during the 1993/94 season. He retired from high
school coaching in 1994, but still helps local HS teams when he has time.
He also helps with many youth league teams during the winter months,
and is one of Maryland's USAW National Team coaches.
Coach "G" at Work
Jim Howard is a
former three time Greco-Roman National Champion, an Olympic contender,
and World Cup Runner-up. He placed 4th at the
1993 World Masters Freestyle Championships in Toronto. At 125 lbs,
Jim works out with and actively coaches our smaller to mid-sized advanced
wrestlers throughout the season. Coach Wade Hughes is one of the all-time wrestling
greats, and a collegiate record holder from this area.
Besides being a former
National Freestyle Champion and NCAA All-American, he
is also an active coach at Howard
University. Wade works with wrestlers of all sizes at virtually
every spring practice.
Mike Sola is a former
Pennsylvania wrestler who is currently head coach of
Pennsylvania's talented Road Warriors Wrestling Club during the folkstyle
season. He was
also formally with Team Foxcatcher. Dave Boger is Head Coach of Pennsylvania's
Lebanon Valley Wrestling Club in addition to being a
long time SMWC coach. Both Dave and Mike actively coach our
fall travelling team as well as most of our national championship
teams. Steve Arslanian is SMWC's primary Assistant Coach.
A former Maryland HS State Champion, Steve
had a tremendous wrestling career at the University of
Maryland. He currently coaches at Bowie HS during the regular
season. Eric Lewis is a
former successful Bowie wrestler and semi-professional wrestler. He has
helped coach the team for ten years. Both Steve and Eric work
primarily with our heavier wrestlers. Randy Long is a former Virginia
Beltway League coach.
Craig (Hurricane) Herwig, the USAW Maryland Kids
Chairman, is a successful long time area wrestler who also
assists with the Attackers beltway team at Old Mill HS during the
winter months. Craig, who placed 2nd in the overall at the 1994
Masters AAU National Freestyle at unlimited, works with both our
heavyweights and our young wrestlers. John Dodge is a successful
junior league coach from UYC. Rick Jones is a former Virginia HS
(Robinson Rams) coach. Both Bruce and Rick coach the Queen Anne
Other coaches who
regularly practice with the club include youth
league coaches from St Charles Bears, Clinton, and
St Mary's, and the St Johns HS, McNamara HS,
Bladensberg HS, Rosevelt HS, Laurel HS, and Northern HS
head and assistant coaches.
The Kettering/SMWC Hall of Fame
The Kettering/SMWC Hall of Fame was established in 1988 to
recognize those member wrestlers who have contributed to the
success of our wrestling program, either through competitive
victories, or through coaching and continued club support.
Requirements for nomination to the Kettering Hall of Fame, in
addition to being a past team member, are national or state HS
placement, or a coaching assignment with any club after junior
For members who joined after the name change to SMWC, Hall of
Fame nomination requirements were changed only slightly in order
to reflect the broader nature of the club. Like the Kettering
requirements, selection requires a commitment and level of
excellence well beyond local league competition. To be
nominated, junior (under 18) members normally must win national
titles in at least two different styles, with championships
occurring over two different years. High School senior wrestlers
can earn nominations by winning multiple state or national prep
titles in additional to national placements. Nominees should also have
participated on a Challenge Cup team.
Seniors can receive nominations by either
college or open
competitive success, or through direct contributions to the club
or sport such as coaching. Wrestlers or coaches must be members
for at least two years to be eligible. Election currently
requires the vote of two thirds of the available existing Hall of
Fame membership, with a current maximum of only three new members
inducted each year. Nominations for either past or current
wrestlers are normally submitted by existing members in March or
April. In 1996, Nebraska's newest recruit,
Todd Beckerman, a high school national
record holder and long time SMWC member
(since his early junior league days) became our newest Hall-of-Fame members.
Kettering/Southern Maryland Wrestling Club Hall of Fame Members
Bruce Gabrielson*---Earl Norman*---Stanly Proctor*---Steve
Arslanien---Criss Tooth*---Eric Lewis---Martino Seppi---Marty
Fowler---Steve Thornley---Mark Mangrum*---Steve Chop*---Jeff
Rosenburg*---Eric Norman---Scott Bergess---Jason Gabrielson*---
Steven Hoffer*---Carl Martin---Omar Malik---Kahlil Malik*---Jay
Billy---Todd Walls---Kevin Gabrielson*---Marcus Foran*---Jim
Howard*---Stan Hawkins---Jason Clendaniels*---Robert Alexander*--
-John Allman---Randy Grant---Aaron Brown---Norm Brown---Jim
Smith---Joe Higgs---Craig Herwig---Jake Scott--Todd Beckerman*
*indicates national champion winner in any style
The Potomac Valley All-Star Challenge Cup
Since its inception, SMWC has been used as the primary base
club to select the Maryland All-Star Team for the Potomac Valley
Challenge Cup. This is a very prestigious club only early summer
affair which in 1996 included many of the Mid-Atlantic regions
best wrestlers. Although team selection is open to all Maryland
wrestlers who compete in club events, actual selection usually
requires a direct wrestle off among club members from various
Freestyle clubs. SMWC had 15 wrestlers on the 1996 Maryland Team
which won in high school and placed second in the junior weight
What Type of Training Do We Offer?
SMWC is one of the very few wrestling clubs in the Middle Atlantic
Region that subscribes to the concept of overall style of attack,
and actively teach an integration of the various styles at most
every practice. During the fall and winter season, high level
accelerated coaching, primarily in Folkstyle (scholastic), is
provided by our staff. In the spring, coaching switches
principally to freestyle, and Greco-Roman. During the late
spring and summer all styles are practiced. Starting about mid-
July, club concentration turns towards JUDO, with some SOMBO for
those preparing for World Championship competitions. Between
July and September regular wrestling practices are suspended in
favor of attendance at one of two area JUDO clubs.
Several SMWC Schoolboy Members Competed on the 1992
US Sombo Team in England
Since SMWC is an all-star tournament club only, it does not
compete in regular Folkstyle junior league competitions. Therefore,
membership and/or participation in SMWC events does not conflict
with or violate junior league rules or effect participation in
junior league events. Junior age members can belong to SMWC and
still belong to their local teams. Some members compete in both
league and SMWC activities. SMWC does enter open team events,
including the Maryland State Age/Weight Championships and the
National AAU Club Championships. SMWC is the 1993-6 Maryland
State MSWA Folkstyle Club Champion, placed 2nd to McDonnough
at the 1996 East Coast Freestyle Club Championships (by 2 pts),
and set an all-time
win record at the 1995 AAU Grand Nationals
Team Championships. No other Maryland club has matched
SMWC's record at any time during the past twelve years.
There is seldom a conflict for high school wrestlers practicing
with us or entering open tournaments. Open events can be
selected based on availability. However, to prevent confusion
for local high school coaches, SMWC does not hold practice or
schedule high school age events during the Maryland high school
season. Wrestlers can therefore attend SMWC practices until mid-
November and then easily transition into their high school
During the folkstyle season, under age 16 wrestlers have many
opportunities to participate in open tournaments and in their
scheduled HS events. Those that do generally have about twice
the number of matches they would otherwise have. In fact, many
area high school coaches urge their wrestlers to participate in
open tournaments as often as they can. However, according to the
Maryland Athletic Handbook, high school varsity wrestlers can
only enter open tournaments so long as these tournaments do not
interfere with their regularly scheduled in-season events. The
varsity wrestler limitation regarding number of matches only
applies to high school sanctioned competitions, not open
folkstyle tournament matches or any freestyle events.
What Other Services Do We Offer?
In addition to direct advanced training and coaching in all
wrestling styles, team members enjoy some unique benefits
difficult to find in many other wrestling clubs. Some of these
benefits are listed below.
- 1. Since the club is a formal non-profit organization, members
can solicit tax deductible donations to help defray costs
associated with their attendance at major events. In addition,
the club actively seeks corporate sponsorship each year, with
sponsors receiving considerable media attention. Any remaining
sponsorship funds at the end of the season are distributed to
those who travel with the club to national championship team events. The
only stipulation to receiving club sponsorship (when available)
is that wrestlers must be active members who practice with the
team on a regular basis each year. Many active members have
received funding in this manner.
- 2. Through an exclusive arrangement with Mirror Image
Photography, club members receive action photos of their matches,
usually at no cost. Discounts are available for those wanting
enlargements of action or team photos. Several of our members
have had their pictures show up in national wrestling
publications as a result of Mirror Image's efforts.
SMWC's Kevin Gabrielson Winning the 1995 AAU Grand Nationals
- 3. SMWC enters a team or has members entered at most major
national level junior age or all age events. Transportation to
major events, and many other more local events is usually
available on a cost sharing basis to members. The club has
access to multi-passenger vans for members traveling as a group
to distant national events.
- 4. SMWC is a "main line" wrestling club in that it keeps current
on all local, regional, and national activities. There is seldom
a wrestling publication members don't see or an event that isn't
advertised to club members. SMWC is also one of the few major clubs
that is both USAW and AAU sanctioned.
SMWC's Own 1995 Version of Friends and Family
- 5. Special clinics and guest presenters are a common event at
club practice activities. Past clinics have been presented by
many prominent wrestling figures. Among those who have presented
recent clinics include several national champions, regional
college and Olympic level competitors, and coaches who happen to
be in the D.C. area. These clinics help wrestlers observe a
variety of wrestling styles and techniques. During our 1995/96
season, clinics have been presented in Folkstyle,
Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and SOMBO, plus a freestyle referee
training clinic was held. Recent presenters
NCAA All-American and Athletes-in-Action star Don Shuler,
a throwing, technique, and jump-rope clinic by SMWC's Olympian Buddy Lee, a
freestyle and motivation clinic by Wade Schalles,
an "advanced basics" clinic by SMWC's Wade Hughes, a Greco-Roman throwing
clinic by SMWC's Jim
Howard, and a power takedown and technique clinic by American University
Coach Jim Akerly, and a technique clinic by NCAA Runner-up Troy
Sunderland. Few clubs in the nation can claim such a diversity of talent
providing clinics on a regular basis to its membership. Our practices
sometimes look like clinics.
- 6. We have a close relationship with large wrestling equipment
manufacturers and retail outlets, especially at Mat Corner in
Woodbridge, VA. Team uniforms are purchased through Mat Corner,
which has also used our team members in its advertising.
- 7. Finding practice partners of quality is a difficult task,
especially when trying to prepare for national level competition.
With an abundance of top notch talent from little wrestlers to
heavy weights, SMWC members have plenty of workout partners.
Among the spring 1995/6 practicing members include Jason and Kevin
Gabrielson, Nick Alley, Frank Glover, Victor King, Warren Thompson,
Todd Beckerman, Quinn Foster, Robert Alexander, Mike Toro,
Rudie Rudea, Chris Rodregues, Bryan
Long, Tyrone Neal, Ryan and Aaron Herwig, Matt and Mike Pecha,
Billy Phillips, Aaron Chandler, Eric Miller, Derik and
Evan Sola, Mike Waite, Basil (Doby) Dobbins, and
many of our other Hall-of-Fame members. Check the national rankings and
see for yourself how many active club member names show up. At many
practices in the spring we had Foster, Beckerman, Phillips and
Gabrielson working with Wade Hughes, Jim Howard, and other locals.
Sound like a high class practice?
- 8. SMWC members are invited to our invitation only Pre-National
Training Camp each spring. This free intensive training camp
helps our wrestlers to prepare with others of similar ability for
national competition. Besides our own club coaches, we
usually invite top notch talent
from other clubs, plus a host of widely respected clinicians to
- 9. SMWC members and coaches are regularly asked to conduct sessions,
coach, or to participate as a team at various summer wrestling
camps. Members who enroll in the camps often do so as guests or
at greatly reduced rates. This is one of the ways we receive
considerable off-season attention and training for our
- 10. Spring club matches and other similar special
events are scheduled
regularly. Practices are normally set-up such that wrestlers can
attend one night per week regardless of other spring sport
involvement. We have a close relationship with many other
regional freestyle clubs, plus we are one of the very few
regional teams targeted for matches by all-star touring teams who
travel through this area.
- 11. SMWC actively recruits and promotes very advanced and
talented small wrestlers to develop into top competitors. The
majority of entry level junior league teams in this area teach
and drill basic skills into their beginning level wrestlers at
the group level. SMWC teaches these skills at an advanced pace
with concentration at the individual level. For practice,
especially during large spring sessions, a separate coach is
usually available to directly work with a small group of the
younger wrestlers. In this manner, we have successfully been
able to develop some outstanding young talent in a very short
- 12. SMWC publishes and distributes to dues paying members an
area newsletter, the Capital Area Wrestling News plus also sends
out an extensive tournament schedule. The newsletter has
articles and information about local events, plus information
about summer camps, local wrestlers and how they are doing in
college, etc. The tournament schedule is first published in
early October, with updates about every 5 weeks until May.
Usually two or three tournaments are listed for each weekend,
plus entry information, age groups, contacts, where SMWC will
enter as a team, and other notes.
- 13. SMWC has visibility world wide for its members and
activities over the Internet. Located at
http://220.127.116.11/ses/wrest/ SMWC's web site
daily by many coaches, recruiters, wrestlers, and fans. Members
receive considerable publicity and name recognition, plus can use
our server to advertise their services, such as photography (Mirror
Image), camps (Wade Schalles),
jump ropes (Buddy Lee's Jump Aerobics), and the US Sombo Association.
Members can also be
contacted through this valuable service, particularly those with
email addresses. Many high school seniors
and juniors also have their profiles listed for college scouts.
SMWC's web site was
put on-line in 1994, the first wrestling web site, and
officially linked to InterMat
in 1995. In 1996, SMWC received Wrestling USA's "Best Internet Wrestling
- 14. SMWC is considered the formal training site in Southern
Maryland for Maryland's USAW Junior and Cadet National Teams. Many
SMWC members compete on the Maryland USAW Team at national
championship events, as well as at AAU Grand National and Junior Olympic
Coach Gabrielson was a 1995 Maryland Cadet
Team Coach, but due to an event conflict with our many younger members,
coached kids at the AAU national events in 1996.
- 15. Late season practices are a major draw for our club. With
most programs winding down by spring, SMWC practices continue to
draw large numbers of serious wrestlers until mid-July when we close
for national events. Practice
starts up again in early September.
- 16. Officials training is something seldom available at the club level.
SMWC regularly provides grass roots training for members who wish to
become freestyle and Greco-Roman officials or pairers.
At least two formal training
clinics are provided each spring, plus new officials are scheduled at
local events where they can practice under experienced club member
- 17. Local tournaments just don't happen on their own. One of the
greatest advantages of belonging to a large organization supported by
many area coaches is the opportunity to host a series of tournaments
at different locations while drawing on the experienced resources of
club members to provide officials, pairers, direction, and equipment.
In this regard, SMWC is the only fully self supporting club
in this region capable
of hosting a schedule of regular competitions for local wrestlers.
How Can a New Wrestler Join?
The question is often asked about who can participate and also
how a new wrestler can join SMWC. Anyone can work out with the
club once in a while but becoming a full member requires active involvement.
What a potential new wrestler needs to do is simple. Basically,
talk to a current member or coach, and then show up to practice.
If we didn't know you before then, we soon will. Remember, you
don't need to be a successful champion to join, but you do need
the desire to eventually become one. All it takes is personal
drive plus be willing to put in the time necessary. One piece of
advice is don't come to our practice thinking you can pound
everyone. Even National Champions and NCAA All-Americans have a hard time here.
For beginners, we suggest the Southern Maryland Junior Wrestling
League or one of the beltway level teams as good entry level
organizations to start at before joining an advance club such as
SMWC. Wrestlers competing in high school can show up and join at
any practice. To become the top wrestler at your weight for the
competition team requires a formal wrestle-off.
Active membership fees are required (usually about $25)
plus AAU or USAW cards are required for
insurance. Those who join can purchase the club T-shirt
Once you make the competition team, regular dues are no longer
required unless you practice with us most of the time, you want
partial sponsorship, or you want to remain on our active mailing list.
Competition members only need their AAU or USAW card for
insurance to practice with us on an occasional basis. This
includes practicing at the coach's home or at specially set-up
locations during bad weather or school closings.
Active dues paying members also receive regular tournament schedules and
other announcements throughout the year, including the Capital
Area Wrestling News during the spring. Once you are accepted
for full membership, you remain a member on our roster unless you
notify us otherwise. Hall-of-Fame members are members for life
with no dues requirement.
Where Do Our Members Come From?
Our members are advanced wrestlers representing a great many
schools and programs in both Maryland and the entire Mid-Atlantic
region. Remember that Maryland is a small state with other states in
close proximity. Although most members live in Calvert, Charles, Ann
Arrundel, or PG County, SMWC is in reality a regional team in
that some members drive from as far away as Reading,
Pennsylvania, to attend practices or matches. You do not need to
live in the area to be a member or wrestle in regular team
tournaments and other local events with us.
Practices often vary, but currently we practice on Tuesday and
Thursday nights between 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm. Our facility is
easily the largest in Maryland. Bishop McNamara
HS provides us their gym and up to four mats as needed.
During the spring our mats are kept along the
sides of the gym and additional sections are rolled out when practices
We hope this booklet has answered your questions about SMWC
membership, its history, traditions, and its talent. As a final
comment, if you are a coach and want to learn something new, we
need you and you can help us learn as well. All SMWC coaches
either conduct sessions or actively coach every practice. If you
are a small wrestler and would like to become a national
contender someday, you really need to go wherever the quality
competition and a variety of talent is located. If you are a
high school age wrestler looking for a scholarship, you will have
a much better chance with us then on your own. With college
coaches, both local and outside the area, contacting us year
around, this could be your opportunity to "make your mark" on the
school you want. It has happened to our members many times over
the years. Success is up to you.
Another SMWC Member Takes That Lone Walk to Glory
The sacrifice on your part is simply showing up to seriously
work, the sacrifice on ours is the training and work it takes to
make you successful. You must realize that it's very difficult
to achieve your goals if you aren't willing to make the personal
sacrifices required, including committing yourself to your
objective. Dan Gable, former Olympic Champion once said "To push
one's body to the limit of endurance and beyond, to deny one's
self of normal pleasures while all around others are enjoying
those pleasures, to persevere under grueling competition is, to
me, a rare act of courage." We at SMWC subscribe to these same
ideals. To answer any further questions you might have, please
call coach Bruce Gabrielson at
301-855-4565 (local DC call) any evening.