Civan's Injury Sends Shock Waves

Whitman's Eren Civan, left, shown winning his third state title last year, tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week.
Whitman's Eren Civan, left, shown winning his third state title last year, tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
By Ryan Mink and Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 19, 2007

Whitman senior Eren Civan's greatest disappointment after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament Saturday was that he wouldn't get a chance to wrestle for his fourth state title.

But in the opinion of Dave Hopkins, in his 30th year as coach at Damascus, Civan could still win it -- on one leg.

"I'm surprised he hasn't suggested doing that," Hopkins said with a laugh. "He's an amazing competitor."

News of Civan's injury and the upcoming surgery that will cause him to miss the rest of the season upset many throughout the wrestling community -- except those wrestlers who compete in Civan's 160-pound weight class.

"Nobody wanted to wrestle him because everybody knew they were wrestling for second," Hopkins said. "It's always been like that, even since his freshman year. Nobody ever talked about beating him."

Civan finished his high school career with a record of 135-1. He was 15-1 this season -- his bid for a fourth straight unbeaten season also ended with Saturday's injury-default loss -- and was trying to become just the third four-time Maryland state champion. Aberdeen's Matt Slutzky did it from 1989 to 1992 and Owings Mills' Steve Kessler did it from 1994 to 1997.

"It's just depressing," said Hammond senior Vince Taweel, who is also shooting for his fourth state title this year. "We all sent him a card the other day. Honestly, if anyone should have the chance to win four state championships, it's him."

Civan has already begun his pre-surgery exercises and has formulated his rehabilitation efforts. He was upset for two or three days, Whitman Coach Andy Wetzel said, but now he is focused on getting ready for his collegiate wrestling career at Columbia University.

"And we're all anxious to follow his collegiate career," Hopkins said.

Following the Lead

Magruder heavyweight Tyler Murray has put together a perfect season thus far, thanks in large part to a former teammate who did the same last season.

During John Holloway's 31-0 campaign in 2005-06, the two-time Maryland 4A/3A champion at 215 pounds spent a great deal of practice time working with and against Murray, a natural athlete who was in his first full year of wrestling.

"I learned a lot of new techniques and a lot of new moves," said Murray, who is 22-0 after winning the 18-team Hub Cup this past weekend. "He always pushed me in practice to be better. Without somebody of his caliber, I probably wouldn't be the wrestler I am today."

For Murray, the watershed moment came after last high school season in a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Association district tournament in the spring. Against Justin Faithful (ranked No. 2 by The Post), Murray lost by a single point.

"That's when the light came on," he said, "and I realized that if I kept working hard, I could be number one."

Weighing His Choice

Taweel hasn't decided whether he will wrestle at 135 or 140 pounds in the state tournament. He has been flopping back and forth during the regular season so opponents have a tougher time avoiding him. Taweel won a Mount Mat Madness title at 135 pounds.

Glenelg junior Chris Stinnett figured he would avoid Taweel altogether. Stinnett dropped from 135 pounds to 119 because he figured he would have a better shot at winning a state title. Stinnett is 19-0 this year and won the Franklin Tournament last Saturday in his new weight class.

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