Pen Pal: Mighty Maryland

Pen pals are a wonderful thing. Getting random news from someone who is on the other side of the country or the globe is always unexpected and it is often a surprise. My pen pal is a man who grew up near us in Maryland. His name is Bob Tickner. Now that we are living in Oregon, there are few places further away from each other in the lower 48 states than Baltimore and Portland (2,805 road miles apart).[1]

Tick’s penned notes are usually press clippings on an Orioles great, former Colt hero, or Maryland wrestler who has died or come to prominance. Maryland is not known as a powerhouse for any sport in particular. It is a blue collar area, with moneyed pockets of wealth and beltway swagger, especially around DC. It is a state, like Pittsburgh or St. Louis or Cleveland where character is built on the field on in the gym. We all know the value of hard, honest work. We know the reward for sweat and blood.

Over the past few years, my pen pal has pointed out an extraordinary string of superlative wrestlers with Maryland roots, some going back to high school. Pennsylvania has the bragging rights for great high school and collegiate wrestlers, along with Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, Oklahoma and a few other states. Their traditions are long standing and strong. But when you look more closely, Maryland has had some surprisingly good wrestlers. Perhaps if given its due, and a few more years the state dubbed “America in Miniature” may be producing a disproportionate number of great grapplers, even at the international level.

This is a Witness Post looking at some of the greats and some of the soon to be Maryland greats of the pugilistic sport of wrestling.

Lloyd “Butch” Keaser (Naval Academy via Brooklyn Park)

About as tough as they come, Navy’s teams in the Ed Peery era were extraordinary for the Academies, especially in the years around Butch Keaser. We saw him wrestle nearly every home match as well as the EIWA’s and NCAA’s. He had that cat like quickness. Keaser would wrap up an underhook, and finish with a far ankle pick before the other wrestler knew what hit him. He carried his success to the Olympics, where he won some hardware for Team USA.


Bob Kopnisky (University of Maryland via Shaler High, PA)

Kopnisky proved his skill at the high school level in Pennsylvania before choosing to be a Terp for college. He also brought some hard earned fame to coach William “Sully” Krouse. Kopnisky was the NCAA champion  for Krouse at 155 in 1965. A few years later he irked Krouse by accepting the job as assistant coach of Ed Peery at Navy. Krouse made life in the coaching ranks hard for Kopnisky, as Krouse must have felt threatened, even after 32 years at the helm of the Terps.

Kopnisky later became the head coach at Missouri, where he expanded his reputation for mental toughness with the art of a talented technician in the sport of wrestling.


Gobel Klein (University of Maryland via West Snyder High, PA)

Another wrestler who did extraordinary wrestling for the Terps in the late-1960’s was Gobel Kline. Another Pennsylvania school boy wrestler, Kline was NCAA champion in 1969 under Coach Krouse.


University of Maryland wrestlers, 1969. Kline is fourth from left in middle row.

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152 1st: Gobel Kline [2] – Maryland (4-1); 2nd: Rich Mihal [4] – Iowa; 3rd: James Tanniehill [US] – Winona State (2-0); 4th: Bob Ferraro [US] – Indiana State; 5th: Carl Adams [US] – Iowa State (WBF 3:32); 6th: Kim Snider [US] – Oregon State 

Kline, seeded second, was in a tough weight class and bracket, as evidenced by the fact that Carl Adams from Iowa State, who went on to be a two-time NCAA champ, place 5th that year.

Rico Chiapparelli (Iowa via Mt. St. Joe and Blair Academy)

Rico Chiapparelli was from a wrestling family. His father and brother were all wrestlers and he was a National Prep runner-up while competing at Mt. St. Joe’s in their powerhouse program in the Baltimore area. He more than made up for it by becoming a prolific pinner. Chiapparelli consistently wrapped up opponents with his long arms, which he locked into his patented cradle. Coach Dan Gable looked on with admiration with every fall.

Lou Chiapparelli and younger brother, Rico

Two Buckeye Beasts:

Myles Martin (Ohio State via McDonogh School)

Pen pal Tickner has been raving about these two wrestlers for the past year. They went on to show their stuff at the NCAA’s where they were both surprising winners in their weight classes. Martin helped put both McDonogh, which has been one of the dominant wrestling powerhouses for the past 20 years, and Ohio State on the map. Martin beat another freshman from Penn State in the finals. The Buckeye’s are back!


Kyle Snyder (Ohio State via Good Council)

From the bucolic area north of Washington, DC, lies a small catholic school named Our Lady of Good Council. They produced a strong farm boy for the ages, as he defeated two-time defending NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski from North Carolina State. At 225 Snyder was the smallest heavyweight in the tournament and won his finals match 7-5 in overtime.

Snyder NCAA_Wrestling_Championships-0be49 (1)


[1] According to www.distance-cities.com, Seattle, WA is 3,297 road miles from Miami, FL.

[2] All-Time Greatest Maryland Wrestlers, Top 10, according to http://www.MarylandWrestling.org:

  1. Lloyd “Butch” Keaser (Brooklyn Pk.-AA Co.) – 2x NCAA D-I AA for Navy (3rd and 4th), World Champ, Olympic Silver Medalist
  2. Kelly Ward (Kennedy/Blair Academy) – 2x MD Champ, National Prep Champ, 3x NCAA D-I finalist (1x Champ) for Iowa St.
  3. Rico Chiapparelli (MSJ/Blair Academy) – Nat. Prep Champ, Cadet and JR National Champ, SR. US Open Champ, 3x NCAA D-I AA (1st, 4th, and 5th) for Iowa
  4. Mack Lewnes (MSJ) – 4x State Champ, 2x Nat. Prep Champ, JR Nat. Finalist (Greco), 3x NCAA D-I AA (2nd, 4th, and 4th), 4x EIWA Champ for Cornell
  5. Bill “Elbows” Simpson (Gaithersburg) – MD State Champ in ‘70 (the 1st state tourney), 2x NCAA D-I AA (1st and 5th), 4x PSAC Champ for Clarion
  6. Michael Cannon (Chopticon) – 3x NCAA D-I AA (3rd, 6th, and 8th), Midlands champ & runner-up for American Univ., MD State Champ, JR Nat AA
  7. Todd Beckerman (DeMatha) – 4x National Prep Champ (208-1), Cadet Nat. Champ, 2x JR Nat. AA, Junior World team, 2x NCAA D-I AA (4th and 5th) for Nebraska, Head Coach @ Brown Univ.
  8. Bobby Truby (Sherwood) – 4x State Champ (2x MD + 2x PA), Junior World team, 2x NCAA D-I AA (4th and 5th) for Penn State
  9. Lenny Bernstein (Bullis) – 3x Nat. Prep Champ (110-0 record in HS), Junior World Champ, NCAA D-I AA (4th) for UNC, Head Coach @ UVA
  10. Ernie Fischer – NCAA finalist for UMD, member of ‘56 Olympic team

Honorable Mention Men (in alphabetical order):

  • Derrick Asbell (Randallstown) – 2x State Champ, JUCO Nat. Champ
  • Josh Asper (Hereford) – 4x State Champ, JR Nat. Finalist, University Nat. Champ, 2x NCAA D-I AA (6th and 6th) for UMD
  • Larry Avery (Brooklyn Pk.-AA Co.) -NCAA D-I AA (6th) for Mich. St.
  • Eddie Bailey (JM Bennett) – D-III Champ for Salisbury U
  • Alfred “Baby J” Bannister (Bishop McNamara) – 4x State Champ
  • Harry Barnabae (MSJ) – JR Nat. Champ (greco)
  • DeShawn Barrett (Patterson) – SR Nat. Champ
  • Lou Chiapparelli (MSJ) – JR Nat. Champ
  • Brian Crane (Paint Branch) – 3x undefeated State Champ, EIWA runner-up for Princeton
  • Gene Curren (Curley) – SR Nat. Champ
  • Brian Davis (Beall) – 2x State Champ, NAIA Champ
  • Ryan Davis (McDonogh/Blair Academy) – Dapper Dan champ, JR Nat. AA
  • John Dolch (Northeast-AA) – 2x D-III Champ for Salisbury U.
  • Patrick Downey (MSJ/Loch Raven/N. County) – JR World Silver medalist, FILA Junior Nat. Champ, SR Nat. Champ, JR Nat. Champ
  • Johnny Eareckson (Balt.) – 1929 Nat. AAU Champ (Distinguished Member Nat. Wrestling Hall Of Fame)
  • Frank Edwards (Sherwood) – 3x State Champ, NCAA D-I AA (7th) for Navy
  • Mike Faust (Gilman) – Double JR Nat. Champ, NCAA D-I AA (5th) for Virginia Tech
  • Josh Fitch (McDonogh) – 4x State Champ, Nat. Prep Champ
  • Eric Friedman (St. Paul’s) – 4x State Champ
  • Jason Gabrielson (Riv. Baptist/Northern – CC) – 3x State Champ, Nat. Espoir Champ, EWL & E. Regional Champ
  • John Hefner (MSJ) – Dapper Dan champ
  • Mark Jarosz (Northeast-AA) – 2x D-III Champ for Salisbury U.
  • Joe Jarosz (Northeast-AA) – D-III Champ for Salisbury U.
  • Grant Johnson (Owings Mills) – 3x State Champ, SR Nat. runner-up, NCAA D-I AA (5th) for Boston Univ
  • Josh Llopez (LaPlata) – JR Nat. Champ
  • Steve Kessler (Owings Mills) – 4x undefeated State Champ (148-0), SR Nat. runner-up, JUCO National Champ
  • Nathan Kraisser (Centennial) – 4x State Champ, SR Nat. Champ, JR Nat. Finalist (Greco)
  • Marty Kusick (Northeast-AA) – SR Nat. Champ
  • Dave Land (Laurel) – 2x NCAA D-1 AA (7th and 8th) for UMD
  • Brandon Lauer (River Hill) – 3x undefeated State Champ, 2x JR Nat. AA, SR Nat 5th, NCAA DI AA (8th) for WVU
  • Doug Lee (Balt.) – 5x Nat. AAU Champ in the 1940′s (Distinguished Member Nat. Wrestling Hall Of Fame)
  • Garrett Lineberger (Thomas Stone) – NCAA D-II Champ for Notre Dame (OH)
  • Bruce Malinowski (Kenwood) – Junior World Champ
  • Max Meltzer (Bullis/Blair Academy) – NCAA D-1 AA (8th) for Harvard Univ.
  • Bode Ogunwole (Georgetown Prep) – NCAA D-I AA (6th) for Harvard, SR Nat 6th
  • Matt Palmer (Bullis/Blair Academy) – 2x NCAA D-1 AA (8th and 8th) for Columbia Univ., SR Nat. Champ
  • Greg Peery (MSJ) – Dapper Dan winner, 4x MSA champ, National Prep Champ
  • JR Plienis (McDonogh) – JR and SR Nat. Champ
  • Walter Reed Jr. (Southwestern) – SR Nat. Champ
  • Tom Reese (N. Carroll) – NCAA D-I AA (5th) for UMD
  • Mike Rowe (DeMatha) – 4x State Champ, Cadet National Champ, JR Nat. AA
  • Charlie Royer (Old Mill) – 2x State Champ, JUCO Nat. Champ
  • Rudy Rueda (DeMatha) – 4x National Prep Champ, SR Nat 5th
  • George “Brutus” Scheffel (Southern Garrett) – 4x State Champ
  • Curt Scovel (Laurel) – NCAA D-I AA (8th) for UMD
  • Matt Slutsky (Aberdeen) – 4x State Champ
  • Kyle Snyder (Good Counsel) – JR Nat. Champ (greco), 2x FILA Junior Nat. Champ, JR World Champ and Bronze medalist, Dapper Dan champ
  • Jason Townsend (Rising Sun) – USA Dapper Dan Team, JR Nat. and Espoir Nat. AA


  • Helen Maroulis (Magruder) – Women’s SR World Silver and Bronze medalist, Pan American Games Gold Medalist, 5x US Open Champ, Women’s JR World Silver and Bronze medalist, 2x Women’s JR. Nat. Champ
  • Nicole Woody (Arundel) – 4x Women’s JR. Nat. Champ