By Lem Satterfield @satterfield_lem
“Guttentag” translates into “Good day” in German, and that exactly described Thanksgiving for the trio of wrestling siblings of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High.
Sophomore Drew Guttentag, “the most aggressive” of the three, according to their father, Steve, said he “lateral dropped a turkey out of existence.” Freshman Ike “hit a sweep single-leg right past the salad and took down the mac and cheese.”
But Eli, the eldest, took the proverbial cake.
“We had two kinds of cranberry sauce – the sweet and the tart, so I sort of did a little take-down, let-‘em-up on cranberry sauces,” said Eli, a senior. “I was getting my two points on the sweet, and then, my two on the tart, and then I’d let ‘em up. You can say I scored enough points to get the technical fall.”
Welcome to wrestling season in Montgomery County, where the food is scarce and the grapplers are dangerous.
But thanks to experience and family tradition, no serious weight was gained, and the Guttentag brothers expect to settle in nicely at their assigned weights.
“There’s a scale right next to the kitchen table. So the boys can always weigh themselves,” said Steve Guttentag, whose wife, Stacy, knew something about the sport when they met. “Stacy is from Iowa, so she came into the marriage with some appreciation for wrestling.”
In fact, the Guttentag boys’ mother said that meals are carefully prepared with wrestling in mind.
“They’re three teenaged boys, so they’re always hungry and I always try to mix it up,” said Stacy. “We do spaghetti squash, turkey meat balls, and they eat a lot of sushi.”
Eli, 18, is targeting 132 pounds for the B-CC Barons, although he could split time at 138 with 16-year-old Drew, who will probably start out at 145.
“Freshman year was the hardest cut by far, because at the beginning of the year, making 106 was actually not that hard. But I actually grew a lot during the season,” said Eli.
“By the end of the year, it was pretty brutal. I would wake up in the morning, step on the scale, and very rarely be excited about what I saw. So I’d go down in the basement and go for a jog on the treadmill before matches.”
Along with junior county runner-up Christian Simpson (113), the Guttentags will be on a Barons squad that went 24-8 overall, and, 10-4 against the county last season, finishing as runners-up in the 4A/3A West Regional Duals.
The Barons will compete in the county’s 4A East with Churchill, Kennedy, Richard Montgomery, Sherwood, Springbrook, Walter Johnson, Wheaton and Whitman.
Comprising the 4A West is Blair, Clarksburg, Einstein, Gaithersburg, Northwest, Northwood, Paint Branch, Quince Orchard and Wootton.
In the 3A-2A conference are Blake, Damascus, Magruder, Poolesville, Rockville, Seneca Valley and Watkins Mill.
“We had three boys over the course of three-and-a-half years, and we’ve been waiting for this season ever since Eli started wrestling at the age of 5,” said Stacy.
“As a parent, you can imagine that it’s so nice to see all of them together on one team, helping and encouraging each other when things get tough. Steve has pushed them in all of the right ways, so it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
The trio was groomed in the Olney-based Outlaws’ program by John Nogle, who thrice placed third at states before graduating from Smithsburg High in 1995, and whose co-coaches are Rob Wendell, Randy Rocha and local legend Larry Hill.
“It was a major effort to drive the boys for many years, three days a week, from Chevy Chase to Olney during the height of rush-hour traffic,” said Steve.
“But it’s a great program with some of the area’s best coaches,” added Steve, referring to the Outlaws program. “They were instrumental in our boys’ growth as wrestlers and as young men. We did catch daily grief for hailing from Chevy Chase, which the coaches viewed as a neighborhood not known for the toughest kids.”
The apple doesn’t fall far from the table.
Steve is a 1981 graduate of Sidwell Friends where he wrestled, being a team captain during his final two seasons. As a 126-pound senior, Steve won the Interstate Athletic Conference crown and placed fifth at The St. Albans’ Tournament.
“I didn’t wrestle as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan,” said Steve, who instead played club lacrosse. “I briefly contemplated walking on, but the coach told me while I ‘could be very useful in the practice room,’ I would never wrestle in a match.”
Ike was a multi-junior league place-winner, in succession, finishing first, second, fourth and fifth at the Maryland State Wrestling Association’s states in which Drew finished as runners-up.
“I strive to be a tad bit better than Eli was as a freshman,” said Ike. “I definitely try to follow along in the family tradition of wrestling, continuing to improve and being the best wrestler that I can be.”
Drew spent two junior league seasons observing his older brother’s high school routine.
“It definitely motivated me to be more like Eli,” said Drew. “Watching him win as many matches as he did made me want to practice harder.”
Ike has inherited 106 for this, his own freshman season.
“Eli sets a good example for me. He goes balls to the wall, and I hope that he leaves it all on the mat again this year,” said Ike, from whom B-CC wrestling coach, Nick Arnone, is expecting big things. “Drew was a little disappointed last year since he was injured, so I hope that he stays injury-free.”
If Drew does that, there’s a great chance that he’ll improve on last year’s 11-3 mark.
“And whatever their [siblings] goals are,” said Drew, “I hope they accomplish them.”
Eli earned county and regional titles as a ninth-grader, and has placed third at states as a freshman and junior. During each occasion at states, Eli’s semifinal loss was to the eventual champion – Bel Air’s Brent Lorin in the first instance, and Linganore’s Earl Blake last March.
“It’s my last year, and I’m not gonna be wrestling in college, so I just wanna enjoy the process, the grind, and the action in general,” said Eli, who surpassed 100 career wins a year ago.
“As for my brothers, we make it a point to not compare each other’s accomplishments. I just hope that, not only do they achieve all of their goals, but that they enjoy doing it while they have the time left.”
County league-wide dual matches begin next Wednesday, Nov. 5, to kick off the season.