Angle and Terkay grew up within a few miles of each other, but they are not what you would call friends. "Oh, no," Angle says. "Our high schools were archrivals."
"There's sort of a neighborhood-rivalry thing," Terkay said before Saturday's match. "People are always asking me, 'Do you know Kurt Angle?' and I have to say yes. Maybe after this is all over, we can get together and talk. But not yet."
Terkay—whose size and dark, chiseled features belie his sunny nature—is known as Bear, but not for the obvious reason. "It's kind of embarrassing," Terkay says. "When I was little, my mom used to dress me in this big fur coat. My family called me Brother Bear. I guess I finally grew into my name."
As a sophomore in high school, Terkay wrestled at 138 pounds. The next year he moved to 167, and by his senior year he was up to 196. Not heavily recruited, he spent a year at Chowan Junior College in Murfreesburo, N.C., before transferring, as a walk-on, to North Carolina State.
"His skill level was not a major asset at first," says Bob Guzzo, coach of the Wolf-pack. "But his physical strength, stature and heart have made the difference. He's gotten better every day." Coming into the NCAA tournament, Terkay had gotten 21 of his 31 wins this season with pins.
"For Kurt, it's going to be a Wallenda act out there," said Bubb before Saturday's final. "He'll be working 200 feet up without a net. And Terkay can be a strong gust of wind."
Angle's footing proved to be impeccable. In a tense, low-scoring match, Angle stayed on his feet, moving throughout and living up to his name as he came at Terkay from every direction. He avoided Terkay's startlingly quick shoots while weathering the bigger man's strength. With 35 seconds remaining, in an almost flitting motion, Angle scored the match's only takedown. It was enough. At the final whistle, the wrestlers sagged into a hug.
Later, seated and still recovering beneath the stands, Angle recalled the moment: "Right after the match, I said, 'Hey, Sylvester, I hope now we can be friends.' " Angle paused. "I think I would have said that even if I'd lost," he said.