Mac MacWilliams didn't mind the taste of his own blood.
Even as it trailed from a cut high on his left cheekbone, mixed with the perspiration on his face and dripped into the corner of his mouth, he didn't mind.
For MacWilliams had just grappled his way to a 5-4 victory over Archbishop Curley's tough Gary Myrncza for the 135-pound title in last Saturday's Curley Invitational wrestling tournament. The victory avenged an unpalatable overtime loss to Myrncza a year ago that eliminated MacWilliams in the tournament's consolation semifinals.
So MacWilliams just licked his lips and savored the taste.
"It tasted good," said the 17-year-old senior.
Like sweet victory.
MacWilliams' looks -- his square-jawed, chiseled facial features and closely cropped red hair resembling the hard, lean look of a young Marine --make it difficult to imagine that there is a passion that runs even deeper than his enthusiasm for wrestling.
MacWilliams stood there, elaborating to a spectator about what bearing the victory has on the rest of the long season and about how he doesn't want the tournament title to be his only claim to fame this year.
But as he spoke of his post-high school plans, the conversation turned to music.
"I probably won't wrestle in college, maybe on a club team or something," said MacWilliams. "I might already have a scholarship locked up in music -- I like to play the violin."
That's right. Those same powerful arms that fold opponents in half with his favorite move, a chicken-wing pinning maneuver, also gently support a violin in nightly practice sessions seven times a week.
Those same hands that force an opponent's face into the mat for a half-nelson gently can glide a delicate violin bow with horse-hair strings across the cat-gut strings of a graduated Stradivarius violin.
"I want to be a symphony violinist, a professional violinist," said MacWilliams.
And, as it turns out, MacWilliams can play one mean version of Mozart's complicated Third Violin Concerto. In fact, MacWilliams has been playing the violin since the third grade -- one year longer than he's been wrestling.
"I was first introduced to playing the violin by my third-grade teacher.
There's no musical background in my family or anything. I just liked it right away and I was a natural at it," said MacWilliams. "It's just a great way of expressing your emotions without words."
As a violinist, MacWilliams has received a No. 1 rating -- the highest possible mark -- since he began his solo competitions six years ago. At St.
Mary's, he scored 1200 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test and ranks No. 7 in his senior class with a 4.53 grade-point average on a 5.0 scale.
In a Nov. 9 scholarship audition with Catholic University, MacWilliams impressed a judge with his rendition of Fritz Kreisler's Praeludium Allegro. Several other violinists competed and the results won't be known until sometime in January.
"I spent a whole year working on that solo piece with a piano accompaniment. I think I did pretty well," said MacWilliams, who will find out whether he has been academically accepted to CU on Dec. 15. He's also applied to Notre Dame and Yale.
MacWilliams has been a member of the All-State Orchestra for the past six years. He is waiting for results on a tryout for the All-East Coast Orchestra, which are scheduled to be released next week.
"I practice every day on my own at least two hours a night," said MacWilliams. "I also take a private lesson from Regina Morin. She's been my teacher for the past seven years."
MacWilliams is also a member of two well-respected local orchestras.
He sits through three-hour practices every Thursday night beginning at 7 with the Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra. He is also the concert master for the violin section of the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra, which practices every Saturday from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
"It's my responsibility to keep time with the conductor, so technically, I should know the piece we're playing better than anyone else," said MacWilliams, who is also a casual listener to classic rock'n'roll. "But the title (concert master) is more of an honor than anything else."
Lately, however, weekend wrestling tournaments have taken precedence over his sessions with the GBYO. And needless to say, MacWilliams has an extremely busy schedule.
"He rarely has to sacrifice a social life because most of his friends are committed to what they do and they usually get together on weekends," said his mother, Phyllis. "But he always has to work his social life around his homework. He does give up watching TV."
St. Mary's wrestling coach, Brad Best, still has a hard time dealing with the dichotomy of MacWilliams' two major areas of interest.
"There are not many top wrestlers out there who are accomplished violinists," said Best. "That kid's one of the neatest kids I've ever seen.
He loves playing sports, but he knows where they fit in the scheme of things."
In addition to wrestling, MacWilliams was a defender on the St. Mary's boys soccer team and helped the Saints reach the playoffs.
Said Phyllis MacWilliams: "He's really just motivated to do his best at whatever it is he's doing."
MacWilliams, who finished with a disappointing (for him) 25-6 record a year ago, had plenty of motivation going into last Saturday's Curley tournament.
"I had been trying to win this tournament for four years. I was second as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore," said MacWilliams. "I wasn't used to pinning people last year, but this year I'm more aggressive and it's working out really well.
Using his favorite move, a "figure-4" pinning maneuver around the head, he scored a 16-0 technical fall over his Monsignor Bonner opponent in the first round.
Then he scored another technical fall in his next match before decking his semifinal opponent in 1 minute and 49 seconds. That set up his rematch with Myrncza, whom MacWilliams played like Praeludium -- by memory.