The only thing that hasn't changed about South River wrestler Greg Nida is that he still gets nose-bleeds a few minutes into nearly everymatch.
"My attitude is totally different from last year," said Nida, shortly after winning Saturday's 119-pound Lackey tournament title, 5-2, over the host school's Paul Gray.
Nida was one of two Seahawks who walked away from the Charles County Tournament with top honors. Senior Billy Whitcher captured the 125-pound title.
"For the past three years, I haven't taken school or wrestling seriously. Now, I'm doing both, and (Coach Charles (Chilly) Orme) has been really helpful. I finally realize now that school is more important."
This year, Nida has a 10-2 record (six pins) wrestling in three different weight classes. He's finally settled on staying at 119-pounds.
"My natural weight is about 123 or 124," saidNida. "I'm only cutting about 4 pounds, so I'm not killing myself."
Nida blames illness for his poor performance at the season-openingFrederick Douglass tournament, where he competed at 130 pounds, finished just 2-2 in the bouts he wrestled and failed to place in a tournament for the first time since he can remember.
And he insists that he won't be as erratic as last year's 18-4 season, when he admits to lacking dedication toward both school and his sport. Academic problems forced him to miss postseason tournaments last year.
Nida aimsto improve on his sophomore year, when he finished third in the county and defeated Broadneck's Shawn Miller for the regional crown.
"After last year, I sort of feel like a no-name -- which is fine with me," said the slender senior. "Statewide, people probably don't know who I am."
By season's end, however, both Nida and his 125-pound teammate Whitcher (12-0, nine pins) hope to make a name for themselves.
Like Nida, Whitcher, a senior, has been dwelling in relative anonymity.
During last year's 30-8 season, Whitcher finished as the county and regional runner-up to Miller; lost, 15-5, to Paint Branch'stwo-time state champion Craig Middledorf, and dropped three decisions to Chopticon's former state runner-up, Jeff Daigle.
Saturday, however, Whitcher scored a decision, two major decisions and a pin to win the tournament crown. He and Nida placed third at Lackey last year.
"I think I finished the season pretty strong last year, and I'm picking up where I left off," said Whitcher, who placed fourth in last year's Class 4A/3A state tournament. "I lifted weights about three times a week this summer and I run about a mile and a half
every day at practice. I want to be ranked (by the Maryland State Wrestling Association), so I have to just keep on winning."
South River, which finished fifth in last year's county tournament, already has secured the Class 3A/2A league crown with last week's victories over Northeast and Southern. But Coach Orme said Nida and Whitcher are the key if the Seahawks (4-0) are going to keep winning.
Several Seahawks showed marked improvement at Lackey, beginning with junior Jarron Hairston (171, third) and freshman Travis Murdock (103), but South Riverwill continue to rely on the leadership of its two top seniors.
"If we want to join the county's top tier in wrestling," said Orme, "then we're going to need two real good years out of Nida and Whitcher."