Some pretty simple advice from his dad has gone a long way for University of Maryland wrestler Bill Ferencz.
After a disappointing sophomore year on the mat, the 20-year-old North Carroll grad has turnedthings around dramatically this season.
Dad's advice? Just have fun.
Ferencz has had fun to the tune of a 15-6-3 individual record so far this season -- one he is hoping will end in Oklahoma City at the NCAA Championships.
"I'm having a lot of fun again wrestling," Ferencz said.
"It's definitely in theapproach I've taken to just go out and have fun. If I win, great; ifI lose, I look to the next match. So far, it's going well."
Ferencz struggled with a 10-17-1 record last year. It was the first time since he began participating in the sport at the Hanover (Pa.) YMCA asan eighth-grader that he didn't enjoy success.
More importantly, he simply didn't enjoy wrestling.
"For the first time, I wasn't having fun wrestling and didn't have the drive," he said.
A two-timestate heavyweight champion at North Carroll, the 6-foot-2, 250-poundFerencz stepped right into Maryland's varsity lineup his freshman year and posted an 11-8 record.
Ferencz credits the solid North Carroll program for the successful transition from high school to the Division I college level.
"Most wrestlers don't have three or four tough guys in the practice room. At North Carroll, every day there was always someone there to push you," he said.
"I came prepared rightout of high school and worked hard during the summer (before his freshman year). It really wasn't that big of a jump."
His decision toattend Maryland didn't come easy. Also a standout football and lacrosse player at North Carroll, Ferencz considered playing football and wrestling at Navy Prep School.
"I really enjoyed the (Maryland) campus when I visited," the biology major said.
"I also had a chanceto talk to some people at Navy Prep, and they didn't seem to have the same things in common as I. I've often wondered what would have been had I taken that route, but I'm glad to be at Maryland."
After graduating from Maryland, Ferencz plans to go to a dental school in hopes of having his own practice.
For now, it's keeping up the grades and wrestling. Ferencz says it's sometimes tough excelling at both.
"The travel hurts," Ferencz said. "The kids you're competing withare at the library while I'm traveling the country on a bus. I just try to get the books out and study as much as I can, whether it be ina lobby of a hotel or on the bus."
One trip he wouldn't mind is to Oklahoma City in March. A first- or second-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament would guarantee him an invitation tothe nationals. Third place with a solid record could get him there as a wild card.
"I'd really like to go to nationals," he said. "Oklahoma City would be a nice experience. The ACC is very competitive. Ithink I have a pretty good shot this year."