Most successful athletes live by the adage, "Practice makes perfect." But Adam Seidman is not a typical athlete.
The 135-pound junior from Oakland Mills has an impressive list of accomplishments: Two county titles, a perfect run against county opponents and a career record of 76-15, for an .835 winning percentage.
Yet, his success has come in spite of a curious trait. On match day, with spectators cheering and victory hanging in the balance, there are few better. In practice, though, don't look for much from him.
"I've never been a good practice wrestler," says Seidman, who is 16-2 with two pins this season. "I can't get psyched up to beat up my own teammate. When it comes time for a match, with the crowd out there, I don't want to be embarrassed and lose in front of them. A lot ofpeople expect a lot from me."
And Seidman has grown accustomed todelivering when it counts. He is favored to win his third county title next month, and expects to challenge for the 135-pound state crownin March.
Seidman brings a wealth of skills to the mat. In the 12years he has spent around the sport, he's learned nearly every move in the book.
Coaches preach the importance of breaking down an opponent, and Seidman carries a technician's feel into his matches. He rarely pins an opponent, usually winning by major or superior decisions.
Scorpions coach Dan Ricker calls Seidman the best defensive wrestler he has ever coached. Seidman's record of never being pinned -- and rarely winding up on his back -- validates that.
Ricker, knownfor the way he pushes his wrestlers, admits Seidman occasionally drives him crazy with a less-than-enthusiastic workout. He says Seidman will have to inspire himself every day to become a great college wrestler.
But in the same breath, he ticks off reasons why Seidman hasearned a special place in his heart.
When Ricker asked him to drop five pounds last week so he could wrestle Hammond's Chris Mercurio at 130 pounds, Seidman didn't ask questions. He ate four oranges overtwo days to make weight, faced Mercurio and beat him, 8-2, despite astomach virus that made him sick after the match.
He might not bea model worker in practice, but Seidman is never late for his workouts and is usually the first one there. He has an ornery streak on themat -- a quality Ricker loves -- and is a star who never acts like one.
"The thing about Adam is he really wants to please his coach, as well as himself and his parents," Ricker says.
"He can sense when you really need him, and he rises higher and higher depending on how much you need him. He is the one guy I can put in any situation and feel confident that he'll come through."
"I don't know how he does it sometimes, because sometimes he doesn't practice at all," says heavyweight Monte Spencer, who along with Seidman is one of Oakland Mills' four co-captains.
"But Adam has been there longer than most people. We don't even worry about him. He just goes out there and does it. If he
wants it, nobody can beat him."
Seidman may be only16, but he's a grizzled veteran on the mat. His father, an avid wrestler in high school, got him into Burtonsville Junior League wrestling when he was only 4. And Seidman was wrestling successfully against boys more than twice his age before long.
"I was beating eighth-graders when I weighed 52 pounds," Seidman says. "When I came (to Oakland Mills), I was showing people moves. There's not much you can show me that I don't know."
Seidman came to Oakland Mills burdened by high expectations, but he didn't disappoint. He went 25-8 and won a county title as a freshman. Last year, he improved to 35-5, finishing third in the regionals and the state tournament. This year, he has dropped just two one-point decisions, one of them to Dave Richards, the Virginia state champion.
"He always gets mean in the big matches, and he's in the best shape he's ever been in," Ricker says. "He's going to go a little further this year."