In last weekend's Maryland State Games, Ron Alexander's wrestling opponents barely had tightened their head gear before being flattened to the mat by the slender, Chesterfield resident.
In capturing the 123-pound crown in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle competitions at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the 5-foot-9 Alexander went unbeaten, pinning six of his eight opponents.
Alexander, 17, was a runner-up to Broadneck's Josh Marder in the freestyle event a year ago. But he was determined to take both crowns this year and prepared himself by wrestling four times a week, running every day and lifting weights at least three hours a day, five days a week.
"I've been working very hard for this and it's paid off," said Alexander, who went 20-7-1 at Chesapeake High last winter.
Alexander expects to find out from tournament officials later this week whether he has earned the award for the most pins in the shortest amount of time.
"Six pins? For me, that's pretty good," he said. "I just can't believe I did that well and it feels great."
Yet, for the wiry grappler -- who won't be back on the mat until the high school season begins in early November -- the victories are a continuation of what has been a successful summer.
It began with an impressive effort back on May 10 when he captured Amateur Athletic Union state titles in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle categories.
In early June, Alexander traveled to Damascus with the state's representatives in the Potomac Valley Challenge, which pits Marylanders against some of the best wrestlers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia.
Wrestling at 132 pounds, Alexander used his leverage to pin his Virginia adversary and to decision his opponent from New Jersey before moving up to 143 pounds, where he dropped his third bout.
Three weeks ago, Alexander posted an 8-3 record in the AAU Grand Nationals tournament in Amarillo, Texas -- good for a fourth-place finish out of 34 competitors.
He entered the Maryland State Games wanting to "get back what was taken away from me last year."
Alexander began the day's action by decking all four of his Greco-Roman rivals, including a fall in 3:32 over neighborhood nemesis Matt Jewer of Northeast.
Alexander then took just 53 seconds to plant Ron Cooper and just 1:36 to finish off Howard County's David Inkman, a Maryland Scholastic Association runner-up at Mount St. Joseph's last winter.
In Alexander's final Greco-Roman bout, Hammond's Danny Proulx, who placed third in Howard County, lasted just 2:58.
"I wanted to just go out and win in Greco-Roman, but with four pins, I really surprised myself," said Alexander, who failed to place in the county tournament last winter after finishing third as a sophomore.
Alexander had a tougher time in his first couple of freestyle bouts against Jewer, a 7-4 loser, and the Eastern Shore's Danny Purnell of Mardela, a Class 2A-1A state qualifier who only lost by 10-9.
Before long, however, Alexander regained the intensity to easily vanquish both Inkman (23 seconds) and Proulx (20 seconds) for the second time.
"I beat Purnell, 16-4, earlier this summer in the Annapolis tournament, but this time, he came out wrestling a different style," said Alexander. "He was tall and thin, like me. And he was very aggressive."
Jewer later defeated Purnell easily to finish as a freestyle runner-up. Jewer also was the runner-up in Greco-Roman.