Ben Earhart hoped to find some playing time during Westminster's football season. The 5-foot-7, 138-pound cornerback not only found time, but wound up starting and becoming a second-team all-Central Maryland Conference pick.
His success on the football field helped prepare him for the wrestling mat. With some newfound confidence and clear focus, Earhart, a junior, has won 10 of his first 12 matches for Westminster.
Earhart said after doing so well in football, he felt more confident going into the wrestling season.
"It gave me more confidence as an athlete that I could do well in wrestling," said Earhart. "If I could do well in football, why couldn't I do it in wrestling?"
Earhart has done well in wrestling in the past, but he is making more impact this season.
And one reason for that is a different attitude. Earhart, wrestling at 125, said he started the season determined to work hard and improve.
Since preseason practice began in November, Earhart has added moves, improved his strength and tried to use a better work ethic.
The sweat and refined style seem to be working.
"I'm trying more things," said Earhart. "I'm trying to polish it to get it so I'm a better technique wrestler."
The bottom line is Earhart is a better wrestler. Westminster coach Solomon Carr said Earhart is hitting his stride this season.
"I think he's matured into the sport," said Carr. "He's just on a roll."
The 10-2 mark is making Earhart think about some real tournament success. And, the more success Earhart finds, the better he feels.
"This year, I'm really enjoying what I'm doing," said Earhart.
Teammate Neil Brennan, ranked fifth in the state at 145, said, "His record is his confidence."
And his past helps his motivation. Earhart took third in the county his freshman year on the junior varsity. Last year, he was 9-4 before separating a shoulder during a New Year's Day practice and missing the rest of the season.
Earhart started wrestling in the sixth grade and twice made the junior league B state tournament, once finishing fourth.
Despite his experience in wrestling, he said his success in football last fall really spurred him. He became a starter in the third game and remained one, intercepting two passes during the season.
Carr said he noticed a difference in Earhart before the season began. He said Earhart was one of a few wrestlers the coaches have been able to drive a little harder and get more out of.
"He sees his potential," said Carr. "He finally realizes [that] he can accomplish the goals he set for himself."
Earhart is focused on getting to the state tournament. "As long as I continue to wrestle the way I [have] and stay away from injuries, I definitely have a shot at being in the states," said Earhart.
Carr said Earhart still has a long way to go, but continues to XTC improve. "He's got a lot of potential that he's coming into," said Carr. "If not this year, then definitely next year."