Thompson gains hold of his game St. Mary's wrestler has won 12 straight

February 14, 1993|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

When Scott Thompson lost to Wilde Lake's Nate Casella in a dual match Dec. 22, St. Mary's wrestling coach Brad Best said it would be a while before the senior would lose again.

With that 18-5 decision, Thompson's record was 12-3.

"I didn't think he would lose for a long time because he came off the mat and was upset," Best said of the two-year Saint co-captain. "That's natural. But he went over to [assistant coach] Brian [Solo] and myself and said, 'What did I do wrong? What do I have to do to get better?' He was so focused on what he was going to do. He was going to learn from his mistakes and not make them again."

Seven weeks later, Best's prediction continues. Thompson has not lost since losing to Casella, a two-time Howard County champion and the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state at 189. Casella's career record is 96-29 (46 pins), including a 26-3 mark and 12 pins this season.

St. Mary has a reputation as a lacrosse power and as a strong academic school, but not as a wrestling factory.

But since the Saints entered the Maryland Scholastic Association in 1986, the Annapolis school has produced two individual champions -- Jeff Bunker (heavyweight) in 1989 and Phil MacWilliams (130) last season. Thompson said he would like to become the third at 171.

"Everybody wants to win the MSA title," he said. "Right now, I want to win the MSA title. But it would make me happy if I place high in the MSAs and if the team wins the B Conference. But my biggest goal is to help this team win more than anything else. Every time I go to the mat, I try to get six [points] for the team."

Best said: "He's definitely our best chance for a MSA champion."

In the MSAs last February, Thompson, 17, upset No. 1 seed Omar Villanova of Edmondson and defeated two others before defaulting in the semifinals because of a broken collarbone.

That month, Mervo's Bobby Giles won the MSA title. Thompson had tied Giles a month earlier.

The Annapolis resident wants to get back to the MSAs later this month and make up for last season's disappointment.

"I kind of got a little payback from last year," Thompson said. "I was real angry about that to the point where I could have gone on and beaten some of the other guys."

Thompson's season did not end at the MSA tournament. He competed in the National Preps a week later despite the broken collarbone. He shifted to 160 for the Preps at Lehigh University and hoped to gain additional strength advantage by dropping a weight class. He won three matches before defaulting in the semifinals. Thompson will return to the nationals again later this month.

Thompson began this season wrestling at heavyweight. In the season-opening Curley tournament, he placed third, defeating five opponents and losing to the state's fourth-ranked and 275-pound Blaine Gasch in the semifinals.

At the Annapolis tournament a week later, he took third at 189, losing 11-3 to Bullis' second-best wrestler Will Currier. Then came the loss to Casella -- Thompson's last match before dropping to 171.

"The matches in which Scott has lost have not been at his natural weight classes," Best said of Thompson, who gave up 30 to 40 pounds and sometimes more in early-season matches. "Once I knew we could get him back at 171, he would be fine."

Best was correct. Thompson won 12 consecutive matches, including one at 189 last month. In January, Thompson recorded six pins and went 11-0.

Last month, he captured the Friends School Invitational title by pinning three opponents and winning a decision. His performance helped St. Mary's take third place in the tourney. An 8-4 decision by Thompson at Friends over Poly's Rashaad Kitchen -- third in the MSA last season -- put the wrestler, in the minds of many, as the second-best in the MSA at 171.

He can wrestle the books as well as opponents. For the fall semester, Thompson took advanced placement government and three honors courses: physics, pre-calculus and history.

Thompson's 3.75 GPA for that semester boosted his overall average to 3.5. Good enough, he hopes, to get him into the Naval Academy or West Point, where he would like to continue wrestling.

Thompson finished 28-9 last season. He attributes his improved record this season to additional strength and extensive work with assistant coach Solo, a former Naval Academy wrestler, whom he wrestles every day in practice.

Thompson's attitude may keep the pins and victories pouring in. Best thinks so, "I can't put anymore pressure on him than he puts on himself."

"I am never satisfied with what I do," Thompson said. "I am always trying to better myself. If you win a win a tournament, but you didn't pin your way through it. Then the next tournament, you want to pin your way through it.

"I can talk a pretty good game, but it's different out there on the mat. I have got to prove I can wrestle as well as I can talk."

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