Mitchell ready to shoulder burden

January 13, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

As an underclassman, Wade Mitchell saw some of the best wrestlers Oakland Mills has had to offer.

During his freshman season, heavyweight Monte Spencer won his second state crown. As a sophomore, Mitchell watched middleweight Adam Seidman become Howard County's all-time winningest wrestler. And last year, Mitchell saw 103-pounder Juri Freeman become a champion in his first appearance at the 1A-2A state tournament.

"He's been around to see some of our better kids," said Oakland Mills coach Brian Chadwick, himself a former county champ for the Scorpions.

"Now the rest of the team kind of counts on him for a win, so he's definitely been carrying the torch."

The No. 15 Scorpions are 7-3, and Mitchell -- at 14-0 with eight pins as a 130-pounder -- seems ready to make his mark.

"My goal is to go undefeated and win the states," said Mitchell, 17, a two-time county champ. "Every year, someone at Oakland Mills has kind of been the leader. There's pressure, but I accept that."

Already a winner of the Chopticon Tournament for the second straight year, Mitchell, ranked third in the state, takes aim at winning his second straight Arundel Tournament beginning this afternoon and ending tomorrow.

But recognition as one of the state's best hasn't changed Mitchell, said junior teammate and workout partner Casey Moffett.

"He's the team captain, but he doesn't walk around like he's 'The Man' or anything," said Moffett, who is 13-1 at 140 pounds. "He still helps everyone out in practice and kind of leads by example more than vocally."

Should Mitchell start to get cocky, he's got Moffett and 135-pound Matt Sutton in practice to keep him humble.

"I can take him down pretty well, but when we're down on the mat, he's excellent," said Sutton, who is 10-3. "Our styles help each other. I'm the more aggressive risk-taker, he's a more laid-back, basic, smart, technical wrestler."

Mitchell's the same way in the classroom. With his last report card showing five A's and two B's, and his Scholastic Assessment Test score being 1120, Mitchell has designs on being a computer science major at James Madison, Virginia or Florida universities among others.

Mitchell (28-5 last year) has risen to the ranks of wrestling's elite more slowly and with more difficulty than his predecessors.

As an eighth-grader in the Columbia Cobras, Mitchell went 17-3. He had the same record as a freshman, placing second in the jayvee county tournament.

Placing third in the Arundel Tournament and winning the county crown at 112 pounds were among the highlights of Mitchell's sophomore season. But among the low points was coming down with a flu during the regionals, where he was eliminated early.

Mitchell wasn't much happier after last season, which included a grueling, 5-4, victory over Centennial's Jason Nagle for his second county crown and an overtime, 4-2 regional title-bout loss to Rockville's Kevin Pedone. He defaulted with a shoulder injury to Hereford's Anthony Radecki -- the eventual fourth-place finisher -- in the consolation rounds of the state tournament.

"The tendons in my left shoulder were almost completely detached from the bone. It [the shoulder] was always popping out, sometimes even in my sleep," said Mitchell. "At states, the trainers wouldn't let me continue. I was pretty mad."

Having undergone extensive surgery last June, Mitchell's wrestling more confidently and said his "shoulder is at 100 percent."

He went a long way toward proving that with an 11-5 victory over Nagle in a recent dual meet.

Twice in the bout, Mitchell countered the Centennial wrestler's signature takedowns -- a deep single-leg and a fireman's carry -- for takedowns of his own.

"Wade's biggest improvement has been that he's gotten quicker and more fluid over the years. He showed that against Nagle," said Chadwick. "He wasn't happy with how he won last year's county final, so he was pumped up to set the record straight."

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