Hernandez goes on the offensive New approach: A more aggressive style this season has helped the Wilde Lake senior reach 17-1 with 12 pins.

January 28, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

His style of wrestling has gone from defensive to offensive -- a milquetoast to a Marine. And the favorable results speak for themselves.

Wilde Lake's 135-pound Alex Hernandez is 17-1 with 12 pins and his newfound aggressive style has made people forget about last season when he was a one-dimensional wrestler.

"Last season Alex wouldn't shoot," Wilde Lake coach Rich Jackson said. "He'd always wait for the other guy, and then counter and pull the guy down on top of himself. When you do that against the better wrestlers they are going to take you. This year he's doing it all -- takedowns, reversals and pins."

Hernandez's new attacking style was helped by watching old films of former Wildecats state champion Mike Green and studying Green's takedown techniques.

Hernandez, who is physically stronger than most of his opponents, said he also has paid more attention to conditioning and diet in his determination to make states and wipe out the memory of last season's disappointment.

He was one win away from making states and had a 9-1 lead in the third period, but got pinned in the last 30 seconds. And that wasn't the only late pin that haunted his 18-11 season.

"Last season he would get careless late in matches in his enthusiasm to get pins," Jackson said.

Hernandez finished only fifth in the county tournament because of carelessness in the third period.

"I'm hungry for states," he said. "I'm better on my feet and smarter on my pinning combinations."

Hernandez is one of just three seniors on Wilde Lake's team, and the team's youth may have contributed unintentionally to making Hernandez a better wrestler.

"Because we're so young we spent more practice time than usual on basic drills, and it helped Alex eliminate some rookie mistakes he made last season," Jackson said.

"I always knew I had potential," said Hernandez, who is in his third season of wrestling. "It just took time to get the experience."

Last weekend Hernandez pinned his way to the championship of the South River Tournament. He also won the Arundel Tournament with two pins and a tech fall.

His only loss this season was to defending state champ Boomer Black at the Douglas Tournament, 8-4. Otherwise, he had two pins and a tech fall at Douglas.

Hernandez said it helps to have someone as competitive as teammate Matt Stephens to work against in practice.

"He's also helped Stephens a lot," Jackson said. "Stephens is 13-9. And Alex has influenced our younger guys who have seen '' how successful he is through his hard work."

Hernandez's top county opponents appear to be Oakland Mills' John Nguyen and Hammond's Mike Loula. He decisioned Nguyen earlier but hasn't wrestled Loula.

"Alex is a pleasure to watch wrestle," Jackson said. "He really gets you and the fans into the match. He has lots of confidence now and tries a lot of different moves. He's no longer one-dimensional."

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