All-out approach launches Combs Wrestling: An attack- oriented style and weight lifting have helped Old Mill's 112-pound sophomore Chris Combs become even more aggressive on the mat and notch 16 pins.

February 07, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

When Chris Combs comes to wrestle, his opponent is usually back-pedaling.

"I like to dictate, dominate and control the match -- go right at the guy," said Combs, Old Mill's 112-pound sophomore county champ and region runner-up.

"His theory is, 'I'm in great condition; let's see if the other guy is,' " said coach Mike Hampe, attributing Combs' technique to the instruction of assistant Jay Braunstein. "He's constantly on the attack and feels that if he's pressing, then the other guy can't attack him."

But Combs can be as much a joker and prankster off the mat as he is nasty on it.

"He can be a real cut-up, that kid," said Hampe, who suspects Combs was the culprit who slipped crackers under the bed sheets of a few of his team members during one tournament road trip.

Ranked No. 5 in the state, Combs is 22-1 with 16 pins on the year. But he was 16-0 before losing his only bout, 6-1, to DeMatha's state champ Kyle Beckerman, a Crofton resident. With their bout tied, 1-1, and fewer than 10 seconds left, Beckerman countered Combs' takedown attempt with one of his own, putting Combs to his back.

"I think I took a great [takedown] shot -- one that I learned from Gary Baker [a former Old Mill state champ] -- and it's worked for me a lot," said Combs, 16, who is a 3.0 student. "But I got defensive for a second, which isn't my style."

As a freshman, Combs lost only four times in 31 bouts last season, being pinned three times by state champ John Waters (Queen Anne's), Quince Orchard's Aron Dorsey (third at states) and Roosevelt's Steve McKinney (fifth at states).

"Last season really put things into perspective for me," said Combs, who pinned 16 opponents last year. "It told me that I needed to start lifting weights. Hard. Even now, I'm doing it every other day."

Combs' off-season workouts, under the supervision of certified trainer Jim Gross, have helped him in some tight bouts.

Westminster's No. 6 Bobby Biden, a two-time county and region champ, fell by 2-1. He also has a 4-3 decision against Peter Bakke, whom he called "a big 112-pounder" who was third in Virginia's state tournament last season.

"Chris was right with everyone last year, in terms of skills, but from junior leagues, there's a transition you go through," Hampe said. "He's much more focused and mature now."

Old Mill's talent base is largely made up of former junior leaguers, among them Chris Deadder, who has lost just once this year at 119. But senior Gary Serago (140, 16-3, seven pins) was a region runner-up last year, and county champ Rich Sampson (135, 22-4, 10 pins) was third at regions and sixth at states. Sampson ranks second on the team with 42 takedowns this season.

Combs, one of three Patriots who were state qualifiers a year ago, likely will stay at 112 for the county tournament, then drop to 103 for states.

"I'm walking around at around 110, so I'm not cutting that much," he said.

Old Mill (10-2 overall, 10-1 league) plays host tonight to No. 15 Northeast (10-1, 9-1), which opped the Patriots last year for only the third time in 10 meetings.

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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