Hamper expands victory horizons Wrestling: There's more to a pin than pure muscle, South Carroll star Jason Hamper has discovered on his way to an 18-1 record.

January 16, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The fact that South Carroll's Jason Hamper has found success this season won't surprise many people. The way he has done it, however, just may turn a few heads.

Hamper was 24-8 last year and won Carroll County and region championships. He relied on power and strength to do most of his damage. But late last season and while working out over the summer, Hamper realized that finesse could have a place in his wrestling life.

Hamper has delighted coach Pete Olson with his increased patience this season. The senior still uses his strength, but has been much more selective, and his 18-1 record has helped No. 8-ranked South Carroll surprise some with an 8-0 start.

Hamper (160/171) readily admits that he spent most of his first two varsity seasons trying to muscle people and forcing the issue. That caused problems, especially against some of his better opponents, who turned his over-aggressiveness into their points.

Toward the end of last season, Hamper said he realized power alonewas not the answer. He began trying to be more patient and using more moves.

Hamper also wrestled often with friends over the summer on a mat in his basement. Former South Carroll wrestler Charlie Conaway worked with Hamper, showing him the importance of finesse.

"I don't try to force things any more," said Hamper, who heard the same message from Olson. "I just go with what's there. I try to wait for them to make the mistake."

Olson said Hamper has moved to another level this season, and patience is the biggest reason.

"Jason has definitely cranked it up this season," said Olson. "He thought he was so strong that he could bulldoze over a kid. This year, if the move's not there, he moves on to something else."

Hamper also said getting into better shape has helped him. He worked out early in the summer and fall to be closer to match shape when practice began. In addition, Hamper runs on his own and his stamina has increased.

The stamina gives Hamper more confidence. Hamper said he used to think that an early pin was important because late-match stamina might be a problem. That's not even a small issue this year.

"What makes me more confident now is that I'm in better shape than I've ever been in," said Hamper. "I can go all three periods hard."

Now ranked sixth in the state, Hamper also can help the Cavaliers in another way. The senior will take the mat at either 160 or 171, allowing Olson to juggle his lineup.

"Jason goes where I need him to go," said Olson. "This year, it's even more so."

Olson said Hamper is a low-key, laid-back person. However, he does get fired up watching his freshman brother, Bryan, wrestle. Bryan Hamper (119) has been nearly as successful as Jason, posting an 18-2 record.

Bryan Hamper won a junior league state title last year and said his sibling has made adjusting to varsity wrestling much easier.

"It's really cool having an older brother on the team," said Bryan Hamper. "He always fires me up before every match. He warms up with me before my matches and works on drills and moves.

Having watched his older brother numerous times, Bryan Hamper agreed that Jason is more "match-smart" this season -- the biggest reason for his improvement. "He's more confident this year," said Bryan Hamper. 'He's stepping it up."

Jason Hamper's biggest tests are upcoming as South Carroll starts its tough county schedule next week against No. 9 Francis Scott Key. Hamper hopes to have a shot at repeating in the county and region tournaments, as well as making some noise in the state competition.

On the team front, the Cavaliers went 0-4 in the county last year but look much stronger this season.

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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