Eveleths give Cougars 1-2 punch

Wrestling: Brothers Jeff and Matt Eveleth of Chesapeake have become a dominant duo at the lower weights.

January 24, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Brian Eveleth Sr. calls his younger sons -- Jeff and Matt -- the "second generation" of his talented wrestling family.

His oldest son, Brian Jr., did a fine job setting the standard, winning a state title during his senior year at Chesapeake High in 1992 and then going on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a captain and NCAA qualifier.

Just as rewarding for the younger Brian these days is the opportunity to give back as an assistant coach under Tom Slichter at Chesapeake, where Jeff, a 112-pound junior, and Matt, a 103-pound freshman, have become a dominating one-two punch at the lower weights for the Cougars.

Just how dominant?

Jeff, after winning a junior-league title out of the Severna Park program as a freshman before going 29-6 in his first season of varsity last season, is now 16-0 and ranked sixth in the state with wins in the Chopticon and Dundalk tournaments.

Matt, ranked fifth in the state, is off to a 16-1 start that includes 12 pins. He also won at Chopticon -- pinning all four opponents -- while suffering his only loss -- an overtime decision to Annapolis Christian standout Luke Palumbo -- in the finals at Dundalk.

All three have shared plenty of traits on the mat, but the one in particular -- an Eveleth trademark -- is hard work. Getting the opportunity to put in the time together makes all the success that much more rewarding.

"We've always attributed success to hard work and they are two of the most dedicated people I've seen," said Brian Jr., of his two younger brothers. "I see a lot of me in both of them, but they've also added things to have their own styles. They are two of my best friends and it's neat seeing them look at me as a role model. We've always stressed doing well in academics as well as wrestling -- they make it easy."

Wrestling has always been a way of life in the Eveleth family, starting with Brian Sr., who won a county championship in his days at Glen Burnie High School and later coached his sons in the junior leagues. Each came into high school with extensive wrestling backgrounds.

After seeing his two older brothers win junior-league titles, Matt considered his third-place finish as an eighth-grader last year a disappointment.

"I felt a lot of pressure and messed up in the semifinals," he said. "But you learn more when you lose. It taught me to relax. I know I have all the tools, I've just got to go after it. Winning is awesome, it's a rush and you get what you put into it."

Which for the Eveleth brothers is plenty.

"We're always working to be the best we can be," said Jeff. "You have to set goals and stick with them. That means working after practice, lifting and running to achieve those goals." While Jeff is the crafty technician, strong on his feet and tough to keep down, Matt is a more physical, dominating presence. Some of their toughest competition comes in the practice room when they wrestle each other.

Who wins those battles?

"He does, usually," said Matt, conceding to his older brother. "It's always close though."

Said Slichter: "Matt and Jeff working together benefits the rest of the kids. The others see how these two work and the dedication they have to the sport and it can't help but rub off," said Slichter. "A good word to describe them would be tenacious. They never let up, don't give you a chance to breathe and force you to wrestle as hard as you can. They're like a hurricane out there. A lot of wrestlers aren't ready for that."

In every dual match this season, the two have provided the Cougars with an early lead, often times 12-0 (six points each for a pin), as was the case in the team's two matches this week against Arundel and South River. The pin of the week came on Tuesday when Jeff decked Arundel's Shannon Webber, who shares his sixth ranking in the state.

With Jeff and Matt both state contenders, could another state title or two be on the way for the Eveleths'?

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," said Brian Sr.

Pub Date: 1/24/99

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