Frech now sets the pace, despite late start in sport

Wrestling: The Francis Scott Key senior has a 14-4 record and is one of the state's best heavyweights, and he says some of the credit goes to his prematch ritual.

High Schools

January 23, 2000|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

If you're looking for Greg Frech during a wrestling match, don't scan the Francis Scott Key bench.

The senior heavyweight can be found pacing the area behind the bench. Back and forth. From one sideline to the other. Stopping only to offer encouragement to his teammates or to get advice from his coaches.

"It relaxes me," Frech says of his seemingly nonstop pacing. "It keeps me warmed up, and it allows me to focus on my match."

But his everyday practice partner, Cory Stouffer, says Frech has an ulterior motive.

"For some reason, it intimidates his opponents," Stouffer says. "I don't know how the pacing does that, but it does. He's got even me doing it now."

The strategy has worked for Frech, who is 14-4 this season and ranked second in the West region in his weight class by the Maryland State Wrestling Association. Last season, he finished 26-6 and placed sixth at states.

Unlike most wrestlers, Frech's meteoric rise to become one of the premier heavyweights in the state didn't involve joining a wrestling club at an early age. In fact, Frech didn't wrestle until he enrolled at Francis Scott Key for his freshman year.

Since he was 7, Frech played baseball and football -- two sports that he also plays for the Eagles.

But Frech never considered wrestling until wrestling coach Bill Hyson -- who also is a football assistant coach -- suggested it.

"Even with him being so young, I knew that he had good footwork as an offensive lineman and defensive lineman in football," Hyson recalls. "I knew he had some ability."

Frech spent his freshman year wrestling exhibition matches before moving to the varsity during his sophomore season.

His first varsity match came with Francis Scott Key losing by three points to Westminster, and Frech going into overtime against Clint Walker of the Owls.

"I tripped and fell over my own feet," Frech remembers. "All he did was jump on top of me and get the decision."

But Frech became a steady performer who went 16-11 and was a state qualifier.

Last season was Frech's breakthrough year. Not only did he place at states, but he also won the county crown and finished second at regionals.

Frech has continued his winning ways this season. Eight of the tri-captain's wins have come by pin, and his losses have come against wrestlers considered to be the top heavyweights in the state -- Mike Faust of Gilman, Flynn Ficker of DeMatha, Dave Kim of Old Mill and Ryan McDonald of Williamsport.

Hyson says the key for Frech is to think positively before each match.

"There were situations in the past where he wrestled the match in his mind before he even got to the mat," Hyson says.

"Sometimes that hurt him, but I've seen less evidence of that this year."

At 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, Frech would appear to be a wrestler who uses brute force to dispose of opponents. But Stouffer says Frech's real strength is his deceptive quickness.

"He can work something up top and shoot down real quick," says Stouffer, a sophomore. "You won't even know it's coming."

Assistant coach Larry DiPiano, who frequently wrestles Frech in the practice room, says Frech's mat skills have improved dramatically.

"If I don't watch myself around him, when I get home, I will be sore and beat up," says DiPiano.

Frech placed third at the prestigious Hammond Invitational, pinning Willie Leonard of Kent at the 3: 43 mark in the consolation finals.

Frech says his personal goal is to place better than sixth at the states, but he says he won't overlook any opponent just because he's ranked.

"I don't let it get to my head," he says. "I know on any given day, I can lose."

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