Cornerstones of Cavaliers' success

Wrestling: South Carroll's quartet of juniors Kellen Weber, Dan Patterson, Josh Wampler and Bryan Hamper has been winning championships together since the second grade.

February 25, 2000|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

South Carroll wrestling coach Pete Olson readily admits that he's not much of a screamer when one of his Cavaliers is on the mat.

And when Kellen Weber, Dan Patterson, Josh Wampler and Bryan Hamper are positioned in the circle, the longtime coach becomes practically silent.

"There's not a lot to say to them because they know what they need to do," said Olson, who has been coaching in Carroll County since 1979.

What the four wrestlers have done -- in addition to winning titles at last Saturday's county tournament -- is compile strong records on their way to earning high seeds in the Class 3A/4A North Regional tournament at Dundalk High today.

Patterson carries a 24-2 record as the No. 1 seed in the 130-pound division. Hamper, the top seed at 140 pounds, is 25-1.

As the fourth seed in the 125-pound weight class, Weber brings a 21-5 mark, and No. 5 seed Wampler is 23-7 at 135.

That's 93 wins against 15 losses in four consecutive weight classes for South Carroll.

What's even more remarkable is that all four wrestlers are juniors and have been wrestling together since they were second-graders.

"They were good when they got here, and I don't want to mess them up," Olson said.

Like brothers, Hamper, Patterson, Wampler and Weber bicker and compete with each other.

Wampler and Patterson battle for the most pins (Wampler leads by one), and Weber has more takedowns than anyone else.

Patterson leads the group in career wins with 87 -- good enough to tie him for third on the school's all-time list -- and Hamper is fourth with 85 victories.

"If you see someone doing good, you push yourself," Hamper said of the rivalry between the four. "You want to be on top with them."

Each wrestler has a different approach. While Weber prefers to think to himself before a match, Hamper likes to goad his friends into showing some emotion. Wampler is the comedian of the group, and Patterson is the quiet one who leads by example.

"We watch him on the mat, and we get fired up," Wampler said.

Because the four are some of the first in the Cavaliers' lineup to hit the mat, the team has come to rely on the group to produce early points. It's not unusual for the foursome to produce the pins -- and resulting 24 points -- South Carroll needs to race to a nearly insurmountable lead.

"Our weight is the foundation of the team," Weber said. "We realize that we need to get the points for our team to win."

Olson, who said he does most of his coaching in the practice room, said the foursome is technically sound, which gives him the flexibility to match them against the opponent's best wrestlers.

"If I'm an opposing coach, I'm thinking, `Who am I going to match up with?' " Olson said. "Their repertoire of moves is pretty extensive, and they have a passion for the sport."

Hamper, Patterson and Weber are no strangers to success. All three are defending regional champions, and Patterson placed third at the states last season. Hamper and Weber both finished fourth at the states.

Wampler has been the biggest surprise of the season. A steady wrestler who toiled in the shadows of three-time regional and county champ Bobby Biden of Westminster and two-time state titlist Fran Jackson of North Carroll, Wampler has emerged as "a force to be reckoned with," Olson said.

Said Wampler: "I've been second pretty much all my life. So it felt good to win my first county championship."

As the foursome prepared for the regionals Tuesday, they agreed that winning a dual-meet state championship to add to a Junior League crown they won with the Warriors in 1993 is an important priority.

And they said they will be watching each other's matches, providing support and maybe some advice.

"You want to do good, but if you're not doing good, then you hope the others are winning," Patterson said. "Whatever happens, we'll cheer hard for each other."

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