Chesapeake's Eveleth stays cool, calm - and collecting victories

Defending 3A-4A champ leads by example with 18-0 record at 125 class

High Schools


January 24, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Spotlight, meet Matt Eveleth. Matt Eveleth, this is the spotlight.

As if he wasn't already accustomed to standing on the center stage of high school wrestling, Eveleth knows many eyes will be trained on him as he attempts to defend his 2000 Class 3A-4A state championship.

If he's feeling pressured to repeat, Eveleth doesn't acknowledge it.

"I'm used to it," says the junior, who is 18-0 in the 125-pound weight class and ranked second in the metropolitan area behind Darien Kess of Overlea. "I do what I do. The outcome will do itself."

Eveleth's "why worry?" approach has served him well as the undisputed leader of a youthful Chesapeake squad that is shrugging off preseason predictions of doom and gloom.

Chesapeake owns a 5-2 overall record and a 4-2 county mark, which is good enough for a three-way tie for third with Severna Park and Annapolis.

If Chesapeake expects to qualify for the regional duals meet and exact revenge against either Old Mill or Arundel, Eveleth will likely be the go-to guy.

"He does carry the team," says 119-pound sophomore Steve Yaruta, a practice partner of Eveleth's. "He's the guy we look up to, and we can follow him."

Last season, the Cougars were sparked by an Eveleth, but it was Jeff, Matt's older brother, who served as one of the team's captains. Paced by Jeff Eveleth, Melvin Guthrie, and John Mosca, Chesapeake captured the state tournament title.

With that trio having graduated, Matt Eveleth has assumed the leadership role previously filled by his brother, who is now wrestling at the University of Pennsylvania.

"The last two years, with his brother being here, he seemed to be in the shadows," Cougars first-year coach Rex Miller said. "Now he has to stand up on his own, and he's been doing a good job of that."

This year, Chesapeake starts four freshmen and three sophomores in 13 weight classes. And they have looked to Eveleth, who is always ready to offer advice or an encouraging word to his teammates.

"He'll walk around and give the guys pointers if they ask for it," Miller says. "It's like having another set of eyes in the room."

Eveleth, who has been wrestling since he was 7 years old, has used his knowledge to his advantage. Of his 18 wins, 14 are by pins. He's been extended to a full three periods only by Class 1A-2A state champ Michael Weber of Sparrows Point, who dropped an 11-3 major decision to Eveleth in the finals of the Dundalk Tournament last month.

Miller likens Eveleth's style on the mat to that of a lion cornering its prey.

"He feels you out and keeps circling and circling and circling," Miller said. "Then he settles for the attack and takes you down. Even then, he plays with you and then pop, you're on your back."

With so many pins, there could be some concern about an opponent extending Eveleth to a full six minutes. But he says he isn't worried.

"I wrestle more than six minutes in practice," he says. "I'm training hard every day."

And Miller says he doesn't believe in the practice of moving Eveleth around to avoid matchups against other top wrestlers.

"I want him to go against the best wrestlers," says Miller, noting that Eveleth has tackled Weber and state runner-up Jake DeMatt of North East. "That's the way you keep improving."

With five more dual meets, and possibly three matches each at the county and regional tournaments, and four at states, Eveleth is on pace to end his junior year with 97 career wins - a mark that would vault him past brothers Matt (91 career victories) and Jeff (94) and place him one shy of tying current leader Marty Pyles.

It's a nice achievement, but Eveleth says he is focused on retaining his state crown and possibly finishing undefeated.

"I'll take [the career wins record]," Eveleth said nonchalantly. "I'd be happy, but I still have a lot of work to do."

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