Wrestlers can be a superstitious lot. At Old Mill, winners of six state tournaments and two state duals titles, several wrestlers sport "Superman" T-shirts before every dual meet.
Adam DeCosmo, the team's undisputed leader, passes on the T-shirt to wear a traditional warm-up suit.
"I wear what I want," DeCosmo said. "I just go out there and wrestle."
That nonchalance is a distinct contrast from his demeanor on the mat, where the 135-pound senior is determined to defend his state crown. Judging by the 27-0 record he has compiled, DeCosmo is moving closer to repeating as a state champ and becoming the fourth Patriot to complete a perfect season (the others were Chuck Sturm, Charles Royer and Greg Wise).
It would be a monumental achievement - if he cared about individual accomplishments.
"When I win stuff like that, it's not enough," said DeCosmo, whose 125 career victories have surpassed the previous school record of 120 set by Chris Combs. "I want to win more."
Such focus is one of the aspects DeCosmo has developed since he arrived at Old Mill as a 103-pound freshman.
Talent was never a question. As an eighth-grader in his second year of organized wrestling, DeCosmo placed third at the state junior league tournament.
In his freshman debut, he compiled a 28-6 mark and went 32-5 as a sophomore en route to finishing second at the state tournament to Matt Pandullo of Meade.
Teammate and frequent practice partner Nick Liston said DeCosmo's strength is his knowledge.
"He brings a lot to the [practice] room," said Liston, a senior wrestling at 140 pounds. "There's not a move he doesn't know."
But losing to Pandullo by a single point bothered DeCosmo.
"It was not a good feeling at all," he said. "I would rather have not placed than taken second."
Although DeCosmo captured a state title at 130 pounds last year, Patriots coach Vern Hines said DeCosmo's most important contributions to the Old Mill program have been a greater sense of maturity and leadership.
"I don't think I could have looked at him as a sophomore and asked him, `What is the other team doing and what can we do to counteract them?' " Hines said. "As a senior, he'll come up to me during the middle of a match and whisper in my ear, `Coach, they're doing this. I think we need to do this.' "
Hines said he sometimes finds DeCosmo's eagerness to talk strategy surprising, because for his first three years with the Patriots, DeCosmo declared that he would never be a team captain.
"I think he has realized that it's not about being internally focused anymore," Hines said. "Instead of being self-centered, he's centered on what the team is doing."
That philosophy became apparent last year when DeCosmo blended his skills with those of graduates Dave Hicks, Antoine Cooksey and Dave Kim to help power the Patriots to their second state duals meet crown in three years. DeCosmo has them poised for their third, which will be decided tomorrow at Kent Island High in Stevensville.
Until then, finishing undefeated and posting back-to-back state crown runs are all the inspiration DeCosmo said he needs.
"I picture my opponent sitting around while I'm running or lifting weights," he said. "That gives me motivation."