Obscurity hasn't been an issue for Greg Hammack.
As a 145-pound wrestler for Glen Burnie, Hammack toils in the shadows of his program's four-year winless streak that would discourage even the hardiest of athletes. But Hammack marches on, resisting the temptation to leave the tiny practice room above the school's gymnasium.
"I just love it too much," the senior said. "It's too much fun."
Fun has been a rare commodity for the Gophers, who haven't captured a dual-meet victory in four winters. Glen Burnie last won a dual meet during the 1996-97 season, guided by then-coach and current athletic director Bruce Sider.
Since that season, the Gophers have endured a 0-12 record during the 1997-98 season and three consecutive 0-13 years.
Yet, Hammack has been the one beacon in a dark season. Despite a neck injury that forced him to miss two meets, Hammack is 16-7 --- the only Glen Burnie wrestler with a winning record - and was awarded the No. 3 seed in the county tournament at Old Mill High tomorrow and Saturday.
It's an unusual accomplishment when one considers that Hammack only started wrestling as a freshman to get in shape for baseball. After a season at 103 pounds on junior varsity, he was 10-10 as a sophomore on the varsity level at 135 pounds.
Hammack made his biggest splash last season when, at 140 pounds, he placed third at the county tournament and finished fourth at the Class 4A-3A East regional tournament en route to a 20-9 record.
Hammack's individual success is in sharp contrast to the team's futility, which is exacerbated by a partial varsity lineup that forces coach Corey Fowler to forfeit five matches - and 30 team points - before a dual meet begins.
The full weight of the forfeits played out in a dual meet against Walbrook last month when Glen Burnie won four of the six matches that were wrestled, but still lost because the Gophers had one more forfeit than Walbrook.
"It's a little discouraging to see the guys go out there and win and get no recognition for it," Hammack said. "But the team thing has never been an issue. It's not like I came in here and we were state champs. I'm accustomed to it."
Fowler, an assistant for the school's football team, said he caught a glimpse of Hammack's competitive fire when he assumed a linebacker position at 145 pounds.
"I guess you would say it's embedded in him not to give up," Fowler said. "He's here for a purpose, and that's to wrestle."
Hammack said his goals are to run the table at the county, regional and state tournaments, but acknowledges that his first hurdles are at the county championship in No. 2 seed Paul Macknis of Annapolis and No. 1 seed Taylor Connolly of Arundel - both of whom have narrowly defeated Hammack.
To accomplish that, he's been spending more than two hours daily watching video and working on his shots and takedowns.
"I've been preparing two weeks for this," Hammack said. "I'm ready."