33-0 not enough for West

Wrestling: Old Mill's 130-pound star hopes to ride his exceptional intensity to the one honor that's eluded him, a state championship.

March 03, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

There's that word again - focus - the one Old Mill's Doug West can't get away from this time of year.

The 130-pound wrestling standout hears it from his father, David, who stresses his son's main obstacle to winning a state title is himself.

And the word is a daily constant with Patriots coach Jim Grim, who preaches to his senior the importance of looking at the big picture by taking it one match at a time.

Focus, focus, focus: "I hear it every day now," said West.

So what was he doing the other day in Algebra II class?

"Daydreaming," he said.

About what?

"Winning a state title," said West. "I was going over the state-final match in my head - winning it, getting my hand raised and then getting up on the podium."

After winning his second county title and fourth region crown the past two weekends to improve his season record to 33-0, West is looking to hit the jackpot in this weekend's Class 4A-3A state tournament at the University of Maryland, as the No. 8 Patriots defend their team title.

With one win, West will become Old Mill's all-time leader in victories (he tied 2001 alumnus Adam DeCosmo at 136 with a 5-1 decision over Broadneck's Mike Vakas in the region final).

With four wins, West can achieve his ultimate goal, a state crown that eluded him last year when he lost in the final, 3-2, to Churchill's three-time state champ, Danny April, who is at 135 this season.

"I've been wrestling for 12 years and made it to a state final once. I came oh so close to winning it last year and that leaves a foul taste in my mouth," said West, who carries a 3.25 grade point average and plans to wrestle at Lock Haven (Pa.) University and study physical education. "That's the motivation I have - keep going, keep going - get that gold medal at states."

The fact is, West doesn't stop.

Grim describes West as "self-driven" and "ultracompetitive," and that can be seen on the mat or in playing a friendly game of kickball - make that a competitive game of kickball .

"To mix things up in practice, sometimes we'll play different games and the other day we're playing kickball," said Grim. "I was talking with [assistant coach Marc Procaccini] and we look over at Doug playing and we're saying, `Look how seriously he's taking this.' It's awesome."

West is a technically sound wrestler who's been refining his craft since he was a 6-year-old in the Mountain Road Optimists' program. He relies on positioning and balance, with a fast-forward work rate that wears out opponents.

West and Chesapeake senior standout Corey Bowers - a four-time county champion - have scrapped like there was no tomorrow during their high school careers.

Before West moved up to 130 and Bowers stayed at 119 this season, the two had met nine times since wrestling as 103-pounders as freshmen. West won five, Bowers took four - all being close and heated battles.

Seeing them on the mat, one would never guess that they are the best of friends.

"His mom was my babysitter when I was 3, so we've been going at it for a long time," said Bowers. "It's funny how everyone in the county turned it into a big rivalry and said how much we hated each other. It was just because of how hard we wrestled. We've both helped each other get better."

When David West saw his son watching pro wrestling on TV, he wanted to show him what the real sport was about, taking him to the Mountain Road program.

"He took to it right away and, just like I did, saw that wrestling is a sport that gets into your system," said David West, who wrestled at Chesapeake in the late '70s.

And while the younger West has a career 136-15 mark that is tops in the state's most prestigious program - Old Mill has won a record seven state tournament titles to go with two dual-meet state crowns - the older West will always be one up on his son.

"I was undefeated in my varsity career," David West said with a laugh. "One match! I was always a JV kid and one time the varsity kid didn't make weight, so I got put in and won. So percentage-wise, I got him."

His son's teammate and partner in the practice room, junior Chris Volker, said of the younger West: "Doug is not normal."

Volker said his toughest times come at practice, that West's work ethic has rubbed off on the rest of the team and his intensity when taking to the mat is second to none.

Before that?

"He's kind of goofy," said Volker, who is 24-6 at 140. "He could be fooling around 30 minutes before his match, but when it's time to wrestle - he's always ready. There's a switch that comes on - probably about 20 minutes before the match - and you can see him focus, his eyes change."

There was one time last season when the two sides of West briefly overlapped, caused by West's common interest with Grim: comedy films.

"We were at the county tournament and he did something wrong and I said: `Doug, you've got to keep your composure out there,' " said Grim. "Well that's a line from the movie, Old School. He just looked over at me, kind of smirked and said: `This isn't the time.' "

For West, now is the time to win that state title.

"Wrestling season is long, but it goes by so fast," said West. "You hope you've prepared yourself for the end of the year and just try to do your best. I'm feeling pretty good undefeated and that carries a lot of momentum and confidence going to states."

Finding the top

With one win in this weekend's Class 4A-3A state championships at the University of Maryland, Old Mill senior 130-pound wrestler Doug West would become the school's all-time leader in career victories. The program's top five in that category (t-tie):

Wrestler ................. Grad. yr. ......... Wins

1t. Doug West ........... 2004 .............. 136

1t. Adam DeCosmo.... 2001 .............. 136

3. Chris Combs ........ 1999 .............. 120

4. Charles Royer ....... 1985 .............. 108

5. Josh Baynham ...... 2003 .............. 104

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