Crossover artist

Francis Scott Key senior Shane Eyler uses skills he learned in the martial art form of Hapkido to help him win wrestling matches

Wrestling

February 25, 2007|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,Special to the Sun

Francis Scott Key senior Shane Eyler had just two years of wrestling experience before high school, but he still was well prepared to compete in the physically demanding sport.

By the time he entered the school as a freshman, Eyler had attained a third-degree black belt in Hapkido, which is loosely translated to mean "the way of coordinated power."

Through his study of the Korean martial art of self-defense, he was well versed in countering an opponent's technique with throws, pressure points and joint locks.

The circular motion emphasized in Hapkido, along with a stress on footwork and the positioning of the body to gain a leverage advantage, served Eyler well in his transition to the mat.

"Hapkido taught me about body control, balance and how to correctly move out of holds," said Eyler, who had studied and trained in Hapkido since he was 6.

Those skills have helped Eyler succeed on the mat. He is having the best season of his career, going 21-1 and heading into this weekend's regional championships as the top seed at 189 pounds.

Eyler, who has a career record of 118-15, made an immediate impact at Francis Scott Key, going 29-5 at 125 pounds as a freshman despite being relatively new to the sport.

He surprised many observers by winning first place that year at Francis Scott Key's Christmas tournament.

"By winning the Christmas tournament as a freshman, which I wasn't expected to do, I felt a lot more confident and knew that I belonged," he said.

He went 2-2 at the state meet and was one round away from placing.

As a sophomore, he went 30-5 in the 140-pound weight class and placed third at the state championships. Last year, he improved to 31-4, garnering second team All-County honors and again placed third at states at 152 pounds.

Yet with all of his success, the demands of shedding weight in order to compete took a toll on his body.

"Last year, I came in weighing 175 and had to constantly work on making weight," said Eyler, who felt it was best for the team that he competed at 152. "I was always getting sick; my body broke down, and my immune system was weak."

His time spent outside of competition was consumed with battling sinus problems, colds and debilitating ear infections.

Without expending his energy to face off against a scale this season, Eyler has been able to stay healthy and compete within his comfort zone.

"Not worrying about his weight has made a huge difference," Eagles coach Bill Hyson said. "He's comfortable and has more confidence in utilizing his expanded complement of moves. Shane is very technically sound, has good physical strength and is very deliberate in that when he goes out on the mat, he has a good idea as to what he wants to do."

Eyler won the county championship recently when he defeated Winters Mill's Joe Camlin in a highly anticipated bout.

Camlin, who at 6 feet 5 had a 6-inch height advantage, escaped with 45 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at 6. Then, as soon as Camlin turned to face him, Eyler scored a takedown to notch the winning points in an 8-6 victory.

"Shane has a healthy respect for his opponents and what it takes to step on the mat and be successful," Hyson said. "He stays on a pretty even keel, he's not demonstrative with his emotions and won't fall into the trap of being overconfident. He stays steady."

Eyler has found success off the mat also. In addition to maintaining an A-average, he was a first-team All-County linebacker in the fall and a first-team All-County outfielder last spring. He has committed to play baseball next year at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg.

As he chases a state title to cap off his wrestling career, Eyler will not deviate from his approach. It is rooted in Hapkido, where students are taught to avoid using strength against strength while countering opponents' attempts to control them.

"Every wrestler is different and depending on what they try to do, the situation dictates the amount and variation of the moves that I'll use," Eyler said. "I try to be the best technician that I can possibly be and compete with discipline and determination, because there's always someone out there that can beat you on any given day."

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