Junior Jake Utz was state runner-up at 285 pounds.

"(The school record) is definitely a big deal, because we had guys on the team like Wesley (Cook), Chase (Cullison), and (former state champions) Justin Kozera and Myzar Mendoza," said Sharkey, who followed older brothers Danny and Willy in the Winters Mill wrestling program and whose father was a county champion at Westminster High School. "They were all great wrestlers, and it's quite an accomplishment for me."

Lowe said Sharkey's methodical and steady approach set an example for his teammates, particularly the squad's younger members.

"His teammates could see his intensity in both the practices and the matches," Lowe said. "Cody never disappointed, and came up big for us in every match."

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His intensity wasn't always there. Sharkey started wrestling at an early age, then stepped away from the sport until the fifth grade.

"I just didn't like it," Sharkey said. "I was a little kid, and fighting other kids just didn't seem fun to me."

But he came back with the Mat Rats, a local youth wrestling organization where Sharkey learned toughness and how to rebound from an occasional loss. By the time he got to Winters Mill, he was an improved, but not yet complete, wrestler.

"He was second in the county in a weak weight class as a freshman," Lowe recalled. "Cody barely made the regionals and lost his first two matches. Last year, he didn't lose at all, and this year, he didn't lose to a public school kid all season."

Sharkey's busy wrestling and academic schedule didn't deter him from being an active contributor to the Westminster community. He has racked up 309 community service hours, far beyond the minimum of 75 needed for graduation.

"It makes me feel good to do something for the community," said Sharkey, a member of the National Honor Society. "But it's also fun. A lot of my hours came from working as a counselor at summer camps at East Middle School and the Sports Complex in Westminster. I also directed some wrestling tournaments and helped out at practices for the Mat Rats."

Sharkey plans to major in engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, next fall. He also intends to continue wrestling with the school's club program that participates in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.

"I really like math and science," said Sharkey, who is taking a pre-calculus class at Carroll Community College as part of his school day. "With engineering, you get to do a lot of hands-on work, and I like to see the process of making things, of putting it down on paper and seeing it come to life."

Lowe understands that Sharkey's future success will be determined by his work ethic.

"He's going to succeed, because he knows how to work," Lowe said. "He knows what both success and failure feel like. I would not be surprised if he winds up being a multiple All-American at UMBC. He could be a national champion before his career is over."

About this award

Since the fall of 2007, The Carroll Eagle has recognized a Carroll County student-athlete at the conclusion of the fall, winter, and spring sports seasons. Students who compete at the varsity level for a Carroll County public school are eligible for consideration, based on academic achievement, athletic achievement, and a record of service and good citizenship in the school and community. The publication also honors an overall Student-Athlete of the Year at the end of the school year.