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Alumni Report: Matt, Brian and Jeff Eveleth, Chesapeake-AA, wrestling

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After handling every opponent in his very first wrestling tournament, Brian Eveleth Jr. - then 7 years old, 50 pounds and grappling in sneakers - got the ride of his life.

After Eveleth's hand was raised, Severna Park Green Hornets coach Frank Spiegel hoisted him atop his shoulder and paraded him around the mat. Eveleth flashed a wide smile that was brighter than a brand-new light bulb.

It turned out to be the start of an outstanding run for the Eveleth family on the mat.

Brian, now 36, and younger brothers Jeff (27) and Matt (25) - combined to win six state titles at Chesapeake High in Anne Arundel County, and all continued their careers and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

Not only did wrestling create a cherished common bond for the three, but it also provided them with life skills that shape them to this day.

"Wrestling helped me out a lot as far as dealing with other aspects of life," said Jeff, who graduated from Penn in 2005 with a degree in economics and now is a trading assistant at Legg Mason. "You have to deal with a lot of adversity in wrestling, so it makes situations in other aspects easier to handle. You can apply it to every situation you come across."

Brian Sr., who was an Anne Arundel County champion in his wrestling days at Glen Burnie, and his wife, Naomi, had a few simple rules for their boys growing up: Excel in school or there will be no sports, always start what you finish, and be respectful to everyone.

It instilled strong character and a tireless work ethic that led to unprecedented success on the mat at Chesapeake.

Brian Jr. became the program's first wrestler to win a state title in 1991.

After graduating from Penn in 1996, he returned to the area and served as an assistant coach at Chesapeake, helping Jeff become the school's first two-time state champion before Matt won three state titles and became the school's all-time leader with 132 career wins.

"Their attitude and character went unmatched," former Chesapeake coach Tom Slichter said. "As good as they all were, they still outworked everybody in the room, and that just raised everybody else's level. They were very coachable, always willing to help the others, and they were role models for everybody else as far as what to do."

Among the countless wins and the funny stories that piled up over the many years, surprisingly, one day stands alone as the clear favorite within the entire family.

It was March 4, 2000, at Western Maryland College.

On that day, Jeff closed out his high school career with a methodical 7-1 decision over Franklin's Matt Schuster in the 119-pound class for his second state crown, completing a 34-0 season. Matt, a sophomore at 112, soon followed with a last-second 4-3 decision over Magruder's Mark Heincleman, avenging a loss in the final the year before.

"At the end of the match, there was a penalty point awarded to him that gave him a one-point advantage. Then I remember getting the takedown with about 12 seconds left right on the edge of the mat and then holding him down for the rest of the period. That feeling was awesome," said Matt, who now sells computer point-sales systems in Millersville.

With teammate Melvin Guthrie winning the 189-pound crown and two others placing, the Cougars also captured the program's only team state title.

"My parents always taught us to be good friends - all three of us - and particularly Matt and Jeff because they are so close in age. I always enjoyed mentoring them and being the big brother," said Brian Jr., a regional manager for Travelers Indemnity Co. who resides in Catonsville with his wife and two young sons. "I remember hugging them when they came off the mat, and it was pretty special in that the whole family was enjoying it together."

Brian Sr. put it best: "We were all just ecstatic. Everybody was still talking into the wee hour - nobody wanted to go to bed that night."

Jeff and Matt share a house in Canton and are once again following in their big brother's footsteps. Jeff is a volunteer coach at Chesapeake, and Matt volunteers at Old Mill.

"It's an effort to give something back the way people did for us," Jeff said. "There are a lot of people who helped us along, and all the things they did for us, we'd like to be able to do the same. If you can even touch one or two kids and make a change for them, it's a great thing."

As for the rules that go back to their younger days, one simply proved too difficult to enforce: No wrestling in the house.

"We'd be wrestling downstairs and mom would yell for Dad to go down, and before you know it, he'd be down there wrestling with us, too," Brian Jr. said.

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