Lance Alderman has a style that sometimes surprises his opponents, and that has put the Meade senior wrestler in position to go for his first state championship this weekend.
Alderman won his first regional title Saturday, taking the Class 4A-3A East 152-pound title with an overtime charge at his opponent's ankles that led to a sudden pin. It was a stunning ending to a match that was tied 10-10 after regulation.
"He was one of the kids who came in as a freshman and didn't know what wrestling was," Meade coach Chad Vosburg said. "Over the last year and a half he's been putting everything together. He learned valuable lessons last year ... and I think if he believes in himself this weekend at the state tournament and wrestles to his ability, he could be standing on the podium. The sky is the limit."
A Baltimore native, Alderman moved to Anne Arundel County when he was 7 to live with his grandmother, who supports him in his chosen sport.
Your coach said you didn't wrestle before you were a freshman here, how did you find your way to the sport?
In the summer before my freshman year, I was here for an exercise program and met coach Chad. He suggested I come to an open mat [a night where anyone can wrestle]. Then, I got cut by the football team. Football had always been my sport, and I was trying out for running back. But I got cut, and I liked the open mat, so I thought, "I'll stick with wrestling. I'll stick this one out."
We all know how hard wrestling can be. What inspired you about it?
It wasn't easy. That's what I liked. It kept me working hard every day. In football, you can slack off sometimes, coaches don't care. But here, the coaches are constantly on you.
At the regional tournament, you were both brave, letting your opponent go to give him the lead in an effort to take him down for the win with just seconds left, and aggressive in both going for the take down in regulation and for the pin in the overtime. Can you describe you favorite move and your style of wrestling?
My move is the double-leg takedown. I've worked to perfect it, to fit my style, which is aggressive. I like to attack. I like to be constantly in the opposing guy's face. I like to be knocking arms away so I can get a clear shot in for the double. Most people don't expect me to be as strong or as quick as I am because of my size. I'm, I don't know, between 5-foot-5-and-a-half and 5-foot-6. But I am strong and quick and it catches people off guard sometimes.
When did you know the double-leg takedown was your move of choice? Was there a particular match or did something happen in practice?
It was a match two years ago against Broadneck. I was down by two or three points with 20 seconds left on the clock. I shot for the double five times, and I got all of them. That's when I knew this is my move. No one can stop this. It's my move.
Your coach said you had a great season going last year but couldn't take part in the postseason because you let your grades slip. Did you learn something from that?
Several things. I learned if you turn in an assignment and your teacher gives it back to you to do some extra work, do it early and get it back to the teacher. And, I learned when coach tells you to go to the library and study after practice to do it. I'm doing well now. I've got a B average and I've applied to a couple colleges. If they don't come through, I'm thinking about the military. My grandmother is pushing me toward the military because she knows how I am. She doesn't want me to get in trouble, and she thinks the military will be good for me.
How do you think you'll do in the state tournament?
I know there will be tough competition. But I also know I can hang with them. I believe I can win. This will be my first time at states, and I can definitely tell I've improved a lot since I first started. My freshman year my record, I only had one or two wins all season. I had an upperclassman for a wrestling partner named Jamul, and he'd punish me every practice. I just kept saying, "I'll be better than him one day. I'll beat him one day."
And did you?
I caught him once. My technique has improved, my awareness on the mat is better. I've learned how to relax. Before, I'd be in someone's hold and I'd panic. I didn't know what to do. Now, I relax and do what the coach tells me and it works out. My record is 35-6 this year.
If you don't win, can you come away from the state tournament feeling as if you've succeeded?
Yeah. Last year and the year before I wasn't even there. Just being there is an accomplishment. When I started, I didn't know anything about wrestling, but if you never tried you don't know if you can do something or not. Just being there proves to everyone I can do it.