Two days before the Class 4A/3A Region IV wrestling tournament, Severna Park's Scott Woodland is tired and still 3 pounds over the 130-pound weight limit.
"Yeah, it get's tough sometimes. Yesterday I was7 pounds over," said Woodland.
Yet the 16-year-old needed only to raise his head and look at thefar wall of the Falcons' wrestling room for incentive. There, the names of past county, regional and state champions are listed. And by next year, his name also will be there.
Woodland defeated Chesapeake's Doug Horton, 6-0, in last weekend's county tournament to become the Falcons' first county champion since 1986.
"That's been a goal of mine ever since I was a freshman," said Woodland, who has a 23-7 record with 11 pins. "Now I just want it to continue."
The names onthe wall remind Woodland of how far he has come and how far he stillhas to go. But if the wall doesn't remind him, his two coaches will.
Assistant Coach Carter Rigsbee was a state champion as a senior in 1982 and head coach Dave Caprio was fourth and third in the county before graduating in 1983.
"When he won the title, I must have called a million people, including my father at about 11 that night," said Rigsbee.
Caprio said he was so excited that "it brought tears to my eyes."
Then there's Woodland's 6-foot-2, 205-pound father, Woody, who brings a booming voice and foot-stomping, bleacher-rattling support to each of his son's matches.
"I try to holler when no one else is hollering, and I wear my big (boots) because they're louder," said Woody Woodland, once a 145-pound wrestler for Glen Burnie. "Itused to embarrass Scott until a match at North Carroll last year when I was the only parent who came. Now he wants me there all the time."
Today's Class 4A/32A Regional IV tournament at Meade Highshould provide a real test for Woodland no matter how much backing he has.
If he gets by Old Mill's Young Chang, his first-round opponent, thenWoodland will have to face the winner of the match between Annapolis' Seth Robbins and Meade's Mike Dodd.
In the county tournament, Woodland pinned Dodd in 2 minutes, 59 seconds in the first round and decisioned Robbins, 8-3, in the county semifinals.
Should Woodland reach the semifinals, he likely will meet tough Jeff Simpson (24-2) from Northern of St. Mary's County's, to whom he dropped a tough 6-4 decision in their match earlier thisseason.
"I got the first take down against (Simpson), and then I got dropped on my head. I was dizzy and from then on, I just laid there and wasn't in the match," said the soft-spoken Woodland. "But I'd like to wrestle him again. I think I can beat him."
If he reaches the finals, Woodland could meet any one of several talented wrestlers from the other side of the bracket, including Howard County champion Mike Maughn of Oakland Mills and former Howard County champion Alexis Gough of Howard High.
Queen Anne's Brian Mackey, an earlier 8-3 winner over Woodland, and Horton also could be there.
"I know it's going to be a tougher tournament thanthe counties, but I'm ready for it," said Woodland. "What I like about wrestling is that it's just you and the other guy."
But if Woodland wrestles in his matches the way he did with the stocky, 5-7 Caprio on Wednesday, he'll be trouble for his opponents.
As Caprio hoisted Woodland's right leg to an area near Woodland's right ear, the Severna Park wrestler bounced on his left foot. After several attemptsto trip Woodland, Caprio was unable to sweep him off of his feet andsimply tossed away his pupil's leg in frustration.
"Karate helps me with my flexibility and balance," said Woodland, a blue belt in Tang Soo Do.
"I was a junk wrestler in high school, but I wish I hadhis talent," said Caprio. "He works hard and he's the easiest wrestler to coach."
Woodland has been on the fulcrum of wrestling respectability for the past two years, winning some and losing some againstthestate's best grapplers.
Wrestling at 125 pounds last year, Woodland edged Oakland Mills' Joe Salinas -- the 140-pound Howard Countychampion last weekend -- to take fourth in the region. In the state tournament, Woodland dropped a 3-0 first-round decision to North Carroll's Jason Myers. Myers eventually placed third last year and this season has a 24-1 record as the state's sixth-ranked 140-pounder.
"I went to a wrestling camp this summer and met coaches from some big-name colleges. I have a better idea of what it takes to win," said Woodland. "I've been drilling harder and pushing myself a lot more thisyear."
Of Woodland's first four losses this year, two came against Mount St. Joseph's fifth-ranked Chad Votta, the Maryland Scholastic Association champion.
The other losses were to Wyatt Griffith, Francis Scott Key's only returning state qualifier, and to St. Mary's Mac MacWilliams, who finished third in the MSA and was once ranked No.4.
With the exception of a technical-fall loss against Votta in their second meeting, all were close decisions.
"Scott has improveda lot since those matches," said Rigsbee. "His defense is a lot better and from the bottom, he's going for two points instead of one. He needs a little more work on his feet, but if he gets on top in most cases, he's got 'em."
Annapolis' Ford Baumgardener was unbeaten in 13 matches until running into Woodland, who handed him a 10-7 setback. Baumgardener subsequently won by default over Broadneck's then third-ranked Duke Koblinsky.
Ironically, Woodland said the victory over Baumgardener was not as uplifting as a loss nearly two weeks later where he dropped his first county dual meet, 9-3, to Chesapeake's top-ranked, two-time county champion Brian Eveleth.
"I felt good about that one because he usually pins people and last year he beat me, 16-1," said Woodland. "I don't think a lot of people expected me to make it through that match."
Before being declared academically ineligible, Koblinsky was a favorite to win county, regional and state tournament titles. He would have been the top seed for the county tournament.
Woodland wants to avoid going down in county history as winning the title because Koblinsky didn't show up.
"A lot of peoplesaid I had an easy weight class because Duke wasn't there," said Woodland. "I'd like to show them it wasn't by winning the regionals."