Nancy Mattheu struggles to choke back tears when detailing the accomplishments of, or expressing the love and admiration for, the young man who is dearest to her heart.
"He takes out the garbage, keeps his room clean, but he's responsible way beyond those things," said Mattheu, whose son is Chuck Jones, Kenwood's senior All-Metro 130-pound wrestler. "I can count on him when I'm in a bind, and I can rely on him and not worry about him."
A licensed driver for more than a year, Jones has a 1989 Isuzu pick-up truck and pays for his own insurance by working part time at a crab house owned by Trey Barnhardt, assistant to
Kenwood coach Len Patrick.
Jones "rocks out" to popular artists such as Pearl Jam, but not too hard, his mother says.
"He doesn't party or anything and even gets upset with me for drinking a glass of wine," Nancy said. "He's got a fatherly presence, even though he grew up without one. It's a blessing to have a son like him."
Jones can play "big brother" to Katie, 6, and Megan, 4, daughters of Archbishop Curley assistant coach Tim Schoen (Jones' junior-league coach of seven years with Back River recreation council). But on the mat, he's a man-handler of opponents.
"I can be a technician, I guess, but mostly I like to get out there and be physical -- really pound on the guy, if I can -- without getting too sloppy," said Jones. His 33-2 record last season included 27 pins, his first Baltimore County and region crowns, a runner-up effort at the Class 3A-4A state tournament, and a season-ending No. 3-ranking in the state.
"I don't go out looking for the pin as much as trying to hit the right moves at the right time," said Jones, who ranks No. 1 in Maryland this year. "If the guy happens to go to his back, well, that's the match."
Jones' mat talents, along with a 3.7-grade average, "mostly over honors and college-preparatory courses like [advanced placement] calculus," have prompted inquiries from Virginia and Pennsylvania universities, as well as Ashland (Ohio) College, where former teammate and county champ Brad Thomas wrestles.
A couple weeks back, Jones hoped to improve on a 1,060 score by re-taking the Scholastic Assessment Test at Bel Air High School on a Saturday morning. Then he was going to drive about an hour to the Pikesville High Tournament, where he was to face Sparrows' Point's state champ, Mike Young, in the title bout.
Young injured his ribs in the semifinals, giving Jones a win by default. Three days later, Jones moved up to 140 pounds and hammered Harford County champ Mike Reilly, 12-2.
"You don't often come across kids like Chuck," said Kenwood coach Patrick. "He's a tremendous athlete and an even more devoted student, and I wish I had a lot more like him."
Jones (8-0 with six pins), a junior-league state champ as a freshman, spent the first month of his sophomore season at Prince George's County's Riverdale Baptist High before returning to Kenwood. He was 22-3 when he missed -- by just over 3 ounces -- making weight for the county meet. A week later, pneumonia kept Jones out of the regional tournament -- the qualifier for states -- and his season ended.
Jones caught up on lost time last season, but was disappointed that he split bouts with Liberty's Kevin Jeffress, a 3-1 winner of their state title bout a week after Jones had won the regional title, 8-7.
"As happy as I was with my season, Jeffress pretty much took it away," said Jones, whose only other loss, by 3-2, came against Sparrows Point state champ Tommy Free. "I felt like all my hard work was for nothing, but it's given me something to work for."
Pub Date: 12/18/96