New Oakland Mills wrestling coach Brad Dowell, a member of a high-profile wrestling family, promises that his Scorpions definitely will not be boring.
Considering Dowell's background and the fact that Oakland Mills has one of the most diverse high school wrestling teams ever assembled, how could his team bore?
"I love offense," said Dowell, who wrestled internationally for five years and was a two-time Greco-Roman All-American. "We won't slack off in the third period. We'll be very aggressive and go for pins."
Oakland Mills, fifth in Class 1A-2A at the state meet last season, returns county and region heavyweight champ Jason Frizzelle (27-6), a fourth-place state finisher.
Frizzelle's intense battles with Hammond's Matt Nelson last season gave local fans three memorable matches. Frizzelle won them all, but then he lost to Ben Brand of Rising Sun, in the state semifinals.
Nelson is back.
Frizzelle is a little behind in training, because he was an All-County member of the Class 1A state champion football team that didn't play its final game until Nov. 28. He spent last week practicing with Howard County's senior All-Star team.
If Frizzelle doesn't provide enough excitement, the Scorpions also will have a national champion female wrestler in the starting lineup. She was a county JV champ last season in high school competition. In a summer wrestling tournament, she won a high school national championship.
Dena Glisan (125) was the first female to win a varsity match in Maryland last season. She will be the first female to earn a starting position for a Maryland team.
"I'm sure she's going to win some matches this season," Dowell said.
The Scorpions will have five wrestlers, in addition to Frizzelle, with shots at winning county titles. They are Jeremy Poe (135), Robert Scott (189), Paul Nguyen (119), Zack Notes (112) and Mike Naylor (140).
"In the county, Hammond should be No. 1 and River Hill No. 2, with us or Long Reach No. 3," said Dowell. "But my goal is always to win states."
His team will be tough, he said, "because we've had intensive practices, and they've elevated their performances to survive those practices."
If anyone knows what tough is all about, it's Dowell, who has had three knee reconstructions, the last while he was training for the Olympics in 1992.
He also had three other knee operations in high school at Newark (Del.) High, which caused him to miss all but one season. He was 27-1, losing in the state finals.
He finally had to give up the sport in college at Clemson. He later switched to Greco-Roman style wrestling, which strains the knees less than American grappling.
Dowell, 29, started wrestling at age 9 with two older brothers who were also high achievers and are now high school coaches in Delaware, Dowell's native state.
Oldest brother Dickie was a two-time national qualifier at Lock Haven (Pa.) University.
Brother Kurt, two years older than Dowell, was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team in 1992. Kurt, an All-American at Clemson, won four state high school titles, went 108-0 and was the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation at 118 pounds in 1986. Kurt was also junior national champ several times.
But bad knees run in the family. Kurt has had nine knee surgeries. Both knees of their father, who was a boxer and football player, were bad.
"My father became so interested in wrestling that he started a wrestling magazine called Mat Tournament Calendar that became so big, it was eventually bought out by Wrestling Masters. And that was bought out by USA Wrestling," Dowell said.
The brothers run a wrestling camp together during the summer in Newark.
Dowell also runs the Orange Crush Wrestling Club at Oakland Mills during the off-season -- spring, summer and fall.
"We meet twice a week and have tournaments on the weekends. We have about 50 participants from as far away as Kent County," Dowell said.
With so much wrestling, does he ever get close to burning out?
"Never even been close," said Dowell. "I'm just lucky my wife lets me do it."
Dowell also has a tremendous interest in special education, which he teaches at Oakland Mills. Two of his special-education students are on the wrestling team, and another is a team manager.
"My mom teaches special education, and I studied it in college," said Dowell, who is dyslexic, an impairment that makes reading difficult.
Assigned to student-teach at Oakland Mills last year, he was immediately sold on the school because of its aggressive special education program, called Intensity Five.
"After my first week, I knew I wanted to be here," he said.
Dowell considers having his students be part of a program such as wrestling to be an important part of the social-learning process.
"They have the motor skills to learn the sport, and it makes them feel part of the school," he said. "It's also a good thing for the rest of the team to learn to work with the kids. They helped them get through their first practice. It's an uplifting thing."
Dowell expects his team to struggle a little at first, because several soccer players, whose team also won a state title, were delayed in coming out to practice.
"But we have a positive outlook, and it's a coachable team that should finish strong at the end," he said.
Pub Date: 12/06/98