Whether he's on the wrestling mat or participating in Howard County's work-study program, Atholton wrestler Doug Ramsey is always on the go.
A senior, Ramsey leaves school early three days a week to help build houses in the River Hill area in cooperation with Columbia Builders. Two days a week, he participates in Howard County's Association of Retarded Citizens program, helping people to adjust both vocationally and recreationally.
But by 2:45 p.m., Ramsey is in the Atholton practice room, setting a relentless pace against teammate Scott Radik, his workout partner, and driving himself nearly to exhaustion.
"Conditioning's my best part - that and the takedown," said Ramsey, who carries at 25-1 record into this weekend's Class 2A-1A South region tournament at Hammond. "My coach [Bruce Lindblad] tells me that if you score a lot early, you can take away the other guy's confidence. Take them down, let them up - that's my style."
Ramsey is ranked No. 1 by The Sun at 103 pounds. He has won 24 straight bouts and hopes to increase that with his second straight regional crown. He'll be the favorite to capture the 2A-1A state title at the March 1-2 tournament at Western Maryland College. He finished fourth statewide last year, sixth as a sophomore.
"All that energy that doesn't get used up with him running around all day, when he's on the mat, he focuses that energy toward the end-gain," said Chris Williams, an assistant to Lindblad. "Doug's big for a 103-pounder and strong for a 103-pounder, and he's super-fast."
Ramsey won his second straight Howard County tournament title last weekend at Centennial High, pinning his first opponent in 1 minute, 12 seconds and outscoring the next two by a combined 22-6.
"I wanted to show people who I was, so I stepped it up in that tournament," said Ramsey. "I've worked real hard to get to this point, and I want to continue to show that."
Ramsey is as dedicated off that mat as he is on it.
In four years at Atholton, he has not missed a day of school. A B-average student, Ramsey plans to attend State University of New York at New Paltz , a Hudson Valley college where he will wrestle and focus on classes in construction, business and carpentry.
"I love using my hands," Ramsey said. "I always had Erector sets when I was little, and now anything that needs fixing in the house - home theaters, picture frames, tables - I can usually take care of it."
Born in Guatemala, Ramsey was adopted near his third birthday by Mac and Debbie Ramsey, who also have two daughters in college.
Mac called his son "lively, entertaining and quite gregarious from Day 1 - the type of kid we never have to wake up in the morning or anything, because he's always at school early, always ready, always into something."
The Ramseys enrolled Doug in everything from soccer to basketball to swimming before settling on wrestling when he was in fifth grade.
"It was the best thing for his activeness," said his father. "You can see that in his style on the mat."
Ramsey's frenetic dominance was on display in the Arundel Tournament in late December. In the title bout, he scored nine takedowns in a 19-5 rout of Archbishop Curley's former state private-school champ Ben Sills. The victory helped Ramsey rebound from an early-season 8-6 loss to South Carroll's No. 4 Andrew Gold.
"Doug has the timing down," said Williams, a former state champion at Hammond. "He knows where your foot's going to be before you put it there. It's like he can feel it. It's almost instinctual. That counts a lot in taking someone down. In his head, he's always thinking, always looking to get in on the angles."
Ramsey has 76 takedowns this year (314 for his career), down from his single-season school record of 120 he set last year.
"That's because everyone's wrestling him defensively," said Raiders coach Lindblad. "Instead of opening up against him, they're just trying to stay away from him."
Lindblad said Ramsey has worked on improving his all-around abilities.
"He's improved in every area, but I mostly correct him on the mat, and he corrects my mistakes on takedowns," said Radik, a junior who is 24-4 at 112 pounds. "He's so strong, he's developing into a good rider, and he can get away from just about anybody."