Alex Ha, the Marriotts Ridge wrestling team's 160-pound senior captain, has come a long way in a short time since he picked up the sport when he first came to the school as a sophomore. He was admittedly overmatched that first season, the first year for the school and program, but he proved to be a quick study. After winning just one varsity match as a sophomore, he came back last year to qualify for the regional tournament. This season, his goal is to qualify for the state tournament. He is off to a good start, with a 10-4 record despite missing some early action because of a shoulder injury.
Maintaining a 3.86 grade point average, Ha is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and wants to major in business when he goes to college. He is considering New York University, Penn, Emory, Cornell, Maryland and UMBC.
What was the toughest thing about wrestling when you got started in 10th grade?
When you practice, you can do the moves perfectly because there's not as much resistance. But when you're actually wrestling a match, the guy won't let you just do the move on him, so you have to play some mind tricks and everything. So I'd say the hardest part was just executing the moves on the real mat and not just in the practice room.
How tough is the daily grind that comes with wrestling
At the start of each school year, I've always been anxious when wrestling is going to start, because that's when I have to start getting my naps in during the day, I have to start doing my homework right when I get home and I have to eat more healthy. You just have to find the energy and motivation to keep going because some days you just want to sleep in, skip a practice or not wrestle at all. But you have to keep pulling through.
How surprised are you at this season's success? Honestly, I don't think we expected to do this well. Last year, we beat River Hill early in the year, and that was totally unexpected. Just being mentioned as one of the top teams in the county gives you a lot of pride. All of our wrestlers have basically stuck together, and this is our final year all together. So we're just trying to give it our all.
What is your role as a team captain? Basically, I try to lead by example. I try to practice hard, drill hard to lead practice. I think that's what the captains are supposed to do. You have to give it 110 percent every single day and push other people, as well. You only practice as hard as the environment around you. So if it's a really lazy atmosphere, you're not going to get much done.
Has the success brought more attention to the team? A lot more students here at Marriotts Ridge have been giving us more recognition, actually gone to some matches. Our section of the bleachers had always been empty - the away team always had more fans before. But now we're filling up the space a little more, so it's pretty cool.
What's it take to be successful in business?
You have to have good people skills to be successful and also have a good business mind - knowing what's a good deal and what's not. What's it like being a senior?
There's more freedom, and I've been surprised how much more respect the younger kids give you. But if I tell [freshmen and sophomores] to do something, they just do it. It's pretty cool. We're the first senior class at the school, this is our last year, so we have to leave our legacy. What are you looking to get from your senior year?
Right now, my main focus is my college applications and wrestling. I really want to qualify for states - that's my main goal right now. It's going to take a lot. I just got to give it my all on the mat and hope the rest is history. Who do you look up to the most?
I'd say my mother because she's basically been a single parent for the past six years. She works six days a week, about 13 hours a day. I don't get to see her often, but she expects me to put the same effort into my school work as she does into her job. What's your favorite television show?
The only TV show I watch is Family Guy. I just like the humor - it's like unexpected humor, and I really enjoy it.