In his first season as a starter on varsity, Old Mill's 119-pound junior Felipe Aleman will tell you there's pressure that comes with wrestling for such a storied, successful program.
He quickly adds that it's a fun kind of pressure that provides him with a great challenge. During his freshman year, when he wrestled on junior varsity, the Patriots captured their most recent state title.
With the Patriots ranked fifth in the area and boasting a 13-1 record, this could be the year Aleman shares a varsity title. Aleman is 9-8 this season and getting better every time out as he adjusts to varsity. A native of Colombia, Aleman came to the United States when he was 8. He maintains a 4.2 weighted grade point average and is involved in the International Baccalaurate (IB) Diploma Program. Along with wrestling and academics, Aleman enjoys playing guitar. He would like to pursue a medical career.
What's it like wrestling at Old Mill with its great tradition?
The tradition here is winning. It just makes you want to go out there and always give it all you got. You're surrounded by guys like Willie [Pumphrey] and Aaron [Hawkins] who placed last year at states, and they're here practicing with you. It makes you want to make yourself better knowing that you're part of the history. This year, you want to be able to say, "I was on varsity when we won states." We won states my freshman year, but I didn't play a big part of it because I was on junior varsity. This year, it gives you such a feeling inside of you just being out there wrestling for Old Mill.
How unique is wrestling with the individual and team aspects combined?
You're facing an opponent one-on-one, and you have to win that. But then it comes into how you win - is it a tech fall, is it a pin? Last year, we had a match that we lost by three points, and had someone pinned or not gotten pinned, we could have had a different result.
How did you get started playing guitar?
I got interested because of church. I saw one of the older kids playing the guitar, and I was like, "Hey, I've tried some other stuff, let me try guitar."
I kind of fell in love with it right away.
What kind of community service activities have you done through IB?
We just finished a shirt drive for the homeless in Baltimore during Christmas. "Giving Back" - they collect clothes to give to the homeless over Christmas. So some other students did like scarves, blankets and stuff. We did upper wear - shirts, sweaters and stuff like that.
What goals have you set for 2009?
My immediate one was to cut weight, which I was able to do. As for academics, I just want to keep getting good grades. This year is the hardest grade for IB because we have a couple of papers due and I have to do some orals which I'm preparing for. I'm trying to not leave it off to the last moment - even it out and be prepared for them.
Do you have anything you live by?
Don't procrastinate. That goes for academics and wrestling. With projects, tests and with cutting weight, if you leave it off until the last night, you'll feel completely drained the next day.