Sea exploration and wrestling aren't terms that commonly go hand in hand.
So, it may come across as a bit different when Brooks Morrison describes his interest in the seas. Especially when he tells you his only experience on the ocean is deep-sea fishing once a year.
Plus, how does a kid who grew up in Dallastown and whose parents have no professional connection to the marine field, find himself wanting to explore the ocean floor?
"In seventh grade I stumbled upon a book about it and I liked it," Morrison said. "I did a couple papers on it. In high school we had to interview people in a career field. The people I talked to all seemed to thoroughly enjoy their job. It's not something many people want to go into. It seemed really good for me."
Majoring in marine engineering and minoring in history, Morrison is following his passion at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech.
Making the cut: He's also continued to sharpen his skills on the mat by wrestling for the Hokies, currently ranked No. 11 in the nation in the latest NCAA Division I poll. Following a 27-7 individual mark and PIAA District 3-AAA Tournament appearance at 170 pounds in his senior season at Dallastown last year, Morrison worked his way onto the Virginia Tech 30-man roster as a walk-on following a successful September tryout.
Competing in four individual tournaments at 165 pounds as a true freshman thus far, Morrison is 3-7.
"There was a lot taken into account," Morrison said of making the team. "How you wrestled, how your health was, your grades, it was everything, it wasn't just based on wrestling."
Morrison certainly had the grades. He scored a 1,680 out of 2,400 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and a 26 out of 36 on the American College Testing exam (ACT). He also graduated from Dallastown last spring with a 3.44 grade-point average. With the goal of attending a bigger school, Morrison's grades helped him get accepted to NCAA Division I schools Virginia Tech, Michigan and Wisconsin.
"Very little schools had the degree I was looking for," he said. "When I went to the wrestling camp down there (at Virginia Tech), as soon as I stepped on campus, it's so beautiful you get a sense of being at home."
Although Morrison's not getting any kind of athletic scholarship money from Virginia Tech, some academic scholarships are helping him foot the out-of-state tuition bill.
Wrestling: For those interested in seeing Morrison wrestle, he and some Hokies' redshirt grapplers will compete nearby at Millersville University in Lancaster County on Jan. 20 in the Hitchcock Memorial Classic.
It's one of a handful of tournaments Morrison is slated to wrestle in the rest of this season. As for the future, Morrison has an uphill battle to work his way into the starting lineup.
Virginia Tech senior Peter Yates is currently ranked the third-best 165-pounder in the country. And 165-pounders Chris Moon, a junior who finished second at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships last year, and Issah Meade, a sophomore who was a three-time Delaware state champion in high school, will return next season after redshirting this year.
Then again, starting would just be a bonus for Morrison. His ultimate goal is to make a name for himself in the marine field.
"I'd love to be out on a boat scoping out the ocean floor," he said. "Either trying to find a place to drill oil or just creating new technology."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.