He only wrestled two matches Saturday.
Still, it's two more than Brooks Black could say he's wrestled before in York County in his scholastic career.
Black, a Dover native, helped top-ranked Blair (N.J.) Academy win the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Final Four Wrestling Tournament at the York Expo Center on Saturday.
Blair went 5-0 at the tourney, defeating James W. Robinson, 61-6, in the championship dual. Black, the No. 2-ranked heavyweight in the country by intermat.com, picked up a win in all five duals -- winning both of the bouts he wrestled and three others by forfeit -- to improve his individual record to 20-0 at 285 pounds this season.
"I only had two matches. But I'm really happy,"
Black, a senior who will turn 19 this March, is 128-8 in his scholastic career, having last lost in his sophomore year. At least that's the most accurate guess Black's dad, Gerry, could give.
"Yeah, but he'd be undefeated had he stayed around here (to wrestle)," said Black's mom, Pam.
Which got me thinking -- where would Black be at had he opted to attend Dover instead of Blair, a top academic school with one of the best wrestling programs in the country?
Pam Black is quick to point out that her son is better prepared for the real world by attending Blair, which has a six-day-a-week class schedule and plenty of support for students because of small class sizes.
"Do I miss him? Yes," she said. "But at some point you have to strap it on to support a family and pay bills and deal with the pressures of life. If you make it easy for him ... I was never like that. I was very hard on him."
Black's parents declined to comment on the tuition at Blair, which is $49,500 annually according to the school's website.
What if?: Whatever the cost, Black will certainly be well-prepared when he arrives at NCAA Division I Illinois next fall, especially on the mat. (Black said he'll redshirt his true freshman season but expects to start the following year).
Blair wrestles all over the country against some of the best teams in the nation every season. And during practice, Black competes against assistant coach Jared Platt (a former Blair and Penn State wrestler), teammate Frank Mattiace, Jr. (a 195-pounder whose dad, Frank Sr., played nose tackle for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions), teammate David Showunmi (220 pounds) and head coach Charles Danhof. During the offseason, Black competes in a few national tournaments. He's also been getting trained since a young age by Marat Tomaev, a native of Russia who came to the United States when he was 16 and wrestled for Blair and Penn State.
"He would've been a very popular wrestler but he probably would not get full rides (full athletic scholarships) from every school," Tomaev said. "But also, Blair educationally, is second to none. Last year 18 kids went to Ivy League schools from the Blair wrestling team."
"I think I would've been good but definitely not to the ability of where I'm at now," Black said when asked about wrestling for Dover. "And my academics, had I opted to stay here, they would not have been even close to where they're at with Blair."
That's not to say local grapplers can't succeed without going to a school such as Blair. Kennard-Dale phenom Chance Marsteller has proven that.
Sure, Black might have brought plenty of attention to York County wrestling had he opted to stay home. But the reputation of local wrestlers is still solid without him.
So, who can blame Black for jumping at the opportunity to better his future?
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.