Just a year ago, two Mariner dreams of state tournament success were cut short by academic ineligibility; one, a three-time state qualifier and the other on his first ever state-qualifying season.
But now, one year later, both Joppatowne seniors David Volz and Eric Sanders are back on the right academic track, and staring deep state-tournament-finishes right in the eyes.
“Mainly, it was just a big downfall for me. I broke down after I found I couldn’t go, and feeling that I should have been in the finals sparked me,” Volz said, who was a favorite to be a top place-winner in last year’s tournament.
“I set my mind straight and have mainly just done all the homework. I have had a couple people behind me who let me know how much I messed up not making grades, and they all helped me through.”
The help has jumpstarted Volz in his senior season to be an honor roll member, and his perfect start to the 2010-2011 season is sure to keep him on the right path.
“My dad, I thank him gratefully, because he has been staying on my grade wise,” Volz said. “I feel like this is one of the toughest sports to stay after and get all your work done because you have to worry about weight even after practice and you are drained.”
Volz has qualified for the state tournament three times, winning back-to-back UCBAC championships after being a runner-up his freshman year, and placing in the top four of the regions each year.
His counterpart, Sanders, has had a different journey to his now honor roll status, seeing injuries sideline his post-season aspirations.
Ending a freshman year with an 0-2 performance in the regionals, Sanders came back his sophomore year and suffered a broken thumb weeks before the wrestling post-season.
But his junior campaign was en route to a terrific tournament run before an injured shoulder in the UCBAC semis forced a fourth-place finish, and a consequential fourth-place regional finish had qualified him for the state tournament, though the grades would not.
“When I first got the news it was like getting hit by a freight train,” Sanders said. “I did everything on the mat to qualify, and when coach told me you’re not going, I just wanted to breakdown and cry. I have been studying 10 times harder and putting in all the work.”
Sanders has also found success in the classroom, earning honor roll status in 2010 and is looking to add to his 70 career wins on the mat.
“I feel better than I did last year,” Sanders said. “I have had a good start to the season. I need to work on my condition, but I want to be in the best shape I can be by the UCBAC.”
Volz, who already has surpassed the 100 career-win mark, is also looking to add to his credentials, but will not likely see his annual showdown with Bel Air stud Tom Kuegler.
For the past three seasons, Volz and Kuegler have been butting heads at their shared weightclass in the UCBAC, but with the two wrestling at a one weightclass separation, the match-up is unlikely.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Volz said. “There were more than 100 matches before I got the mark, and there will be more after.
“Three years against Kuegler, I have just been training hard trying to keep him on my lower side,” continued Volz, who has beaten Keugler each time they have met. “I am hoping to see myself on top this year. I have heard a couple names that I am looking forward to bumping heads with, and hopefully it finds me on top.”