There’s something to be said about ego.  For some, the added sense of invincibility leads to a fearlessness on and off the mat, and, to others, it is just about being a part of something bigger than one’s self.

Take a trip up to Bel Air High School before a wrestling practice and coach Craig Reddish assures that you will see the same thing every day; senior team captain Tom Kuegler preparing the room for the day’s practice.

“We have to put mats up on our mirrors every single day, and I never have to ask someone to do it.,” Reddish says.  “Tom is in the room putting the mats up every day, and he is a kid that can tell someone else to do it.

“He is just an ultimately leader.  His work ethic makes the kids look at him, and he is just a leader and he does the unselfish things.”

Kuegler is finishing his senior season with the Bobcats, recently capturing his first conference championship and second regional title, doing so with countless falls and a perfect run in the regional tournament.

“I didn’t even look at the bracket before I came here, and just wanted to take it one match at a time,” Kuegler said of the 1A/2A East Region.  “Obviously, I wanted to come out with intensity for every match, stay focused and not look ahead too far and get knocked off by someone.”

Kuegler was more than intense in his regional performances, earning three first-period falls to claim the 189-pound title, and the senior now heads into the state-weekend looking to improve on his fifth and fourth-place finishes the past two years.

“Everyone is going to be tough, and I just have to train for that overtime match,” Kuegler said about the upcoming state tournament.  “It is going to happen in the semifinals or the finals, and I just have to stay tough and stay aggressive.”

The Bel Air senior has come a long way from his rec. wrestling days, and has made great leaps even bumping from 171 to 189 in the last year.

“It is a big jump from rec. to varsity,” Kuegler said.  “Everyone is stronger and everyone is tougher, and, in my freshman year, I felt that.

kuegler“The strength difference was real big with me bumping up a weightclass, and it was hard adjusting, but I think I adjusted well.”

Kuegler earned his 100th win while in the 189-pound weightclass, passing the milestone at the Aberdeen Duals earlier in the season to sit in the same class as his former captains Matt Cross and Sean Ellenby.

“I feel honored to be up there with Matt Cross and Sean Ellenby, both of which I know as captains my freshman year,” Kuegler explained.  “It felt real good to get the 100th win and be in the same class as them.”

“I am proud of him as a leader, and he is at peace with his wrestling,” Reddish said of Kuegler.  “He isn’t putting as much pressure on himself, and he is just having fun out there, and I think you can see it.”

And the focus of his last weekend of wrestling now falls on the 2011 MPSSAA State Tournament, with Kuegler looking to leave Cole Field House with a 189-pound state title.

“If I don’t finish first, it’s not a big deal, but I am gunning for first, and it will be a little disappointing to not get it.”