Starting the year 22-0 on the wrestling mat, senior Zack Brown is having yet another standout season for Mooresville.
But Brown, who wrestles in the 285-pound weight class, knows he has a lot of work left to do if he wants to accomplish his goal of closing his Blue Devil career with a state title.
"It's a good start, not a great start, for me," said Brown, who won his 100th career match Dec. 21. "I feel like, in a lot of matches, I could've done much better. I'm just going to keep working hard in practice."
Brown will continue to focus on his footwork and takedowns, as well as his pinning combinations, hoping to be at his top wrestling form by the time regionals and states roll around in February.
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Brown said that a lot of his wins come from his technique.
"It's unlike other heavyweights you see," said Brown. "I do some stuff you traditionally see, like snap-downs, but mostly I set up shots to take the guys down. ... It's really hard to come about points in the heavyweights, so I figure if I can take guys down right off the bat, I'll win the match."
The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder said his blast-double leg takedown - in which a wrestler tackles his opponent, grips the back of his knees and steps in to push the opponent to his back, has been his most successful move so far this season.
"I don't know why, but it's been really working for me," said Brown. "It's a fun move to do, especially when you're taking down really big guys like that."
The 18-year-old credits his coaches with teaching him his technique, adding that wrestling at the 215-pound class his freshman and sophomore years allowed him to learn a different skill set that's paying off for him today.
Mooresville coach Ben Watson said Brown stands out not only because of his work ethic and ability to quickly pick up moves, but also because of his strength and smart approach to the sport.
"He's methodical. He plans out each move he's going to make," said Watson. "But he's also very explosive."
Starting off the year ranked No. 3 in the state in his weight class by retrorankings.com, Brown moved up to take over the No. 1 spot. Although it's exciting to get the recognition, he said, he doesn't pay much attention to rankings.
"The only thing that matters is going for that gold medal at the end of the year," he said. "It doesn't mean anything until you can prove it on the mat."
The experience of being a two-time state qualifier should help Brown late in the year. After finishing third at regionals last year, when he had a 44-9 record, he said failing to place at states left a bitter taste in his mouth, and that motivated him to push himself to grow as a wrestler in the spring and summer.
Brown, who played on the offensive line for the Blue Devils' football team this past fall, is looking forward to taking his last shot at a state title, but for now he has his sights focused on winning the prestigious Tiger Holiday Classic in Chapel Hill, which starts today.
Brown is one of the most experienced wrestlers on a relatively young team, which lost six senior starters from last year's 30-3 team. Coach Watson said his team has gotten off to a good start.
"We're still trying to find our own identity," said Watson, whose team started the year 15-6 (1-0 in the I-Meck).
Sam Crisp, a 106-pound junior, Matt Krider, a 126-pound senior, Daniel Burzlaff, a 132-pound senior, and Dontrez Patterson, a 170-pound junior, have also had strong seasons thus far.
"We're getting better," said Brown of his team. "It shows, compared to the first day, but it's still a work in progress."
As the Blue Devils continue to pick up the sport's fundamentals, Brown hopes his team can win the I-Meck title.
"I feel like we can do well against anybody in our conference, especially against Lake Norman, which should be a good matchup, like it always is," said Brown.