When Chris Moore enrolled at Westlake High School three years ago, he wanted to play for the school's basketball team. But at 4 feet 10 inches and 83 pounds, he was too small. That's when he turned to wrestling.

Today, Moore is one of Southern Maryland's top grapplers. Last weekend he won the 103-pound title at the Patriot Classic wrestling tournament at Northern High School, pinning La Plata's Cliff Weimert in 3 minutes 59 seconds.

Other Southern Maryland Athletic Conference winners included Westlake's Jon Peters (130), Northern's Marcello Nucci (140) and Patuxent's Sean O'Connor (189). No. 9 Northern was the area's top team, finishing second behind No. 2 Damascus. The Patriots were followed by La Plata, Calvert, Magruder, Westlake and Patuxent.

"Chris has come a long way," Westlake Coach Steve Roberts said. "When he first got here, he had no idea how to wrestle. Now, he's one of the best kids on the team."

Moore joined the wrestling team his freshman season but did not compete until the starting 103-pounder injured his shoulder. He won most of his dual matches and placed second in the Westlake junior varsity tournament. He also took third at the Calvert junior varsity tournament, losing to Justin Brittain of Calvert, last season's SMAC champion at 103 pounds.

Last season, Moore went 19-13 and placed fourth in the SMAC and third in the 4A/3A South Region at 103 pounds. He lost his first match at the state tournament.

"My goal last season was to win the state title," said Moore, who weighed 95 pounds. "But I think I got a little overwhelmed [at the state tournament] and didn't wrestle as well as I could have."

Moore should get another shot at the state title this season. Heading into this weekend, he is 18-2 overall, 8-0 in dual meets. He placed third at the Bowie Tournament, second at the Lackey Invitational and went 4-0 at the Patriot Classic with three pins and one major decision.

"Last year, Chris gave up five or six pounds per match," Roberts said. "But this year, he's a solid 103. He's a lot stronger than he was last year, and he's very aggressive. He doesn't wait for the other guy to make a move and then counter. He initiates the moves."

Moore, 16, said he almost quit wrestling after his first practice.

"I'm glad I stuck with wrestling," he said. "I knew I had the intensity to do well, but I didn't know any moves, and I was getting very frustrated. . . . I've come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. I won't be happy until I win the state title."

Notes: No. 9 Northern finished second at the Patriot Classic despite placing fewer wrestlers in the finals than Damascus, La Plata, Patuxent and Westlake. Nucci (13-2) won the 140-pound title by technical fall over La Plata's Justin Miller, and Ryan Forman (12-1) was second at 145.

Justin Canning (103), Jesse Ratliff (152) and Danny Nucci (160) placed third in their respective weight classes, and Chris Shelton (119), Mike Perricci (125), Walter Hoffman (130) and Josh Miluk (171) each finished fourth. Nick Bohmenkamp was fifth at 112. . . .

Defending SMAC champion Calvert also showed its depth last weekend. Despite placing only one wrestler in the finals, the Cavaliers finished fourth, 29.5 points behind La Plata.

Max Buff was second at 119, and Justin Holman (135) and Dustin Little (145) placed third in their respective weight classes. Justin Brittain was fourth at 140, Tim Kassouf was fifth at 189 and Kenny Norman (112), Doug Wilburn (130) and Grail Schroeder (heavyweight) each finished sixth.

CAPTION: Northern's Justin Canning, top, takes control of a 103-pound match against Eleanor Roosevelt's Chris McRae.