Great Mills senior Roy Olson joined the wrestling team last fall to pick up a few skills that might make him a better football player. As the season has progressed, he has picked up quite a few victories, too.

Olson, a 6-foot, 215-pound lineman in football, is angling to play college football next fall; he wrestles to improve his speed and agility. He has gone 18-4 at heavyweight for Great Mills, placing third at the Chopticon Invitational and second at the Lackey and South River tournaments.

"We knew Roy was going to be a physical wrestler because he plays football, but we never expected him to be this good," said Great Mills Coach Bill Greer, who also coaches the varsity football team. "He's light-years beyond what we expected."

Olson made the junior varsity basketball team his sophomore season and started the first three games before moving up to varsity. Last season, he played offensive guard and defensive end on the varsity football team but saw limited action on the basketball court. That's when he began thinking about wrestling.

"I wasn't happy with basketball, so my brother told me to come out for wrestling," said Olson, whose younger brother, Josh, wrestles for Great Mills at 160 pounds. "I would have done it, but I was already playing basketball and they wouldn't let me do both."

Following his junior season, Olson hit the weight room and began bulking up for football. This fall, he had 86 tackles, seven sacks and three fumble recoveries, and blocked two kicks on special teams. He was a first team All-Extra selection as an offensive lineman.

On the wrestling mat, Olson has recorded 15 pins and one major decision. He's not the most experienced wrestler in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, but he has a chance to place at the SMAC and 4A/3A South Region tournaments, and to compete at the state tournament.

"Roy is not a big heavyweight, but he moves around well and he's as strong as an ox," said Greer, noting that Olson can bench press more than 400 pounds. "People had no clue who he was at the beginning of the season because he had never wrestled before, but he's really made a name for himself. He's not going to sneak up on anybody else the rest of the way."

Olson said that when he joined the team in November, he did not know any moves and was not in good shape. But after working with his brother and teammate Will Baines, his technique and endurance have improved dramatically.

"Wrestling is more tiring than any other sport, but it's fun when you're winning," Olson said. "I wish I had started a lot sooner. . . . I'm just making up for lost time."

Long Layoff for La Plata

La Plata's wrestlers could be a little rusty in Tuesday's showdown with Leonardtown. Due to unusual circumstances, the Warriors have not competed since Jan. 15. La Plata was supposed to wrestle Westlake last Tuesday, but the official did not show up and the match was postponed. Then the Warriors were supposed to wrestle Lackey last week, but Thursday's snowstorm forced another postponement.

"You can only practice so much," Coach Cliff Nagle said. "After a while, it gets stale. The kids look forward to competition because it's a lot more fun than practice. When you don't compete for a long time, it gets hard to keep everybody upbeat."

Quick of Mind and Body

With a 4.2 grade-point average, Lackey sophomore Johnny Lopes is one of the smartest wrestlers in the area.

He's also one of the best. After winning about half of his matches last season at 103 pounds, Lopes is 11-6 this season at 112.

"Johnny is a very intelligent wrestler," Lackey Coach Terry Green said. "He picks up a lot of moves, and he never makes the same mistake twice. . . . He's smart enough to know what his weaknesses are, and he's dedicated enough to fix them."

CAPTION: Great Mills senior Roy Olson, who began wrestling only this year, has compiled an 18-4 record as a heavyweight.