Mathis practicing new wrestling moves for Ads

December 16, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

Some of the first wrestling moves Philip Mathis ever tried - outside of taking on his two brothers - were against invisible opponents on the streets of Streamland.

Mathis would mimic the moves he saw on television as he worked his way through the Danville neighborhood day after day on his paper route.

A few years later, he is still delivering the Advocate - when it's not wrestling season. When his season is in, he's delivering one win after another as one of Danville's top wrestlers.

Mathis improved by leaps and bounds last season, and he is continuing a steady progression with wins in 11 of his 12 matches in the early stages of his junior year.


"I can't ask for anything better," he said.

Mathis has long since abandoned the moves he learned while watching professional wrestling, and now he relies on technical superiority to succeed against stronger opponents.

"Technique is always better than muscle," he said.

Nine-match winning streak

Mathis used that technique to extend his current winning streak to nine matches Wednesday when he defeated Anderson County's Sam Lee for the second of his two wins in Danville's double-dual meet with Anderson County and Fort Knox.

Mathis had pinned Lee five days earlier to win the 160-pound championship at Anderson's invitational, and he said he knew his opponent would be out for revenge.

"I thought there was a revenge factor," he said. "I could tell that through his aggression. But as long as I can stay on top of him, I can usually pin him."

Mathis did just that, pinning Lee about halfway through the match. Earlier in the evening, he also pinned Matthew Johnson of Fort Knox.

"He's real good on top," Danville coach Jeff Selby said. "He's moved up a weight class or two, so he's going to have to continue to out-wrestle people."

Mathis attributed his ability to do that in part to what he learned at a Cumberland College camp this summer.

"I learned a whole lot of moves down there, but there was so much it was going in one ear and out the other," he said. "I had a notebook I wrote everything down in, and I've applied that to the season."

He said he continues to refer to his notes often between practices and matches, using them as a reference guide of sorts.

"I'm using a little bit of everything they taught us," he said.

Most improved wrestler last year

Mathis' strong start comes on the heels of a successful sophomore season in which he won the team's award as its most improved wrestler. After winning only three matches as a freshman, he won about 20 last year and qualified for the state tournament.

"I'm hoping for a whole lot more this year," he said.

Sheer strength is not Mathis' strong suit, but he said he has more of it this year after spending hours in the weight room working on building up the muscles in his upper body and his legs, which he said are the real source of his power on the mat.

"I use my legs as my biggest factor," he said. "I've got little tiny legs, but I use them as my strength."

Then there's the paper route, which has been in the family for about seven years. He delivers the papers on foot, and he said trekking up and down hills with a bag of newspapers on each shoulder has proved to be good conditioning.

But he doesn't deliver during wrestling season. His mother and younger brother Joseph carry the load through the winter - older brother Caleb also participated before going off to college - because he's at wrestling practice on weekday afternoons.

"In the off-season it's my obligation," he said.

Active in his church

Mathis' schedule is full enough as it is. He is involved in a number of activities at his church, First Baptist Church on Broadway - where his father is the pastor - that include everything from running the sound board during Sunday services to participating in a Monday morning prayer breakfast with other members of his youth group.

He also has his share of activities at school, and a typical load of homework waiting for him after practices.

"As long as I keep the Lord first, I'm able to do what I can do," he said.

Mathis said his goals for the season are to win a regional championship and earn a medal at the state tournament. And for the first time, he can also consider goals for the team that weren't possible last year when there were only six varsity wrestlers.

There are over 15 wrestlers in grades 9-12 this year, the result of a recruiting drive by the returning wrestlers to bring other students to the team.

"It's actually nice to have a chance to say, 'Let's try to win this dual meet,' instead of just trying to win individual matches," he said.

Wednesday's meet

Mathis was one of four Danville wrestlers to win both of their matches in Wednesday's double-dual meet. Jeremy Turner (103 pounds), Chris Booth (140) and Matt Booth (152) also went 2-0.

Danville defeated Fort Knox 46-30 in its first series of matches, then lost 52-27 to Anderson.

Danville (D) 46, Fort Knox (FK) 30

103 - Jeremy Turner (D) def. Arthur Ohmers (FK) 2:30.

112 - Eric Coolidge (FK) won by forfeit.

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