Lakeland hopes to hang some shoes

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 1, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Heading into the Lakeland High School wrestling room, it’s difficult not to a do double-take after glancing upward. Hanging from the bars across the ceiling are several pairs of sneakers!

Upon closer inspection, these footwears bear several messages: &uot;District Champion.&uot; &uot;State Champion&uot; &uot;Fifth in the State.&uot;

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Now it’s clear; the shoes are a testament to Cavalier matsters who have brought honor to their school over the past decade. By the spring of next year, a pair of purple Nike PPEs might be dangling from the rafters – courtesy of Thomas Harper.

&uot;Those are my ‘Purple People-Eaters’!&uot; explains the senior 215-pounder, who made it to regionals last season. &uot;I’ve had them since seventh-grade. They were the first I ever had.&uot;

After splitting his time between the 189- and 215-class last season, Harper has settled comfortably into the heavier group. &uot;I’m going to play the same way I did during the football season – all out,&uot; he says (a broken hand suffered on the gridiron has just about healed). &uot;I’m not trying to put myself on high, but I don’t want to have to ask myself, ‘What if I had done this? Would we have won if I had done that?’&uot;

At the start of every practice, Camden Zemp leads the extensive squad (barring injuries, they could be the first Cavalier tandem in years to legitimately fill every weight class at a meet) through drills and drills of calisthenics.

&uot;This is my year to lead,&uot; says Zemp, also a senior recovering from a fractured hand. &uot;I’m not going to give myself a number (predict where I’ll finish), but I’m hopeful, because I think everything’s starting to flow.&uot; He’ll take on 135-pound grapplers this winter.

The team went winless in the Southeastern District last year, but managed to take home six non-district wins. Sophomore Tim Dugan hopes to score enough takedowns to take his team up through the ranks. &uot;Last year, I spent most of my time on the defensive,&uot; said the 152-pound wrestler. &uot;I’m going to be more offensive this year. I don’t really like losing, so I’m going to try to pin everyone. If I can get them in a headlock, I always end up getting them down.&uot;