HOBART | Brendan Black has only wrestled five high school matches, but he's already a known commodity around the region.
The Hobart freshman is 5-0 in those matches with two pins, but Black also has a middle school state championship, a fourth-place finish at the ISWA folkstyle state championship and an eighth-place finish at the ISWA freestyle state championship.
"Whether he wants to admit it or not, because of his modesty, he has a target on his back," Brickies assistant coach Alex Ramos said. "I think he will for the next four years. He's got to carry one of those around."
Black's high school record is light because he missed the first two weeks of the season after suffering a concussion in a car accident. Ramos said the 120 pounder paced in the wrestling room during practices before he was cleared to return, anxious about missing his time on the mat.
"I pretty much just sat and watched," Black said. "My first high school tournament, I couldn't wrestle. That was hard."
He isn't used to sitting and watching. Black started wrestling when he was only five-years-old. He wanted to be like his uncle Nick, who died in a car accident at 18.
Black gave up football this year and spent his summer wrestling five days a week. He has no regrets.
"I really worked hard. I'm getting better," Black said. "I didn't get to hang out with my friends as much. I wanted to work hard and do good in wrestling this year."
Black was caught in a deep single-leg shot at the Harvest Classic, Ramos remembers. He calmly worked his way out with the confidence and repose of a veteran grappler. It was his first high school tournament.
"He dictates the pace out there," Ramos said. "It's a rare quality for a freshman, to dictate the tone of a match. If it's too slow, he speeds it up and if it's too fast, he slows it down."
Ramos said the tenacity that Black has on the mat translates to the classroom. Black has three and a half years of high school to go, but he already knows that he either wants to be an architectural engineer or a pharmacist. He's hoping for an academic scholarship.
"If he says he wants to be an engineer, he can do it," Ramos said. "Teachers have nothing but good things to say about Brendan. He's engaged in the classroom."
Don't expect Black to slow down if he wins a state title early in his prep career, though. He's not built that way.
"If I dial it back a little bit, maybe someone's going to work harder than I did and pass me up," he said. "I want to keep working hard, if not harder."