Anger fuels Campbell's mat success

"It's either them or you out there [losing], and I don't want it to be me,"said Campbell, a senior.
"It's either them or you out there [losing], and I don't want it to be me,"said Campbell, a senior.
Posted: December 30, 2013

Mike Campbell arrived five minutes before his 10 a.m. practice at Collingswood's Sam Coursen Wrestling Center on the day after Christmas.

He was wearing an orange Flyers hooded sweatshirt with a dirt mark on the front and corresponding orange and black pajama pants.

Campbell, a senior and defending District 28 champion, spoke in a quiet, unemotional tenor that reflected the slow pace at which he walked into the dimly lit gym.

Coach Dechlin Moody described the two-year captain as soft-spoken and well-mannered, not a vocal kid and definitely not the kind of personality to come in yelling.

There's another side to him, though.

Campbell is physical and aggressive on the mat - sometimes even angry.

"On the mat, you have to act differently," he said. "It's either them or you out there [losing], and I don't want it to be me."

Before he wrestles, Campbell keeps to himself. Besides a motivational talk from teammate Zane Chunko, he'll wear his headphones, listening to Eminem and staying quiet until it's his turn to wrestle.

"A switch sort of goes off," Moody said. "He walks out very slow and nonchalant, but when the whistle blows, it's on."

Campbell is in his fourth year as a starter, 10 wins away from 100, and Moody can tell when he's ready to go. Often, Campbell has to be mad to be at his best.

"I like it when he gets angry out there, then it's like he's ready to go," Moody said. "He starts to get a little more rough and starts to throw guys around a bit. Sometimes that's what it takes to get him started."

Campbell, who is 6-1 with five pins this season and won the Collingswood Christmas Tournament at 182 pounds Saturday, worked toward harnessing that energy that shows up in his wrestling.

As an underclassman, he overthought his matches and didn't let go. More recently, he became distracted by crowd noise and the shouting from other matches before he even competed, so he wasn't focused.

"I realize I have to use all my energy then on the mat, so I'll save it while I'm off," Campbell said. "I'm trying to zone the crowd out and trying to just wrestle my match instead of listening to everyone shout, because that can get to you easily."

Campbell has big goals this season. After winning District 28 at 160 pounds last season, he will look to win the district again at 172 or 180 pounds. He also hopes to win Region 7, in which he finished third as a junior, and place in the state tournament.

He is working to improve the technical aspects of his wrestling to complement his physical advantages.

"He's a bull on the mat," Moody said. "If you want to get physical with him, you're probably going to lose that battle."

The day after Christmas, Campbell calmly waited with his teammates to go outside and do running exercises.

However, when the time comes to accomplish his goals, he won't be the same person.


ncarroll@phillynews.com

@NickJCarroll

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