Athlete of Week: Wolfe’s work ethic sparks Chiefs

nmbwrestle-celebNorth Myrtle Beach High sophomore wrestler Curtis Wolfe has a brief but effective ritual he goes through before every match, and it’s literally “working.”

“When I step on the mat the first thing I say is, ‘He can’t be working harder than me,’ ” said Wolfe, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week following strong individual and team performances. “That’s the mindset I take into every match, that I’ve been working harder for this, I want it more, and I’m not going to give up.”

That seems to be the mindset for the entire North Myrtle Beach squad this season after winning their first Region 7-4A title in more than a decade. Wolfe, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the state with a 21-4 overall record, credits coach Carl Dukes for instilling confidence and a winning attitude that have made their way from the practice mats to the main events.

“Coach Dukes is phenomenal, and it’s not just about wrestling,” Wolfe said. “It’s about your attitude, your personality, taking responsibility, and how to be a man. Having him as a coach has made me realize a lot of things, about giving 100 percent, not half doing things, and how you’ve got to go all out all the time. That’s why we’re getting better and coming together as a team.”

Wolfe has been a big part of that turnaround. Despite his underclassman status as a sophomore and only in his third season of wrestling, Wolfe brings an unmatched work ethic and a contagious can-do attitude to the team. He credits his football background for the “we” attitude he brings to the more individually oriented sport of wrestling.

“I liked playing football, but the reason I fell in love with wrestling is once you’re out there on the mat you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. It’s all on you,” said Wolfe, who made the transition from the gridiron to the mat in the eghth grade.
“But wrestling is a team sport too. We push each other to get better and we don’t want to let each other down. I told our team, ‘Look at how hard we work together. We really have something here.’ And we won region for the first time in 11 years.”

The region title capped a memorable week for both the Chiefs and Wolfe. It started with his win in the Horry/Georgetown County Invitational, followed a few days later by the Chiefs’ victory over St. James for the Region 7-4A crown. Wolfe won his match and spark a major comeback by North Myrtle Beach, erasing an early 24-6 deficit to win by a score of 42-36. The milestone victory for the Chiefs gave them a wealth of confidence going into the state playoffs this weekend.

“That region championship was the best experience in the world,” recalled Wolfe. “Being put in that position was one of the toughest things I’ve been through, but I knew I needed to do it for my team. It just came down to who wanted it more. Seeing my teammates respond the way they did really showed that all that hard work is paying off. We want to carry that momentum into the playoffs and see how far we can go.”

North Myrtle Beach will host the first two rounds of the playoffs Saturday. Wolfe hopes the Chiefs’ plan to keep working keeps working.

Photo by Louis E. Keiner

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