When faced with a tough decision, Stephen Decatur senior Brett Kim doesn’t always make the easy choice.
Instead, he ponders what will challenge him the most.
For Kim, he said he does his best when he is challenged. For 10 years, it was gymnastics that was a challenge. Then heading into freshman year at Decatur, wrestling peaked Kim’s interest.
“I think it was totally different than anything I’ve done before,” Kim said. “It was like almost battling someone else, and it was one of the most intense and grueling sports. I love the challenge about that.”
And like all of the previous hurdles, Kim transformed from gymnast to wrestler with plenty of hard work.
Stephen Decatur wrestling coach Todd Martinek watched Kim become an instant contributor on the team freshman year. In his junior year, he lost to the state champion in his 160-pound weight class and also went to states in the pole vault.
Kim lost 7-3 in the match, and state champion Travis Chidebe went onto dominate the next rounds, 14-7, 5-3 and 8-3.
“For three years, making states is an accomplishment,” Martinek said. “This fourth year he’s really focused and ready to place at the state tournament. If you can have those kind of athletic accomplishments, with his grades, I take a lineup of 14 Brett Kims any day.”
Kim will help lead a line of deep Decatur wrestlers into the 2015-16 season. The Seahawks look to upset defending Bayside Champions on Wednesday.
Having a wrestler like Kim at the 152 and 160 range is key because other teams are talented in that area. Kim and Tyler VanSice will hold down those two important spots, Martinek said.
“If you can have a great 160 that’s always a great place to have because all teams usually have a great 160,” he said. “If you can take out the other team’s better kid, it does a lot of things. It put their team points down, it gives your kids momentum and we have two of them.”
Decatur is strong in the low weights with Josh Lawson at 106 and Robert Kaminski at 113, and then two-time place winner Andy McKahan holds down 138, while Gavin Payne sits at 195 and Jian Joobeen will wrestle 220.
“We’re good top to bottom and that’s tough when you scout us,” Martinek said. “You want to take advantage of team’s weaknesses. We might have state place winners in every state class, but we have kids who can wrestle, work hard and try not to get pinned.”
Decatur is loaded with talented wrestlers this season, and despite it only being his fourth year, Kim is close to the top.
While he might not be the most technical, strongest or quickest, he excels in all of the areas. Martinek can’t really pinpoint Kim’s weakness either, and that’s what makes him such a solid wrestler.
Every wrestler has a weak spot, Martinek said, but it’s tough to find Kim’s area.
“There’s so many intangibles,” the veteran coach said, “and I can’t say that Brett is the best at every one of them, but he is just near the top at all of them.”
For Kim, he thinks gymnastics gave him the athletic background to compete in a sport like wrestling. The competitiveness and desire to be the best drives him to work hard and get better.
But wrestling wasn’t enough.
Kim has his sights locked onto another challenge — joining the Naval Academy.
“I learned that I wanted to go to the Naval Academy when I wanted to be a pilot,” Kim said. “When I visited the Naval Academy I saw how it was grueling. Yet, it had a lot of benefits for life and how it made you a great leader. I wanted to be a part of that. I think that wrestling has influenced me that way because it’s grueling and intense.”
Kim has already completed the application process and met with a Blue and Gold officer and a senator. This weekend, Kim said he also had an interview with congressman Andy Harris.
This wrestling season, the Naval Academy and continuous schoolwork, Kim knows the future doesn’t present any easy challenges.
Then again, he’s prepared.
“I do my best when I’m challenged,” Kim said. “I think the Naval Academy offers the best challenge for me.”
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