A Force of One : Moorpark's Plymire Shuns Football for Wrestling and Finds Himself Alone at the Top

Times Staff Writer

Vince Plymire doesn't need a gang of tacklers to help him down an opponent. If he did, Plymire would have played for the Moorpark College football team.

Plymire likes the solo approach when flexing his muscles. Watch the Raider freshman wrestle and it becomes obvious why he eschews team sports: At 6-5, 245 pounds, Plymire is a one-man team.

"Football is a team sport and I'd just rather go out there and do it myself," Plymire said.

Whether alone on a wrestling mat or in a football huddle, Plymire stands out. He's too big not to. He also runs, jumps and moves laterally with alacrity--making him a perfect prospect for college football.

Or so Moorpark Coach Jim Bittner thought.

"He's definitely a Division I player," Bittner said. "He's one of those kids who could have gone on and made a career out of football."

But Plymire's decision not to play football came as a disappointment to Bittner.

"We recruited Vince and were under the impression he was going to play football," Bittner said.

Plymire, 18, wanted to compete in both wrestling and football at Moorpark as he had done at Channel Islands High. But the sports' seasons overlapped, forcing Plymire to make a choice.

"I like the atmosphere around wrestling better than football," Plymire said.

For that John Keever is thankful.

"Usually, big football players choose football over wrestling because it has more glamour and more publicity," the Moorpark wrestling coach said. "His love of wrestling overcame all of that.

"He just likes the individuality of wrestling and he has high ambitions in the sport."

Plymire fulfilled his first goal by winning a state title last month. He was the first heavyweight to win a state title for Keever in his 19 years of coaching wrestling at Moorpark.

With his agility, size and strength, Plymire was a natural for college wrestling. His two years of high school experience made him even more of a prized recruit for Keever.

"Big heavyweights usually don't have great athletic ability," Keever said. "Vince has quickness, great balance and he is developing his power."

Plymire won 31 of 34 matches this season and was second on the team in pins with 12. He also scored the team's fastest pin of the season--11 seconds.

He was named to the All-Western State Conference first team along with teammates Keith Hernandez (118 pounds) and Ross Boomhower (190).

In the state meet, Plymire claimed his title by winning three matches on decisions. He faced Chuck Guptil from Lassen College in his first match. Guptil twice had defeated Plymire during the regular season and presented an imposing obstacle.

"He knew that if he got by that match he could win the whole thing," Keever said.

Plymire scored a 9-3 decision over Guptil and won, 1-0, in the championship match.

Not bad for a freshman wrestler who had not so much as witnessed a college match before suiting up for Moorpark.

"He's the finest heavyweight I've ever coached," Keever said. "Whether he is one of the best heavyweights at the community college level remains to be seen."

Plymire hopes to find out next year in his quest for a second state title. After he completes his eligibility at Moorpark, he would like to wrestle for a Division I college.

Keever doesn't think he'll have any trouble fulfilling both goals.

"I think all of the big, major schools will be interested in Vince," Keever said. "He's got all of the ingredients. He just has to polish and add to them and he will be a great wrestler."

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