David Ratliff is apologetic, sorry he didn't immediately return a phone call and a couple text messages.
He had a paper to finish and more homework on the docket. During the Battery Creek senior's final high school spring break, he kept his focus down the road.
Wrestling, and state titles each of his past two seasons, occupy a spot on the backburner. As the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet Wrestler of the Year finishes his high school classes and narrows college choices, sports remain secondary.
"That's the reason you go to college, for academics, and I'm not going to set them aside to do sports," said Ratliff, who plans to major in computer science and minor in business management. "But whatever sport I do play, not to be cliche, but (I want to) be the best I can, get into it 100 percent. Give all I can. It's another level."
Ratliff, also a football standout for the Dolphins, is considering Bethel University in Tennessee for football and wrestling, and Newberry College for wrestling only. In February, he closed his high school sports experience by winning a second state title in wrestling, winning the Class 3-A heavyweight division.
The athlete they call "Dually," like the truck, tried to ignore wrestling when he arrived in high school. But peer pressure won out, and he reveled in the chance to beat up on friends. He finished third in the state as a sophomore, defeated York's Beau Nunn for the 2011 title and earlier this year earned a decision over Socastee's Craig Burton for another state crown. Ratliff had also defeated Burton at Lower State.
He finished his final high school season 54-0 and with the top ranking among Class 3-A heavyweights.
"I'm pretty happy," Ratliff said. "There's not much more you can ask for."
After the state tournament, Ratliff was reunited with former Battery Creek coach Kyle Kimrey on a trip to Virginia Beach, Va., for the National High School Coaches Association Senior Nationals. Dually won two matches the first day and two the second day. He finished a victory shy of all-American status.
Ratliff focused during his senior season on his conditioning, working to outlast his opponents and maintain a push for six minutes. The aggressiveness in part was instilled by Kimrey last season.
"You've just got to go as hard as you can through everything," Ratliff said. "It's about being aggressive and not letting down. Because your opponent is not going to let down during a match."
In addition to school, Ratliff's schedule now includes lifting weights and wrestling for Team Palmetto to stay sharp. Ratliff, who played offensive and defensive line on the football team, said he hasn't decided which sport is more important to him, only that school will always come first.
"It's going to be a tough decision," he said.