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Feb. 7, 2008

Senior night success for wrestling

by Andrew Kung, Online Sports Editor and Copy Editor
The Blair wrestling team ended its home season with a resounding victory on Tuesday night, decisively defeating the Richard Montgomery Rockets 54-24 on senior night. The blowout resulted from solid pinning from the Blazers as well as five forfeits by the Rockets.

As per tradition, the seniors on the team (Charles Chikelu, Mark Goodman, Raul Medina, Aaron Sacks and captains Bereket Kebede, Haben Ghebremeschel and Phine Ulysse) were honored by head coach Jake Scott in a pregame ceremony. "They've been around and been working hard," said assistant coach Andrew Wallis. "It's the perfect way to end our home season."

Senior co-captain Bereket Kebede wins his final home match on Senior Night with a second round pin.  The Blazers won, 54-24 against Richard Montgomery. Molly Brune
Senior co-captain Bereket Kebede wins his final home match on Senior Night with a second round pin. The Blazers won, 54-24 against Richard Montgomery.

Sacks (103) began the night with a hard fought, three-round match. The first round ended with a 3-3 tie, but Richard Montgomery gained control as the match wore on, eventually scoring a 10-3 victory, good for three points. Medina (112) too was outmatched by his opponent, who was in control for nearly the entire match, pinning Medina with 17 seconds left to give RM an early 9-0 lead.

But the Blazers came back fighting, as freshman Emmanuel Ramirez (119) secured a pin in with 1:35 remaining round two. Wallis was particularly impressed with Ramirez's match, his first varsity victory. Sophomore Johni Meeks (135) scored two takedowns and was up 4-1 before taking out his opponent's legs and scoring the pin in just 52 seconds.

Sophomore Jon Park (130) started his match strong, with a thunderous slam and a 2-0 advantage, but once on the mat, his opponent was able to perform a reversal and almost pinned Park at the end of round one. The second round again began with a brutal takedown by Park, but again he was outmatched once on the mat. A strong late effort in the third round was not enough, as Park fell by a score of 15-6.

Junior Miche Ulysse (145) got an early quick takedown and held on to opponent's waist, and after a brief struggle, scored the pin with 36 seconds left in round one. Kebede (152) too landed an early takedown in his match, and was in control for most of the first round, but could not secure the pin. In round two, he scored reversal from the down position, and finally pinned his opponent with 35 seconds remaining.

Junior Denis Flores (189) and his opponent, RM captain Ros Lary, spent much of their match up in the neutral position. Eventually, Lary was able to land critical takedowns and wear down Flores, who was pinned with 33 seconds left in the third round. Chikelu (215) had a similar match, staying up and holding his opponent to a near stalemate before succumbing to a pin in the second round.

Ghebremeschel (140), Phine Ulysse (160) and juniors Kekura Musa (125), Alhaji Janneh (171) and Charles Camara (HWT) were all awarded wins by forfeit, scoring six points apiece for Blair. The final scoreboard stood 54-24, a lopsided victory for their home finale.

Wallis was very pleased with the performance seen on Tuesday. "We pinned, that's what we came here to do," he said. He noted that although Blair had the larger, more complete team, and as a result secured seven forfeits, the Blazers still won more matches.

Now the focus of the team shifts to one final match away at Parkdale, and then postseason play. "We've been training harder, our practices are coming to a peak," said Wallis. The Blazers will participate in the county tournament after the regular season is over.

Richard Montgomery coach Kevin Menefee was satisfied with the effort shown by his outmanned squad. "We wrestled hard and did the best we could. We won the matches we were supposed to, and they won the matches they were supposed to," he said. "There were no surprises."

Menefee was also quite impressed with the Blazers' performance. "They've improved since last time (the Mad Mats tournament in December)," Menefee said. "They're a strong team. They've obviously worked very hard."

The Blair wrestling team travels to Parkdale on Feb. 9 in their regular season finale.



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