Varsity wrestling loses to Whitman 10-72
FEB. 5, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-
The Blazers were at a disadvantage from the beginning. Because of an injury, an argument and an inability to make weight, attend practices or stay eligible, Blair (2-12) lacked five strong varsity wrestlers as they fell to Whitman today, 10-72.
Blair forfeited four individual matches, which is an equivalent to 24 out of the possible 84 points. One Blazer was cut because of ineligibility and another because of a poor attendance record. One wrestler was .4 pounds over his weight class and another just did not show up. In addition, the Blazer who was most reliable at winning points walked out of practice only a few days ago with the intention of taking the last three weeks of the season off because of personal reasons.
This abyss of openings left many spaces to be filled. Freshmen Aaron Sacks (103) and Casey Wallis (135) were replacements even though neither had wrestled varsity for the past three weeks. In order to fill spots, freshmen Peter Lorenz and Berket Kebede were each bumped up a whole weight class, leaving them at a huge strength disadvantage to their respective opponents.
While the possibility of defeat became all-too-apparent with the team's poor attendance, the factor determining victory of the individual matches was each Blazer's strategy, whether it was offensive or defensive. The Whitman Vikings shot in early in each of their matches and had their opponents on their backs soon afterward. Many of the Blazers focused too much on waiting for chances to attack instead of creating them.
The two Blazers who competed offensively from the onset of their matches were freshman Haben Ghebremeschel (119) and senior Andrew Wallis (189), the only Blair wrestlers to score points. Both matches were long and arduous. Ghebremeschel won his match 15 points to five and Wallis achieved a third period pin. While the two wrestlers acquired a firm hold of their opponents' legs quickly, and with that hold, broke them down with a great degree of control and potential for a dominant pinning position, the Blazers had many problems with finishing. Ghebremeschel had command of his opponent for most of the match, but he could not position his head as far to the side and his body as directly on top of his opponent as necessary. Andrew had a problem with timing. He was barely an inch away from pinning his opponent in each of the first two periods when the buzzer sounded and he was forced to start over again. He eventually won his match with less than 50 seconds left in the match.
Whitman, indisputably one of the most experienced wrestling squads in the county, had capitalized on its trademark double arm bar pinning position in most of the team's victories. The Blazers heard about the move from their coach but never practiced getting into the position or escaping from it. "They would pull our arms behind our backs and lift our legs in the air. Kicking out was pointless," Kebede said with a chuckle.
The Blazers showed much more optimism than dismay while analyzing their performances against Whitman. Junior Jean Ulysse (160) noted that the Whitman team consisted of all upperclassmen while Blair had few and only one that will graduate this year. Most of the Blazers believed that although they did not attack enough today, when they were on the offensive, they were much more comfortable and versatile with their moves than earlier in the season. The Blazers left the match with the belief they will beat Whitman next year.
Many of the Blazers will compete in Gaithersburg's JV tournament held on Feb. 12. The two Blazers who qualified for Counties were Ulysse and Andrew Wallis. Ulysse today vowed to place in the top four at Counties.
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