Wrestlers place second to last
FEB. 19, NORTHWEST GYMNASIUM-
Last year, the Blazers had a third place, a second place and three first place finishers at the County Championships. This year, they had one wrestler place eighth.
To enter the County Championships, a wrestler must have 30 regular season points. In order to be placed, wrestlers must be in one of the top eight spots in their weight class at the end of the tournament. Only one of the two Blazers (senior Andrew Wallis (189) and junior Jean Ulysse (160)) that qualified and competed in the County Championships held over the last two days placed.
Wallis, who qualified for Counties with 41 points, won his first match by forfeit. His Richard Montgomery opponent Kyle Gallagher did not make weight. Gallagher had a recurring knee injury that hindered his exceptional abilities exhibited earlier in the season. Wallis was to suffer a similar fate during his second round at Counties.
Wallis went into his match with a strategy to beat his Northwest opponent Feris Bond. "He's definitely stronger than me," said Wallis before the match. "He's going to be aggressive, so I'm going to be aggressive back." Earlier in the season, Wallis had faced Bond and was beaten. The wrestlers seemed evenly matched as the first period came to a close. Bond had only managed two points and Wallis was beginning to overcome Bond's strength advantage with his superior endurance.
Twenty seconds into the second period, Bond had Wallis on his side with the Blazer's elbow locked and arm pulled back. All of a sudden, there was a faint groan. Bond looked down, loosened his grip, assessed that Wallis was O.K. and tightened his grip again. Suddenly, Wallis made a much more apparent and urgent groan. Bond let go of Wallis and stood back. Wallis' body could be seen motionless and balancing on one shoulder, the one which wasn't just being twisted. After Blair coaches Jake Scott and Sun Luc walked over and rotated his shoulder for a minute to loosen it up, Wallis forfeited the match and was entered into the tournament's "losers' bracket," where Wallis lost to his Sherwood opponent by a second period pin. Scott deemed the exceptional strength and experience of Wallis' opponents, as well as Wallis' recurring shoulder injuries from throughout the season, as the Blazer's main obstacles.
Ulysse, who qualified for Counties with 38 points, was also pinned by a Sherwood opponent, and was out of the tournament after the first round. Ulysse's match was contested, but with only 28 second left, he was put on the ground with an ankle lace and found himself unable to break his opponent's two-on-one hold.
Some Blazer wrestlers believed junior Patrick Lao (103), who had well over 50 regular season points, had the most potential for a county title. Unfortunately, he left the team because of personal reasons just two weeks before Counties.
The four points Blair obtained from Wallis' first round forfeit allowed the team to beat Northwood High School, which did not have any wrestlers entered in the tournament.
Scott envisions a better turnout next season. "They will join other sports [and therefore cross-train], stay healthy, join youth leagues, beef up and the team should be great next year, " said Scott.
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