Wrestlers claim victory over Richard Montgomery
FEB. 5, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—
After a disappointing three-game losing streak, Blair's varsity wrestling team returned to its home court pumped and ready to reassert its dominance of the mat. The Blazers scored a 47-35 victory in a spirited showdown against Richard Montgomery, raising their seasonal record to 6-5.
The Blazers began the match with a solid 18-point lead, as the Rockets gave up forfeits in the 275, 112, and 119 lb. weight classes. Sophomore Josh Osorto (103) then added six more points to Blair's score, taking down his opponent with a tight-waist maneuver less than 15 seconds into his match and forcing a pin in just over a minute.
As the match progressed toward the middleweights, however, the Blazers' luck took a turn for the worse. While Blair has shown strength in its light- and heavyweight divisions, it has lost three strong middleweight wrestlers in recent weeks and is still struggling to rebuild that section of its lineup. Though freshman Nic Lukehart (140) moved up from the JV team to replace senior Steven Portillo, who left the team in early January due to schedule conflicts, the Blazers have been unable to find backups for senior co-captain Alan Coleman (135) and senior Vital Akimana (152), both of whom have been sidelined due to health-related reasons.
As a result, the Blazers were forced to forfeit in both of those weight classes, giving Richard Montgomery an easy twelve-point comeback. Though Blair won 12 more points through a Rocket forfeit in the 145 lb. division and a three-minute pin by Lukehart, Richard Montgomery swept the rest of the middleweight divisions, scoring three consecutive pin-falls to bring the score to 36-30. Four takedowns and three near-faults in the 171 lb. division earned the Rockets an additional five points, bringing the score to a precipitously close 36-35 with just two matches left in the evening.
Though a Rocket forfeit in the 189 lb. weight class gave Blair the six points it needed to ensure victory, both teams were still highly excited as senior Muamba Muanankese (215) took the mat for the last match of the night. After two rounds of powerful but fruitless grappling, both interrupted by the two-minute buzzer, Muanankese finally scored a pin-fall in the third period of the match with a deft tight-waist takedown that brought the score to 48-35.
Muanankese's victory was marred by a heated verbal exchange with his opponent, however, the tension that had been building on the mat spilling over as the referee attempted to make the two shake hands in the customary post-match display of goodwill. As a result of the incident, the referee subtracted one point from each team for "poor sportsmanship," bringing the final score to 47-34.
Despite the lost point, the Blazers were very pleased with their victory, noting that it was the team's first win since losing Coleman and Akimana in January. "We came back strong after Whitman, where we lost bad, had a lot of forfeits," said senior Herb Morsha-Taylor (275). "We have a lot of potential for postseason – counties, regionals, states." Morsha-Taylor, Muanankese, and seniors Scott Nguyen (112) and Hansel Cedeno (189) all placed well in postseason tournaments last year, and the four are looking to repeat their victories again this season.
The Blazers' next match will be at Magruder on Saturday, Feb. 7, where they will also take on Sherwood.
Kristina Yang. Kristina Yang is 1/10 of the Blair girls' volleyball team. When not on the court, she most likely to be running away from Magnet math homework, trying to pay off her three speeding/redlight tickets, or feeding her bubble tea addiction. She would also like to ... More »