Going for gold

March 2, 2004, midnight | By Kristina Yang | 16 years, 10 months ago

Senior poised to capture Blair's first state championship

As a succession of wrestlers struggle with their opponents at the 4A/3A West Regional Tournament, senior Hansel Cedeno saunters along the sidelines, pausing to chat with a few admiring fans as he fiddles with the straps of his headgear. As the referee calls the 189-lb finalists to the center of the ring, however, Cedeno drops his casual demeanor, his eyes hardening with determination as he steps onto the mat.

The referee blows his whistle, and Cedeno tenses, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet as he looks for an opening. A few moments later, he pounces, slamming Whitman freshman Pat Lazear to the mat with a swift takedown. 34 seconds after the match began, Cedeno rises triumphantly from the mat, the undisputed county and regional champion in his weight class.

While Cedeno's pin occurred with surprising swiftness in a tournament where most matches last the entire three periods and even occasionally extend into overtime, his victory was hardly unexpected. Cedeno has been undefeated since the season began, accumulating a 30-0 record and taking first in prestigious countywide tournaments hosted by Magruder, Springbrook, and Damascus. More remarkably, Cedeno has pinned every opponent he has faced, never once resorting to winning by decision.

According to Cedeno, the secret to his success lies not only in speedy footwork and intense weight training, but also in a unique move that he half-jokingly calls "the Hansel Drop." "You grab the guy and fold him in half," he explains. "Bend his head toward his toes." Cedeno also excels as assessing his opponents' weaknesses and using them to his advantage, a key strength that allowed him to pin Rockville's Patrick Haddon in just 17 seconds at Magruder's Mad Mats Tournament in December.

Though Cedeno is pleased with his performance this season, the most successful since he first began wrestling three years ago, he has turned his focus toward improving the eighth-place state ranking that he earned last year. Is he excited to finally hold both the county and regional titles in his weight class? "No, not really." According to Cedeno, those two victories are insignificant compared to what lies ahead: "States is what really matters."

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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 »

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