When junior Hansel Cedeno steps into the ring, the match begins and he slams his rival down for one point before intentionally letting him back up. Cedeno's weary 171-pound opponent gets up time and time again, only to be overpowered by Cedeno's tremendous strength and agility. Cedeno steadily increases his score with this tactic of repeated takedowns.
Cedeno used this point-gaining method successfully several times in other matches last season, including his Dec 19 match at Wheaton High School, helping Blair's wrestlers achieve an 11-2 record and earning Cedeno, a first-year varsity wrestler, an 8-5 record and sixth place at the county tournament.
Wrestling coach Jake Scott says Cedeno's performance was "above average" for a first-year wrestler. Because of Cedeno's love for the challenge of the sport, Scott eagerly awaits each of his matches and enjoys putting him out in the ring. "Hansel is one of the few high school wrestlers that I look forward to wrestling because of his level of competitiveness," Scott explains.
During a match, says Assistant Coach Kevin Moose, Cedeno gives it his all. "Hansel doesn't shut down mentally; he's not a quitter," says Moose.
Cedeno attributes his fierceness on the mat to his competitive nature. "I wrestle hard because there's nothing I hate more than losing," he explains.
The bottom line, says Moose, is that "[Cedeno's] just a plain tough kid. He doesn't like to be pushed around."
Scott recommended wrestling to Cedeno in eighth grade at Eastern Middle School and again when he was a sophomore at Blair. One of his reasons for joining the team, Cedeno jokes, was that "you get to beat people up and not get in trouble."
Moose offers two words of warning for Cedeno's opponents: "Be careful." Cedeno's success, says Moose, lies in his incredible strength and athleticism. "Hansel has great natural ability, speed, quickness and strength," says Moose. "His athletic talent can easily overpower other wrestlers."
Even before last year's wrestling matches began, says junior teammate Scott Nguyen, Cedeno's opponents probably took one look at him and grew afraid. "He was like a powerhouse," he says. "People were scared of him."
Scott foresees Cedeno using this fear to his advantage at Counties this year. "I predict that Hansel has a great chance for top three, if not first place, in the Counties this season," he says.
Cedeno shares Scott's high hopes for this year. "This season's going to be hard," says Cedeno. "But I've been staying after practice and working harder so I can be county champ."
Lauren DalBello. Not be confused with Eva Cassidy, Lauren DalBello likes having fun. She can most often be seen smiling. She is excited about Switzerland next year, but she will also miss everything from her little hometown better known as Takoma Park. More »