MARCH 6, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND—
The Blazers entered the Maryland State Wrestling Tournament with high expectations, encouraged by five top-three seedings and recent wins at the 4A/3A West Regional Tournament. The West has traditionally been the weakest of Maryland's four districts, however, and the Blazers found themselves overwhelmed by lesser seeds from other parts of the state. Sophomore Josh Osorto (103) and senior Muamba Muanankese (215) were the only Blazers to capture top-six finishes, and Blair finished 20th out of 72 schools with 35 team points.
Osorto was the only Blazer to defeat two consecutive opponents and advance to the semifinal round, where he lost a close match against River Hill sophomore Taylor Green. Dropped to the consolation round, Osorto defeated Sherwood freshman Andrew Lowry 8-6 in overtime to advance to the final round, then fell in a 6-4 loss to Linganore sophomore Casey Marwine in his final match to place fourth overall in his class.
Senior Muamba Muanankese also defeated his first opponent but lost his next match to Bowie's Zak Adomanis by a two-point margin. Though Muanankese went on to defeat two consecutive opponents in the consolation round, several of his old injuries flared up as the matches progressed, and he eventually forfeited to Calvert senior Shawn Englert and accepted sixth place instead of risking further injury.
Senior Hansel Cedeno (189), who entered the night with a perfect record as the West's first seed and carried Blair's best hopes for a state championship, suffered his first pin of the season in a quarterfinal match against Thomas Johnson senior Mark Esmont. Though Cedeno reasserted himself in his first consolation match, he was pinned once more by Calvert junior Phil Riley in the semifinal round, destroying his hopes for placing at the tournament.
Seniors Cesar Sosa (119) and Scott Nguyen (112) suffered even more devastating losses, both falling by decision in the preliminary rounds. Sosa went on to score two victories but suffered a loss in the consolation quarterfinal round in a bitter 19-4 match against Calvert sophomore Ryan Buff. Nguyen, meanwhile, ended his hopes of victory with a loss to sophomore Steve Gelety of Chesapeake-Anne Arundel in his first consolation match.
The tournament's conclusion will also mark the departure of Blair's most successful crop of wrestlers since it lost its county powerhouse status two years ago. The five Blair wrestlers who entered the tournament were the only Blazers with winning records this season, and all five will be leaving the team this year. Cedeno, Muanankese, Nguyen and Sosa will all graduate this June, and Osorto plans to transfer to regional champion Whitman at the start of next year. With their departures, the team that has just clawed itself back up from last year's 3-11 record may very well find itself struggling once more with the prospect of another dismal season.
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 »