Blair finishes 16th out of 23 teams
FEB. 18, NORTHWEST GYMNASIUM —
Blair continued to work its way up the ladder of Montgomery County varsity wrestling, climbing seven spots from last year to take 16th place of 23 teams in the County Championships. Damascus placed first.
Of the seven Blazers who qualified for the two-day tournament, senior co-captain Jean Ulysse (160) was Blair's most noteworthy individual performer, placing fifth.
The tournament featured teams from every county high school except Northwood. It followed a single-elimination format in each weight class, with losers of quarterfinals and semifinals battling in consolation bouts for third through sixth places.
Ulysse used a strength advantage to pin his first-round opponent, Dmitry Gulik of Seneca Valley, with 20 seconds left in the first period. However, Ulysse was pinned with 43 seconds left in the third period of his quarterfinal match.
In his consolation matches, Ulysse rallied. He went 1-1, steering him to the fifth-sixth bout, where he was able to pin his opponent in the second period to earn fifth place. Sophomore Haben Ghebremeschel (125) and senior Patrick Lao (103) both won their first-round matches before losing in the quarterfinals and the first consolation bout. Ghebremeschel, who Blair coach Jake Scott believes has the potential to win a county championship in the future, went into the tournament seeded sixth.
In his first match against Gaithersburg's Michael Correal, Ghebremeschel showed why Scott praised him. He was able to take control in the first period when the two had a collision. Ghebremeschel pinned a dazed Correal one minute into the second.
Lao also scored a sound 14-4 victory over Poolesville's Henry Field in his first round match, repeatedly taking Field down and keeping him there while trying to turn Field to his back.
Neither wrestler fared as well in the quarterfinals. Ghebremeschel drew Magruder's Zach Tolbert, last year's 112 pound state champion. Although he held Tolbert to only two points in the first period, Ghebremeschel couldn't overcome the more experienced wrestler and was pinned in the second. He went on to lose 9-1 to Quince Orchard's Spencer Newbaum in his consolation match.
None of Blair's other wrestlers got past the first-round elimination matches, with two wrestlers, sophomores Bereket Kebede (140) and Phine Ulysse (135), both losing in devastating last-second decisions.
Ulysse, who was up 8-6 with 10 seconds remaining, was defeated 10-8 following a hurried takedown and near fall by Richard Montgomery's Nick Pine, while Kedebe was taken directly to his back when the score was tied 11-11 with two seconds left.
Team MVP Monica Maher lost her first match 16-0, which seemed to sadden Scott the most. "This has been a great year for her, and I wanted to see her go out a bit stronger. She just got a bad draw."
Scott left the tournament feeling good about his wrestlers, saying, "We have a lot to work on, but we also have a lot to work with. The team is inexperienced, but that will come in time."
Kiran Bhat. Kiran Bhat is a senior who loves the Washington Redskins, 24, Coldplay, Kanye West, Damien Rice, Outkast and Common (Sense). He aspires to be the next Sanjay Gupta. He will miraculously grow a Guptaesque telegenic face and sculpted body by the age of 30. In … More »