Fab five carry Blazers to fifth place finish
FEB. 21, NORTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL—
Despite receiving only an honorable mention in the county's official top-ten team rankings at the end of the regular season, Blair scored a coup at the Montgomery County Wrestling Tournament, edging out several strong teams for a stunning 140 point, fifth place team ranking and tying B-CC for the most first place finishes. Sophomore Josh Osorto (103) and seniors Cesar Sosa (119) and Hansel Cedeno (189) all captured county championships in their divisions, while senior Muamba Muanankese (215) placed second, and senior co-captain Scott Nguyen (112) placed third.
The Blazers' strong showing was all the more surprising because of their short roster. "Most of our guys went to the JV tournament instead," Nguyen explained, "and we only sent five guys to the tournament. Most schools usually enter their whole team." Blair was further hampered by the loss of senior Herb Morsha-Taylor (275), who placed sixth in the county last year but was recently sidelined with a knee injury.
As Muanankese noted, however, the five Blazers who did compete in the tournament performed exceptionally well. "We're a team of superstars," he said with a wry grin. "We only had five wrestlers at counties, but they all performed beautifully."
One of those beautiful performances came from Cedeno, who has consistently placed first in countywide competitions throughout the season and began the tournament as the first seed in his division. As expected, he rose swiftly through the levels of competition, advancing easily through each round before finally defeating Whitman freshman Pat Lazear with a solid pin in the first period of the final match.
Sosa, who had been seeded third in his weight class, scored his victory in the second period of his last match, pinning surprise contender Watkin Mills senior James Martinez (who had not been seeded in the top six) to capture the county title. His victory was made a bit easier, however, due to the absence of several wrestlers in his weight class. Richard Montgomery junior Josh Rosenthal, seeded fifth, and Northwest senior Daniel Hansen, seeded fourth, both failed to make weight and did not participate in the tournament, handing Sosa easy default wins in the first rounds of the tournament.
Osorto's final match against Sherwood sophomore Andrew Lowy, who was the first seed in the 103 lb. weight class, was the most intense of all three championship rounds. The two wrestlers struggled to pin-fall each other throughout all three periods of their match, but neither was able to gain an advantage, and the final whistle blew without a clear victor emerging. Osorto finally defeated Lowy in an overtime round, taking advantage of the latter's exhaustion to force a takedown and pin.
Muanankese wrestled a valiant match against Paint Branch senior Bummi Omatode, the defending county champion, with both contenders taking the lead at various times throughout the three rounds. While Muanankese displayed his usual finessed footwork and executed a clean double-leg takedown, he was unable to follow through with a pin, a key weakness that has plagued him throughout the season. By the end of the three rounds, Muanankese had scored 4 points to Omatode's 7, narrowly missing the championship for a second place finish.
Nguyen fell in the semifinal round to junior Andrew Robinson of Whitman, but returned in the consolation round to defeat Watkins Mill junior Brandon Wims for a third place showing. Though Nguyen faltered at the start of the match, allowing the score to fall as low as 4-10, he regained his spirit toward the second half of the match, taking Wims down repeatedly to end the match with a score of 14-12.
According to Nguyen, the team was highly pleased with its success at the tournament. "We talked about all five of us going in there and winning county champs, and that didn't happen," he said, "but overall, we did really good. Coach Scott was really proud." Though Nguyen and Muanankese both expressed disappointment at their standings, both said that they hoped to improve their rankings at the regional tournament, which will occur Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 at Sherwood. "Muamba and I told ourselves that we would do better," Nguyen explained. "No matter what, we're going to make it to States."
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 »