Blazers repeat county tournament performance at regionals
FEB. 28, SHERWOOD HIGH SCHOOL—
Just a week after capturing fifth at the county tournament with a team of just five wrestlers, the Blazers repeated a strikingly similar performance at the 4A/3A West Regional Championships. Once again, Blair placed fifth despite its short roster, ending the meet with a team score of 103 points. Sophomore Josh Osorto (103) and seniors Cesar Sosa (119) and Hansel Cedeno (189) all added regional crowns to their county champion titles, while senior Muamba Muanankese (215) and senior co-captain Scott Nguyen (112) repeated their respective second and third place finishes.
Blair sailed through the early rounds of the tournament, with four of its five wrestlers advancing to the final round in their divisions. Nguyen, however, was knocked out of the semifinal round by junior Andrew Robinson of Whitman, the same wrestler who had dashed Nguyen's hopes of advancing to the final round at counties. Once again, Nguyen found himself facing Watkins Mill junior Brandon Wims in a battle for the third-place title. After three rounds of fierce but inconclusive grappling, Nguyen finally pinned Wims in overtime to place third in his weight class.
The final round began with the 215 lb. match, where Muanankese found himself competing with Paint Branch senior Bummi Omatode, who had narrowly defeated Muanankese for the county title just a week before. Plagued with an old knee injury that had flared up during the earlier rounds of the tournament, Muanankese opted to default out of his match, accepting the second-place title in lieu of participating in a match that could potentially aggravate his injury even more.
Osorto then took the mat against Sherwood sophomore Andrew Lowry, who had given him a tight run for his money at the county tournament. Once again, the two proved evenly matched, and neither was able to score a pin-fall despite wrestling three full periods. However, Osorto was able to score two takedowns and one escape, giving him seven points over Lowry's five and allowing him to narrowly capture the regional championship.
The 119 lb. match proved equally intense, with Sosa facing off against Wheaton junior Alejandro Zea, who had been seeded first but failed to place at the county tournament and was seeking to avenge his lackluster performance. The first period of the match ended with Sosa trailing behind on the scoreboard, and Zea chose the top position for the second round with a confident remark of impending victory. His prediction came too soon, however; three-quarters into the period, Sosa flipped Zea to his back and nailed him against the mat, scoring a 3:35 pin-fall and adding the regional crown to his county title.
Despite the successes of these Blazers, however, the best match of the tournament was yet to come: Cedeno, wrestling once more against Whitman freshman Pat Lazear in the last match of the night, stunned the crowd with a breathtaking, 34 second pin-fall. "I used the Hansel Drop," Cedeno said with a smile, explaining the takedown that has been key to his swift pins all season. "You grab the guy and fold him in half, bend his head toward his toes." While the move may sound brutal, it has proved remarkably successful for Cedeno, who holds a season record of 30 wins and zero losses.
Head Coach Jake Scott is highly pleased with the team's performance at the two tournaments. "They did an outstanding job," Scott said, commending the team for its consistent hard work and top-three finishes. "They wrestled like animals, just like animals."
Osorto concurred with Scott's opinion, adding that the team's performance is especially noteworthy in light of its tumultuous season and hole-riddled roster. "We stick together and work hard," Osorto said. "We fell apart for a while in the middle of the season, but we still managed to come this far."
Though he is happy with his two first-place titles, Osorto has already turned his sights toward the upcoming state championships, which will occur at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House on March 5 and 6. "Hansel is going to win states; Josh is going to win states; Scott is going to win states; Muamba is going to win states; Cesar is going to win states," Osorto laughed, offering his predictions for the tournament's results. "We've been working real hard," he added in a more serious tone, "and we're really looking forward to going to states and winning."
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 »