The Walt Whitman wrestling team opened its 2015-2016 wrestling season with a decisive 47-27 varsity victory against a Paint Branch team that already had begun its season with a win over Poolesville.
By random draw, the dual meet opened at the 160 pound level, and the first three Whitman wrestlers, all seniors, ran up a lead of 15-0. Braedon McKee at 160 controlled his opponent and won by 6-1, Marcos Solloso at 170 pinned his guy in the second round, and Ezra Alexander at 182 pinned his opponent with a few seconds left in the first period.
Next up for Paint Branch was one of their most formidable wrestlers, senior Gibbs Tinne, currently ranked eleventh in the State of Maryland at 195 pounds. In what was the most heroic match of the day, sophomore John-Luke Iglesias battled Tinne to only a 5-0 loss, fighting off Tinne’s repeated efforts to turn and pin him. Then at 220 pounds senior Jacob Winch, who entered the third round leading only 1-0 on the basis of an escape, took his game to another level in the third period and emerged with a 3-2 win.
Whitman did not put up a wrestler at the 285 pound level against Paint Branch’s Cornell Wilson, sixth ranked in the State in that bracket, and the 6 point forfeit made the score 18-9.
The match then reverted to the 106 pound top of the wrestling order. Senior Chris Habibian fell behind 5-0 to his Paint Branch opponent early in the first round, but battled back to 5-4 by the end of the round, and earned a pin in the second round. Sophomore Clark Boinis followed that up with a pin of his opponent in the second round, in the 113 weight class. The score was 30-9 in Whitman’s favor.
In the following two matches, Whitman freshmen Colby Fong and Max Gersch, at 120 and 126 pounds, in the first high school matches of their careers, were up against experienced Paint Branch seniors, and got pinned in the third and first periods respectively. And next up for Paint Branch at 132, against Whitman sophomore James Mackall, was the eleventh ranked wrestler in the State at that weight, junior Nolan Smith, who pinned Mackall in the first period. Now the Whitman lead was narrowed to 30-27, and the Paint Branch team and crowd were cheering encouragingly.
But the final three Whitman wrestlers put an end to their cheering. Senior James Bamberger at 138 pinned his Paint Branch opponent with about a minute left in the first period, sophomore Andrew Shiman at 145 pinned his man in the third period, and senior Mitch Fenton at 152 earned a five point technical fall by winning 17-1. Final score, Whitman 47, Paint Branch 27.
This weekend the Vikings will participate in the Keaser Classic wrestling tournament at North County High School, Glen Burnie, Maryland, along with fifteen other high schools. Their first home match will be December 22 against Quince Orchard.
By Craig Bamberger