Whitman Wins the Grapple; Eight Wrestlers Medal, Four Take Gold

The Walt Whitman Varsity Wrestling Team finished first among sixteen teams from Maryland, Virginia and Delaware high schools in the Grapple at the Brook Wrestling Tournament held at Springbrook High School January 15-16, coming in ahead of second place McLean (number eight in the Washington Post’s geographically expansive “All-Met” rankings) and third place Cape Henlopen .  Eight Whitman wrestlers placed in the top five in their weight classes.  Four senior wrestlers – James Bamberger at 132 pounds (dropping down from 138), Hamoon Shokoohinia at 145 pounds, Mitch Fenton at 152 pounds, and Marcos Solloso at 170 pounds —  won first place in their weight brackets.  In addition, seniors Braedan McKee at 160 pounds and Ezra Alexander at 182 pounds both were third, while sophomores John-Luke Iglesias at 195 pounds and Clark Boinis at 113 pounds captured fourth and fifth place respectively.

Other team members contributed to the victory.  Senior Chris Habibian at 106 pounds went 2-2 with two pins, with his second loss a narrow one.  Senior Jacob Winch, wrestling in the 285 pound category, well above his actual weight, likewise was 2-2 with two pins, losing to the tournament champion and to another much bigger wrestler.  This was the first time senior Tony Rangel wrestled for Whitman, at 220 pounds, and he showed promise, putting up a good fight.  Sophomore James Mackall, 126 pounds, lost two close decisions, and the two freshmen in the lineup, Colby Fong at 120 pounds and Jackson Blanchard at 138 pounds, made courageous efforts against experienced upperclassmen.

There were several noteworthy Whitman victories over highly ranked wrestlers.  In his championship final James Bamberger decisioned Ricky Bryant of Eleanor Roosevelt (Prince Georges County), eighth ranked in Maryland at 132 pounds, who the previous weekend had been selected by the coaches as the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Patriot Classic Tournament.  To take third place, Ezra Alexander pinned Cape Henlopen’s Holden Kamerrer, ranked sixth in Delaware at 182 pounds.  And on his way to the gold at 170 pounds, Marcos Solloso decisioned, first, the fifth ranked wrestler in Delaware, Chris Handlin of Cape Henlopen, and then, in the championship final, McLean’s Gavin Legg, ranked ninth in Virginia.  In congratulating Whitman on its “great tournament win and defeating The Washington Post’s  #8 ranked McLean”, Springbrook Coach Rob Whittles also offered “Congrats to Marcos Solloso on winning as the 7 seed (lowest seeded champ and one of only 3 kids to win who wasn’t  1st seed) in a tough weight class.”

The complete results of the tournament can be viewed at http://www.thewrestlingtourney.com, and there is an article about Whitman’s performance at the Grapple at http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/sports/item/2987-vikings-dominate-grapple-at-the-brook .  As a result of the Grapple outcome, the Washington Post has now ranked Whitman ninth on its list of high school wrestling teams, with McLean being ranked tenth; the only other ranked Montgomery County teams are Good Counsel (number one) and Damascus (number two).

The Vikings had been scheduled to be at Wootton High School January 23 for a tri-meet with 3-3 Wootton and the defending State Champions, undefeated Damascus, but MCPS has now announced the closure of all county schools for the weekend because of the impending snowstorm.  An article anticipating the Whitman-Damascus bout can be found at  http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/sports/item/2986-damascus-and-whitman-gear-up-for-showdown.

By Craig Bamberger

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