Varsity Season Ends with Valiant Effort in Region Duals
A determined effort by an unexpectedly thin third-seeded Vikings team against second-seeded Churchill in the Region Duals at B-CC Wednesday evening fell just short of victory, 30-36. The team once again showed tremendous character and grit and demonstrated they deserved their spot in the playoffs to cap off the season. Going forward, the individual wrestlers will work to sharpen their health and their readiness for the County tournament on Friday and Saturday, February 15 and 16 at Gaithersburg High School. The JV County Tournament is this Saturday, February 9, also at Gaithersburg High School.
The Vikes had previously lost to Churchill by three points, and they knew they would need to wrestle their best, and perhaps get some breaks, to prevail. The week started with difficult news, however, as the team lost two of its wrestlers in the heavier weights, where they had gained points against Churchill in the match two weeks ago.
The match started with Charlie Imperial at 152. Facing a county-ranked opponent, Charlie was down 2-6 at the end of the second, scoring his points on a reversal. Charlie narrowed the gap to 3-6 with an escape at 0:55, but was taken down and caught for back points in the last thirty seconds to cede a major decision. Vikings down 0-4.
John Mackall was next up. At 0:40 in the first, John grabbed his man’s ankle to pull him in bounds and secured a takedown for 2-0 lead. Down to start the second, John reversed at 1:50, cut his man, and then gave up a takedown. From there, John escaped for a 5-3 lead. John rode top the third period, but could not flip his man for back points. With the 5-3 decision, Vikes were down 3-4.
Seb Turkewitz quickly put the Vikes on top. After securing a takedown at 1:30 and then allowing a quick escape, Seb secured a better takedown position and cradled his opponent to a pin at the 1:22 mark. Vikings up 9-4.
Danylo Hartzler (182) lost his match but maintained the lead. His opponent was able to change levels and secure takedowns against Danylo, but could not land a pin. Danylo wriggled out of a cradle at 0:50 in the third, then escaped at 0:20 to narrow the gap to 5-14, but he could not land a last second shot. With the major, the Vikes held onto a 9-8 lead.
A forfeit to Yussef Zaki at 195 put the Vikes up 15-8. However, because of an injury to Adam Nganwa this week, the Vikes then had to forfeit 220, which not only narrowed the lead to 15-14 but also enabled the Bulldogs to allow their county-ranked 220 man to wrestle up against Tom Wilmarth (who is also county-ranked). After a scoreless first, Tom started down and was flipped with a half for a pin, for a team score of 15-20.
Coach Manon then flipped his lightweight wrestlers, so Isaac Besrat wrestled at 106 and Peter Li at 113. The move did not result in wins for the Vikes at either weight class, but did improve the point differential from the previous Churchill match. Isaac wrestled his man very closely, just missing opportunities to gain points. Down 0-3 in the third, Isaac was awarded a point for Churchill stalling, but fell 1-3.
Peter Li then dropped a heartbreaker. Down 2-6 in the second, Peter showed great clock awareness and fought frantically to escape at the buzzer and gain a crucial point. Peter started down in the third, and after an escape at 0:48, was within striking distance at 4-6. A bout-tying takedown brought the Whitman crowd to its feet, but an escape at the :05 mark secured the decision for Churchill. Vikes down 15-26.
Next up was a bout between two county-ranked wrestlers. Peyton Casamento went down 0-2 with a takedown in the first, but quickly escaped. Peyton then scored a reversal in the second to go up 3-2. The third started in neutral, and this time Peyton landed the takedown for a 5-2 lead. Peyton worked hard to flip his man for a pin in the last 1:20, but settled for the 5-2 decision. Vikes down 18-26.
Matthew Lindstrom then faced off in the second straight bout of county-ranked wrestlers. Matthew got caught with a quick ankle sweep for a takedown, then escaped, but was taken down again and caught in a wire. Matthew fought out of the wire to avoid the pin, but ended the first down 1-7. In the second, a cradle secured another two back points for Churchill. In the third, Matthew nearly succeeded in sitting out and landing a reversal but was caught short for another two back points. With the major, the Vikes were down 18-36.
Resting their wrestlers for their next bout against first-seeded B-CC, Churchill forfeited at 138 to Colby Fong and at 145 to Arthur Dehareng, for a final score of 30-36.
This team really deserves a lot of credit. Coaches Manon, Sharbaugh, Dahlstrom, and Williams have done a tremendous job developing young wrestlers, improving the experienced wrestlers, and keeping the team’s focus sharp and morale high despite an incredible rash of injuries and other unexpected obstacles this year. But, whatever the coaches may do, the wrestlers have to perform on the mat, and they have done so throughout the year with grit, skill, and sportsmanship. We all should be proud of this Vikings team. Go Vikes!
By: Tom Mackall