RAMSTEIN, Germany --- Saturday’s DODDS-Europe wrestling Western Sectionals at Ramstein’s Southside Fitness Center provided a mixture of fist pumping for many and hung heads for many more.
There were big smiles with a heaping dose of relief for the top two finishers in each weight class, who automatically advanced to next weekend’s European championships. Others will have to accept that their season’s future is in someone else’s hands as they wait to see if they’ll be awarded one of the “wild card” spots in the tournament.
Next week, a committee led by DODDS-Europe athletic director Karen Seadore will decide who those wild card wrestlers will be.
Kaiserslautern’s Matt Fischer was one wrestler who had more than a spot at next week’s European championships in focus. For Fischer, a practical shoe-in to qualify, Saturday was as much about maintaining perfection.
Coming off the heels of last year’s 106-pound championship title, Fischer has been just as dominant wrestling at 113 pounds. The Red Raiders junior also known as “Peanut” has defeated every opponent he’s faced on the mat and only one foe, Bitburg’s Brandon Beaumont, has eluded a Fischer pin. Fischer still won that match last week, 18-7, though.
The two squared off once again at Saturday’s qualifiers and this time a patient Beaumont gave Fischer all he had, but in the end, couldn’t overcome an early 2-0 deficit, falling by the same final score.
“He brought it today, I think he really wanted to beat me,” Fischer said about Beaumont. “I was surprised a bit.”
Fischer, who finished 16-0 on the season with 14 pins, predicted that he’ll face Beaumont one last time next weekend in the gold medal match.
Another wrestler who was able to hang on to his undefeated mark heading into next week’s championships is Bitburg’s Bryce Randall, wrestling at 195.
Randall, who finished second at the championships last year in the 182 weight category, made quick work of his three matches to keep his mark clean headed into next weekend.
The senior said his wrestling has matured this year, crediting his success to the Barons coaching staff and his own improved technique.
“I’m not a rassler, I’m a wrestler,” said Randall, referring to his focus on discipline and technique.
Ramstein senior TJ Moore was hoping to avoid the nerve-wracking wait he endured last year, when he advanced to the European championships with a “wild card” selection.
He’ll likely get more sleep this weekend than a year ago, as he dominated Kaiserslautern’s Brodie Cutshall in Saturday’s 132-pound championship bout, 9-1, advancing to the championships with a 13-3 season record and streaking at the right moment.
“It’s always good to get first place, but I’m not going to let it get to my head,” Moore said. “I have to stay focused.”
Ramstein suffered some injuries before Saturday’s meet, but that didn’t prevent them from advancing 14 wrestlers to the championships, not counting the “wild card” selections. Kaiserslautern followed with seven and Bitburg had a pair.
Incirlik rounded out the field with two qualifiers. A total they’ll be happy with, considering Saturday’s meet was their first time facing off against fellow DODDS-Europe wrestlers.
Although focus was a buzzword echoed by many competitors on Saturday, some couldn’t help but let their mind wander to next weekend’s championships in Wiesbaden.
“It’s the biggest crowd you’ll ever see,” said Kaiserslautern’s Arvin Hrushka, who advanced by placing second behind Ramstein’s Galen McCarver in the 170 weight class. “It makes you feel more important.”