A welcome guest or otherwise, Wiesbaden made its presence felt in the Northern sectional wrestling meet Saturday at Alconbury.
The Germany-based Warriors were dispatched to the U.K. by DODDS-Europe officials to balance the fields of Saturday’s four sectional qualifiers. They returned to the mainland with a solid corps of six wrestlers guaranteed to compete at the European tournament, which Wiesbaden will host next weekend.
Foremost among the Wiesbaden qualifiers was Dante Thomas, definitive champion of the 132-pound weight class. One class up the scale, Warrior teammates Joseph Spiszer and Micah Magowan claimed first and second place, respectively, to bulk up the Wiesbaden contingent.
While the Warriors represented themselves well, they were far from a dominant force in a deep field of 85 wrestlers from eight schools.
The host Dragons saw their best hope for gold redeemed when Dustin Varia outlasted a four-man round-robin field to claim 182-pound honors. He’ll advance alongside rival Michael Kush of Lakenheath.
Alconbury was not so fortunate at 126 pounds, where SHAPE’s Karl Kristensen pinned Dragon hopeful Dallin Cazier in the third meeting of the season between the familiar rivals.
Kristensen was among five Spartans to clinch spots in Wiesbaden, including 113-pound champion Carlos Ulep and 170-pound winner Bryce Mann.
Two of the smallest schools represented each enjoyed a memorable win. Menwith Hill’s lone entrant, Alex Abing, scored a championship-match decision over Wiesbaden’s Alex Wieman to win and advance at 145 pounds. Kris Rios, one of Rota’s five wrestlers, took first place at 120 pounds.
Lakenheath provided some of the day’s most compelling highlights with a string of wins in three championship matches. Tyler Rodriguez pinned SHAPE grappler Jared LuGrain in 33 seconds to claim 106-pound honors; Zach Harris took a 10-8 decision from AFNORTH’s Aldon Pagio at 152 pounds; and Justin Menges eked out a 3-2 decision over Wiesbaden rival Andrew Hempstead in a battle of undefeated wrestlers.
AFNORTH swept the sparsely-populated higher weight classes, with Victor Black (195 pounds), Luke Narug (220) and Tom Hahn (285) each claiming first place atop small brackets.
Under DODDS-Europe rules, classes with four or more wrestlers sent their top two finishers to Europeans, while classes of three or fewer sent only the champion.
In all, 24 wrestlers from the Northern sectional earned their spots in the European championship. They’ll join qualifiers from Saturday’s other sectionals at Ramstein, Patch and Aviano.
Those wrestlers who missed the cut for Europeans on Saturday need not abandon all hope. A DODDS-Europe committee will meet early next week to select a group of worthy wild-card entrants to join the outright qualifiers in Wiesbaden.