It’s Ramstein vs. Stuttgart again with a long streak on line
Stars and Stripes February 9, 2023
You can’t miss the shirts worn by the Stuttgart wrestling contingent at a meet this winter.
They might look innocuous at first sight, the usual black with gold lettering. But the text makes the shirts stand out: European champions, 2014-2022.
The Ramstein Royals, the Panthers’ perennial top rival, would like to add an asterisk to that shirt, as the two schools tied for the European title in 2020 – the last year all DODEA European schools met for a championship meet.
Ramstein also has the best chance of ending the Panthers’ stranglehold on the mats and keeping Stuttgart from adding another year to the shirt as teams converge on the Fitness Center at Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, Germany, this Friday and Saturday.
“Year after year, Ramstein and Stuttgart have stacked up well against each other,” Ramstein coach Thomas Wright said. “It’s always close. The last time we wrestled an actual DODEA European championship, we tied, which is unheard of in any sort of tournament. So, I believe this year will be just as close as it’s been in the past.”
Ramstein and Stuttgart have seen plenty of each other during the regular season, with the two exchanging wins and losses.
During the DODEA Central Section wrestling tournament on Feb. 4 at Ramstein High School, grapplers from the two schools squared off 28 times, with the Royals winning 15 matches and Stuttgart winning 13. In the title matches against each other, though, the Panthers pounced to the top, winning five against the Royals’ two.
In round-robin weight classes, Ramstein brought home two titles to Stuttgart’s one.
“In a lot of the weight classes, I felt like we were really competitive,” Stuttgart head coach Matthew Fischer said. “I think we are evenly matched in a lot of weight classes, but I think we’ll end up coming out on top.”
Here’s a weight class breakdown for the DODEA European Wrestling Championships:
The lightest weight class has numerous contenders, beginning with the three sectional titles: Vicenza junior C’Nia Ford, Spangdahlem senior Andrew Molina and AFNORTH senior Jaydon Syzmczak.
Ford is in her year first wrestling against boys after two years of grappling with girls in Alabama, while Molina enters with a 10-2 record taking winning the Central sectional. Syzmczak, meanwhile, has posted just one loss this season after taking the West sectional.
Others in the running are Ramstein’s Cole Santos, who pushed Molina in the Central final, while Lakenheath sophomore Micah Rothas came in second in the West sectional round robin format.
Ramstein’s Jesus Olivares has handled everything wrestlers have thrown at him this season, going 15-0 and winning the Central sectional.
The Royal will have his hands full for one more weekend, though, facing stiff competition from last year’s 106 champion in Stuttgart’s Brayden Aperauch. (Olivares placed third in the same weight class in 2022.) The junior Panther pushed Olivares in the final, which ended in a 14-10 decision.
Joining the duo as the top favorites are SHAPE freshman Kingston Mosley and Rota’s Ethan Gamez.
Wiesbaden’s Munro Davis has lost a single match all season, and the sophomore Warrior won three of his four matches at the West sectional by pins, with the fourth being a major decision over teammate Elam Dunton.
Kaiserslautern senior Daniel Lee exceeded his own expectations en route to winning the Central section, and the Raider has posted a 15-4 record this season. Naples’ Ivan Villescas joins the fray with a South sectional title.
Stuttgart’s Aidan Morgan outlasted Ramstein’s Josh Conway for a 2-0 victory in the Central sectional final, but the junior has posted a 17-1 record so far and likely will be a favorite for the weight class.
Joining him in the race will be Alconbury freshman Jacob Stuhler, who won the West sectional against Wiesbaden senior Landon Escobar, and Naples’ Liam Hicks, who defeated Rota’s Anthony Romero in the South sectional.
Wiesbaden sophomore Linx Lawless and Stuttgart senior Nic Ellinger may have drawn the short stick, being placed in the same pool during round robin at the European championship.
Lawless, who placed second at 126 pounds in last year’s finals, has dropped just one match all season at 132, while winning both West sectional matches by pin. Ellinger, meanwhile, has gone 21-2 this year and won the Central sectional with a pair of pins and a default against Ramstein’s Jayden Andrews, who also had two losses heading into that tournament.
The Naples’ duo of Lucas Suszko and Azael Lopez, who went first and second in the South sectional, also could make some noise in Wiesbaden.
This weight class could be wide open, as Aviano’s Cristiano Peterson, Vilseck’s Jayden Freeman and Wiesbaden sophomore Antonio Gutierrez enter after winning sectional titles.
Freeman and Gutierrez have three and five losses, respectively, this season, and Stuttgart’s Julian Licata, who finished second to Freeman at Ramstein High School on Feb. 4, also has just three blemishes on his record.
Stuttgart’s Zachary Call has dominated this season, going 16-0 heading into the European championship. The junior Panther is coming off a sectional crown in which he won by pin in the semifinals and a technical fall against Ramstein’s Isaac Martinez in the final.
In the weight class’s other pool, Wiesbaden’s Jacob Lane and Aviano’s Aaron Smith are paired after winning their weight classes, and they will be joined by Martinez.
Stuttgart’s Josiah Doughty and Wiesbaden’s Patrick Iverson enter the tournament with a loss each to their names, but both also had different experiences at their sectional tournaments.
Iverson, the winner last year at 144 pounds in 2022, cruised with pins in both the semifinals and finals, the later at the 1:36 mark. Doughty, meanwhile, won a close 3-1 decision to Vilseck’s Pierre Fuentes and followed that by outlasting Ramstein’s Hayden Bashman in the final, 11-10. The junior Panther still boasts a 19-1 record on the year after taking third last year.
Joining Doughty in his pool in the South sectional champion, Naples’ Sam Pounds, and Fuentes, who took second in the weight class last year.
Lakenheath junior Lucius Bowman cruised to a West sectional title last week with pins in all three matches, the last coming at 5:32 in the final against Wiesbaden’s Asher Dunton. The Lancer has posted just three losses this season.
Joining him as favorites are Naples’ Kyson Fromm, who topped the South sectional, and Ramstein’s Lucas Hollenbeck, who won the Central’s round-robin sectional and holds a 12-1 record so far.
Fans in Wiesbaden might be in for a final-bout preview when Lakenheath’s Gavin Idleman and Stuttgart’s Brandon Eves meet in round-robin action.
Idleman is trying to end his high school career with a second-straight crown after winning last year at 157 pounds, and the Lancer senior has dropped just a single contest this season. Eves, meanwhile, is unbeaten on year with an 18-0 record, and the senior Panther posted three straight pins in the Central sectional to take that title.
Rota freshman Daniel Guido will try to ruin that final matchup, as will Vilseck’s Hunter Neal and SHAPE’s Luigi Patalano.
Naples’ Matteo Toliver dropped down a weight class this year after winning the DODEA Southern European championship at 190 pounds last year, and he’s picked up where he left off, winning the South sectional at 175 last week.
He faces stiff competition from Vilseck’s Garrett Hyten and Brussels’ William Pierce. Hyten has gone 18-1 this season after taking third in the 2022 final tournament, while Pierce took second as a junior.
Outside of the sectional champions, Joel Workman of Hohenfels can boast of being the only wrestler to get the better of Hyten, pinning him in the last regular season meet before falling to him in the final.
Two former teammates will collide in pool play when Witt Hennig of Lakenheath and Jack Gruver of Stuttgart take to the mats.
Hennig transferred across the English Channel after taking third place at 215 pounds with Stuttgart the previous year. The junior has gone undefeated this season.
Gruver has taken care of business in all but one match this season, as the Panther junior went 4-0 in round-robin action at the Central sectional. He has a 19-1 mark on the year.
The South sectional champion, Treyvon Hoffstatter, also will seek to come out on top of the podium.
Two grapplers whose matches never last long are the heavy favorites in this weight class.
Ramstein’s Evan Brooks continued his dominance with a pair of pins in the Central sectional tournament, including the first one in the semifinals against teammate Cameron Ritter in 15 seconds. The Royal needed a little more time against Hayden Kniss in the final, taking until the 1:10 mark to complete the win. Brooks finished runner-up at 190 pounds last season.
Vicenza junior Daniel Bagoudou carried over his form after winning the DODEA Southern European Championships last year. His sectional matches didn’t last past the first period, and his lone loss this season came in a heavyweight bout.
Others in the running are Kniss, who managed to get the drop on Brooks early in their sectional final match, and the West sectional champion, SHAPE junior Panagiotis Kostoulas.
This weight class has the fewest representatives with just seven competitors heading to Wiesbaden.
Ramstein’s Adrian Vega enters with an 11-0 record, while Naples’ Declan Newsome is coming off a South sectional title.
Rota’s Donovan Lenhard and Wiesbaden’s John Ruland also will be in the mix.