Wrestlers dust off rust - and frost - as season opens
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 1, 2018
RAF LAKENHEATH, England ― It didn’t take long Saturday for rivalries to resume and new ones to form as wrestling season got under way in Europe.
While the weather outside and inside the gym reflected that winter’s not that far away, it didn’t seem to take the 70 competitors much time to warm up.
And the gym eventually heated up over the course of the day to match the intensity of the round robin wrestling tournament hosted by the Lancers for visiting Division I rivals Kaiserslautern and SHAPE, along with smaller squads from AFNORTH, Alconbury, Brussels and Spangdahlem.
Coaches divided teams into two brackets, one for point earners and another for less-seasoned wrestlers, to make sure everyone was evenly matched and got the best value of their time on the mat.
Kaiserslautern’s Lukas Ahrend and Brussels’ Trey Chaney kicked of the first match of the day with literal ups and downs as they traded points. Chaney was able to earn a close win with a 15-13 score against Ahrend.
SHAPE wrestler Zak Kappenman calmly pinned Kaiserslautern’s Jay Brown in his first match and said it was thanks to years of honing his technique.
“Things get smoother the more you practice it and that shows on the mat,” said Kappenman, now on his sixth year of wrestling.
One of the longest bouts of the day went to SHAPE wrestler Sean Kilrain and Kaiserslautern’s Christian Torres-Forkn. Both walked away from the mat exhausted with bloody noses as Kilrain earned the win with a score of 11-3.
Lakenheath returning wrestlers Nick Scifo and Joey Glenk both had success on the mat with multiple match winning pins.
Glenk, who moved from to the 195-weight class to 220 this year, won his first match in 25 seconds and clocked his following two wins in about a minute each.
“All this week I was trying to work on something to surprise people because my wrestling style is usually just to bull rush them,” Glenk said. “I want to be unpredictable because last year everyone knew what I was going to do.”
Spangdahlem’s Brian Haney breezed through his weight class until going up against Lakenheath’s Phillip Severence in his final match.
Haney and Severence continually countered each other’s moves while fighting for body control but Haney slowly built up an 8-4 score for a win.
“I’m always trying to keep ahead, think of three moves before I hit them and when I hit them think of three more,” Haney said. “Thinking ahead of the game is pretty much it.”
Now in her third year of wrestling, Alconbury’s Vivian Newcomer won two of her three matches with quick, decisive pins.
Seasoned returners, first-time varsity wrestlers and even middle school teams each had time on the mat during the first of many meets leading up to sectional qualifiers on Feb. 9, and the European championships at Wiesbaden on Feb. 15-16.