Top prep wrestlers converge on Wiesbaden
Stars and Stripes February 16, 2011
If there’s an overriding obstacle facing athletes at most DODDS Europe championships, it’s dealing with the unknown. The far-flung nature of the school system means that teams and individuals often have to face opponents they’ve never seen before at tournament time.
That might not be the case, however, with this year’s wrestling championships, which begin at 9:45 a.m. Friday at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield gym, according to Erik Majorwitz, coach of defending Division II champion Baumholder.
“A lot of the championship matchups,” he predicted about Saturday’s finals, “will come down to wrestlers who have faced each other numerous times during the season.”
Majorwitz undoubtedly was thinking of his own Adrian Julien, last year’s 112-pound champion, who has spent this season trying to figure out how to beat last year’s 103-pound king Adam Franz of Ramstein. Franz and Julien both wrestle 119 this year, and Ramstein and Baumholder wrestled in the same meet five times this season. Franz is unbeaten this year, last topping Julien at Saturday’s Western Sectional meet at Kaiserslautern.
Similar situations exist at other weight classes.
At 140, for example, Northern Sectional champion Vince Alonso of Brussels, who withdrew from last year’s Europeans because of illness, has wrestled Austin Morrow three times, with Alonso taking a 7-6 verdict Saturday for his second victory this season over his closely matched Lancers opponent. Those were the only losses for Morrow, who, in turn, handed Alonso his lone defeat of the regular season.
A chance at revenge also presents itself at 171, where Patch’s unbeaten Jason Pinnow likely will put his record on the line at some point against Ramstein’s Ryan Gernert, a foe he has already defeated this season and whom he pinned in last year’s European semifinal bout at the same weight.
Pinnow is among several wrestlers arriving at Wiesbaden unbeaten at their tournament weights. In addition to Ramstein’s Franz, Patch’s Calen Fields at 145 and Lakenheath’s Adam Carroll are returning champs who have yet to taste defeat.
Other unbeatens include Fields’ Patch teammates Pinnow, Ross Wilson and Marshall Haas; Aviano’s Nik Weiser; Bitburg’s Dane Phillips; Naples’ Tyler Williams; Ramstein’s Adam Amezola; American Overseas School of Rome’s Omri Izhaki; SHAPE’s Matt Lengyel; Sigonella’s Sidney Conner, Austin Flanagan and Marco Summerfield; Vicenza’s Austin Pond; Carroll and Matt Russell of Lakenheath, and Rota’s 125-pound Southern Sectional champion Keaton Regenor. Regenor turned heads Saturday by posting two technical falls and a pin in his only three matches this season against DODDS Europe competition.
Watching some of those unbeatens try to stay that way figures to be worth more than the price of admission, according to Wiesbaden coach Steve Jewell. He’s particularly looking forward to a possible 189-pound clash between two sectional champs, Haas and Austin Schmidt of Bitburg.
“Haas vs. Schmidt will be a war!” he wrote in a Monday e-mail, adding that Aviano’s Weiser “…will be tough to beat, but there are a host of great wrestlers at 130.”
Each of the 14 weight classes are set to open Friday morning with 12 wrestlers, according to DODDS-Europe athletic director Karen Seadore. Defending D-I champ Patch leads the way with 21 qualifiers, according to Lakenheath coach Darryl Brock, whose Lancers finished second to Patch in 2010. Championship matches are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Brock sees Patch as the “odds-on” favorite to repeat. He likes Naples’ chances in D-II but foresees a D-III battle between defending champion Sigonella, Hohenfels and Bamberg.
Until the wrestlers begin settling things on the mats, however, that’s all speculation. What’s certain is Brock’s overall assessment.
“Should be a great tournament,” he said.