Wrestlers show guts, guile in European championships
WIESBADEN, Germany — The tough guys came out in Saturday night’s championship matches in the DODDS-Europe high school wrestling championships.
Physically tough guys such as Würzburg’s Jesse Painter, who dominated defending European champion Joe Morrow of Patch en route to the 125-pound title.
Or London Central’s Jonathan Scott, who manhandled previously unbeaten Tracy Tibbitts of Ramstein in the 112-pound finale.
Or Bitburg’s Jordan Watts, the new 171-pound champion who stopped Joe Bouknight of Hohenfels 15-2; or Kaiserslautern’s muscular duo of Tony Althoff, who earned the 189-pound title in less than a minute, and 215-pound champion Charles Madden, who gave everything he had in defeating tough Mike Ewing of Ansbach 10-4; AFNORTH’s 160-pound king Ryan Butler, who outmuscled Heidelberg’s Michael Cacal, or seriously strong Naples sophomore Josh Teeples, the 275-pound king who decked his finals foe in 90 seconds.
And mentally tough guys such as 119-pound king Josh Quiocho of Mannheim, 130-pound king Mike Monaco of Naples, 140-pound king Karl Saucier of Ramstein, 145-pound champ Max Obermeyer of the American School in London. All of them came up with a scoring move just as time was running out in their title matches.
Then there was the toughest guy of all, 135-pound champion Josh Anderson of Patch, who for the second season in a row shrugged off a midseason dislocated elbow to claim a European wrestling title.
“It feels like the weight of a building just fell off my back,” Anderson said after a tense 4-3 victory over Ramstein’s Jose Figueroa that made him the first four-time champ in DODDS-Europe history and most valuable wrestler of this meet.
It didn’t come easily. Anderson, who needed a last-second takedown two years ago to claim his second title, took a 7-5 victory over Ramstein’s Danny Burns in the Saturday semifinal that preceded his title squeaker.
“It was no cakewalk,” Anderson said. “My biggest strength today was a surprise visit from the States from my brother Mike. He’s 22 and the one I started wrestling with.”
Anderson finished his DODDS-Europe career with only two defeats. They came in a 2003 injury default suffered when he dislocated an elbow and another this year for the same reason.
“I’m going to wait a couple of years before I go to college,” Anderson said, “and strengthen my elbow. College wrestlers would eat this arm up.”
Joining Anderson on the repeat-champ-and-mentally-tough list were Mannheim’s Quiocho, drained after his 3-1 overtime victory over Ramstein’s Marvin Domingo.
“He’s the toughest kid I wrestled all year,” said Quiocho, who completed a 19-0 season. Domingo pulled off a last-second escape in regulation to force the OT before Quiocho responded with a buzzer-beating takedown in overtime for the victory.
Quiocho’s struggle, so draining he needed oxygen after the awards ceremony, was the first of two finals that needed an extra period.
Obermeyer needed two extra periods to end the unbeaten season of Wiesbaden’s Tony Gagnon.
“I had two double-overtimes last year,” Obermeyer said, “and one this year. I’m getting used to it.”
Würzburg’s Painter seemingly spent the entire match wrestling Morrow from the shoulders up before finally pinning last year’s 119 champ in 5:48.
“No matter what the coaches say,” Painter said about his dangerous style, “I’ll always wrestle high.”
Monaco also waited until the last second to complete a reversal against defending champion Devon Gardner of Bitburg for a 6-4 victory.
“I was trying to time it well,” Monaco said, “just trying to get the points I needed.”
So was unseeded Karl Saucier of Ramstein, who finally reversed the much taller Cole McClain in the waning seconds to claim a 6-4 victory. It came just in time, as Saucier was frustrated several times by his opponent’s ability to reach around every move Saucier made.
“He’s strong,” Saucier said. “He’s very hard to get down.”
Althoff, who’s planning to attend the national championships in the United States with teammate Madden, wasted no time in locking in a chicken-wing half nelson on Baumholder’s Emmett Wilson for the quickest fall of the finals, 59 seconds.
Strength and stamina paid off for 160-pounder Butler and 215-pound Madden.
“I knew I could go three periods,” Butler said. “I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Madden, too, gave all he had in besting a rock-hard Ewing of Ansbach.
“It was a long match,” he said. “He just did not want to go over.”
Six champions — Quiocho, Monaco, Butler, Watts, Althoff and Teeples — completed unbeaten seasons Saturday, but Watt’s season was a testimonial to perserverance. Beginning as a freshman in Ansbach, Watts had placed each year at Europeans, but the big prize had eluded him until this season.
Now he’s leaving the field to his little brother, freshman Jamie.
“He’s a better wrestler as a freshman than I was as a freshman,” Watts said, outlining one possible future for the 2005-2006 and 2007 Europeans.
Look for some tough guys to show up there, too.