Undefeated Washington leads shorthanded Wreckers
As the school calendar reaches midterms, the Staples wrestling team's season also arrives at its midpoint, with the injury-plagued team struggling in two recent meets.
At a multi-team meet at Maloney last Saturday, Staples lost four out of five matches. The Wreckers were bested by Weston (50-30), Montville (59-24), E.O. Smth (55-24) and host Maloney (68-12).
However, the day had an upside for them as they edged Fitch, 35-33, in a battle that came down to the last match. Staples' victory was sealed when senior heavyweight Henry Betar pinned his opponent.
"We had a rough day on Saturday. Our team had numerous injuries going in, as well as sickness and cases of ringworm," said Wreckers coach Kevin Lippert.
Staples was defeated in the other four matches not primarily by its opponents, but by injuries. The Wreckers consistently had to forfeit five or six matches, and even conceded eight against Montville.
In addition to the absence of senior tri-captain Brad Menchaca, who broke his radius and ulna earlier in the year and will miss the remainder of the season, the team also wrestled without three other varsity grapplers.
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"The injuries are definitely frustrating, as it's very difficult to win with this many starters out of the lineup," said Lippert.
Wrecker standouts were freshman Justin Ludel, who continued a stellar transition to high school wrestling by going 4-1 on the day, junior Alex Kogstad, who garnered three wins with a pin, along with classmate Alex Brown and senior tri-captain Mike O'Day, who each scored two victories, including one pin each.
Meanwhile, Betar racked up another pin on the day in addition to his clutch earlier pin, while junior Stephan Patterson (160) had a key win against Fitch.
But the star of the day for Staples was once again senior tri-captain Mikell Washington. Washington, who already has a championship at the Ludlowe holiday tournament to his credit, dominated with five victories on the day, four of which were by pin. With this, he improves his undefeated record to 21-0 on the season.
According to Lippert, Washington is continuing to gain steam and is "looking better with every match."
The team's victory struggles continued Wednesday evening at Westhill, where it lost 64-6 margin, and dropped to 6-13 overall.
Despite the grim record, Lippert is remaining positive thanks to the improvements he has seen in those able to wrestle.
"With all the injuries, most of our focus is on individual development," Lippert said. "The team might lose the meet, but the guys who are healthy are making great strides."