Photos at the end !!
Beast of the East at Kinnick High School – January 10
The Beast of the East tournament is the second largest tournament next to the Far East tournament. Teams of the Far East and a Japanese school were represented including the 6 Kanto schools, Kubasaki, Seoul American, MC Perry, Edgren, and EJ King.
Champions: Chang Young Lee, Lucas Shiraki, Ryo Osawa, Alberto Orsara, Ryan Vasconcellos, Kazuho Kawashima
Third place: Riku Osawa, Rio Lemkuil
Fourth place: Eshan Singhi
Team Place: Second place
“I have never seen anything like this in my experience” commented Coach Yabui as all 6 Titans in the finals came off the mat with a win. “It’s one thing to have that many left in the finals in a big tournament like this; you’d be lucky if half of them won,” added Coach Yabui as the Titans entered in 12 weight classes and 6 of them proved to be the “Beast” of the east; by far the most number of champions per team, topping Kinnick and Kubasaki who had 2 champions each. But the Titans fell short of third/fourth place wrestlers to score enough points to win the team title to place second. Kinnick, with 8 wrestlers in the finals, took the team title for the tournament. The tournament also qualified 4 new wrestlers to the Wall of Fame of wrestling: Lucas, Ryo, Alberto, and Kazuho.
101lb weight class
Sophomore, Eshan Singhi, is the varsity 101lb for the team and he proved on Saturday that he could be competitive in this weight class. In his first match against the eventual champion of the weight class from Kinnick, he was too nervous and forgot his basics. The opponent, much shorter in height, shot in a fireman’s carry and Eshan was able to sprawl but forgot to use his very long arm to anchor back on the ankles. The opponent never had a good shot on Eshan but was able to finish the move because Eshan did not anchor back and try to score. After losing his first match, the strong Eshan showed up in the consolations. His second match against MC Perry, he dominated the opponent with good set ups, quick shots, and smooth chain wrestling. In his third place match, despite leading his opponent, he got stuck in a half nelson and gave up the pin. He should have been more aware of his situation and get to his belly instead of staying on his side with arms stretched out. Eshan can be a tough wrestler with his speed and technique. If he can bring out his good side every match, he can be very competitive in this weight class.
108lb weight class
Sophomore, Chang Young Lee stretched his winning streak since his high school debut on Saturday. He stepped on the Devil mats as the yet-undefeated Far East champion and defending Beast of the East champion at 101lb. Changing the weight class up to 108lb did not make any difference in the results. Chang Young went out, absolutely dominated and perfectly controlled his opponents. After winning by technical fall (10-0) his first match, he pinned his second opponent. Then, he went out to pin his finals opponent with a reverse lock dump; taking advantage of the opponent’s mistake. Chang Young has lots of arsenals. He has a double leg and fireman’s carry which he can shoot at the perfect timing. He has a counter headlock and reverse lock dump on the ground. He has an arm bar, gut wrench, and ankle lace (with a few varieties) on the bottom. Better yet, all of his moves are executed efficiently; taking advantage of the opponent’s mistakes or executing the best move for a situation. He can make these decisions in a split of a second. He never panics during a match. He is always calm, strategic, and smart about his matches. But, Chang Young is not just gifted; he is one of the hardest worker in the room. During conditioning, he is the first one to get to an exercise station and begin working. During the Christmas break, he was recovering from his rib injury and was put on a separate practice routine from the others. As difficult it is, Chang Young was able to motivate himself every minute of practice to push himself without the coach or teammates there to push him. When he gets done doing what his coach told him to, he would go and work some more. Most importantly, he is always modest and willing to learn to improving himself. He has the heart, mentality, and talent of a champion and he practices like a champion.
115lb weight class
After his impressive wrestling debut 2 years ago – finishing 4th at the Far East tournament at 108lb – Lucas Shiraki suffered a major knee injury his second year of wrestling which took him out of the whole season. What made him special was that he still came to practice every day rehabilitating his knee and training his upper body. On Saturday, his long term determination to come back on the mat paid off in the most rewarding way possible: a gold medal. For an added bonus, he also qualified for the Wall of Fame of wrestling by being crowned champion for the first time in his career. After winning his first match by decision, 7-1, he won his second match by technical fall (14-3). In the finals, Lucas faced last year’s Far East bronze medalist from Kinnick. The match did not have much action as both wrestlers were tying up tightly and trying to time each other’s shots. In the midst of pushing and pulling each other, with good mat sense Lucas was able to push the opponent out two times to score 2 points. The match continued its stalemate until the last 10 seconds of the second period when the Kinnick wrestler desperately began to attack aggressively. Right when the clock hit zero, his opponent dragged out behind Lucas for a takedown, which would be 2 points. If the time was out before the takedown, Lucas wins. If the move was before the time, Lucas loses. The 3 officials got together to make a judgment on the call. The Kinnick coaching staff and fans cheered in joy. Lucas sat on the mat with his face down in regret. Then, the head official called out “no point; time up.” Lucas raised both fists in the air in relief and the crowd went wild. “It should never have been that close,” commented Coach Harlow. Lucas should have not tied up so tightly ear to ear; at least not for such a long time. He has a beautiful high crotch attack which he cannot shoot when too close. If he does not want to be on offense, then he should quickly transition from a ear to ear collar tie position to a front head lock and bring his opponent to his knees. If he wants to increase his chances of winning Kanto and Far East, he needs to be scoring at least 4 or 5 points either on his feet or on the ground. With the current rules, a 2 point or 3 point lead does not fully secure a win. But, for now, congratulations to a determined, dedicated, hard-working senior. He will continue to work hard for the ultimate prize: a Far East title.
122lb weight class
Finishing 3rd at Far East last season as a freshmen, sophomore star, Ryo Osawa,is back on the mat this season with vengeance and determination to become a Far East champion. On Saturday, on the other side of the bracket was a Kinnick wrestler who placed 4th in Far East last year. Last season, this wrestler pulled off a major upset against the eventual Far East champion, Kentaro Hayashi (captain for the Titans), to win the CAJ invitational tournament. After easily moving on to the finals – completely shutting out two opponents by a technical fall (both 10-0) – as expected, he faced this Kinnick wrestler. During the first period, Ryo was caught by surprise on the opponent’s single leg takedowns. On the second takedown, he was thrown to his back for 4 big points and in a matter of a minute or so, he was behind 7-0. As the opponent shot a double leg in attempt to finish the match by technical fall, Ryo countered the takedown with a reverse gut wrench outside of the mat. This was awarded 4 big points for Ryo to make the match 7-4. From here on, it was Ryo’s show time. After sprawling his opponent’s shot, he got a takedown with one of his favorite move: the head shuck. Then, he scored with an armbar gut wrench. In the second period, he shot a deep sweep single and took his opponent to his back for 4 points. Soon after, he scored with his other bread & butter move, the Kelly or the near-arm-far-leg, for 2 points. This was executed as a counter shot after blocking the opponent’s attack. Then, he took his opponent to a pinning position with an arm bar. The opponent managed to escape the pin, but without any hesitation, Ryo turned him over with an arm bar again. The scoreboard read 18-7; win by technical fall. It was an amazing come back and domination which must have gotten his opponent and opposing coaches confused. Last season, there were a few times in a match in which Ryo was behind and could not turn the match around simply because he got frustrated or did not have his head in the game. On Saturday, he showed tremendous improvement and maturity in his mental strength. Even being down by 7 points, Ryo was very focused and made good wrestling decisions on the mat. With this win, Ryo qualified for the Wall of Fame, and at the same time, he has made himself the “wrestler to beat” in the Far East.
Also wrestling in this weight class was freshmen, Rio Lemkuil who is currently trying to get down to the 115 weight class, but couldn’t quite make it on Saturday. For a freshmen, Rio has outstanding technique and mat sense. Already, he has developed a decent stance (which is extremely difficult to accomplish even with years of experience), quick feet movement, and correct technique. He has a good work ethic and a mentality of a wrestler. He had an unlucky draw; wrestling the eventual finalist from Kinnick first round. However, Rio went out and wrestled hard. He was able to take his opponent to his back with a high crotch (to a double leg) on an experienced wrestler. He wrestled a good match; so good that no one would guess that he is only a freshmen. He also showed his favorite counter technique, the pancake, to pin his opponent from Edgren and wrestled a smart match against a Japanese wrestler. He wrestled all the way up the consolation bracket to place third; wrestling a total of 5 matches. He has the right mentality and a very good set of tools. His future is very bright.
129lb weight class
Another addition to the Wall of Fame was senior, Alberto Orsara who dominated this weight class with 2 pins and 2 technical fall wins. Alberto has the team’s best counter attacks. He can slickly slide in on a low level single leg after his opponent’s failed shot attempts. In his semi-final match against a Japanese school wrestler, he used to mat to his advantage. He was very aware of where he was on the mat in relation to his opponent and successfully position himself to an advantageous spot on the mat. He finished the match with a barrel roll from the failed high crotch position; something that the team has been working on this season. He also used this move on a couple of occasions. In his finals against EJ King, he wrestled a good, well-controlled match. At first, he tried a reverse lock dump which got too loose. So, he stopped the move and got the reverse lock tighter to make the move successful. When he was falling off the opponent’s body to the mat, he quickly turned around to a fireman’s carry position and escaped a potential pin. He also took a beautiful, text-book double leg shot to pick the opponent up in the air for a big 4 point move. He finished off the match with his favorite move, a counter roll off of his opponent’s failed single leg shot. He hit the move multiple times to win the match with a technical fall (14-4). Alberto has fantastic counter shots and smooth chain wrestling to an ankle lace. He needs to improve his hand fighting game and set ups a little more to be more dominant in this weight class. Congratulations to Alberto in making his way into the prestigious Wall of Fame.
Also wrestling in this weight class was sophomore, Tatsuo Tanaka. He is probably a wrestler who has improved the most since last season. This season, Tatsuo is focused during all practices and has been developing good technique. Although not yet fast enough, he has picked up his speed too (which was an issue with him last season). In his first match, he wrestled against the eventual finalist from EJ King. He dominated his opponent with a beautiful fireman’s carry straight to the opponent’s back in the first period. However, he stopped attacking and got stuck in the same move to give up easy points. In the end, he lost by 1 point (8-7). But, that was a tremendous accomplishment, considering he was wrestling a finalist. After winning two matches in the consolation bracket, both by technical fall (10-0 and 12-2), he lost in the quarter finals of the consolation bracket. Tatsuo needs to stop giving up easy points, which is caused by him stopping his actions. If he can keep moving and keep attacking, he has the ability to stay in the championship bracket further.
135lb weight class
Stars and Stripes all time favorite is Ryan Vasconcellos. Winning Far East his freshmen year, the unique last name, and the fact that his father is also a Far East wrestling champion adds a great story for the media. He is like Ichiro of Major League Baseball. When Ichiro is batting at .300, it looks bad because people expect him to hit .350. But, for most other players, hitting .300 is pretty good. On Saturday, his finals match score was 13-3, which looks bad for Ryan since very few wrestlers have scored on him. But, generally speaking, that is a technical fall; a butt- kicking match. After winning 3 matches by technical fall without being scored a single point, he wrestled a wrestler from Seoul American high school in the finals. His opponent has clearly wrestled folkstyle for some time and had much longer limbs than Ryan. In the match, Ryan struggled a bit with the opponent’s sit-outs and switches (a very folkstyle technique), but he was no match for Ryan’s superior technique. He successfully defended his Beast of the East title from last season. During the scramble he had at first in the finals, he used up a lot of his gas. The biggest and only weakness Ryan has is his conditioning and strength. When he gets tired, it becomes harder for him to finish his moves. His technique, without a doubt, is the best in the league. He cannot develop strength in such a short time. He needs to build his stamina, not to wrestle 6 minutes (1 match), but to be able to wrestle 3 days at Far East at his best.
141lb weight class
Itsuki Shibahara fell one mistake short of making it to the consolation finals on Saturday. He had the most unlucky draw of the day; wrestling the eventual champion of the weight class from the Japanese school who was outstanding in skills in this weight class. After losing his first match he won two matches by a technical fall. Both of his opponents were much more physical than he was; as most of the wrestlers at this weight class will be. However, Itsuki’s technique was far superior than his opponents. He had a slick arm drag to a double leg takedown. His hand fighting has been showing great improvement. And, he still has a good crotch lift off his opponent’s shots. In the semi-finals of the consolation bracket, once again he wrestled a very physical wrestler from Edgren. He had a difficult time getting around the opponent’s back from a front headlock position because of poor head positioning on the front head lock. Everytime he tried to spin behind, he let go of the pressure on the head and released his left hand off the opponent’s elbow without covering it with his head; allowing the opponent to block his legs while getting around. Itsuki got in a rush the last time and stepped over too high while spinning and got tossed to his back for a pin. Itsuki has one of the fastest and trickiest sweep single leg on the team which was absent on Saturday. There were many instances when he could have taken a very easy single leg shot but didn’t. Itsuki should realize that he has many tools available for him to use on the mat. Also, he is too hesitant with his moves and also looks too much for making the move look absolutely perfect. He has to be more aggressive and add a variety to his attacks. He should be winning way more matches in this weight class.
148lb weight class
From the day he joined the wrestling team, all coaches knew he was going to be a “beast” on the mat. He is about the only wrestler who is physically and athletically talented on the team. He has the heart of a champion and works like a dog. He is modest, willing to learn, and coachable. And, that day has finally come for Kazuho Kawashima. Everyone knew it was a matter of time when he would win a tournament. Last season, he was unlucky having to miss one tournament due to a flu and another was cancelled due to snow. In his only two tournaments he had, he faced the eventual Far East outstanding wrestler in the finals twice. As impressive as making it to the Far East finals only in his second year of wrestling, Kazuho saw only one thing: a Far East gold. This season, he is back with more motivation, speed, technique, and power. On Saturday, Kazuho took advantage of his first round opponent’s mistake and whipped him over for a pin. This is the wrestling efficiency Kazuho lacked last season. He does not always need to be shooting every 2 seconds, but he can observe and feel his opponents carefully to be more tactical. He easily pinned his second opponent from the Japanese school and made it to the finals as his semi-finals opponent forfeited due to an injury. In the finals, he faced last year’s Far East bronze medalist from Kinnick. Although the crowd was not able to see clean takedowns by Kazuho, he wrestled a smart match. His double leg shots were not successful as it was too obvious and shot a little too far. There were no setups or fakes and the opponent was able to time his shots and sprawl. He was able to get a good counter single leg to score a takedown. When stuck in the front headlock position on the bottom, Kazuho kept good control and position. He was able to get around with a Kelly, or near arm far leg, from the bottom position. Kazuho did not let his opponent even touch his legs with his attacks. Kazuho scored off all of the opponents shots with a sprawl and spin around. He struggled to score from the front headlock position, because he let his head pop out too early while spinning which let go of all the pressure. But, in the end, he wrestled a well controlled match – a huge improvement from last season – and won the match by a technical fall (10-0). This was his first tournament title and he qualified for the Wall of Fame. But, Kazuho is not content. He will continue to work hard and harder; preparing himself for the bigger battle in Osan Air Base, Korea.
Also wrestling in this weight class was rookie, Kazuki Takami. He blessed with heavy hips and very flexible ankles, knees, and hips. These will be a very rare and strong characteristics to have as a wrestler. But, he’s only a rookie. In his first match, he wrestled the eventual finalist for the weight class and was taken down straight to his back with a knee pick. He had a better match his second time with a Japanese wrestler. Kazuki has well developed hips but right now it is too heavy for him to control and he cannot get into a good wrestling stance. His butt is high and the head is low. He puts his right leg too far forward to support the extra weight. The opponent quickly saw this and executed a single leg attack on his right leg easily. But, Kazuki did a good job defending the gut wrench. Although he got caught once, he did not let his opponent do it again in the match. Defending a gut wrench is difficult and, as a rookie, Kazuki managed it well. He also had a chance to score from a front headlock position but made the rookie mistake of bring his legs too close to the opponent. Sure enough, his opponent grabbed his legs for a takedown. Rookies are meant to make lots of mistakes; that’s how they learn. Every champion was a rookie at first. Many things are new for Kazuki in the world of wrestling. He comes to practice every day, works hard, and gets beaten up. That is all a coach can ask for to a rookie. He is improving quickly. He just needs to continue to work hard like he has been.
158lb weight class
The captain of the Titans wrestling team is Riku Osawa. The position is well deserved by Riku with his maturity, responsibility, proactiveness, and teamwork. Last season, he sacrificed his own glory and chance of winning Far East to allow a senior to wrestle at the lower weight class and Riku bumped up a weight class. Even then, Riku made it all the way to the finals of the Far East wrestling tournament. This season, Coach Yabui allowed Riku to choose his weight class and this is where he chose. On Saturday, Riku had a very long day; wrestling 6 matches to wrestle back for third place. After pinning his first round opponent, he made one small mistake in the second round with a Kinnick wrestler. While sprawling his opponent’s attack and coming up to his feet, he left a very shallow underhook with his left arm. His arm was straight and did not have any influence on his opponent. His opponent took advantage of the arm to execute an over-under throw and took Riku to his back for a pin. In his first consolation match against an ASIJ wrestler, as if to show the difference in the clas, Riku took the opponent down with three straight double legs like it was a drill. He struggled a bit in his next match against a MC Perry wrestler who was very well built. Riku likes to fake his shots and look for the best timing to shoot. On Saturday, he waited too long. Sometimes his fakes are obvious because his arms fly back and does not change levels. If he can change levels more and put his arms forward, he can better “sell” the fake. But, Riku has a good explosive high crotch shot which he should have more aggressively used. After managing to win this match, he wrestled the Kinnick wrestler he lost to earlier. But, this time, Riku dominated the match. He easily won his consolation finals by a technical fall (11-0) and placed third. Riku is very difficult to take down and is very well conditioned. If he does not make mistakes and becomes more confident with his attacks, he will be doing much better.
168lb weight class
Second year wrestler, Mitchell Krcelic, decided to give up 8 pounds to fill in the empty spot for the Titans. On Saturday, he surprised everyone going 2 and 2. It’s so obvious that he is too small for this weight class as the other military wrestlers are very well built. Mitchell must understand that he can only rely on technique, speed, and his head (smartness) to win in this weight class. In his first two matches were a deadly battle. There were a lot of scrambles and fighting off each others backs. Mitchell as one weapon: the arm throw. He has been working to improve his skills on this big throw over the Christmas holidays. And, it has been improving well enough to launch some wrestlers on Saturday. He threw his opponents for a big 4 point throw on several occasions. On top of working on improving his throw, he needs to work on transitioning from the throw straight to the pin. He cannot be wrestling a full 6 minute match with his opponents who are bigger and stronger. When he sees the chance, he has to throw his opponents and pin them. He also made mistakes sprawling his opponent’s shots. For one, his sprawling reaction is too slow, but he is not heavy on the hip and does not go shoe-lace-down. He also needs to be working on his footwork; moving side to side. Overall, for his 168lb debut, he did extremely well. He wrestled hard and tried to go for the pins. With better technique and mat sense, he can be very competitive at this weight class.
180lb weight class
Rookie, Nilay Hingarh, had a pretty good rookie debut on Saturday. He won one match; which is not normal for a rookie. In his match that he won, he tried the 2 on 1 and the underhook he has been practicing. This is a very good thing as most rookies do what’s called “garbage wrestle,” meaning they go out, panic, and do something they have never worked on. He stuck to what he knew and that is significant progress. In his third match, he whipped over his opponent’s leg attacked and put him straight to his back. Nilay almost had the opponent pinned but did not know how to make his headlock tighter and let him go. And, instead, he got turned over and got pinned. This is all a part of the learning process. Nilay needs to learn how to be more abusive with his moves. Right now he is too soft. He needs to grab wrists tighter. With his 2 on 1, he needs to move his opponents harder. He needs to be able to put more weight on the front headlock. He needs to hit his ankle laces more explosively. He will be an important member of the team as the team lacks heavier wrestlers. He is only a freshmen and with continued effort for the next several years, he is bound to becoming a good wrestler.
275lb weight class
Heavyweight wrestlers in wrestling are special. They are always the last one to wrestle at a dual meet and tournament championships. They are the final guardian of the team. Often times, they deal with a lot of pressure. In 2011 and 2012, the Titans had their best heavyweight in the history of the program: a two time undefeated Far East champion, Chidi Agbo. At St. Mary’s, it is very rare to have big students like that. Just when people thought it would be another hundred years to get a big student like that, Leon Araya stepped on the Titan mat. He weighs 250lb; truly gifted for no other sport but wrestling. He made his rookie debut on Saturday. But, due to the lack of experience and practice, Leon could not do anything. He was simply pushed out of the circle for points and taken down with a headlock. This is the way most rookies go. It is up to him to show up to practices every day and work hard to change this. He is still a freshman and with one or two more years of wrestling, he can be a tough and very valuable wrestler for the Titans. He just needs to hang in there and not quit; then, his time will come.