It’s been a busy season and an even busier week.  On January 12th the boys battled at Yokota in an Invitational, on January 15th they hosted the Yokota Panthers at home for their third Kanto League Dual and on January 19th, they were back at defending their title at the CAJ Knights Invitational, Here are some highlights:

January 12, 2019 – Yokota Invitational – One week after the Titans went to Yokota Airbase and dominated their opponents in dual matches in route to a perfect 5-0 record on the day.  The Titan grapplers participated in an individual tournament on January 12th and continued dominating the mats at the Panther’s lair.

The Titans were unable to field wrestlers in the 108 and 129 weight classes but still managed to produce 8 champions, three 2nd place and two 3rd place finishers in the 11 classes they did participate in.  It could be argued that this tournament isn’t as tough as it’s been in previous seasons as CAJ and ASIJ weren’t present and E.J. King isn’t fielding a team at all this year, but there is was still some good competition from Kinnick, Yokota, Zama, M.C. Perry and Edgren.

101 – Freshman Mikhail Titov participated in his first high school tournament after missing several weeks with an injury.  The time away from the practice mats was apparent but Mikhail did well against his first opponent and then he and his Kinnick opponent brawled for nearly two complete rounds but he came up short and settled for 2nd place.  All in all, a good finish for his first high school tournament.

108 – Uncontested.

115 – Sophomores Eiji Kasahara and Noah Sandoval had the unfortunate luck of having to go against each other early in the tournament and that cost Noah the opportunity at placing given the tournament format.  Eiji continued doing what Eiji does and took down everyone he faced to add another 1st place finish to his record.

122 – Sophomore Jasjot Bedi continued his winning streak.  In his first match he came out a little shaky but recovered to beat his opponent by fall.  Jasjot shook off the morning rust and was noticeably more aggressive from the opening whistle with his second opponent, turning a quick takedown into a pin for the win.  He carried that momentum into the finals and took 1st place winning all three of his matches by pin!

129 – Senior Harold Mancia sat this one out with a minor injury which gave Masaki Aoki the spotlight.  The Titan rookie showed some good determination but in the end, a wrestler with a bit more experience just kept him from placing.  Masaki showed that the talent is there and the only thing he needs to add is time on the mats to be in contention.

135 – Junior William Krcelic and senior Samin Hoque battled their opponents in this bracket with both making quick work on their way to the finals.  Samin got to the finals with wins by pin and tech fall while William got there recording two wins by tech fall.  Unfortunately, one of them was going to end up in 2nd place and this time it was Samin as he fell to William by tech fall.  The good news is that the Titans added to their team points with a 1st and 2nd place finisher in this weight class.

141 lbs – The Titans fielded there largest contingent of wrestlers in this weight class.  Senior Nishant Chanda cradled his way to a 1st place finish with freshman Hikaru Shimada posting a 3rd place finish.  In the absence of a wrestle-back format, notching a 2-1 record wasn’t good enough to notch a top 3 finish for Konstantin but he performed well recording wins by pin and tech fall.  Freshman Jo Inoue continued to show improvement and some real grit as he battled against more experienced wrestlers.

148 – In another crowded weigh class, senior Cole Lawlor wrestled one more match than his Titan teammates to earn his 1st place finish.  Cole recorded two wins by pin and two by tech fall to claim his crown.  Freshman wrestler, Paing Phyoe showed off some interesting footwork that you more likely see on an MMA mat and recorded wins by pin and tech fall earning him a 3rd place finish.

158 – It appears that Warren Koslow wasn’t told by anyone what it means to be a freshman wrestler, so he continues to wrestle like he’s been on this varsity team way longer than 3 months.  He claimed 1st place with three wins by pin.  Rookie wrestler Ryoichi Ariyoshi showed promise with a 1-1 record on the day but it wasn’t enough to place.

168 – Being in the Panther’s den woke up the Russian Bear as Senior Lev Titov bumped up a weight class and owned it, beating both opponents by pin to take 1st place.  Freshman Luke Robottom battled hard but went down 1-2 on the day.  Luke continues to show improvement in a tough weight class.

180 – Senior Austin Koslow made short work of everyone that stepped on the mat in front of him taking them all down by tech fall to claim 1st place.  Rookie Abishek Dash made his tournament debut as well but fell to a more seasoned wrestler and was unable to continue through the bracket.

215 – Freshman Michael Patton dominated his first opponent winning by pin but then came up short against a more seasoned wrestler from Edgren and had to settle for 2nd place.  It’s rare to have a freshman in this weight class and Michael continues to defy the odds beating older wrestlers but this just wasn’t his day.

HWT – Titans did not complete in this weight class.

“It was a good showing, but we’re still not executing on some of the basics,” commented Coach Yabui.  That seemed to strike a nerve with the coach as he gathered the boys up in the Yokota wrestling room immediately following the tournament and went through the several techniques that they were misfiring on.  Twenty minutes later there was a comment from another wrestler as he observed the grapplers working through technique, “That’s why they’re so good, they practice after tournaments!”

January 15, 2019 – Kanto League Dual Match – Yokota Panthers at home – to say the Titans improved from some of their weak points on the previous Saturday would be an understatement.  The Grapplers dominated this dual meet!  Coach Yabui bumped up 101- pounder Mikhail to 109 and left 101 uncontested.  Mikhail struggled against his bigger opponent and the Titans dropped their only points of the dual.  Eiji recorded a walkover at 115 lbs and then what happened in the remaining matches was unexpected:

122 – Jasjot wins by fall in 1:32

129 – Harold wins by tech fall in 1:08

135 – William wins by fall in 0:26

141 – Nishant wins by fall in 0:50

148 – Cole wins by tech fall in 1:32

158 – Warren wins by fall in 0:35

168 – Lev wins by fall in 0:28

180 – Austin wins by tech fall in 1:18

215 – Michael wins by fall in 0:17

In less than 9 minutes of live wrestling the Titans recorded 6 wins by fall and 3 wins by tech fall for a 47-4 win.

KANTO LEAGUE DUAL RECORD now at 3 – 0

January 19, 2019 – CAJ Knights Invitational – The Titans took a slightly smaller army to Camelot in defense of the title they won the previous season and had a few wrestlers going down in weight class to shake things up a bit.  Seven wrestlers came into this tournament with undefeated seasons on the line and squared off against a few wrestlers they’d not yet faced this season in their respective weight classes.  Eiji Kasahara (115), William Krcelic (135) and Austin Koslow (180) had their individual golds from the previous year to defend as well.  Last year the Titans put nine wrestlers into the finals, this year they put 12!  Problem was they faced off against each other in three of the weight classes – but that’s not a bad problem to have!

101 – For a second year in a row, the lack of wrestlers made this a round robin format.  Mikhail Titov took full advantage of that and just beat everyone to claim his first varsity gold medal as well as earn a spot on “The Wall.”

108 – Big surprise here is that we’re in January and the Titans don’t have anyone at this weight class yet!

115 – Eiji Kasahara powered through his opponents as did Noah Sandoval which set the stage for the first Titan v. Titan final of the day.  Eiji proved to be too much for Noah and claimed gold for the second consecutive year at this tournament.  Noah earned a very respectful silver and added to the team point total.  Eiji continues his dominance of this weight class with two big challenges coming up this week – Kinnick at home for a Dual and The Beast of the East!

122 – With Harold Mancia making the decision to compete at a lower weight class, the stage was set for one Titan wrestler to lose their undefeated season as both he and Jasjot Bedi had zeros in the loss column coming into this tournament.  Given they were on opposite sides of the bracket, you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see this final coming!  The second Titan v. Titan final of the day resulted in the stronger of the two wrestlers walking away with gold as Harold overpowered Jasjot in the finals.  Although the Titans also got points for 2nd, they gave up more points by having two of their best wrestlers in a single weight class and missing a chance at 129 to capitalize on a potential sweep.

129 – Samin Hoque and Masaki Aoki, thankfully, were on opposite sides of the bracket which allowed them both the potential to reach the finals without knocking each other out in an early round.  Both wrestled sound matches and made it to the semi-finals where they both lost to wrestlers from Kinnick leading to Kinnick’s 1-2 finish and both Samin and Masaki settling for 3rd.

135 – Three Titan wrestlers competed in this bracket, returning Champion William Krcelic, Freshman Hikaru Shimada and Konstantin Meyer zu Brickwedde (who dropped down from 141).  The Titans crushed this weight class with William seeded at the top of the bracket and Hikaru and Konstantin at the bottom.  William made it to the finals, Konstantin and Hikaru squared off in the semi-finals with Hikaru going on to meet William in the finals – the 3rd Titan v. Titan showdown of the day.  In the end, William defended his gold and took 1st place, Hikaru took 2nd and Konstantin 3rd racking up a huge point total for St. Mary’s.  With The Beast approaching, William needs to stay focused and continue punishing opponents – it’s definitely not the time to begin coasting, especially with Kinnick and CAJ at home and the Kanto League Title on the line!

141 – With Konstantin dropping to 135, that left Freshmen Jo Inoue to partner with Senior Nishant Chanda in this weight class.  In a surprising first match upset, Nishant lost to his Kinnick opponent!  This meant any hope for gold in this bracket now fell on Jo and he gutted out two tough matches to get make it to the semi-finals where he eventually fell to a more seasoned wrestler from ASIJ.  Both Nishant and Jo settled for 3rd on the day.  The takeaway – Nishant seems to do much better when he doesn’t have first round byes and Jo wrestles with a ton of heart!  We’re looking for Nishant to rebound with big wins against Kinnick and CAJ at home to help win Kanto League and then ride those dual wins into The Beast.

148 – Some coaches in the Kanto League are probably wondering where we found Cole Lawlor.  Answer: Right where we left him last season, an up and coming talent in the Titan Wrestling Program!  Cole continued his undefeated season and earned his spot on “The Wall” by taking gold…and it wasn’t even close.  He’s clearly emerged as the guy to beat in the Kanto League and he continues to keep going full tilt!  Freshman Paing Phyoe continues to look good as he wrestled to a 3rd place finish.  They’ll be wondering where he came from next season at this tournament!

158 – Warren Koslow and Ryoichi Ariyoshi took the mats in an effort to bring home gold for the Titans.  Warren brought an undefeated freshmen season with him and, unfortunately, didn’t leave with it.  A more seasoned wrestler finally got the better of him in what, arguably, was one of the best matches of the day leaving him to settle for 2nd place.  Although he lost the match, his opponent felt the win!  Ryoichi had an unfortunate draw and some tough matches but still managed 4th place.

168 – The two L’s, Lev Titov and Luke Robottom went at it hard with Lev making it to the finals before he faltered against a much more experienced wrestler from ASIJ and settled for 2nd place.  Luke battled hard and took 4th place.  Lev has been “scrappy” at 168 and although he lost in the finals, the takeaway is that he can win in this weight class.  He’ll get his chance at revenge when The Beast rolls around, but first he’ll have the chance to take out his frustrations of losing against Kinnick and CAJ in the home duals.

180 – Senior Austin Koslow successfully defended the gold he won at this tournament the year before handing out a beating to his opponents along the way.  Austin is emerging as the guy to beat at 180 in the Kanto League and needs to reinforce that with big wins in the home duals and then again at The Beast!

215 – Freshman Michael Patton had a great throw that he took right into a pin to win one of his matches but came up short in his second match and settled for a 2nd place finish.  Michael continues to gain confidence and each match adds to his experience and learning which will make him a tough opponent in the upcoming Beast.  But first, he’ll need to step-up and knock-off his Kinnick rival at the home dual meet!