On a night where our 7 seniors were were honored in their last home dual matches, the Titans took on the Kinnick Red Devils and the CAJ Knights to determine whether or not the Kanto League Title would be brought back to St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s opened the evening against the Kinnick Red Devils and based on the number of open weight classes for the Titans (101, 108, HWT) it was quickly apparent that even though this Kinnick squad was different than the one that steam-rolled through the Kanto League and Far East Championship last season, it was still a team with a goal to keep its title!
101 – Walkover win by Kinnick
108 – Walkover win by Kinnick
115 – Walkover win by St. Mary’s
122 – Walkover win by St. Mary’s
SMIS 10 – Kinnick 10 – tied before the first wrestlers took to the mat!
129 – Harold Marcia came out slower than usual but soon made adjustments and won his match by Fall.
135 – William Krcelic looked out of form as his match began and after getting himself into some trouble and bad positions against a rookie wrestler, he settled down and won by Tech Fall.
SMIS 19 – Kinnick 10
141 – Nishant Chanda came out with some vengeance after settling for a 3rd place finish over the weekend at CAJ and won his match by Fall.
148 – Cole Lawlor came out as he has all season, firing shots and working his opponent into positions that he can capitalize on, eventually winning by Fall.
SMIS 29 – Kinnick 10
158 – Warren Koslow had another trough match against his Kinnick opponent with both wrestling a very physical match. In the end, Warren added to the team point total with a win by Decision.
168 – Lev Titov’s match can be summed up like this – Big Heart and Bigger Mistake! Lev got down early and then battled back in the second period to take a lead into the final 30 seconds of the match. Up by 4 all he needed to do was manage the clock and defend shots by his opponent. Instead, the overly aggressive grappler took a shot, didn’t score and allowed his opponent to tie the match which eventually ended in a 10-10 tie with Lev losing on criteria.
SMIS 32 – Kinnick 13
180 – Austin Koslow came out knowing the Titans had this one in the bag but went hard at his Kinnick rival and, in another very physical match, recorded 4 more points for the Titan’s with his win by Tech Fall.
215 – Freshman Michael Patton’s struggles with Kinnick’s more seasoned wrestler in this weight class continued and he lost to his rival by Fall. The good news is, Michael continues to improve and with big tournaments coming up he’s got plenty of chances to “payback” the losses.
HWT – Walkover win by Kinnick
FINAL: SMIS 36 – Kinnick 23
Following the win Over Kinnick, the Titans went immediately into their second dual against CAJ. A win here would result in the boys winning the Kanto League and bringing the title home.
101 – Not contested
108 – Not contested
115 – Eiji Kasahara looked completely out of sorts against his CAJ opponent and eventually ended up with a loss and the end to his unbeaten season. Similar to his single loss last season, this may be the mid-season boost that propels him to another Far East Championship!
122 – Jasjot Bedi also seemed a bit out of step inches match and after putting himself in danger more than a few times, he capitalized on his opponent’s misstep and won by Fall.
SMIS 5 – CAJ 5
129 – Harold came out strong and made quick work of his opponent winning by Tech Fall.
135 – William came out in a much more conservative manner than his earlier match, stayed in control and recorded his second win of the night by Tech Fall.
141 – Nishant came out shooting at the whistle and recorded a win by Fall in about 20 seconds.
148 – Cole continued his undefeated season with a win by Tech Fall.
158 – Walkover win by St. Mary’s
168 – Walkover win by St. Mary’s
180 – Walkover win by St. Mary’s
215 – Walkover win by St. Mary’s
HWT – Uncontested
FINAL: SMIS 42 – CAJ 5
By notching wins in their last two dual meets of the season, the Titans successfully brought home the Kanto League Title. This is one of the five big titles to complete the season. Only the 2016 Titan team has won all five titles in a single season. With The Beast of the Far East this weekend, the Kanto Plain Championship on February 9th and the Far East Championships two weeks after that, the Titan Matmen have they work cut out for them.
“It seems clear that good things happen when we initiate, are active, and in familiar positions, and bad things happen when we are passive and in positions that we are not familiar or not good at,” commented Coach Yabui reflecting on the dual and also this season’s performance so far. Wrestling “your” style is important, especially when you are wrestling someone for the first time. Coach Yabui gave some tips for wrestling opponents for the first time: “[If you’ve never wrestled the opponent] It’s so important that you are confident with your skills and you bring your game on the mat and you don’t change the way you wrestle; otherwise, the momentum will go to the other guy. ” Coach Yabui spoke about how back in his days most of the opponents at Far East were wrestlers they have never faced as Far East was the only tournament that brought together schools from Okinawa, Philippines, Guam, and Korea (now, the Beast of the East tournament gives a preview of the Korean and Okinawan schools and there are no schools from Guam and the Philippines). And, now with everything on the Internet, it is easy to get a picture of what other schools are like. “I would look at my bracket at Far East and I wouldn’t know most of the guys in my bracket. There were guys who looked at names and which school they were from and got freaked out. I never freaked out because I came here to win and I need to beat anyone that I wrestled. It didn’t matter whether I was wrestling a rookie or an Olympic champion: I had my set up to a fireman’s and high crotch and if that didn’t work, I had my knee taps and reverse lock dumps, if anyone shot on me I had my head shuck and pancake, in par terre I had my arm bar, cradle, and leg lace, and everything else, I let my muscle memory do the work. I was confident if I did those things, I would win and if I didn’t, I would lose. The secret is to initiate so that you can dictate the match to your style first rather than reacting to the other guy’s game plan.”
Harold Mancia, William Krcelic, Cole Lawlor and Austin Koslow remain undefeated this season. Eiji Kasahara, Jasjot Bedi, and Warren Koslow are right behind with a only a single blemish on their records. The other wrestlers in the varsity lineup may have more than a single loss each, but not many and this team as a whole is performing very well on paper. With our 101 Mikhail Titan down with the flu and the 108 slot still unfilled, the Titans are headed into The Beast with 3 empty weight classes which will make it tough to win but this team has shown a ton of heart throughout the season.
That being said, heart alone won’t win championships so the boys need to regroup after a lackluster, yet successful, showing on the home mats and walk into The Beast looking to had out some punishment.