It was certainly an improvement from the previous weeks of the season as the Titans managed to put 9 grapplers into the finals all vying for the Knight’s ransom in gold medals at CAJ’s annual tournament which drew 7 teams this season: Kinnick, Yokota, Zama, ASIJ, St. Mary’s, Edgren and host CAJ.  “The boys looked better, but they still have a long way to go if we’re going to win Far East,” commented Coach Yabui.

101 – With few wrestlers this was a round robin format that saw Aayran Batra and Jasjot Bedi go at it in their final match to determine who would grab silver,  Aaryan managed to pull of his first win over Jasjot by moving quick and working to the outside to get behind Jasjot and then work for points.  Still some work left to do here to determine if the Titans will put a strong fight up for Far East Gold but these two are certainly going to push each other.

108 – Freshman Eji Kasahara wrestled solid through all of his matches.  He wrestled smart and controlled his opponents.   When the dust settled on the final match, he emerged with a first place finish in his first high school tournament!  The win not only gave the Titans some solid team points, it earned Eji a spot on the Wall of Fame!  Congratulations Eji!

115 – Harold Mancia looked unbeatable as he made his way through the 115 bracket but then stalled when got into the finals.  Harold is a strong wrestler with good technique, he’ll just need to minimize the mistakes and he’ll be a beast to try and slay through the remaining big tournaments.  His silver in this weight class were big points for the Titan’s team total!

122 – This is a weight class where the only competition wears Titan singlets!  Sophomore William Krcelic dismantled the varsity 122 from Kinnick in the first round while team captain Tatsu Matsumoto had to wait through a bye.  When the two Titans met in the second round it was clear that these two know how each wrestles as Tatsu avoided any moves that would allow William to get inside and William held back in his stance to avoid Tatsu’s ankle picks.  Tatsu took a lead late in the first round and then added to it early in the second taking a 4-0 lead into the final minute.  William scored 2 and then with less than 30 seconds left scored again to win by last score criteria.  Tastu recorded team points with 3rd and the finals offered little drama as William took apart his opponent to win by tech fall.  William’s gold also earned him a spot on the Wall of Fame – Congratulations William!

129 – Kai Atobe executed on the basics and made his way through the 129 bracket where he came head to head with another Sophomore from Edgren that was coming off a big week during which he pinned Kinnick’s Lucas Wirth (who interestingly enough was present but did not wrestle because he missed weigh-ins).  Kai came out strong and did his best to be the more technical fighter, but the strength of his opponent go the better of him, handing him the silver in this competitive weight class.

135 – Dai Matsumoto came through his bracket looking stronger and more confident than he has so far this season.  He kept his stance clean and stuck to the basics but came up just short in the finals.  Dai is showing improvement and should be tough to beat once he gets through winter practices.  His silver added key points to the Titan team total.

141 – Nishant Chanda was a beast through the first two rounds, taking apart his opponents and taking them both out by putting them into cradles and pinning them.  When Nishant is confident and in control, he’s tough to beat.  When he gets nervous, he gets off his moves which ended up costing him in the finals.  Nishant is closer than he thinks to being “the man to beat” at 141.

148 – Varsity wrestler Jihoon Seo struggled more than expected and landed in 3rd place.  Coach Yabui will looking for him to start hitting his stride coming out of winter practices.  another Titan, second year wrestler Lev Titov, shared the 3rd place honors with Jihoon after gutting up some good wins and showing that this team might finally be taking the dedication to JM to heart as they find ways to keep going when they get down.  The double bronze was a big help to the Titan total.

158 – Ryo Sawa was another Titan wrestler that showed more confidence and control and in the first two rounds as he took opponents out at will.  Ryo wins when he sticks to basics – setting up his shots and then hitting them quick.  In his final’s showdown he allowed his opponent to dictate the match and wound up with silver.  Ryo has the potential to beat his Kinnick rival, it’ll just boil down to who wants it more and who’s going to control the match.  Silver points to St. Mary’s.

168 – Austin Koslow should be dominating the 168 field this year and, he is.  Some may argue that he allows his opponents to hang in the match a little too long, but in the end Austin has the strength and skills to beat everyone in the 168 lb division.  A solid winter practice session will put him in the front runner position to have a very successful second half of the season.  His Gold Medal performance netted another 10 points to the team total.

180 – Alex Patton continues to work on his opponents and wrestle smart.  He had little challenge from his opponents and faced off with one of the two Kinnick wrestlers in his bracket.  Alex came out in his finals match measured and controlled.  He dictated the match and when the opportunity came, slammed his opponent to the mat using a front headlock.  Another 10 team points for Alex’s Gold Medal performance.

215 – Nilay Hingarth got moving just a bit too late.  The Titan’s big man struggled through his round robin matches before coming alive in his final match.  Knowing he had to win by pin or tech fall to capture 3rd place, he did just that in his final match.  Rival Kinnick definitely has the bracket stacked with 3 wrestlers in this bracket, but Nilay came through when it mattered most keeping the Devils from potentially racking up a 1-2-3 finish in this weight class.

“The 8 wrestlers [9 if 101lb’s round-robin result was included] we put into the finals may have been a record for us,” said Coach Yabui when asked how we stacked up versus previous seasons.  In the end, four Titan wrestlers left Camelot carrying gold and the team took back The Kingdom from Kinnick by a score of 99-96.

In addition to those wrestlers that placed for points, the Titan grapplers showed improvement throughout as a few “newer” wrestlers just missed grabbing 3rd place in their respective brackets.  Watching Titan wrestlers become so emotional after just missing a chance to win bronze in a number of brackets shows how much this team’s attitude has begun to change since week one.

When every wrestler on the team wants to win, when every wrestler on the team believes they can win, when every wrestler on the team is confident in their skills, when they all start pushing each other harder and harder in practice and picking each other up when they’re down – then – they will be THE TEAM who can win it all.

As Coach Yabui told the boys, “Zama’s next and then time to work through the holidays!”