Wrestlers advance to playoffs,fail to reach Masters rounds

By Luke Holthouse

None of the six wrestlers who qualified for CIF Playoffs advanced from the first round into CIF Masters.

Brandon Chen ’12, Patrick Halkett ’14, Ben Klein ’14 and James Wauer ’13 were eliminated on the first day of the two-day tournament at Oak Hills High School between Feb. 17-18.

Charlie Nelson ’13 and Henry Schlossberg ’13 advanced to the second day before being knocked out.

The top five of 32 wrestlers from each weight class advanced to CIF Masters.

Schlossberg said because of random chance and performance during the regular season, the six Wolverines were not seeded very highly and faced tough opponents early on in the tournament.

“It’s really difficult to make it to Masters,” Schlossberg said. “It’s really the luck of the draw as far as who you get, and you can get stuck with a pretty tough guy.”

The meet marked the last wrestling match for Chen, whom Head Coach Gary Bairos regards as the best wrestler on the team.

Bairos said Chen needed to have an almost flawless performance at the tournament to advance due to the difficulty of the 145-pound weight class.

“[Chen] had one of the toughest weight classes in the tournament. It was just a brutal weight,” Bairos said. “He wrestled really well. He lost a couple of close bouts to some good people and ended up not advancing on, but it’s really not indicative of the wrestler that he is. I still think [Chen] is learning.”

At meets where scores were tallied for overall teams rather than individuals, the Wolverines struggled, going 0-4 in the Mission League and not qualifying for CIF Playoffs as a team.

However, the team had more success at meets where scores were tallied for each individual.

“On paper, it probably looks like we didn’t have a great season, but in reality, it was a pretty darn good season,” Bairos said. “We go to all the toughest tournaments they offer around here. We took a lot of losses, but the upside is that the kids will be far more experienced next year.”

Jake Bracken ’14, who did not qualify for CIF but attended the tournament as an alternate, said some of those younger wrestlers should see vast improvements.

“Next year [Bracken] should be able to get a more favorable draw as far as his weight class goes,” Schlossberg said. “[Changing classes] should help him out, and he works really hard.”