June/July 1993

Suitland Tourney

Despite the small crowd, a fun tournament was held at Suitland High School on May 15th. The Madison pairing system has worked very well so far in establishing competition groups, with most wrestlers receiving two to three matches in their respective classes. Some of the strongest weight classes at Suitland were at Midget 75, Schoolboy 85, Elite 145 and 154, and Open 160. Club members looked tremendous. Ryan Herwig finally beat Kevin Gabrielson in a great match which looked very much like what you might see in a national event. Jason Gabrielson had five matches, all very exciting, and picked up five falls or tech falls. Club member and Maryland State Freestyle Champion Ron Alexander wrestled two weights and had probably the best match of the day against Carl Colston. It was a seesaw fight right to the end when Carl caught Ron on a throw and lifted him backwards for a three point takedown.

Parkdale Tourney

The Parkdale tournament May 15 drew several new people into active freestyle competition. All classes were tough with evenly matched weights and ages. Aaron Herwig was in form pounding Ryan Forman in the finals of the 65 lb Midget class. Kevin Gabrielson got his revenge against Ryan Herwig for the previous week's upset in the finals of the 75 lb Midget class winning one point short of a technical fall. Probably the toughest weight was the 85 lb Schoolboy class. All four wrestlers were very experienced and tournament seasoned. Virginia's Bryan Long, second in the folkstyle nationals at 75 lbs a few months back, got a fiery baptism into freestyle. He lost a good match against long time foe and world champion Jason Gabrielson. Larry Plank also faced a tough class in Elite 123. Larry lost a tough one early on then came back to face Nelson Sanchez in the round robin finals. The match could have went either way for about 3 minutes until Larry started to pull ahead slowly with one point takedowns on an outside single leg. Carl Colston, wrestling at Open 154 faced stiff competition before winning his class but the biggest throw had to go to Royal Howard in the Heavyweight open class. When Royal threw the crash was so loud the whole gym went quiet.

Potomac Valley AAU Championships - Bladensberg

The last national qualifier in this area was held at Bladensberg HS Sunday, June 6th. A very large crowd from Virginia's Commonwealth Club and also Quantico made the matches very exciting. There were also quite a few Northern and Western Maryland in attendance. Although many had already qualified for nationals, the chance for that little extra competition proved an important draw. Some of the most exciting matches of the day featured Royal Howard. In the freestyle final, Royal scored a technical fall against Virginia's highly touted freestyle state champion, while in Greco-Roman, Royal lost a close one to a past Virginia State Champion and high School All American now in college, Keith Pavlic. Surprisingly, none of the Damatha wrestlers attended, even though the tournament was right in their backyard.

Northwestern HS Tournament

The last AAU tournament scheduled for this area was held Saturday, June 13th at Northwestern HS. Only a small group was on hand, but fortunately most were concentrated in the same weight classes, so some very good action took place. Some Pennsylvania wrestlers showed up including two members of Team Foxcatcher. Highlights of the tournament included Kevin Gabrielson's win in the 75 lb final, a high scoring loss by Nelson Sanchez to Charles Stevenson, and Jason Gabrielson's win at 85 and a close 5-4 loss in the finals at 95 after wrestling 7 matches.

SMWC Summer Camp

With a last minute local site available, a surprisingly tough Pre-National Camp of Champions was held the weekend before nationals. Campers got about 7 hours worth of intensive wrestling, with most stiff and sore by the end of Sunday's second session. In addition, campers got to swim, go to Wild World, play tennis, and go skating. Judging by how sore campers still were at Monday night's practice, the camp accomplished what it had to do.

The 1993 AAU Grand Nationals

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for wrestlers to compete at a national championship event close to home and for very little cost is now gone. This year the nationals was held at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania starting on Wednesday, June 23 with Sombo.

This year the World Masters Sombo Championships was held along with the regular nationals, so members also got a rare opportunity to see some international competition. Russia entered a team of 51 wrestlers, with other teams from Bulgaria, Canada, and Mexico. The masters was also one of the few times members could see their coach in action. Bruce finished second at 180.5 lbs to former Oklahoma State star, Sean Scott, while Russian Aerono Antopoliv (we think this is the correct spelling) placed third. The final match was exciting with Scott rolling out of a leg submission and applying the same hold on Bruce with 15 seconds remaining in the match.

SMWC entered a 14 member team, with most wrestlers doing very well in the styles they chose to enter. Six of our high school wrestlers entered, with five placing and one, David Plack receiving the gold. Jason and Kevin Gabrielson and Ryan Herwig also took home first place gold. Kevin finished the season winning national championships in all four wrestling styles, with all four final matches ending in pins or tech falls. Olympian John Smith was matside for Kevin's last match, and signed his bracket sheet after the tourney.

Coach's Corner

To all those members who stuck with the training program and believed, I say well done. We had a tough but very successful year. Most of those who entered the program last fall, did so as good but not necessarily great wrestlers. After folkstyle, I felt everyone on the team had advanced to the next plane of their ability, most becoming contenders at the national level. Now I can say that for those who made the commitment, they were rewarded with their national placement. How about Carl Colston and Ryan Herwig, good to great in a few short months.

I hope some of you can continue practicing or find a JUDO club for summer. I plan to work out on Tuesday's and Friday's with Budokan near my home. I will notify each of you around mid- September about the fall season. Depending on the number of participants, we will decide about a winter schedule around Thanksgiving. Many of our wrestlers move into high school this fall, so some coordination is necessary.

I am seriously discussing turning over the SMWC coaching responsibilities with a very famous coach who might be moving to this area. He could even move to Chesapeake Beach. I don't want to tell you his name yet, but he could be a major boost to those wrestlers here serious enough to want the best. I have wanted to work out and not worry about training for several years now, so a new presence would be most welcome. More on this development about September, but if it don't work out "I'll be Back".