MSSD grapplers place well in three tournaments
The Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) wrestling team is going from success to success this season under the leadership of head coach Thad Ferguson. The grapplers have placed well in several major tournaments-the Willigan Wrestling Tournament (formerly the Annual National Deaf Prep Duals Tournament), winning the final round 39-38, and winning their league championship tournament, the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling League Tournament (MAWL), by a margin of 28 points. The team also placed 19th out of 32 teams in the nationally-recognized St. Albans Invitational Wrestling Tournament. In addition, at the D.C. Championships, hosted by MSSD, the wrestling team ended with five medalists.
"We've been building up our team this year," said head coach Ferguson. "Our team is really focused on honing the moves that bring success on the mat. I am really proud of the dedication our athletes have given this year and the results in this season's tournaments show that their work is paying off."
Assistant coach Tairbek Tabolov also said, "We have had a lot of confidence in all of our wrestlers all season."
In the Willigan Wrestling Tournament held January 21 at MSSD, six deaf wrestling teams competed for the title. MSSD and California School for the Deaf-Fremont (CSD-F) each won their respective pool in the round robin play and faced each other for the final match. Here is a summary of the final match written by assistant coach Ando Ferguson:
"We started off with Paris Wright pinning his opponent in the 145 lbs class, firing up the rest of the team. After that we rattled off a string of victories, including the 160 lbs class wrestler Luke Hottle who scored a technical fall, outscoring his opponent 25-10, and the 170 lbs class wrestler Lee Miller, who made a valiant effort to stop his opponent from pinning him, reducing the team points for the other team. In the 182 lbs class, Franly Ulerio-Nunez was picked up and slammed to the ground illegally, leading to a disqualification of the other wrestler. Albert Blake wrestled in 195, dispatching his opponent with ease.
The team score at this point was 27-3. We gave up several forfeits after that. (A forfeit is when a team has a wrestler in a weight class and the other team does not, which means 6 points per empty weight class. We gave away 12 points.) Brandon Johnson wrestled very well in the 120 lbs class, pinning his opponent. After a couple more matches, the scores stood at 33 (MSSD) to 38 (CSDF).
It was at this point where we knew that we were assured a victory, because Diego Trejo has always been a reliable and good wrestler. When he stepped on the mat, the opponent knew that the only way for CSD to win was by not getting pinned, so he avoided everything that Diego did, going backwards all around the mat. There is a rule against doing that, so the CSD wrestler kept on getting penalized. Aggravated, Diego took him down, and once the opposing wrestler was down, he crawled out of the wrestling bounds, despite Diego's best efforts to keep him inbounds. The official saw this and penalized the wrestler for ‘Fleeing the Mat.' Since it was his fifth penalty, he was disqualified and the team awarded 6 points, making the final score 39-38, in our favor."
The tournament was renamed this year in honor of Marty Willigan, a well-known and respected deaf wrestler and coach. Willigan, who grew up in Long Island, N.Y., wrestled in high school and at collegiate levels and placed fourth in the National College Athletic Association Championships in 1968. He was later selected for the USA Deaf Wrestling Team for both the World Games for the Deaf in Yugoslavia and Sweden, winning a gold medal each time. Willigan worked for 34 years in the Athletic Department at Gallaudet University, and also served as head coach for MSSD from 1980 to 1985. He also coached in Canada on behalf of the Canadian Association for the Deaf.
After the success at the Willigan Wrestling Tournament and the MAWL Tournament on February 4, MSSD went on to do well in the St. Alban's Tournament, held on February 11. Wrestler Luke Hottle placed fifth, defeating his opponent from Georgetown Prep, and wrestler Albert Blake finished in second place. Well-known wrestling schools, Wyoming Seminary and DeMatha, also competed in the tournament.
The D.C. Championships, hosted by MSSD, were held on February 18. "Some of our wrestlers committed regrettable errors on the day," said Ando Ferguson, "but out of our nine wrestlers we still ended up with five medalists and two fourth placers." Luke Hottle and Albert Blake will be going to the National Prep Wrestling Tournament to be held February 23-25 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.