Varsity Wrestling (VW) took home three medals from the Independent School League (ISL) Championships on February 11 after Brad Basham ’18 won first place in his weight class, and Malcolm Zuckerman ’18 and Will Jarrell ’19 earned second place in theirs.
Under the leadership of Head Coach Derek Papagianopoulos ’10 and Assistant Coaches Adam Holland and Henry Kasdon, VW finished the season with a 9-10 record and 7 out of 13 teams in the championship. A total of 225 wrestlers traveled to Brooks School for the tournament, in which Belmont Hill emerged as the overall winner.
Brad won his first three matches by pinning his opponent during the first of three 2-minute periods. For his final match, Brad competed against a wrestler from Belmont Hill who almost pinned him during the first period and garnered a 4-point lead. However, Brad came back from the 5-1 deficit by pinning his opponent in the next period.
Brad attributed his success to good coaching and seven years of experience.
“My coaches in high school have always been very hands-on,” Brad said. “They often get on the mat with us at practice to get us prepared for our matches.”
Malcolm said he also had success at the competition. After receiving a bye into the second round—a pass that propels the wrestler into the next level—Malcolm defeated Nick Fulgione from Brooks.
“I started out the way I generally start out my matches: I launched myself into him and started beating on his neck with my hand,” Malcolm said. “Then I managed to lock him up in a front headlock and sprawled out onto him before I pinned him.”
After wrestling Nick, Malcolm pinned a Roxbury Latin student, leading him into the finals, where he lost against Mike Glauniger from Belmont Hill.
“The real key to any win is to work harder than the opponent,” Malcolm said. “We might not be the most skilled team, but you can bet that if it comes down to it, we will grind our foreheads into their faces until they give up.”
Will—who has wrestled for 13 years—said he has high hopes for both his and his team’s future.
“It was great to win [second place], but I just tried to think about the next match, the next tournament, and improving for next year,” he said. “My plans are to become the best wrestler I can be. The team’s plan is to grow and improve.”
VW Wrestler Jiho Lee ’18, who placed third in his weight class at the championship, agreed: “This year is definitely a big improvement from last year, since there were a bunch of newcomers. We have a very young team as it is right now, which means that next year has the potential to be even better than this year.”
Coach Papagianopoulos commended the team’s efforts at the tournament and throughout the winter.
“The wrestlers have had a great season thus far,” Coach Papagianopoulos said. “They’ve all worked so hard all season and continue to work hard until the final week of practices. Everyone in the wrestling room improved since the first day of practices—from our best guy to newest guys.”
Looking to next year, Coach Papagianopoulos said he hopes to bring more kids into the program and crack into a top-seven team in New England.