In It to Win It

Sam Chambers
Alone in their powerful modern dance, wrestlers use their moves for the greater good of the team.

Take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves. That was the plan at the SPC Championships this past weekend for Head Wrestling Coach Alan Paul and the St. John’s Mavericks.
Just a week after St. John’s tied perennial powerhouse St. Mark’s at the state tournament at EHS, the Mavericks were licking their chops at the likelihood of winning a first-ever SPC wrestling crown at their own arena in Houston. All systems were go, until two of the top Maverick grapplers were scratched from the 14-man lineup. Nationals-bound Nathan Avery ’13 was unable to finish the season due to an injury, and Preston Neal ’14 had come down with a bad case of the flu.
Even though St. John’s scratched Avery’s 182 pound class, Coach Paul felt that a shuffled deck would still give his Mavericks a chance to win SPC. The rules in wrestling allow participants to move up to the next weight class. If a wrestler is over his specific weight, he can also qualify to move up 2 levels from his original spot. In a tactical move, Coach Paul rearranged his lineup for the best possible match-ups to score the most points.
“We could have left everyone where they were, so we took a chance to try and win it,” said Coach Paul. “You don’t enter a tournament to take 3rd place.”
The task at hand was more complex than just replacing Preston Neal at the 138. Five Mavericks had to move up a total of 60 pounds. Jerald Barbe ’15 (126) turned into Sean Yuan ’14 (132). Yuan became Neal at 138 lbs and Orion Hicks ‘15 went from 145 lbs to Brook Arnolds ’14 (152) weight. This allowed Arnold to jump 2 spots and take Eric Hobby’s ‘13 (170) slot. Hobby landed in the 195 weight class.
While most wrestlers think about less, Hobby and company were focused on more.
“I became a Strawberry Hulk Smoothie King aficionado,” said Eric. “But by the time I was set to compete in the heavier weight class, I was still 18 pounds shy.”
Arnold added protein shakes to his intake, but only moved the scale to 156 when he stepped on the mats at SPC.
Regardless of the difference, Hobby, Arnold, and their teammates entered the SPC championships ready to help the team. As shortchanged as they were, the Mavericks started off with a 2nd place win from Sam Elkins ’14 (106), and finished with a first individual SPC crown from Alexander Saucer ’12 at HW. Out of the guys who moved up in weight, Hobby finished 3rd, Arnold 4th, and Sean Yuan 5th. The final team result however was 4th place.
“The program has grown and this team is the best I have been with at St. John’s in my six years here,” said Alan Paul. “Our goal is nothing short of doing what it takes to get to the top.”
For 2013 the team is focusing on much more than just milkshakes and smoothies. With a heart of a champion, the Mavericks will be looking for one more chance to be in it to win it.
2012 SPC Final Results:
106: Sam Elkins-2nd
113: Raymond Yuan-2nd
120: scratch
126: Ben Stein-2nd
132: Jerald Barbee
138: Sean Yuan-5th
145: Brandon Steele-4th
152: Orion Hicks
160: Walter Moore-5th
170: Brooks Arnold-4th
182: scratch
195: Eric Hobby- 3rd
220: Zach Long-2nd
HW: Alexander Saucer-1st

After SPC Saucer, Elkins and Long competed in the Prep Nationals held in Bethlehem, PA at Lehigh University.  Saucer finished in the top 16, just one match away from the All-American round.  For more on the Prep Nationals please click here.