In the largest field of wrestlers ever at the Prep State Championships, the Mavericks held their own and more to finish with seven All State wrestlers in the 14 weight class divisions.
For the Mavericks, Cyrus Lee ’16
(113), Yo Akiyama ’16
(120), and Jerald Barbe ’15
(132) finished in fourth place, while Raymond Yuan ’15
(126) took third. Captain Ben Stein ’13
(138) took 2nd
, and fellow captains Eric Hobby ’13
(195) and Nathan Avery ’13
(220) finished first. Avery, Houston Chronicle Player of the Week
nominee, did not allow a single point scored against him.
The team score of 147 was good enough for Texas’ second best in a 23-team field, which was won by St. Thomas.
Due to the increase in participants this year, the one-day competition will be a two-day event in 2014.
Hobby’s fourth and final match may have been the longest of the day and went into the night. Weighing in at 179, Eric qualified for the heavier 190 pound weight class. By rule, wrestlers are allowed to move up one weight class. Hobby’s move to the heavier weight class put Sam Oliver ’13 in the 182 slot, giving the Mavericks one more opportunity to score points.
For the final Hobby faced St. Thomas’ Joseph Lowery who had defeated Eric earlier in the season with one of his patented moves called the “cradle,” a head and leg vise that puts an opponent in an almost losing predicament.
“My focus was to avoid the ‘cradle,’” said Hobby. “If you get caught in it you are on thin ice.”
Reflecting back on what it took to get to the pinnacle of the sport, Hobby noted his experience at the J. Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp in Iowa he and Avery attended in 2011.
“It was one of the hardest camps in the country, and I remember that Coach Robinson told us to write down our goals,” said Eric. “I still have that notebook and look at it weekly.”
After the first period Hobby was down 5-2 to Lowery, and by the end of the second it was 7-4. In the third and final period losing 9-4, Eric made a reversal and a near fall to tie it up at 9 with seconds to go in regulation.
“I had to hold on after the near fall,” said Hobby. “If he ended up getting free he would have won.”
With most of the field on hand to watch the match go into overtime, Hobby avoided a shot by Lowery to start the overtime period and then had his own move nullified as the pair went out of bounds. On the ensuing re-start, Hobby took Lowery down, scored and was crowned State Champion for the first time in his wrestling career.
“Eric is one of the hardest working wrestlers on the team,” said Head Coach Alan Paul. “He outworked his opponents who were significantly heavier than him, and wore them down. This was an extremely emotional win.”
Coach Paul, who coached most of the Mavericks when they were new to the sport in 7th grade, was very proud of his team’s performance including some of the underclassmen’s results.
“Akiyama, Lee, Yuan, and Barbe wrestled out of their minds,” said Paul.
The high school team was also buzzing about the 2013 Middle School Maverick Wrestling team which were also competing on the same day in the Middle School State duals held in Addison. Exchanging text messages, the Mavericks solidified a bond of a program which has been in the hands of Coach Paul, now in his seventh year.
“To see the varsity guys show the interest in the middle school team was telling on how far we have gone as a program,” said Coach Paul.
Conference is in two weeks in Dallas and the Mavericks will have a chance to go where they have never been before: SPC Champions. So get out your smart phones, or notebook and “SAY SOMETHING!”
Sam Chambers – Athletic News