The Fort Benning Black Knights wrestling team took third place in a field of eight Saturday. Of the squad’s 17 wrestlers, nine earned individual medals during the season’s last local meet at the East Columbus Magnet Academy. “I was happy with the way the kids wrestled,” said Mark Suich, Black Knights coach. “All of the kids went out with intensity, never quit and went through three periods.”
Brandin Maier took gold in the 102-pound weight class, division B.“Wrestling in (tournaments) is always intense,” said the 13-year-old, who has wrestled for two years. “It’s suspenseful waiting for your match to come. There are a lot of good wrestlers here, but whether you win or lose, it’s still fun.”
In the second round, Maier was successful in his takedown on Upson-Lee County Middle School’s Jalan Andrews, he said.
“I was trying to get him to the ground and get his head down,” he said. “I just kept going and finally pinned him.”
The Black Knights also had a successful duals tournament Jan. 20 against Brookstone School and Chattahoochee Valley Middle School at Brookstone. They won 24 of 32 matches and took the duals title.The Brookstone tournament was the best meet of the season, Suich said.
Suich attributes the win to a strong coaching staff and hard work from the wrestlers.
“The team wants to be at practice,” he said “They are really enthusiastic about the sport.”Although the practice is challenging, the work is worth it, said eighth-grader Nicholas Dowdy, who is using wrestling to train for football season.
Practice includes wrestling techniques, drills and conditioning.
Good conditioning is key to being successful in a match, said Hiram Morales, who coaches the elementary school squad, is head coach of the club and helps out with the middle school squad.
“Strength can be the difference between getting an injury or hitting an opponent,” he said. “We work on aerobic stamina too so when they get to the third period, they have enough fuel left to beat their opponent.”Although the local tournaments are finished, the Black Knights will train throughout February for matches in the Atlanta area and for the state qualifier in March.