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Indiana finishes second in Babbit Tourney

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2007

BLAIRSVILLE--After the Albert "Babbit" Liccioli dual meet wrestling tournament Saturday, six coaches got a clear understanding of their lineups' strengths and weaknesses.

Commodore Perry went 5-0 for the day's tournament championship, with a young, but experienced, team possessing solid fundamentals. With only two seniors on the entire roster, the team's maturity is evident in its business-like approach and demeanor.

"I knew that they are always a contender," said Indiana coach Craig Miller, whose squad's only loss was at the hands of the District 10 Panthers. "But I was surprised at how solid they were through their entire lineup.

"As for our team, we had two guys go 5-0. And four of our wrestlers, including our female wrestler Alex(andra) Rhodes, were 4-1. We also saw that we are pretty deep with talented backups."

As for the team's weaknesses, "I saw some areas that we will continue to work on," Miller said. "One thing that will probably take care of its self with time is our endurance. It is early in the season, and this type of tournament really takes its toll; but we need to build endurance.

"We also need to comb the halls and find a 112, but a lot of teams have problems with forfeits early on."

Forfeits could have made a difference for fourth-place finalist United, as well. Coach Tom Whitcomb explained, "We wrestled the champions last in the final round, and we gave up four forfeits. Yet, we scored 28 points against them."

"I was very pleased with our performance for the day. We'll be filling some holes in our lineup from injuries and weight adjustments and be more solid as the season progresses," Whitcomb said. "We had four undefeated wrestlers for the day, and wrestled what was in my estimation our best match last, after two losses and a grueling day. Our strength is in our attitude and spirit, and this I like to see opening the season."

Blairsville rookie coach Jaison Blystone echoed the same sentiment about his host team, which finished 3-2 for the day. "We had a few coaches and wrestlers who have been battling the stomach virus that has been going around, but I think we wrestled very well against some really tough teams in this tournament. I think we did a good job facing adversity."

"We had some individual standouts, and our heavyweight (Kyle Marlett) seemed to catch everyone's attention," Blystone added. "We have been working really hard with him, and he showed that he has come a long way.

"We are also a young team, give up three forfeits, and have a kid who weighs 171 and wrestles 189. Taking all that into consideration, I think we are doing all right for ourselves."

Marion Center (1-4) and Yough (0-5) struggled in the tournament but showed glimmers in the light to middleweights. Yet those weights were thick with talent on Saturday.

"This was my first tournament as a coach and the first tournament that I have ever hosted," said Blystone, "but I am proud that everything ran like clockwork, which the boosters should get all the credit for.

"Most liked the dual meet format. In fact, more and more (tournaments) are going to this because every wrestler gets a lot of wrestling in, and you know that your champions truly earn it."

Blairsville and United get back to the mat Tuesday. Blairsville travels to Northern Cambria for an 8 p.m. meet while United hosts Ligonier Valley at 7 p.m.

Indiana wrestles at Penn Trafford Wednesday at 7 p.m. after losing against Plum 45-36 Wednesday. In that meet, Brandon Maharaj posted a 27-second fall at 130 pounds.

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