Enzo Yamasaki caps off impressive season with fifth place finish at states

Senior Enzo Yamasaki celebrates his victory over Jacob Speed from Crofton High  School in the fifth place match. He won four of his last five matches after losing in the opening round, finishing his season off strongly.

Photo courtesy of Enzo Yamasaki

Senior Enzo Yamasaki celebrates his victory over Jacob Speed from Crofton High School in the fifth place match. He won four of his last five matches after losing in the opening round, finishing his season off strongly.

When season schedules are released, every team or athlete highlights a couple matchups or tournaments that are most important to them. These particular competitions are mainly filled with rivalry games, chances for teams’ to avenge a loss from the previous season or just a competitive tournament filled with good schools. A common competition that every team sets their sights on is the highly touted states competition, a chance for them to showcase all their hard work throughout the season.

Thursday, Mar. 2 through Saturday, Mar. 4 saw four WJ athletes take on the best wrestlers in the state. The MPSSAA Girls State Championship and the 3A-4A Coed State Championship occurred at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Despite an up and down season for the wrestling team, states was a chance to get a clean slate and end the season strong.

“We had a successful season, 7-7 and a narrow loss in the Region duals quarterfinals. We have a pipeline of youth on our team that is eager to work hard in the offseason. I expect our program to continue to improve. I had high hopes and goals for this season, and while we didn’t accomplish them all, I’m proud of the season we put together. We have a solid foundation to grow on,” coach Brian Frantz said.

Seniors Camille Kindrell Cobb, Hannah Sollo Bissombi and sophomore Madeline Barnett competed and did well at states. However, the most notable performance came from senior Enzo Yamasaki. Yamasaki lost his first round matchup, but fought all the way back to earn fifth place, winning four of his last five matches.

“One of the hardest things to do in wrestling is to lose in the first round of a wrestling tournament and battle back for placements. And that’s exactly what Enzo did. It’s tough to go into the state tournament expecting to be in the finals, and then right away you’re in the consolations. But Enzo is a seasoned competitor. He didn’t let that get into his head and he started crushing kids in the consolations. Three straight pins, including one over a guy he had lost to earlier in the season and then a pin in his placement match. I’m very proud of him. When he won his consolation quarterfinal match, which guaranteed him top six, I was elated for him, he earned that,” Frantz said.

Despite a surge in pressure coming from competing against top-tier wrestlers, Yamasaki was prepared for states and didn’t let the moment get to him.

“I’ve competed multiple times in Jiu-Jitsu stages perhaps bigger than the state wrestling tournament for all my life. So I’ve seen all of that before and over the years I have learned to tune everything out and just focus on myself and on my performance,” Yamasaki said.

For Yamasaki, states was a perfect end to his high school wrestling career.

It felt surreal, I never imagined myself competing at the big stage of wrestling let alone ending up on the podium with only two years experience.

— Yamasaki

As the wrestlers begin to think about next season, there is a lot of optimism amongst the team. Despite graduating 17 seniors, the wrestling team has plenty of juniors willing to fill in and operate in the next man up mindset, something they have used throughout the season.

“I plan to be a role model and leader to the younger guys and new wrestlers. I want to show the beauty of the sport and that it builds character and makes you a better person. I know I will have to step up and grow up and lead these guys into battle and show what you can do,” junior Zachary Morales said.

The offseason is a key component to help athletes improve and the wrestling team intends to utilize it to the fullest.

“As an individual I’m definitely gonna be training to get better for the next year. What we need overall as a team is for a lot of people to make that decision, and put in the work now for next season. I’m working with a lot of the heavier weight classes so that next year the varsity spot is very competitive, and that the people who win it are easily capable of winning their matches,” junior Sawyer Chism said.