For Whitman Wrestler, The Pain Isn't Permanent

By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walt Whitman senior Eren Civan had said he wouldn't be upset if he lost his undefeated high school record to a better wrestler on a day when he was at his best.

But losing it to a knee injury, when he didn't have control -- that was heartbreaking.

Up 1-0 in the second period of Saturday's Mount Mat Madness tournament 160-pound final against Caravel Academy's Luke Rebertus, Civan crumpled to the mat in pain and was forced to take a loss by injury default.

Even though Civan was never pinned and didn't lose by decision, the streak ended. It was Civan's toughest test during his high school career. Rebertus, a defending Delaware state champion, had beaten Civan in middle school.

"Just the fact that it's not in your hands, especially in a sport like wrestling where everything is in your hands, when you control everything, that's what's toughest," Civan said.

An MRI exam taken on Monday showed that Civan tore his anterior cruciate ligament and partially tore his medial collateral ligament and meniscus, meaning his season is also over. He will undergo surgery in the next few weeks and will be unable to do physical activities for about four months.

Civan, who said he still plans to wrestle next season at Columbia, said he was more upset that he wouldn't be able to compete for his fourth state championship than losing his bid to become the third state wrestler to finish undefeated.

"The record was nothing," he said. "It was all about the fourth title. They're both disappointing, but there's nothing I can do about it. Sitting on it and dwelling on it isn't going to help anything."

The pain started in the first period when Rebertus bent Civan's right knee sideways against the joint. After Civan grimaced in pain, the referee stopped the move because it was potentially dangerous.

Civan took an injury timeout but felt he could still wrestle. But midway through the second period, he stepped back to put weight on the knee and it buckled. Civan's face tightened and, after another visit from the trainer, Whitman Coach Andy Wetzel stopped it.

Civan's career record stands at 135-1.

"My coach had the ultimate decision, and he said I couldn't go on," Civan said. "That was the right decision. It's a big match, and I'm very competitive. I didn't want to have to stop. I could have walked on it, but walking on it is one thing and wrestling is another thing."

Civan, who sprained his knee in the preseason but went on to finish the match, hopped on one leg to the second-place podium before heading straight to the trainer's table. Once he was on the trainer's table, the undefeated record came to mind.

"On my record, it's a loss and it's always going to be there," said Civan. "But this is just my high school career. I'm not going to worry about it because I have a lot ahead of me."

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