Tourney Motivates Whitman Wrestler

Whitman's Aaron Norris, bottom, wrestling Damascus' Brad Katzenberger in 2006, has come down in weight and filled the void in the Vikings' lineup.
Whitman's Aaron Norris, bottom, wrestling Damascus' Brad Katzenberger in 2006, has come down in weight and filled the void in the Vikings' lineup. (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
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By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Whitman's wrestling team would have liked to attend last weekend's Grapple at the Brook tournament, consisting of mostly Montgomery and Frederick county teams, as it did last year.

The problem was Grapple at the Brook conflicted with Mount Mat Madness in Catonsville. First-year head coach Derek Manon asked his team captains, including senior 160-pounder Aaron Norris, what the team should do.

"Because of the good competition and the improvement we saw at the end of the year, we decided to come" to Catonsville, Manon said.

"You're going to get better, win or lose," Norris added.

Whitman's return this year to perhaps Maryland's toughest regular season tournament was a reality check. The Vikings placed 36th out of 39 teams.

"It's been a rough tournament for us," Manon said. "We were expecting a lot of tough competition, and that's what we got."

Whitman had a good reason to come to last year's tournament, with then-senior Eren Civan facing off against Caravel Academy's Luke Rebertus. Civan, who came in undefeated, suffered a season-ending knee injury during the meet. As his season went, so did the Vikings.

Norris moved down in weight from 171 to fill the void left in the lineup and placed sixth at the 4A/3A Maryland state tournament. Civan was Norris's training partner, so to take his spot was admittedly a bit awkward.

"It's more the fact that [Civan] isn't here, and Whitman doesn't have anyone guaranteed at states," Norris said. "They're big shoes to fill but whenever you have a senior leave, somebody has to step up. Hopefully one day I can fill those shoes."

Norris went 2-2 at last season's Mount Mat Madness at 171 pounds. He went 3-2 this past weekend. He defeat DeMatha's Eric Cortlessa in the first round, and beat two Delaware wrestlers, Caravel Academy's Kyle James and Hodgson Vocational's Nick Mulderig, in the consolations before being ousted by Rising Sun's Danny Cox.

For Norris, it was just his third loss of the season after winning the Patriot Classic championship Jan. 5 and placing third at Mad Mats on Dec. 8.

"I got some good wins," Norris said. "Every time I'm on the mat, I want to win and make a name for myself in the county, the region and the state."


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