Young Northwest Wrestling Gaining Valuable Experience

Northwest wrestling had a banner season last year. The Jaguars exceeded all expectations, finishing 12-2 and qualifying for the MPSSAA 3A/4A regional dual tournament. Northwest then beat previously undefeated Walter Johnson to reach the regional final, where the Jaguars lost to eventual champions Damascus.

The graduation bug has caught up to Northwest this season, though. The team only returns three varsity starters from last season. In addition, the Jaguars have three sophomores and two freshmen in their starting lineup.

Despite its youth, Northwest has more than held their own in the first half of the season. The Jaguars are 6-3, with wins over Walter Johnson, Linganore and Churchill standing out as impressive ones.

"Our youth and inexperience has definitely cost us this season," head coach Joe Vukovich said. "Our three losses have been close matches which with more experience and more of a veteran presence, we would have won."

The team has received outstanding efforts from three reliable wrestlers, who all have aspirations of excelling at both the regional and state level. Khalil Owens leads the way with 24-2 mark in the 170-pound division, while Hassan Garrison has dominated the 160-pound weight class with a 23-4 record. Aaron Adato, who competes in the 195 division, rounds out the Jaguars' top three threats with a 24-4 mark.

The three have also been a good representation of what Northwest wrestling is all about.

"We like our wrestlers to be tough, hard-nosed and always remain offensive. We want our opponents to know that they will always get a fight when they compete against Northwest," Vukovich said. "We also like to be technically sound, especially with the basics."

Looking ahead, Northwest still has a difficult slate of Montgomery County games coming up, including clashes with Damascus, Quince Orchard and Poolesville. The team's big goals this season are to continue to be a difficult opponent for the rest of Montgomery County to contend with, and to finish the season with a winning record.

Regardless of where the team ends up this season however, the future certainly looks bright for Northwest wrestling.

"It has been great for our younger wrestlers to get varsity experience this season," Vukovich said. "Hopefully it will help tremendously in future seasons."
January 27th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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