Judge Wheat gets his face smashed into the mat on a regular basis. On Wednesday night, he said his opponent suplexed him.
Given his tiny stature in a full-contact sport, it’s treatment he has come to expect and even enjoys on some level.
“I like pain,” Wheat said. When asked why, he responded, “I don’t know. It’s just fun.”
Wheat is a freshman wrestler at Linganore High School who could make several trips through the buffet line and still be able to wrestle in the lightest varsity weight class (106 pounds) for the Lancers. On Friday evening, he checked in at 78 pounds.
Ideally, Wheat would be wrestling on the junior-varsity level at Linganore, which would allow him to wrestle opponents closer to his own size and grow and develop at a normal rate.
But the Linganore wrestling team has been dealing with some weight issues. The most qualified wrestler it has for the 106 slot hasn’t been able to get down to the weight during the early juncture of the season.
So, the Lancers have turned to Wheat in every match so far, and he hasn’t shied away from the challenge, having been a wrestler since he was five years old, following the example set by his father, Jeff.
“He’s a great kid who fights through everything,” Linganore coach Ben Arneson said of Wheat. “I have never seen him give up.”
On Friday night, the Lancers thrust Wheat into another tough spot, and he delivered in a big way, using his full frame and every ounce he could muster to ride out Urbana’s much bigger freshman wrestler, Alex Blacklock, in the third period before nearly pinning him.
Wheat’s 15-4 major-decision victory at 106 put Linganore in front for good as the Lancers rallied from a 12-point deficit with four matches to go to earn a 40-33 victory over visiting Urbana.
Sophomore Sean Mullineaux clinched the victory by pinning Urbana’s Ben Pendleton in 14 seconds in the final bout of the evening at 112.
“That’s what it’s about,” Arneson said. “A packed gym full of people screaming and hollering from beginning to end.”
Timmy Hopkins got the rally started for Linganore with a 7-3 victory at 220, and returning county champion Scott Hummel followed with a pin at 285 for Linganore.
Then, it was Wheat’s turn, and he jumped out to earn early 4-1 lead to take control of his match.
At various points, it looked like he might not be able to maintain the eight-point advantage needed to secure the major decision and the four team points. If he didn’t, the Lancers and Hawks would have been tied going into the final bout.
But a late cradle allowed Wheat to flip Blacklock onto his back, pad his advantage and give Linganore a one-point lead going into the final match.
“That was a huge win for us,” Arneson said.
Having wrestled at such a young age, Wheat is often far more experienced that a lot of the wrestlers that populate the lighter weight classes. So, he tries his best to maximize that advantage.
“It can be pretty tough,” he said of wrestling on the varsity level as an undersized freshman. “I usually getting outweighed and outmuscled and everything else.”
His experience gave Linganore just the lift it needed against Urbana.
The Hawks raced out to a 21-6 lead through the first five bouts, courtesy of pins by senior Austin Rohn, junior Colin Acton and freshman Cole Kuhar.
“We have a lot of respect for Arneson, a lot of respect for Linganore,” Urbana coach Justin Krop said. “We had an electric atmosphere tonight, and there was a lot of energy. So, tonight was good for Frederick County wrestling. We came up a little short.”
Sophomore Hayden Parkhurst pulled Linganore even at 21 with a wild 16-12 victory over Urbana sophomore Anson Gentry at 170. The demanding bout prompted Parkhurt to vomit all over the mat, which caused a delay of several minutes so it could be cleaned up.
“At least he didn’t get it on my chair,” Arneson joked.
Linganore 40, Urbana 33
120—G. Dickenson (L) pinned Gill, 1:54; 126—Rohn (U) pinned Witmer, :51; 132—Acton (U) pinned Lawn, :45; 138—Steinheimer (U) dec. Sheehy, 3-0; 145—Kuhar (U) pinned Little, 4:22; 152—Pittinger (L) pinned Scates, :44; 160—F. Dickenson (L) pinned Corso, 3:40; 170—Parkhurst (L) d. Gentry, 16-12; 182—Reyes (U) pinned Riley, :28; 195—Hopkins (L) dec. Thrasher, 7-3; 285—Hummel (L) pinned Karira, 3:35; 106—Wheat (L) m. dec. Blacklock, 15-4; 113—Mullineaux (L) pinned Pendleton, :14.