By Jamie Vaske-Associate Director of Sports:
After an illness prevented 2011 Independence graduate Blaize Cabell from competing at this year’s NCAA national tournament, Cabell set his sights on his next goal of becoming an Olympic qualifier. On Saturday he got one step closer to achieving that goal as he went 3-0 and won the 125 kg freestyle title at the US Senior Last Chance Qualifier inside the Uni-Dome in Cedar Falls. Cabell opened with a first round bye before picking up back-to-back 12-2 technical falls over Kevin Christman who was unattached and Benjamin Durbin of the Cyclone Wrestling Club setting up the championship match with Iowa State’s three time all-american and 2010 national champion David Zabriske who now wrestles for the Lehigh Valley Athletic Club. In the final Cabell needed just 55 seconds to put Zabriske on his back and pick up a fall to win the tournament which qualifies him for the Olympic Team Trials which will be held at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City next Saturday and Sunday. Cabell wasn’t sure if he was going to wrestle freestyle after this year but said his mind was made up after not being able to compete at nationals and a phone call from freestyle coach Tolly Thompson:
Cabell said he was nervous going into the championship match and wrestling a defending national champion:
Wrestling in Cedar Falls made Cabell feel right at home and he says he loved the support from the Panther fans along with his hometown Mustang fans:
Although he qualified at 125 kg Cabell plans on wrestling at 97 kg at the team trials which will be on Sunday as they start with the preliminaries and challenge series which is bracketed out and the winner of the bracket earns a shot in the championship series. In the championship series the winner of the bracket will have a best of three series with the top ranked wrestler in that weight class, which in the 97 kg bracket is world champion Kyle Snyder who just won the NCAA heavyweight title for Ohio State. Cabell knows the competition will be tough but he is excited for the opportunity to compete for a chance to wrestle at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro this summer:
Tune in to KMCH next Monday for the results of all of Cabell’s matches at the team trials.