Undersized Anton Vazhinskiy holds his own against the heavyweights

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NORTHBROOK — For many wrestlers, gaining just one or two pounds can mean not making weight. For Glenbrook North senior Anton Vazhinskiy, that isn’t a worry.

Weighing in at 218 pounds before Friday’s dual, Vazhinskiy would have been able to wrestle at 220 pounds. Instead, he’s been wrestling up at the 285-pound weight class for much of the season. While he gives up a lot of size in most matches, he uses his other strengths to his advantage.

“For the other weight classes it’s usually tougher [moving up] because the bigger athletes will have more muscle mass,” Vazhinskiy said. “But these guys have worse conditioning, and I have confidence in my own conditioning.”

His superior conditioning was on display against Highland Park, as Vazhinskiy won the final match of the meet 2-1. He was able to wear down his opponent even though he was giving up significant size.

“He seems to have more success at 285,” Glenbrook North coach Jason Erwinski said. “Just based on his style, and he’s very in shape and he’s strong enough to hang with the heavyweights.”

Vazhinskiy has had some success this season, but the coaching staff expects they’ve yet to see him reach his potential.

“He’s strong — we’ve just got to get him to use [his strength] a little more,” Erwinski said. “… He’s just been getting better and better.”

Vazhinskiy knows that he and his teammates all have room to improve, but that they’ve been practicing at a level that will help them get to where they want to be.

“We’re training hard — a lot harder than we were last year,” he said. “It’s not translating to the mat because some of the guys, I don’t think they have confidence in the moves we are learning in practice.

“We just need more experience,” he added. “With some more matches I think that will come for us.”

Erwinski said that his team is doing all the right things, but that the improvements haven’t been obvious to the outside observer. But Vazhinskiy and other seniors have kept the team pushing to be at its best in the most important parts of the season.

“It’s unfortunate, because people are coming to see our athletes compete, and that’s only part of the equation,” Erwinski said. “I don’t think they realize how much hard work they’ve put in and how dedicated they are. The way they practice, these guys handle their business.”

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