The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

February 2, 2013

Harold Raker's high school wrestling column: Losses not always bad

His initial reaction was to begin laughing. Then he told his friend, and they both laughed.

It's not the usual reaction one might see if one were to attend the weigh-in for a dual meet.

But Southern Columbia freshman Blake Marks couldn't help himself. His undermanned Tigers were visiting Columbia County's other Tigers, the ones from Benton, in a preliminary round of the District 4 Class AA Duals.

Weighing in at 145.1 pounds was world champion, former state champion and former PIAA bronze medalist Zain Retherford.

What that meant was that Benton's senior 138-pounder would be able to wrestle at 152 that night. At Marks' weight.

"I knew they were not having him weigh in over to get a forfeit. I knew they were going to bump him up to go against me," Marks said.

After weigh-ins, Marks went to see his dad, head coach and former two-time Southern state champion Jerry. "I said to him 'did you see that Retherford weighed in over' and he said, 'You better get ready, you have nothing to lose.'"

That meant that twice in eight days, Southern's star freshman was taking on a former state medalist. Those same Benton Tigers, in a regular-season meet, sent senior and three-time state medalist Colt Cotton out against Marks.

Before that, Marks had an unbeaten record. He lost 7-6 to Cotton, and battled Retherford before losing 8-4.

Those two losses on his record are not important to this second-generation grappler.

"I think it's going to project into the post-season. I will face tough kid after tough kid and hopefully it will get me prepared to wrestle good kids," the younger Marks said. "One after another."

What should also help him is, because at 152, he will meet a lot of upperclassmen, many of them stronger than him.

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