Name: Ryan Zalar
Weight Class: 145
Zalar’s week: Zalar won the first wrestling tournament of his varsity career with a 10-7 decision over Austin Mears of Mt. Pleasant in the finals of the Section 2-AA Tournament at Charleroi High School.
Zalar opened the tournament with a 1-0 decision over Washington’s George Rogers, then knocked off top-seeded Matt Johnston of West Greene, 5-4. Zalar topped the run through the weight class with a 10-7 decision over Mears to raise his record to 18-7.
Persistence pays: Zalar has missed large chunks of the past two seasons after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, first to his right, then to his left.
“This year, it came at the Gateway Tournament (Dec. 7-8) to open the season,” said Zalar. “Last, year it was 12/12/12.”
Each time, Zalar suffered the same injury: a torn miniscus. Rehab lasted about five weeks on each occasion.
“In both years, (I returned in time for the) team sectionals, the team WPIALs, and Bedford,” said Zalar. “I was fortunate that I was about to wrestle in the Tri-County Tournament this year.”
Against Mears, Zalar took injury time in the third period, gramacing and holding his knee. It was a false alarm.
“I ride him hard in practice,” said J-M head coach Scott Rhodes. “When he came back midseason, he was not in the same shape. He had to knock off the rust. He’s been playing catch-up.”
Carmichaels’ connection: Zalar and Bill Bowlen, a freshman who won at 160 pounds, are students at Carmichaels High School and have been taking advantage of that school’s co-op agreement with J-M since junior high school.
“We all get along good,” said Zalar. “It’s a good group of guys.”
The two sometimes share rides to make the trip from Carmichaels in time for wrestling practice.
“I’d love to see Carmichaels get a program,” said Bowlen, who is 27-8 in his freshman season.
The two work out together and also benefit from such strong partners as Dustin Conti and James Miller.
“They are both good wrestlers, and we benefit from them,” Rhodes said. “We’ve always had a couple, maybe four or five, a year. It’s helped us.”
- Compiled by Joe Tuscano