02/09/04 — Sasser determined to reach state meet

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Sasser determined to reach state meet

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 9, 2004 2:00 PM

Despite a season–ending injury his junior year and a midseason medical mishap this winter, Eastern Wayne senior Tyler Sasser has turned those discouraging situations into positive energy on the wrestling mat.

Sasser dislocated his right knee in last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3–A Eastern Regional at Manteo. He spent the summer rehabilitating the injury and didn’t put too much weight on it, so it would have an opportunity to properly heal.

“That was hard,” Sasser said. “I was glad I didn’t tear anything.”

Midway through this season, Sasser contracted a communicable skin disease on his leg. The Eastern Wayne coaching staff told him to use a little Clorox on a Band–aid and place it on the infected area.

The dressing was a little bigger than it should have been and Sasser left the bandages on overnight. The bleach caused a third–degree chemical burn which sidelined Sasser for two weeks.

“It was pretty bothersome,” Sasser said. “It hurt constantly and two or three times a day I had to clean and re–wrap it. I had to watch practice.

“I was ready to get back in there as quick as I could.”

Sasser admitted his conditioning level dropped, but has improved since the two–week absence. He attributes his ability to bounce back from taking a weight–lifting class in the fall semester.

He’s much stronger in the upper body.

“I’ve always been naturally strong,” Sasser said. “But this year, it’s helped me out with my wrestling a lot. I can hold the people better when I do a move and my strength helps me to explode.”

Sasser, undoubtedly, has been a roll since returning to the Warrior lineup. He became just the third Eastern Wayne wrestler to claim an individual title in the Class 3–A Eastern Carolina Conference’s three–year history. Sasser also picked up individual championships in the Turkey Invitational at Hunt and the Eagle Invitational at Rosewood.

Sasser carries a 22–0 record into this weekend’s N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3–A Eastern Regional at White Oak. He should be the No. 1 seed at 160 pounds.

However, Sasser admits his record is a little deceiving. He’s battled against some good competition, but hasn’t seen the consistent quality wrestlers that other teams have in the conference.

“I have been doing all right,” Sasser said. “(But) I don’t think I’m as good as everyone says I am. I just haven’t wrestled the caliber of guys in my opinion, but I’ve wrestled some good guys.”

The Eastern Wayne coaching staff has been putting Sasser and his teammates through rigorous practices this week. Most of Sasser’s work has involving attacking from the neutral (standing) position.

“That’s my weak spot,” Sasser said. “I don’t shoot. I’ve never been a shooter and I’m not the quickest person on my feet. I wait for them to shoot and counter.

“Most of these coaches know that I don’t shoot. If I can get better on that, I can surprise some people.”

And if Sasser puts an opponent on his back, the only thing both should hear is a whistle signifying a pinfall. If that’s the case, Sasser is well on his way to accomplishing yet another one of his senior goals — make a trip to the state finals in Winston–Salem on Feb. 20–21.

Note: This is the first in a week–long series profiling some of the area’s top wrestlers as they prepare for the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern individual regional championships. Tuesday’s feature is on Rosewood senior captain Aaron Lynch.