In the spacious gymnasium at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 10 teams of wrestlers competed simultaneously at the second annual B-CC Battlin’ Barons Duals.
On the first of four mats set up for the two-day event, the Barons began their tournament with a match against Tuscarora in front of a sparse crowd.
The bouts progressed, starting with the 106-pound weight class, and B-CC’s wrestlers checked in at the scorer’s table before taking the mat to compete. Up stepped a Banaszak, then a Cohen. Then another Banaszak and another Cohen.
No, the Barons weren’t recycling the same athletes — the pair of brothers at B-CC is a closely-knit driving force behind the team’s success so far this season.
No success was bigger, perhaps, than the Barons winning the tournament they hosted last weekend, which included a signature victory against Prince George’s County wrestling powerhouse DeMatha Catholic and a perfect 8-0 record. The Banaszaks and Cohens figured prominently in the impressive showing.
“Just having both brothers on the team and having their families as such a big part of our program, I think that kind of fuels the other kids and they feed off that,” said B-CC coach Nick Arnone.
Charlie Banaszak, a senior, wrestles in the 138-pound weight class while his younger brother Jack, a sophomore, recently dropped down to 120. Sean Cohen, a senior, competes at 126, while his younger brother Alec, a freshman, wrestles at 132. Both Charlie and Sean are captains on the team and Sean finished the past weekend’s duals with an 8-0 record while Charlie’s victory against Tuscarora’s Wesley Wenzlaff vaulted him into sole possession of the school’s all-time wins record at 114.
“It’s been going well,” Sean said. “It’s been really exciting to have my little brother on the team, especially since he’s right around my weight and he gets some good practice in and keeps me going.”
It would be one thing if B-CC’s familial talents weren’t key contributors to the lineup, but Arnone regularly depends on all four of the grapplers to strengthen the light-to-middle weights.
The Cohens have wrestled since they were in elementary school, while Charlie and Jack picked up the sport in seventh and eighth grade, respectively.
“I wouldn’t be doing a lot of the things I’m doing if Sean wasn’t on the team,” Alec said. “He’s helped me through a lot of different things in practice, like weight cutting. It’s great to have so many seniors on the team to help us out so that next year we can build on a solid foundation.”
Both the Banaszak and Cohen brothers recognize the value in being able to compete on the same team with one another, but their goals remain the same as the other members of the talented team.
“They’re the team-first types of guys,” Arnone said. “It’s really nice to have that support. Plus, I think Alec wants to do well because he’s got big shoes to fill with Sean and the same thing with Jack and Charlie. I think it’s nice that they have those few years of separation because it really motivates them.”
Last season, Charlie finished first at the county championships, while Jack, who captained the undefeated junior varsity soccer team playing center midfield last season, finished fourth.
“I feel like if we were able to do something like that again, it’d be awesome,” Charlie said.
In addition to being a standout wrestler, Sean is an accomplished student and plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania next year, while Charlie has committed to the University of Chicago to study economics and wrestle. Chances are, he’ll squeeze in a few more bouts against his brother before he moves.
“They wrestle every night before they go to bed,” said Julia Heller, the Banaszaks’ mother. “Jack’s room is right above our family room, so it sounds like the ceiling is going to cave in every night. And that’s a good thing.”