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On This Date (April 4, 1996): NL’s Blose defeats Russian

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from April 4, 1996).

By Jeff Moeller

TIMES NEWS Correspondent

For Keith Blose, it was another night of business as usual. This time, it just took a different twist.

The Northern Lehigh 115-pound standout recorded an impressive 8-2 victory for the Talon Wrestling Club against a team of teenage Russian amateurs in an evening of international wrestling at Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena on Thursday night.

Along with the Talon Club, Team USA downed a Russian national team in the freestyle format, 23-17.

Both clubs featured a number of likely candidates who will represent their respective countries in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

A PIAA state qualifier who finished third in the districts, Blose controlled his match from the start against Aher Aibazov, the top wrestler from the Russian state of Caucus.

Blose jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening minutes. He later upped his lead to 5-0 before the Russian wrestler tried to rally in the closing minutes. But there wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about responding. Following an international freestyle format, the entire bout was one 5-minute period.

“That was kind of tough,” said Blose. “I haven’t felt like that since districts. But it just goes to show you that you have to be in shape. You can’t afford to make mistakes.”

Even though he tangled with an unusual opponent, Blose didn’t see any differences. “It was like wrestling someone from this country,” he said. “He (Aibazov) didn’t show me anything different. You can’t think about something like that.

“In fact, these guys (Russians) are very tough wrestlers. There are no slouches out there. Everyone knew they were going to have their hands full.”

Still, it was a night for the record books. “This is a once in a lifetime chance,” said Blose. “It might have been a match in which nothing surprised me, but it was special. It was great to wrestle for my country against a team like the Russians. I’ll never forget this.”

NOTES: Team Talon lost to the Russians, 25-21 ... Mike Davis registered the only fall of the night leveling Kurmagomed Kurmagomedov at 198 with 1:10 left ... Heavyweight Bruce Bamgartner continued his surge to recapture his Olympic greatness with a 6-3 win over Andrei Shumiln. The 37-year-old Baumgartner is a two-time Olympic champion (1984, 1992).

Northern Lehigh's Keith Blose receives the pinner award after winning a district title. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO