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Bassett to wrestle for George Mason

Mustang sets eyes on championship

Sentinel photo by WILLIAM WHISLER
Midd-West’s Avery Bassett cruised through the blood rounds at the PIAA Class 2A Championships last season to secure the first bronze medal in school history. Bassett, who holds a career record of 116-17, will wrestle for Division I George Mason.

MIDDLEBURG — Avery Bassett’s run through the blood rounds of the PIAA Class 2A Championships in Hershey last season was nothing short of remarkable.

The 145-pounder dropped a hard-fought match to Forest Hills’ Erik Gibson in the opening round, before rallying all the way back to a bronze medal after two difficult years resulting in empty trips to the Giant Center.

Bassett’s run was a microcosm into the career of an aggressive, quick and powerful wrestler, whose determination and work ethic has led to perhaps the most successful career in Midd-West history. Bassett finished the season 43-4 and his bronze medal was the highest medal achieved in school history. Bassett was the first Mustang to earn a medal in 11 years.

With a career record of 116-17 before stepping on the mat as a senior, it’s no surprise that colleges came calling. After evaluating his options, Bassett decided to sign with George Mason to compete for the Division I Patriots.

He signed during the early signing period.

“I just feel like George Mason is really a place where I can grow a lot as a wrestler,” Bassett said. “Just the culture that they are building there and the coaches to keep guys improving the way that they are, I’m just excited to go there and keep improving as a wrestler. Academically it’s a really good school and I feel like it’s a place that I can excel in that sense too.”

Bassett started to draw some interest following his sophomore year after a 35-4 season. It was that transformation between his sophomore and junior year that Bassett credits for the success that he’s achieved since.

His faith also plays a big part in his life and a new mindset allowed him to find that next step in the transformation from a great wrestler to an elite one.

“Honestly I think that the biggest thing was that I wasn’t wrestling for myself,” Bassett said. “After my sophomore year I decided that I had to stop focusing on myself and to focus on wrestling for christ. When I started doing that it was just a big weight off of my shoulders. I was able to begin improving a lot as a wrestler and wasn’t stressing as much.

“I was just wrestling last year no matter what to give glory to God,” he continued. “It just worked out that I ended up having a good postseason run and I’m really thankful for that and it was an awesome experience. I’m ready to go out there and do the same thing this year to make a run at a state title.”

His run through the blood rounds at 145 pounds last season included victories over Bailey Gimbor (Hamburg), Joel Huck (Fort LeBoeuf), Dorian Gonzalez (Newport), Jackson Spires (General McLane), a forfeit victory over Gibson and a 3-1 victory over Nathan Higley of Sullivan County. Higley held a 1-0 lead after two before an escape by Bassett and a takedown with 28 seconds gave Bassett the bronze medal.

Bassett outscored opponents 37-7 in his dominant run.

“It was big for me to get on the podium and get through the blood rounds, because I really felt like I was there (skill-wise),” Bassett said. “After losing in the blood rounds my freshman year it really stung. Coming back in my sophomore year, I was positive that there was no way I was going to have the same results that I did my freshman year, and then I lost in the blood rounds again. I think that really motivated me to work my hardest to get on the podium this year and it just worked out.”

The state title might be the only thing that has eluded the wrestler in his career as he already has won three sectional titles, a Northeast Regional title in 2018-19 and a pair of runner-up finishes at the District 4 championships.

A championship is the one and only goal that Bassett has set for himself in his senior season.

“I definitely want to win a state title this year,” he said. “That’s my only goal.”

Bassett has put on a ton of work throughout the offseason and the senior plans to hit the mat at 160 pounds this season. Bassett said that George Mason would like to see him wrestle at 165 pounds when he steps on campus.

While he’s not sure what differences the 160-pound weight class may bring, he knows first-hand how difficult it is to win on the sport’s biggest stage.

“I’m not really sure to be honest,” Bassett said. “I’m expecting hard competition at whatever weight that I am at. I think that is just going to be the weight that’s best for me to wrestle at.”

Bassett’s favorite memories entering his senior year include time spent with his teammates as well as the success he found throughout his junior season.

“My favorite memories from high school are just the team aspect,” he said. “I think that the thing that made Midd-West more successful the last few years is that we have been close as a team throughout all four of my years here. Obviously placing at states last year was a pretty awesome memory too.”

Bassett plans to major in criminal justice at George Mason. He thanked his coaches and family for helping him become the wrestler and person that he is today.

“I want to thank the coaches at Midd-West,” Bassett said. “They all helped me a lot and have pushed me to help me get where I want to be as a wrestler. Obviously my parents and my family are the most supportive of me trying to reach my goals.”

One thing is for sure, when he can finally get out on the mat, Bassett’s determination and one-track mind will make him a tough person to beat.

“I think that I’ll be ready,” Bassett said. “I’ve been training a lot through various wrestling clubs and even through the pandemic with just trying to wrestle with a buddy if that’s what I have to do to get work in. I’ve been lifting a lot and I’m ready for it.”

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