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Better-behaved Cobra emerges as contender

Wrestling saved Lance Barabas.

Once a troubled student, the Hudson student now is surging with an 11-3 record and conference championship at 125 pounds in his junior season.

And his future looks only better.

With a 3.75 grade point average, Barabas is starting to look at colleges. But he was almost not allowed to participate in the sport he loves.

"I was just a hyper kid, always getting into mischief in school," Barabas said. "I thought to myself that if I keep going down this path, I won't be able to wrestle or do half the things I want to do. So I just had to straighten up."

While in ninth grade, the school threatened to transfer him and he would not be allowed to wrestle, no matter where he went, because of his behavior. So he straightened up and devoted much of his life to a sport he and his two older brothers have dedicated much of their lives.

He caught the wrestling bug when he was in sixth grade and saw Hudson win a state championship.

"It was awesome," he said. "I would tell myself that I want to be like them and be a state champ just like they were."

As a middle school student, Barabas assisted the Cobras as a manager and learned from his brother, Landon, and the rest of the team.

And after two years of honing his skills in high school, he's starting to break through.

"He's started to blossom this year," coach Dana Bentley said. "He spent a long time in the offseason last year going to summer camp, going to matches, which usually helps a lot. He's taken a real leadership role on the team this year.

"He's been progressively getting better through the season. We hope for him to really peak as we get closer to the end. He's a lot faster, and he moves constantly. He's taking advantage of the opportunities on the mat, and he's not waiting for them to happen."

Both of his older brothers wrestled for Hudson, and Landon is an assistant coach. Barabas gets extra practice with him, sometimes whether he likes it or not.

"If he wants to grab me and roll around with me, he just does it," Barabas said. "I sometimes try not to (practice with him), but sometimes, he'll just grab me because he's my brother and can make me do it anyway. I know it's going to make me better. When I don't want to do it, that's the best time for me. It mentally pushes me further than I have to go."

Landon weighs 160, far more than Barabas' 125. But he said if he knows he can defend himself against his brother, he could take on just about anyone.

He has learned some skills from Landon. But as he progresses, he's developing a talent all his own.

"I don't know if I watched him and took after his style, but a lot of things that we do (on the mat), you can tell we're brothers," he said. "But I have a faster single shot. He does a lot of doubles. And he's more into working out. I'm more into speed and agility."

Add that to his newfound confidence, and the potential is endless.

"I've been told since my freshman year, "You have an awesome takedown,' " Barabas said. "I never really used it because when you use it, you have to be totally committed. If you're not, it will fall through and then you're stuck.

"This year. I'm just more confident with it. I have something like 20 takedowns."

Barabas hasn't decided where to go to college but has a list of potential schools. He knows he wants to study psychology and wrestle. His ultimate dream, though, is the Olympics.

"I think he's going to do real well," Bentley said. "With his grade point average and his intelligence, I'm sure there will be a lot of schools that will be interested in him."

"I went to barely having a 2.0 to, "I haven't had a B yet this year,' " Barabas said. "And I love the sport.

"It's the only thing I do. I eat, sleep and dream it."