Galileo dealing with lots of adversity 

After a 44-26 home win over Lowell on Wednesday, the Galileo wrestling team is a perfect 4-0 overall, including 3-0 in the Academic Athletic Association.

Nonetheless, for the defending city champion Lions, who are missing some of last season’s key performers under troubling circumstances, even a repeat city title may prove bittersweet.

"From last year, we’ve lost four kids from the middle of our order," Galileo coach Larry Kane said.

But Kane isn’t referring to the usual graduating seniors that have left a hole in Galileo’s roster.

Defending city champ Tarik Aldalali, 17, suffered life-threatening injuries during a June traffic accident that left him in critical condition. His injuries were severe and doctors amputated his right arm and left leg.

Another of Galileo’s top wrestlers, defending city champ Joseph Booth-Metwally, also 17, remains missing after his disappearance Dec. 14. Police, community members and classmates have made efforts to aid in the search, organizing a Web site off of www.pollyklaas.org and distributing fliers. Students at Galileo have raised $1,400 as a reward, which Kane has personally pledged to match. But so far no information as to Booth-Metwally’s possible whereabouts has surfaced.

Booth-Metwally’s brother David, also a city champion, has bowed out of competition for family reasons.

Kane was tight-lipped about the effect recent events have had on his wrestlers, but went so far as to say, "I think if we win this year, it will be in honor of Joe and Tarik."

The missing athletes have required several Lions to wrestle up in weight class, with as many as five per meet going up against heavier competition.

Judging by the performance of their lighter wrestlers, this hasn’t proven a problem.

"We have kids from a lot of weight classes trying to adjust to the holes," Kane said. "Most guys today were wrestling up."

Galileo won the first three matches on a Maggli Alburati pin and decisions by Shamson Hadwan and two-time city champ Sam Chu.

Lowell responded and took the next three matches in a row on wins by Jason Jee, Dustin Kwong and Luis Wong to tie the match 17-17.

Galileo went on to win the next three matches on pins by Keneth Dang, Haley Zhan and Yaroslav Malev. The Lions forfeited the 160-pound match, then won two more with Nicholas Piliac’s a hard-fought 6-4 victory and Alexander Denny’s convincing first-period pin of James Tse at 190 pounds.

"I had no idea how it was going to go," Kane said. "Five weights we had a beginner out there. Then when Dang got the pin and Zhan, then Malev got his pin, that was the match."

Galileo faces Lincoln on Tuesday at home and will take on O’Connell and Balboa before meeting second-place Washington for its final league match Feb. 21.

"I think the league is very balanced," Kane said. "We might have a leg up right now, but I would never look past any team. If we had a bad day, we could lose to anybody."

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