Elbow Injury Sidelines State Champion Julian Chlebove at Super 32

GREENSBORO, N.C. – It was a situation that Julian Chlebove had been in hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times before: The Northampton senior was working to take down an opponent with a single leg.

Only this time, something went very wrong.

Oregon’s Joey Coste was trying to prevent Chlebove from getting a second takedown in the opening period of their Super 32 match on Saturday. As Chlebove pressed for a second takedown, Coste counter with a whizzer and kicked his leg down as they headed toward the boundary. Chlebove posted with his right arm as they went to the mat, and it gruesomely bent the wrong way.

“It was just all so fast,” Chlebove said hours later, after a trip to the hospital showed a small fracture and dislocation of the elbow. “I’ve done it plenty of times. I guess it was just a freak accident. I felt it right away. It popped.”

It was immediately evident to all watching that it was a serious injury. Whitey Chlebove, Julian’s father and coach, jumped out of the corner and onto the mat – sending his cellphone flying in the process – to attend to his son.

Hours later, that was a source of amusement for the younger Chlebove – “He said, ‘Dad, did you see yourself on Flo?’ ” Whitey recalled – but at that moment, there was nothing funny about it.

Even as he lay there in agony, Julian – who won PIAA titles as a freshman and sophomore before sitting out last year as a result of off-the-mat problems – wasn’t quite ready to give up on his dream of winning a Super 32 belt.

“I said just tape it to the side of my body,” Julian recalled in a phone conversation Saturday night. “When it happened, I was thinking about that. I was like ‘Damn, this is my belt.’ This is the year I was going to win.”

He won’t be winning anything on the mat in the next few weeks – not with a splint and a sling supporting his arm – but the prognosis isn’t as bad as the Chleboves initially feared.

Whitey Chlebove said that they will get an MRI done on it when they return to Pennsylvania, but there is hope that Julian will be back to 100 percent in a few weeks.

The hardest part of the recovery might be the mental side of it, as Julian was already anxious to get back on the mat.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” he said. “Obviously, I was training hard, looking forward to coming out here and showing off my skills and trying to get the belt. It is what it is, I guess. I have to take it as it comes.”

His father was just as excited for to him get back on the mat after the long layoff.

“Amazingly, I think he benefited from it,” said Whitey, who was a two-time NCAA All-American at West Virginia. “I was having flashbacks of Sammy Sasso beating me up a little bit. I was having trouble scoring on him. He’s definitely a better version of what you’ve seen out him previously.”

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