Got a lot to talk to you guys about and only a short amount of time to do it? I?m writing this as we?re on the road heading up to Albany and the State Championships!
More on that in a bit, but first I need to tell you about our Sectional tournament.
I?ll start by saying this - we?ve been very fortunate to have some very strong teams over the past 15 years. This year?s team is certainly worthy of that list, although, not in the same way you might think. On paper, this is one of our weaker teams - one returning Section Champion, smaller roster, and a lot of ?unproven? guys. I can?t tell you how many times people have told me this season: ?you guys are down this year.? I?ll tell you the truth: this isn?t one of the monster teams we?ve had over the years in terms of competitive outcomes. We didn?t have 5 Section Champions. We didn?t have 15 guys place in the Top 6. We didn?t score over 230 team points.
Here?s what did happen though: we entered 13 warriors into the Section 1 Championships. 13 warriors who couldn?t care less about what anyone else thought. 13 warriors who must not have gotten the memo that Edgemont was not supposed to be tough this year. 13 warriors who, to a man, competed with all the tenacity they had EVERY TIME they stepped on the mat.
I am so incredibly proud of the way this team competed. They feared no one. Went after everyone. And in typical Edgemont Wrestling fashion, out performed everyone?s expectations but our own!
Many teams enter 17 wrestlers in Sectionals. That?s 17 chances for them to accrue team points. We finished 5th in the Section with ONLY 13 WRESTLERS! Teams that finished ahead, and many that finished behind had more kids competing.
Here?s a few more statistics:
- 10 of our 13 wrestlers placed in the TOP 6 in the Section!
- 10 of our 13 wrestlers BEAT OR MATCHED their seeds - a tremendous indication of how well our guys wrestled. (7 of those 10 BEAT their seeds)
- Cliffton Wang won his 4th Sectional Title!
- Cliff, Andy Williams and George Mellor were named All-Section!
- Nick Meglino, Lou Russo and Surmed Khan finished in the Top 4 of their respective weight classes!
Let me tell you a little bit about our individual performances and why we?re so excited for the future!
99 - We had two freshmen here: Jack Novarro and Jordan Bench. Jack Novarro wrestled the best tournament of his life (so far!), finishing 5th in the Section as the 9th seed and showing everyone in the gym how much he improved this year. In one of our grittiest performances of the tournament Jack found himself against Julio Barco of Pleasantville in the Blood Round. For those not familiar, the Blood Round is the round in wrestlebacks where, if you win you?re guaranteed a Top 6 finish, if you lose your eliminated. These two battled and Jack got put on his back for what felt like about 15 minutes. He probably should have been pinned, but Jack just absolutely refused to stop fighting. He found a way to get back to his stomach and went on to a 10-7 decision and his first trip to the podium at Sectionals. What?s even more exciting is he?ll back for 3 more years and begins his off-season club workouts next week!
Jordan Bench is truly inspiration and a kid who gets our whole team excited when he wrestles. Jordan wrestles at 99 pounds weighing about 90. Every time he steps on the mat to compete he?s giving up at least 10 pounds to his opponent - that?s more than a 10% difference. Despite that, there are few kids on our team who consistently battle as hard as Jordan. The way he goes after guys, you?d think he was the one who was 10 pounds heavier. It?s so easy, when you?re the smallest guy, to let yourself get pushed around. Well, a lot of those ?smaller guys? could learn a thing or two watching Jordan compete. He didn?t place this time around, but we are so excited about his future in the program - you just can?t teach his level of competitiveness. As he grows into a full-size 99-pounder (or hopefully even a 106-pounder) next year it?s going to be fun seeing him improve!
106 - Kion Yaghoobzadeh is another freshmen and is really a 99-pounder, but since we could only enter two per weight, he agreed to wrestle up at 106 for the good of the team. Kion did not place this year, but what?s amazing about him is his continual focus on getting better everyday. He has less experience than any of our other freshmen who wrestled in Sectionals, but by the end of this season, you wouldn?t know it. There are few kids in our program who approach the process of making themselves a little bit better each day more enthusiastically than Kion. He works hard, focuses on improving his weaknesses and brings a positive attitude everyday. As we all know, those three elements are probably the best indicators of success we have in wrestling. I wish we could clone him! (Fortunately for us Kion, is pretty smart too, so I have him working on this!). Stay tuned to see some big improvements next year - Kion will start his off-season club workouts soon as well!
113 - Our fourth freshmen competing at Sectionals was Miles Teperman. Miles had a tough draw and didn?t place this year, but I can tell you this - he was certainly good enough to place this year and we think you?ll see him on the Sectionals podium (and the Albany podium) many times in the future. Miles is strong, tough and hard-working. What more could you ask for. He keeps GREAT position for a freshmen, gives 100% in everything you ask of him and picks things up quickly. If he puts in the time, he?ll be another big name for our program for years to come! He?ll be starting up at the club next week as well!
120 - Andy Williams finished his high school career as a Section 1 Finalist, an All-Section selection and having wrestled the best tournament of his lift! Andy is a senior who?s been a great teammate and a great leader in our program this past season. He?s a guy that?s always there for his teammates. He?s the guy who?s always cheering from matside. And he?s a guy who everyone wants to see win. Andy is another living example in our program that hard work pays off! He went from not even placing as junior to a Section 1 finalist solely by virtue of the hard work he put in year-round over the past few years. Let?s talk about his tournament: Andy was the 6th seed who ran up against #3 Cody Massa of Nanuet in the quarters. After dropping to a 2-0 deficit in the 2nd period, Andy managed to tie the match forcing overtime. In sudden victory overtime, Andy secured the winning takedown and the upset to advance to the semifinals. In the semi?s Andy wrestled #2 Dante Simeti of Pearl River. Once again, Andy found himself losing going into the 3rd period and once again he was undeterred. Andy managed a crucial escape to knot the match at 3-3 and again force overtime. And one more time in sudden victory Andy scored the winning takedown to upset the #2 seed and advance to the finals. While Andy didn?t win in the finals, he did put together an amazing tournament and a great season and career. We?ll miss him next year!
138 - We entered both senior George Mellor and sophomore Nick Meglino here. As most of you know, George and Nick are two of our toughest competitors and we were psyched to find out that they were given the #3 and #4 seeds, putting them on opposite sides of the bracket where they would not likely meet until the finals. Unfortunately due to a late scratch, they were bumped up to the 2 and 3 seeds putting them on a course to meet in the semi-finals, which is exactly what happened. George edged out Nick. Nick won his consolation semi-final match and ended up finishing 4th in the Section despite being out with the flu the whole week leading up to Sectionals. Nick is such a hard worker and committed student-athlete, there?s no doubt he?ll find his way to the top of the podium soon. Really excited to see him be a leader on this team the next two years. In fact, he?s already back at it, training at our Section 1 State Team practices to get some great workouts and help get our guys ready!
George ended up dropping a close match to Pawling?s Jack Wrobel in the finals, and finished his season and career as a four-time Sectional Placefinisher and two-time Section 1 finalist, putting him among the elite of Edgemont Wrestlers. George is a tremendous competitor, a great teammate and a character on and off the mat. He?s been such a huge part of our team the past few years and we?ll miss him next year!
145 - Senior Zeke Cohen and junior Georgie Guarnieri were our two entries at 145. Unfortunately, Georgie also fell victim to the flu in the days leading up to Sectionals and was unable to compete. Georgie made some HUGE gains this season and we were confident he?d find his way to the podium this year. Fortunately he?s got one more season to be a great leader and a great wrestler for our program. Really excited to unleash him on the section next year!
Zeke ended his season on a very high note. Zeke is the kind of kid that coaches love to have on their team: he always has a great attitude, he always works hard, and always does what?s asked of him. He ran into some really tough matches this year and found himself with a win-loss record that was not reflective of his abilities. I know at several points this season it was really hard for Zeke to keep believing in himself, but he did? and it paid off. Entering Sectionals as the 10th seed. Zeke upset #7 Trevor Hayden of Hastings with 4:37 pin. He then ran into #2 seed Hector Monroy of Ardsley who controlled the match pinning Zeke at 2:50. Finding his back against the wall in wrestle backs Zeke reeled off upset wins over #9 Zach Chapins of Westlake and #6 Jake Dominello of Croton. Dominello pinned Zeke twice earlier in the season, but not this team as Zeke was dominant in a 17-2 technical fall and win in the Blood Round to guarantee his Top 6 finish. In the 5th place bout, Zeke ran back into #2 Hector Monroy, but this time Zeke refused to lose. Giving everything he had he mustered an 8-4 win to upset the #2 seed, avenge his earlier loss and finish 5th in the Section to end his high school career!
152 - ?Air? Phil Ahn was up at 152 for us. Phil, a sophomore, is really a 138-pounder but bumped up here to help the team. It paid off as Phil found his way to a 5th place finish in his first sectional appearance - another one of our wrestlers beating their seed! And, in fact ,the only reason Phil did not place higher here, was his living up to his own nickname as he took Croton?s Nathan Parker for a ride in the consi-semi?s with a HUGE double leg takedown to Parker?s back. So huge, in fact, that Phil was called for a slam and stripped of the takedown. A questionable call, but it literally changed the outcome of the whole match. That being said, Phil wrestled a great tournament and won some huge matches for us this season. Can?t wait to see what?s in store for him the next two years!
182 - We double-entered here again with Cliff Wang and fellow-senior Mikey Schwartz. Cliff was dominant, pinning every opponent he faced, not surrendering a single point in the entire tournament and dominating Pleasantville?s Henry Cunniffe in the finals, finishing him off in 1:00 flat. Cliff was awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler award of the Sectional Tournament and will look to bring home a State Title this weekend!
Mike Schwartz finally competed in his first Sectional Tournament for Edgemont, having wrestled here in junior high, before competing for Iona Prep the last three years and returning to Edgemont for his senior year. Mike was really such a great leader and teammate this year, we?re really going to miss him. He entered the tournament as the 6th seed and finished in 5th, again beating his seed. Mike opened his tournament in the round of 16 with a dominant 46-second pin over Ardsley?s Josh Thurston. In the quarters he lost a tough one to Lucca Ardovini-Brooker from Lourdes 6-2. Mike wrestled back with a vengeance, pinning Putnam Valley?s Kyle Visoky in 36 second and blanking Irvington?s Nestor Ortiz 5-0 in the Blood Round. Mike ultimately found himself in the 5th place bout against Christian Curry of Pearl River. In typical Mike Schwartz fashion he hit Curry with a monster headlock to secure the takedown, the fall and the fifth place finish! Mike?s another kid we?re going to miss a lot next year!
285 - Lou Russo and Surmed Khan capped off their HS careers finishing 3rd and 4th in the Section respectively, each of their best finishes of their careers. Both made the semi?s before losing, lining them up to face each other in the 3rd place bout. Lou came out on top with a 5-1 decision. These guys have been staples of our program for the last four years and we?re going to have big (literally) shoes to fill next year. These guys have both grown and improved so much over the years! Really proud to see these guys end their careers on such a high note!
So, that took awhile for me to write, but I?m gonna end off here for now? I think I?m getting carpal tunnel? I?ll be back with another email later today about Cliff and States tomorrow and Saturday.
Until then, stay tuned!
Feed the Panther!