Photo credit Justin Hoch (jhoch.com)
On Sunday, November 27, Beat the Streets sent qualified middle school wrestlers to compete the Grapple at the Garden Youth Championships. 70 BTS kids participated in the tournament at one of the world’s greatest and most historic stadiums, Madison Square Garden. College, high school, and middle school wrestlers affiliated with BTS participated at every level.
Among the college participants who had taken part in BTS during their high school days, Lenny Merkin (currently at Princeton, alumnus of Poly Prep in Brooklyn), obtained a technical fall against his opponent from Maryland. Nate Rose, who went from Eagle Academy to wrestling at Buffalo, scored a tech fall against his opponent from George Mason. Ben Peck (Muhlenberg from Fordham Prep) went 0-2, and Justin Morel, (Wilkes from Mt. St. Michael) went 0-1.
Of the high school competitors, Steven Isaac (Farrell) stood out by securing first place after defeating a three-time New York state and Fargo national champion in sudden death overtime.
“Since the day I started wrestling, I would try to get in as many workouts as I could. I would try to train with the best partners I could find,” Isaac said while explaining his win over Jacori Teemer, who is ranked #6 nationally. Isaac began wrestling as a sophomore and had never qualified for a state tournament before, but as he says, “I’ve worked hard and dedicated my life to wrestling everyday.” He began attending BTS practices to receive valuable experience with the best kids in the city.
After a deadlocked first period, Teemer pulled ahead with a 1-0 lead going into the third period. When Teemer had the upper hand, Isaac wasn’t worried: “I knew he wasn't going to hold me down because no one can hold me down.” As the ferocious match went into double overtime, Isaac was faced with the daunting task of outlasting the three-time NYS champion for 30 seconds. The crowd and Isaac’s teammates were “electric” at the end of this thrilling match. “For the first time in my career I celebrated after a win and I finally proved to myself that all of my hard work in silence would pay off.”
To Isaac, this match was proof that hard work always pays off, and saw the win as a credit not just to him, but to city wrestling, as well. “I would like to thank my Parents, family, coaches, drill partners, and BTS for helping me achieve my goals. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
Terry Adams and Steven Roberts, both fellow student-athletes from Farrell, also secured first place wins.
Among those who took second place in their respective categories were James Ryan (Farrell), Nicholas O’Byrne (Farrell), Matt Mina (Brooklyn Tech), Zacc Romero (Brooklyn Tech), Robert Scopelletti (Farrell), Demetrius Henry (Grand Street), Serjey Thomas (Eagle Academy), and Jayson Gomez (Eagle Academy).
High school student-athletes who finished 3rd included Max Ebanks (Farrell), Anthony Ferrara (Brooklyn Tech), Vincent Ndokaj (Farrell), David Flynn (Farrell), Gabe Rios (Brooklyn Tech), and Nick Romanello (Farrell).
Of the middle school contenders, Ryan Kouider (Petrides) showed his strength in the 160 lbs weight class with a first place finish. Erick Luna (Cunningham) was the champion of the 152 lb class. Kevin Fields (Harlem Jets) was 1st in the 175 lb class.. Mitchell Barcus (Eagle Academy) took 3rd in the 105 lb class. Devone Bogie (Eagle Academy) took 4th in the 77 lb class.
With BTS wrestlers from every division, “It was an a amazing thing to see wrestling at every level coming from BTS,” said Coach Penn Gottfried.