On Sunday, March 12, Johnson City High School hosted two tournaments that Beat the Streets wrestlers, boys and girls, competed in. 13 middle school boys competed in the NYS Boy's Youth Championships and 42 middle and high school girls competed in the Girl's Folkstyle State Championships.
The NYS Boy's Youth Championships wasn't just like any other for the participating boys-- this was the State Championships and with the best youth wrestlers in the state. The BTSNY wrestlers competed well, with all 13 placing. Three youth wrestlers placed first, four placed second, four placed third, one placed fourth, and one placed fifth. More details, including names, school, and weights, can be found at the end.
Wilver Mariano-Peralta, who wrestled at 105 lbs, and Mitchell Barcus, who wrestled at 112 lbs, both ended up placing second as a result of losing hard fought finals matches in extremely tough weight classes.
Coach Penn Gottfried, BTS Training Center Coach, felt that the group competed well overall. Still, Gottfried admitted that he's never "fully satisfied," specifically citing the burn felt from the last two finals losses (Mariano-Peralta and Barcus). From experience, Gottfried knows, however, "that Wilver and Mitchell will use [the loss] to fuel themselves as they practice in the off-season and begin their High School careers next September."
Barcus, who is a 7th grader at Eagle Academy, was impressed with the overall performance of BTS kids. Barcus knows the level of effort that was necessary for regionals, and even more so for states. "I have to work harder," Barcus concluded.
Tyson Palmer, a coach at East Harlem, thought this was a "Great tournament, a great push for the kids."
On the same day, also at Johnson City High School, there were many notable factors in the Girl's Folkstyle State Championships, as well. The first notable aspect was that this group of 42 girls also wrestled the previous day (Saturday, March 11) at Mohawk Valley for a Freestyle tournament. According to Coach Jacque Davis, Head Girls Coach, this feat was impressive in and of itself, especially considering the youthful age of many of the girls.
Mohawk Valley had record numbers with roughly 110 girls entered in the event. BTSNY girls, despite being a young team with limited freestyle experience, did really well against their competitors. The competitors BTSNY wrestlers faced were some of the top girls from across the state as well as from Ontario. The youngest girls on the BTS team were the most impressive ones, according to Coach Davis. "Although they were scared, they went out with a fight that was refreshing to see," said Davis.
A second notable aspect was the number of participating middle school girls-- of the 42 BTSNY girls who participated, 13 were middle school girls. This is the largest group of younger wrestlers that BTS has ever brought to a competition this size. This is significant considering that BTS only brought one middle school girl to last year's competition. Of these 13 girls, four different programs were represented (East Harlem, Inwood Academy, M.S. 129, and Girl's Excellence).
According to Davis, this significant improvement over the course of one year is a testament to the NYC Junior League coaches truly investing in and working with their athletes. Davis views this as the coaches "stepping up and instilling in their athletes the value of training and competing in the off-season." Overall, these are all exciting developments to consider and imply a promising future for Girls wrestling in NYC.
This was the first time that coaches decided to travel up to watch their athletes, coach their athletes, and generally help on the trip. Six coaches came on the trip, with two being junior league coaches and four being high school coaches. Davis was impressed overall.
According to Davis, this was the first real attempt to have good representation for the USAW Girl's Folkstyle state championship. Davis concluded that "This was a history making, ground breaking event and I am so excited that BTS was able to be a part of it [the first Girl's Folkstyle State Championship]."
Davis was extremely proud of her young team, seeing their youth as meaning "New York City is on the rise." Davis specifically named a few stand-outs on this weekend's girls team: "Beautiful Robinson (6th grade), Keyanie Riddick (7th grade), Alessandra Elliott (6th grade), Naomi Henry (9th grade), and Joanna Jones (9th grade) truly have something special. They have a fight that I have seen only by few in the city and they are eager and excited to put in the work."
Alesandra Elliot, a 6th grader from P.S. 861, placed first in her weight. She learned from this positive experience, saying the following: "I've learned to have confidence in myself and think positively. My most memorable moment is when I took down the high school senior champion with a blast double."
Joanna Jones, a 9th grader from Wingate High School and 200 lbs folkstyle state champ, realized that loss can be learned from. "During Saturday's international tournament, I lost my first match by 9-9, my opponent scored the final point resulting in my loss," she began. "I felt nothing but anger-- not at my opponent, but at myself. After sitting with my coach I realized that I'm not always going to win," she continued. She cited this experience as helping her have a winning mindset the next day.
Davis concluded with this powerful summary: "I am not sure if the girls fully understand what they did this weekend. They not only competed in two events in two days in two different styles, which is incredibly hard for any athlete spanning any experience level, but they broke a barrier. We are still at a point where Girl's Wrestling is not sanctioned by New York state, so what these girls really did this weekend wasn't wrestle their opponent for a state title, they stepped on the mat and fought for rights that they deserve. I hope that eventually these girls will understand that the medals they won and they accolades they acquired are awesome, but what I see when I look at them is a group of warriors championing for the next generation."
NYS Boys Youth Championships
Arseni Kikiniou (Bantam 55, Elite, 1st)
Devone Bogie (Novice 80, Eagle, 3rd)
Nekkia Bland (Novice 112, Boy's Excellence, 3rd)
Capri Martin (Novice 140+, Harlem Jets, 1st)
William Tavarez (Novice 140+, Inwood, 2nd)
Mikey Adams (Schoolboy 77, Farrell, 3rd)
Adrian Artsisheuskiy (Schoolboy 98, Elite, 4th)
Wilver Mariano-Peralta (Schoolboy 105, M.S. 129, 2nd)
Mitchell Barcus (Schoolboy 112, Eagle, 2nd)
Timur Yuldashev (Schoolboy 144, Cunningham, 5th)
Erick Luna (Schoolboy 152, Cunningham, 3rd)
Alex Santana (Schoolboy 175, Eagle, 1st)
Jorge Antanacio (Schoolboy 210, East Harlem, 2nd)
Girl's Folkstyle State Championships
Alessandra Elliott (1st), 6th grade, P.S. 861/Tottenville
Beautiful Robinson (3rd), 6th grade, M.S. 129
Keyanie Riddick (1st), 7th grade, girl's excellence
Zopouled David (1st at 100), 12th grade, New Dorp High School
Pearl Fletcher (1st at 106), 12th grade, Truman High School
Chloe Cabrera (2nd at 127), 9th grade, Truman High School
Naomi Henry (1st at 132, 3rd at 138), 9th grade, Wingate High School
Hailey Cancelleri (1st at 164, 1st at 180), 11th grade, Curtis High School
Nia Crosdale (2nd at 180), 11th at Truman High School
Joanna Jones (1st at 200), 9th at Wingate High School