From Friday, July 14 to Saturday, July 22, BTSNY sent 34 qualifying boys and girls to compete at the National Championships at the FargoDome in Fargo, ND. The qualifying youth wrestlers, all of whom are listed here, range from rising sophomores to recent high school graduates. They wrestled at the Cadet and Junior age levels of Freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions, with the girls competing in duals, as well. Additional boys and girls from all over the state joined our NYC wrestlers to make up Team New York. 

The first standout performer was David Berkovich, a rising junior at Poly Prep, who completed a strong 6-2 performance in Cadet Freestyle. Though he lost his opening bout of the tournament, he went on to win six straight matches and advanced to the All-American round, commonly known as the blood round. Of his 2017 Fargo experience, Berkovich stated that "It was a great experience-- I didn't place like I planned to but I still have more work to do for next year."  Berkovich was also grateful to Beat the Streets for "giving some of the best wrestlers in the city the opportunity to wrestle at the best tournament in America." 

A relatively new name on the national scene made waves during Junior Greco: Terrance ParksParks, a rising sophomore from Mott Haven, had an extremely impressive winning streak, losing only once to a youth wrestler from Minnesota. This one loss knocked Parks to the consolation rounds, but he was unstoppable after that. Among his wins included a victory over 2017 NYS DII State Champion, Noah Grover, which helped him reach the 3rd-place match at the 2017 USAW Junior Greco-Roman National Tournament. At this point Parks had a 6-1 record through two days of competition, and he was slated to face the only opponent who beat him through the whole tournament. In this fight for the bronze, the Mott Haven wrestler did in fact manage to avenge his only loss, claiming third place with 9-3 decision to close out the week. 

"Coming to this tournament, I knew that I was going to have to wrestle my hardest every match. If I did, I knew I could place high or win it. Avenging that quarterfinal loss and taking 3rd really validated those thoughts. I'd like to thank Coach Nick from the NYAC and BTS for their continued support to make all of this possible," said Parks.

Though some had managed impressive performances, Coach Penn Gottfried, BTSNY Junior League Director, was not satisfied. "Frankly, I don't think that we wrestled up to our potential," said Gottfried. He elaborated that while the results were unexpected, he did not view 2017 Fargo as a setback. He asks that each youth wrestler view Fargo as an opportunity for growth.  

"I am a firm believer that when you don't achieve what you want, you can either fold or find a way to fix it. I think each one of our kids is strong enough to find a way to learn from this and use it to fuel them for the Folkstyle Season and then Fargo next year." Gottfried also added that "it was great to see our kids immerse themselves in wrestling outside of NYC." 

Among the girls, they began to shine during Junior Women's Freestyle. The four All Americans were Hailey Cancelleri (rising senior; Curtis), Khadeja Ayers (graduated; Harry S. Truman), Nia Crosdale (rising senior; Truman) and Shalee Williams (rising senior, Curtis). Cancelleri, Ayers, and Williams all placed fourth on the podium, while Crossdale placed seventh. 

In 2016, Cancelleri was a double All-American who won her Cadet bracket before finishing 4th in the Junior tournament. As of her impressive performance this year, she is now a three-time Fargo All-American.  

Ayers proved her All-American status when she beat her quarterfinal opponent, 3-0. Ayers (225) represented the first ever 225-pound weight class for girls. Especially impressive of Ayers was how, besides receiving an outstanding 4th place in the individual tournament, she entered the dual meet tournament and beat people she had previously lost to. Coach Jacque Davis, Head Girls Coach, described Ayers' performance as "incredible." 

Though Crosdale, a two-time All-American, lost to her quarterfinal opponent, a 2017 Cadet National Champion, she quickly rebounded with her following opponents.  

Williams also advanced to the quarterfinal round, but was defeated in the championship round of eight. Following this, she managed to secure All-American honors behind a 12-2 TF over an Illinois opponent. 

Of special note, Cancelleri and Crossdale were named in the first national ranking for high school girls done by The National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestlingCancelleri was ranked #2 at 164 and Crosdale was ranked #8 at 180. 

Soon after Junior Womens ended, Team New York girls were immediately back on the mats for Junior Freestyle National Duals. They had impressive victories against a VA/TX combo team (51-17) and advanced to the quarterfinals by beating the Texas Blue team (53-14)Cancelleri and Ayers were key in their team's victories, with their individual performances helping advance Team NY to the championship round of eight.  

By the end of the tournament, Team NY girls posted a 5-2 record over the course of Junior Duals to finish 5th at the 2017 USAW Junior Duals. Quarterfinal and consolation semifinal losses to Illinois and Texas cemented this placement. 

Coach Davis was very impressed with her group. "Behaviorally, they were remarkable, attitude wise they were impressive, and in terms of camaraderie, we have never seen a team bond and become a family quite like this one," said Davis. While Davis said that she may have wanted to see more girls in the finals, she would never trade the "family unity" this team achieved. She also noted that the girls did everything right nutritionally, displayed intense focus, and used powerful body language throughout the tournament.  

Davis also explained that the theme throughout Fargo for Team New York was to feel grateful for the opportunities they had, even if those opportunities didn't always go as planned. 

Four of the coaches on this trip were BTSNY alumni: Destane Garrick, Barry Hart, Tanyka Massiah, and Andy Martinez. Martinez, along with Ted Cook who was also on the trip, are the coaches of the Truman High School Mustangs.  

Congratulations to all BTSNY student-athletes on their impressive performances. We can't wait to see you improve even further next year.

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