Brandon Nunez, a John Bowne Junior 99lb wrestler, led the efforts of thirty wrestlers from NYC Public Schools Athletic League in competition at the NYSPHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York this past weekend. Beat the Streets is especially proud of Nunez, who took sixth in his weight class despite sustaining an injury. Nunez, the only New York City wrestler to place in the tournament, is a regular at BTS practices at the Manhattan Training Center, clinics, and travel competitions.
The NYSPHSAA State Wrestling Championships brings together the best sixteen Division 1 (large schools) and Division 2 (small schools) wrestlers from across the state of New York to crown a New York State Champion. The PSAL wrestlers earned the right to represent New York City by winning their respective weight class at the 2016 PSAL City Championships.
Nunez got the PSAL contingent off to a great start picking up a 7-6 opening round decision over Horsehead’s Devin Woodworth. Nunez next came out on top with a 3-2 win over Niagara’s Justin McDonald to advance to the semifinals.
Petrides’ 182lb Senior Rob Welgoss, with a 3-0 decision over Bergen’s Will Thompson, was also able to walk off the mat with an opening round win. In the second round, Welgoss dropped a narrow 2-1 loss to Adirondack’s Joe Hennessey. Welgoss would pick up a win in the second consolation round to advance to Saturday’s knockout round.
Saturday Morning saw the end of Welgoss’ tournament run, while Nunez was defeated by the eventual State Champion Greg Diakomihal from Hilton in the semifinal. During his semifinal bout Nunez suffered a knee injury, forcing him to withdraw from the tournament. In reflecting on his performance Nunez thanked his coaches and said, “I felt like I did the best I could. That’s what matters.”
On the consolation side of the bracket in Division 1, Brooklyn Tech 113lb Junior Calvin Chau, Tottenville 126lb Senior Anthony Maisano, Grand Street Campus 138lb Sophomore Demitreus Henry, Wingate 145lb Senior Shamar Griffith, Cardozo 182lb Senior Simon Chee, and Tottenville Senior Heavyweight David Roman all picked up victories in the first round and In Division 2 Eagle’s Vance Cuffee, with a second period fall, survived the first consolation round before departing from the tournament
For the second year, Beat the Streets was able to send a bus from NYC for younger PSAL wrestlers to make the trip to Albany and have the opportunity to watch the Saturday night championship finals. A big thank you to Mr. Scott Emery for sponsoring this year’s bus. 120lb Freshman / Sophomore City Champion Gilbert Rosario from W.C. Bryant who made the trip up from NYC and was witnessing his first State Championship said, “It was great to see the next level of competition. It’s fun and exciting. I want to wrestle in this atmosphere next year.”
The excitement and sense of future possibility was felt by the participants as well. Cardozo Junior 182lb wrestler Simon Chee, wrestling in his first state tournament, said, “I was a little shocked by the crowd and the lights.” Chee continued, “It was a great experience. I know what I need to work on, flipping the switch, pushing the pace on my feet. I want to be a state champion. I know I’m capable, I know I can do it, I just have to work.”
Bronx Studio School Coach and Athletic Director David Kantrowitz, who wrestled in high school for New York powerhouse Monroe-Woodbury, was making his state tournament coaching debut with 120lb William Vanalst who was the first ever state qualifier for the Bulls. He gave Will the same advice he gave him two weeks before the City Championships, “Wrestle hard and leave it on the mat.” Coach Kantrowitz said, “We had a great weekend of wrestling, and although we didn’t bring home a state title this year, as a coach, hearing my wrestler ask me, ‘So we are going down to Beat The Streets on Monday to practice, right? I’m coming for gold next year,’ made the whole experience even more rewarding."