On Sunday, March 11, 44 Junior League wrestlers headed to Johnson City Middle School for the 2018 USAW Youth State Championships.
Titles were won by the following Junior League wrestlers: Arseni Kikiniou (Intermediate 63), Amir Avazov (Novice 86), Oleg Daniloff (Novice 160), Joseph Dezago (Schoolboy 71), Cameron Mayfield (Schoolboy 83), Mikey Adams (Schoolboy 90), Isaias Torres (Schoolboy 114), Mitchell Barcus (Schoolboy 125), Jerimiah Jackson (Schoolboy 130), Carlos Guzman (Schoolboy 136), Capri Martin (Schoolboy 187), Alex Semenenko (Schoolboy 250), Nathaly Pichardo (Schoolgirl 119), Sujedy Matos (Schoolgirl 185).
"I think the theme of this weekend was heart," said Coach Penn Gottfried, Junior League Director. Gottfried saw every kid fight hard in their matches. "This is epitomized in the finals matches for Mitchell Barcus and Carlos Guzman-- both were down in their finals match and came back to win the title," said Gottfried.
Mitchell Barcus, an 8th grader at Eagle Academy who won the championship title at Schoolboy 125, had a lot of fun this weekend. "I got to accomplish a lot today by earning a state title," said Barcus.
Coach Brian Garcia of Upper Ten Eyck feels that the BTS kids made a statement—the large group of kids who competed came back with "a lot of hardware." Garcia was very proud of the way his kids and the other BTS kids wrestled. "They wrestled hard, they wrestled smart and they showed a ton of heart-- the future looks bright for NYC Wrestling," said Garcia.
"I think it's safe to say that NYC is here and isn't going anywhere for a while," said Gottfried. Seeing over 40 BTSNY Junior League wrestlers compete in the tournament this year, whereas less than 20 competed last year, "is a testament to the culture that is building from the bottom up." Gottfried is excited to see these kids progress into high school and continue to succeed.
Gottfried concluded with a thank you: "I want to give a huge shout out and thank you to all of the coaches and the parents; this success is because of your hard work, your long weekends and your dedication to these kids-- thank you."
This weekend wasn’t just about the great performances, however. On the Saturday evening prior to the tournament, BTSNY Junior League wrestlers were fortunate enough to have a pre weigh-in practice at the Cornell University Wrestling room. McZiggy Richards, BTS alum and current Cornell Wrestler, as well as Adam Santoro, current Cornell Wrestler, put the kids through a workout. “This was awesome because it gave the kids a real life feel of where they could be in their future,” said Gottfried. It also added some extra excitement and prestige to the weekend.
This weekend was also a great opportunity for the Junior League wrestlers to experience some independence, from being allowed to find and buy their own food at a grocery store for the next day and being able to sleep in a hotel for the night. The middle school student-athletes were allowed a more grown-up experience outside of NYC. In each of these relatively small situations, the kids always worked together, reinforcing that they are a part of the Beat the Streets team.
Some of the Junior League girls also used this weekend as a learning experience to further think about their mindsets. Nathaly Pichardo, an 8th grader at Inwood Academy who was the champion of her bracket said the following: "I had to work and wrestle three hard matches and I was very nervous every time I was about to wrestle, but I overcame everything and focused on what I was going to do and how I was going to wrestle--I stopped focusing on my opponent and started focusing on myself and being the wrestler who wanted it more."
Nahomi Davila, 6th grade, Inwood Academy, also focused on her mindset: “When I first started wrestling, I didn’t really get it, and in matches I just did whatever came into my mind without listening to my coach. This sport boosted my confidence up. I always thought that I could do it-- even if I failed the first time, I told myself that I’m going to get it the second time. This is my second year in wrestling and I’ve improved so much since last year."
Ciara D'Isla, a 7th grader at Inwood Academy who placed 3rd, learned that she would like to improve. "I felt like I did great and tried new things, but I felt like I could have tried harder," said D'Isla.
Results can be found here.
Congrats to all the Junior League wrestlers on their performances at this tournament! We can’t wait to see how your careers progress.