You cannot win them all – or so the saying goes. Nevertheless with courage and a lot of hard work you might win quite a few.
Of course, the concept of exactly what constitutes ‘hard’ work is apparently pretty relative. Is it harder than you have ever worked before (a low bar for essentially lazy folks), or is it harder than anyone works who may be opposing you?
“We try not to over exert them,” Wrestling Coach Cliff Forziat remarked the other day at the Glen Cove Big Red Challenge. “When they look a bit winded during practice, we give them a rest.” We later found out that ‘a rest’ consisted of a series of timed wind sprints.
As for the Big Red Challenge, the Highlanders defeated the Kellenberg Firebirds 53-21, the Carle Place Frogs 54-27, and the host Big Red 60-12 to put a cap on a weekend that began with a 78-6 plucking of the Valley Stream Central Eagles in their league opener. Although the majority of this year’s squad consists of freshmen and sophomores with a nucleus of tough juniors and seniors, the youngsters are filling in the holes and making critical contributions.
On Friday Herricks took 14 of the 15 weight classes against the Eagles. Dan Grandelli (sr) led off with an 8-3 decision win at 130. Carlos Rodriguez (sr-135), Tom Dunn (sr-140), Chris Farrell (sr-145), Tom Gonzalez (sr-152), Sidney Kang (sr-160), Kevin Ryersen (sr-171), Eric Kautz (sr-189), Will Dowd (jr-285), Justin Frangione (fr-96), Matt Grandelli (fr-103), Andrew Farrell (so-112), Will Rodriguez (jr-119), and Ryan Singh (sr-125) all had victories. Carlos pinned All-Conference Brian Quiroz in the first period. Singh defeated Conference Champion Arsal LaCorte by a 12-3 major decision in the finale.
The Varsity Highlanders outscored their opponents by a combined score of 66-14 in match points with eight pins, a technical fall, and a major decision among their victories. Meanwhile, Herricks’ Second-Men trounced their Eagle opponents 29-3. Mark Holuka (fr-112), Mike Vespe (so-130), Solomon Aziz (fr-215), and Bill Rynne (jr-215) all pinned their men. Joe Tadros (fr-119) won by a 15-0 technical fall.
On Saturday the lads in blue and gray left a trail of destruction at the Big Red Challenge taking 32 of the 45 varsity weight classes. “Our frosh-soph contingent came up big for us with Corey Iuculano (96), Justin Frangione (96), Matt Grandelli (103), Andrew Farrell (112), Mark Holuka (112), Danish Akhtar (125), Mike Vespe (130), Chris Woska (130), and John Temperino (140) accounting for thirteen of our wins,” Forziat noted. “Vespe, Ryersen, Kautz, [Anthony] Rosa, and Gonzalez knocked off All-Conference opponents” Freshmen Joe DeVito, John Dunn, Brandon Temperino, Solomon Aziz, and Frangione won matches on the Second-Man mats. They were joined in victory by sophomores Akhtar and John Temperino.
Gonzalez at 152 was a wrecking crew all by himself going 4-0 scoring 23 out of a possible 24 team points with three pin victories and a technical fall outscoring his opponents 27-2 in match points. “There is no one who works harder or with more intensity than Tom,” Forziat noted. He has a championship and a runner up finish in his two tournaments, and he currently leads the team with 11 wins, 62 team points, 8 pins, and 2 technical falls. His 39 career varsity pins have brought him in range of the top 15 Highlander wrestlers of all-time.
Kevin Ryersen (160) also went 4-0 over the weekend with two pins, a technical fall, and a decision. “Kevin and Tom are anchoring what is becoming a tough middle weight line up,” the coach said. “Kevin is getting to be very tough on his feet. He scored 10 takedowns to none for his opponents, and he is developing a solid offense.” Ryersen has the fastest pin on the team so far at 20 seconds.
That’s a mark that Ryan Singh has a tendency to eyeball. He picked up last year’s fast pin accolades in the playoffs. Singh is now well-entrenched on the Highlander Career Wrestling statistics chart. He is 8th in wins (94), 14th in team points (476.5), 11th in pins (43), and 2nd in major decisions (15).
Lest anyone get the notion that this is going to be easy, the coaches are quick to point out that there are plenty of high caliber opponents ahead on the schedule. “We’re very raw in many respects. We make a lot of mistakes, and many of us have very little experience yet. Winning sure beats losing, but there are many more levels of excellence ahead of us that we trying to reach.” (And working ‘hard’ to reach, we might add.)
Was it Wayne Gretzky who said, “I miss a hundred percent of the shots I don’t take.” While it is true that you cannot win them all, you cannot win any, if you do not compete. None of this year’s wrestlers are undefeated, but Highlander wrestler’s arms have already been raised in victory 173 times.