The high school season has come to an end. For me it was very different because I was not with any school coaching for the 1st time in 19 years. Although I missed not being “in the corner” for any one team, it may have been a blessing in disguise as I was able to work more with the members of The Iron Empire. I was also able to watch several matches as a fan and talk to many people in the wrestling community about lifting, training and wrestling.
This gave me some new input and ideas as to the direction that I want the gym to take in this upcoming year, and the future. I am hard at work with several projects for this spring and summer. Upcoming articles will give information as to everything that we have planned and progress made.
In this article I would like to mention and congratulate some of the individuals, and teams that stood out to me. Before I do that, I would like to congratulate EVERY wrestler that made it through the year! It was interesting for me to note the fans of wrestling that you see year after year, most former wrestlers themselves. These fans love and respect wrestling. It is in their blood forever. Few things in life can have an impact on you like wrestling.
Although not every wrestler gets to stand on top of the podium, every one who busts their tail all year long can hold their head high and realize that they have done what so very few can. They have earned their place in the exclusive wrestling community and that will be with them for the rest of their lives.
So without further ado the first on my list of congratulations goes to Wantagh High. Not only did they break the Plainedge High school fund raising record to save their sports programs; they then went out and won the Team County and State championships!
While I am mentioning them I want to give some props to a couple of their outstanding wrestlers. Not to take anything away from some of their other guys like Joe Kavanagh (who I understand trains with some of my former Copiague wrestlers) or Matt Loew who just ran into a BUZZ SAW (Austin Meys) in the state finals. But to me John Greisheimer and Paul Liguori really finished up remarkable careers and stood out above the rest.
First Greisheimer, who won his second straight state title. He also went undefeated for the second year in a row. He compiled an 80+ win streak and I was told that he will continue his wrestling career at Edinboro University? This is a fine school with a powerful Wrestling Program that I am quite familiar with as we use to compete with them in our Regional Tournament. I know all of NYS will be looking forward to watching him in the years to come.
Now what can you say about Liguori? He has shown his mental toughness in the last two state tournaments by battling back each time to take third after a tough loss. In doing so, this year he breaks PJ. Gillespie’s (Long Beach/Hofstra) all-time Nassau County wins record. It is my understanding that he will go on to Harvard, which tells me he is also getting the job done in the classroom! I am sure we all will look forward to watching him compete, also.
Moving right along, let’s not forget our friends in Suffolk County. They seem to be on a PATH of DESTRUCTION again. Destroying everything in sight and gaining momentum. Everybody else better step up their game if they want to beat them. They led the OUTSTANDING LONG ISLAND contingency (8 state champs and how many finalists 15?) by Winning the STATE TITLE with 5 state champs!
How about John Glenn High School! I would say that many wrestling fans would not even know where John Glenn was a few years ago? I would bet that most couldn’t name a handful of wrestlers from the school up until a few years back. Their coaches and wrestlers along with anyone else involved has got it going on! They WON THE TOUGHEST COUNTY IN NYS (sec. XI) TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP. I also believe they went undefeated as a dual meet team if I am not mistaken?
On another note: Many should take a page from their book. “We don’t have the kids” and “it’s not a wrestling town” along with all the other excuses is just a bunch of BS. It has been proven over and over again, you can build great programs if you are willing to do the work.
I certainly don’t want to leave anyone out, but must point out a few more individuals. First up are these two brothers from Kings Park, Max and Mike Soria. This is one of the craziest stories I have heard in a long time. What amazes me most is that they are BOTH THAT GOOD! We can’t allow two perspective State champs to be in the SAME weight class again. So I have an idea, send one to me. I will train him, he will move up to the higher weight class of the two. Better flip a coin to see who goes. Or maybe the one who stepped aside at the states should get to go because the one who does come will be kicking the others A**!
The wrestler that Mike Soria met in the State Finals was a familiar opponent. Corey Rasheed of Longwood became the FIRST 7th grader from LI to make the State Finals. What is also interesting is his older brother Malik (9th grade) took 5th in the States at 103. This could add up to some serious future battles between these 2 sets of brothers!
Grant Green become the first Catholic School State Champ from St. Anthony’s since Lucas Magnani in 2000. Stephen Dutton pounded his way through what I believe was the toughest weight class in the state 135lbs. Back to Nassau for a moment, Nick Arujau wrapped up his second State Crown and also rides an impressive 80+ winning streak into next seasons quest for another title.
Brian Herold of MacArthur is another one who stood out to me. He is one of many who keep this now long MacArthur tradition going. Love the Generals or hate them, you must say a few things. They keep coming year after year. They wrestle hard and they know how to win.
Brian definitely upheld the tradition. He wrestled an impressive county tournament and topped it with an even better performance, in my opinion, at the states. If anyone has ever won a championship by taken second, then it is this kid in my book. He wrestled a great match in the state finals against highly regarded Zach Clemente(sec.2 Lasalle) losing 8-7.
Before I mention some of the wrestlers from my gym I have to take a second to talk about the previously mentioned WRECKING MACHINE, Austin Meys (sec.2 Shenendehowa). Has anyone dominated in such a ridiculous fashion? I mean the kid has pinned everyone in sight at the state tournament for the last two years! Maybe someone with the record books can chime in here. Has anyone done this kind of thing before?( Dan Mayo?)
Some members of the gym who have stood out this year are Dave Yagy. One of our new members and currently our youngest. He shows great work ethic and maturity. Dave wrestled to an impressive 2nd place finish in his county tournament. I look forward to working with him over the next several years.
A wrestler who attended the gym during the season and we are ALL hoping he will make a further commitment is David Ng. This kid has HUGE potential and fought his way to a 3rd place finish at heavy weight as only a sophomore!
Nick Camera had a tough loss to the eventual 171 lb champ to open the county tournament. He took the hard road back, fighting his way to 3rd place. Maybe some of the things we talk about at the gym helped him along as he battled match after match?
A former member I would like to congratulate is Mike Snow from BJFK. Mike is a a good kid, one that every coach and wrestler would want on his team. A hard worker, the kind you might see out in a snow storm shoveling driveways to make some extra money. I was happy to see him earn a spot on the podium.
Last and certainly not least is Anthony(TWISTER) Minicci . Although he fell short of his ultimate goals, he can hold his head high as he went from a DNP at 140lbs as a Jr. to the County finals at 160lbs a year later! Along the way he amassed 20+ pins winning every tournament he entered. This I feel epitomizes what one can do with a year of hard work at THE IRON EMPIRE. This is not the first time that this has happened either!
If you are willing to do the work, you can turn yourself into a fine wrestler or any other kind of athlete for that matter! We have had many success stories so far, and we have several more in the works! If you are ready, come join us. Thanks to all for a great season! To all representing NY in the Nationals BEST OF LUCK, I feel we are sending a great team, Coach Ellinger