Photos by Gina Giordano
By Mitch Silver
To misquote T.S. Eliot: “This is the way the year ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.” That whimper you hear is coming from the fans of Coach Matt Beatty’s Rye High wrestling team, which was shut out last weekend at the Division 2 Sectional Championships held at Edgemont High School.
It wasn’t that Rye lacked a wrestler who qualified for Sectionals. The Garnets actually had two: junior Blake McGowan and senior Miles Giordano. But sadly, neither wrestler was able to assume his position on the mat when the time came.
Coach Beatty had high praise for McGowan and Giordano both of whom he said worked hard to advance through the qualifying tournament. “Blake came on at the end of the season and showed how tough he can be. Miles, one of our captains, committed himself all season. We were all looking forward to Sectionals to see what type of impact they could have.”
Beatty continued, “Blake had been scheduled to take the ACT college admissions test on Saturday and could not get the date switched, causing him to miss the tournament. Miles unfortunately developed a high fever Thursday night and it just wouldn’t break. We waited until late Friday night to make the decision with his folks. With his fever still over 101, I notified the tournament director that Miles wouldn’t be there. Miles, who is a young man of great character and has been a leader for us, was devastated.”
McGowan won his way into the 126 pounds semifinals at the Sectional qualifier February 4 at North Rockland High School, losing to Arlington’s Firas Zoha on a pin and finishing fourth, the final qualifying spot. Girodano, who’ll wrestle for Northeastern next year, did even better, wrestling into the final at 220 pounds before falling to Josh Jean-Baptiste of East Ramapo, the overall Section 1 finalist, on a 6-2 decision.
Though disappointed with the way the season ended, Coach Beatty took some solace in his squad’s efforts. “We won three dual meets, but we struggled with numbers again this year. It’s hard to win a dual meet as a team when we are giving up so many forfeits. We did what we could to fill as many weight classes as possible, but we really had to focus on individual improvements.”
The coach continued, “Miles led the way with an overall record of 20-9. Not only did he come through in almost every match, he also inspired the rest of his team to work as hard as he did. This was a tough task as many of the members of the team did not have much wrestling experience, which makes it hard to keep going when you are getting beat. He would just not allow them to quit by getting them to focus on the things they were doing well and selling to them that how important each of them was to the overall team.
Asked to name the highlight of the season, Coach Beatty replied, “Maybe Miles winning against the athlete from Mount Vernon who beat him the week before. It took everything he had, and it was great to see him battle and come through with the win.”
Another wrestler who made his mark this year was junior Chase Bekkerus, said Beatty. “Chase had several big wins during the season and finished with an 18-9 record, though he was unable to participate in the post-season due to injury. I’m looking forward to his growth, too, next year.”