Picture to yourself a couple of first-graders smiling for their class pictures.
By Mitch Silver
Picture to yourself a couple of first-graders smiling for their class pictures. Each is missing his front teeth and several others as well, though in different places. Now translate those gaps, if you can, to the lineup cards filled out by Rye Country Day wrestling coach Rich Knazik and Rye High coach Matt Beatty and you start to understand why there were so many forfeits when the two teams met at the Grandview Avenue gym January 23.
Actually, “filled out” doesn’t begin to describe the lineups, not when the Wildcats were forced to forfeit matches at 115, 154, 162, 172, and 184 pounds. And the Garnets had no one to answer the bell at 128, 154, 172, 197, and 222 pounds. A combination of small squads, key injuries, and, well, gamesmanship led actual wrestling in only six weights on the day.
Coach Knazik explained. “By the middle of the season you have kids with minor injuries, and we don’t want them to become major ones. So we sit them out. Coach Beatty has the same problem. Then, knowing we have some empty weight slots anyway, we occasionally will move a wrestler out of his usual weight to avoid their best wrestler.”
That explained why the Garnets’ standout, Jackson Kligerman — who’s ranked fourth in Section 1 at 172 pounds — could only stroll out to the mat when his name was called and allow the ref to raise his hand. Moments later the same thing happened to Wildcats’ star Hans Böhning at 222.
In the matches that were contested, Rye’s Blake McGowan decisioned Jay Waddell 6-0 at the opening weight. After Philip Smith won by walkover at 115, Arthur Nagashima got the Wildcats on the board when he pinned Jason Rosenfield at a minute of the first period. A Rye High forfeit and then Sean Chan’s pin of Rye’s Franklin Goldzser at 132 had the home team up overall, 18-9. But Paul Devlin and Lorenzo Roman returned the favor with pins at 138 and 145 to send the Garnets up, 21-18. The next six weights were all either single or double forfeits, leaving the team score at 33-30 in favor of Rye High going into the last, super-heavyweight match.
Or rather, one of the wrestlers at that 285 slot was a superheavyweight: Country Day’s Sean Price looked to have at least 40 pounds on his opponent, Luke Calderone. Coach Beatty said afterwards, “I told Luke he would have to wrestle up and he was game to try.” In his previous meet, a 57-24 loss to Harrison, Calderone had won by forfeit. This time he was up against a live and all-but-immoveable object and, after a valiant effort, was pinned six seconds before the second period ended.
In the end, the Wildcats won three matches by pins while Rye had two pins and a decision, so the final 36-30 score was probably a fair one.
After a couple of early-season losses, Rye Country Day is now 3-2 and will take on Hopkins at home February 6. Meanwhile, the Garnets will hit the road this weekend for the Section 1 tournament.