Every school day, a bus stops on Grace Church Street to pick up Owen Elrifi and take him to Horace Mann School in Riverdale, where he’s a senior.
By Mitch Silver
Every school day, a bus stops on Grace Church Street to pick up Owen Elrifi and take him to Horace Mann School in Riverdale, where he’s a senior. Elrifi, who attended Midland School before continuing his education out of the district, is a top student who’s thinking about going into the public health field after college.
He’s also a wrestler — a very good one. As of today, Elrifi has either decisioned or pinned his opponents 103 times in his four-year varsity career. His latest win, a 3-1 decision over Hans Boehning of Rye Country Day, came in the finals of the 197-pound weight division of the New York State Private Schools Wrestling Tournament held at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep on Valentine’s Day.
This weekend he’ll be moving up to the qualifiers for Nationals at Blair Academy in New Jersey. If he gets through there, Elrifi will wrestle at the National High School Championships at Lehigh University.
But wrestling other kids isn’t all Owen is doing this winter. He’s also looking to pin cancer to the mat. “Cole Parzick, who’s a co-captain with me on the Horace Mann team, found this Pin Cancer website: Wrestlers all over the country are going out and getting pledges of money for every pin we achieve, like the walkathons for breast cancer…only there it’s for every mile walked. All the money we raise goes to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, where they’re doing breakthrough cancer research.”
Elrifi and Parzick spread the word among the competitors at all their meets and now a host of New York and Connecticut teams, including Rye Country Day, are in on the act. “It’s a dollar a pin. I have 22 on the year so far, so each of the people pledging to Pin Cancer will contribute $22 for my efforts.”
All together, Owen and his friends have raised more than $30,000 this winter. That’s a lot of high school wrestlers who’ve been pinned. Here’s hoping he can force one more foe —a tough one — down for the count.