This past Saturday, the JV Wolfpack wrestlers traveled to the Avon-Old Farms School to compete in the annual JV New England Tournament. This year, Hyde sent 22 of its’ finest young athletes to test their toughness on the mats. As the head coach of the program, it is rare that I get to see the JV guys in action outside of practice, so it was a real treat to accompany the JV Coach, Charles Fraser, with this group of guys. It turned out to be an impressive day, and finished with a match that I will never forget. The day was action packed with 11 out of the 22 wrestlers winning at least one match, and all wrestlers getting at least two matches.
Some highlights of the day were David Smith ’14, who won his first two matches by decisions before facing a very tough opponent in the championship finals. Dave fought hard, but it was not enough to get the gold. He brought home a silver medal for Hyde. Yiren Jiang ’13 showed some impressive tenacity and skill, especially as a wrestler who came into the program halfway through the season. He won his first match by pin, but fell to his next two opponents. Jae Kang Lee ‘14 won his first match, lost his second, and won his third by disqualification putting him in to the consolation finals. He finished in fourth place and made Hyde proud with his grit and scrappiness. Noah Langlois ’13 proved how working hard in practice pays off. He has been a wrestler that was not naturally talented in the sport, yet his never give up attitude always wins out in practice. He came out in his first match and ended with his hand being raised after an impressive pin. Although he lost his next two matches, Noah made us all proud. Matt Wysocki ’12 had a spectacular day and was definitely wrestling his heart out. He was on fire from the start and won his first match by pin, and his second by an 8-6 decision. Although he lost the next two, he definitely deserved a medal for heart. Ben Errera ’12 won a match in the second round of the tournament by decision, and displayed how coachable he was through his change in style from his first to his second match. He worked on the areas critiqued and hit moves that were called from the sideline. Cory Ben-Hanania ’12 was one of the newest guys on the mat, but he didn’t let that stop him from winning his second match with a 9-1 decision. It was great to see how quickly he picked up the sport, as well as how proud he was of his achievement. Leonard Solovey ’13 shocked the whole team after he won his first two matches (one by pin / one by decision) and landed a spot in the championship finals. Although he only took second place, he exemplified a turn-around season considering he avoided practice as much as possible when he first came to Hyde. James Schnatterly ’12 wrestled tough and after going 2-1, he was in the consolation championship fighting for third and fourth. He tried his best, but was outmatched, losing by pin to a Hyde-Phoenix opponent. He ended the day with a fourth place medal. Quincy Falk ’12 put on a show for his mother who came to watch, and came out with a fast pin against his first opponent. Although he lost his next two matches, Quincy showed great improvement from the beginning of the season.
At the end of the tournament, all the Hyde wrestlers gathered around the center mat for a match that could only be described as “The Event”. Greg Munitz ’13, a wrestler who has come to every varsity practice, yet has not been able to compete except for one match all season due to not meeting the requirements for the 285lb class, entered the JV New England’s as a SUPER heavy weight. This was a great thing to do for the big boys on the teams, and three other opponents had registered. After two successive pins, both under two minutes, Greg was to face the largest of the four super heavyweights. His opponent from Avon had home mat advantage and roughly 30-40 pounds on our +290 man. Greg displayed focus as he prepared 30 minutes before the match, and he truly craved the gold medal. With all of his teammates and his mother at the mat side, Greg went head to head with a giant. The two bodies clashed and broke away several times for the first two minutes, with neither man scoring a point. Avon received first choice at the beginning of the second period, and the very large opponent took top. As a coach, I was nervous this would happen and hoped that Greg could hit an escape, or else the weight would eventually flatten him out. When his opponent’s weight shifted, Greg reacted perfectly and slipped out from under and put his opponent on his back. The roar of the crowd and the joy in Greg’s eyes were inspirational. He charged to the corner to hug his mom and even knocked her over due to excitement. He was crowned Champion of the Super Heavyweights!
And so, Hyde-Woodstock ended up bringing four medals home along with a lot of pride. It was a great way for the season to end, and as we look to the break and spring sports to come, I hope these young men bring the toughness, grit, and never quit attitude into all aspects of the Hyde community. This has been the best season I have coached so far, and it was all thanks to the dedication of the wrestlers. Here’s to next year, a whole new season. Thanks for all your support.