By Shohrukh Abdulloev ‘17
Rising up the ranks, the Midwood Wrestling Team placed 4th in the Public School Athletic League this season, its best finish in many years. This is particularly impressive as there are now over 100 NYC public high schools that have wrestling programs. Team effort and individual hard work made the magic happen. It has inspired next year’s squad to improve even more and make the championship its goal for next year.
After a 7-1 season record, the Midwood grapplers went on to the playoffs. After two consecutive victories against Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, and James Madison, they advanced to the finals. Despite losing to both Tottenville and Petrides in the last rounds of the team championships, the team was very proud and determined to go all the way next year.
Considering that many of Midwood’s top wrestlers were on the disabled list by the time of playoffs, the team did quite well. “If it wasn’t for injuries, the few matches we lost could have been wins,” stated Assistant Coach Michael Dowd. “The team put up a great competition, even with some key wrestlers missing.”
Chad Williams ’16 was an important part of the lineup that was injured. Not only did he miss the final matches, he also was unable to compete in the Individual City Championships. Placing in this tournament is every PSAL wrestler’s dream, especially for seniors. For Williams, it was his last opportunity to become a city and possibly state champion.
“It was heartbreaking because it is my last year in high school and this season I was going in as the highest seed. I had a good shot to win the City championship in my weight division,” said Williams. “I got over it by focusing on my career in college wrestling.”
Mr. Dowd believes that Williams had the best shot to place first. Mr. Dowd said, “He was simply the best at his weight class.”
Daniel Pavlov ‘18 and Abdullo Omonullaev ‘18, who were injured, had good chances of earning medals for Midwood in the Individual City Championships as well.
Omonullaev said, “I was unlucky to get injured, but it won’t stop me from becoming the best I can be. Next year, I will make sure to improve and learn more throughout the season.”
Fortunately, several Midwood wrestlers placed at the City Championships. Captain Colin Dowd ’16 was the PSAL champion at 132 lbs., going on to represent NYC at 132 in the NY State Championships two weeks later. Captain Joseph Vittoriano ’16 came in second at 120 lbs., and Cihan Mabocoglu ’16 placed third at 220 lbs. Midwood came in sixth in team points at the tournament. “Before the match, I was extremely nervous since I was the underdog,” commented Dowd. “Once I took him down, I knew I could win.”
While they did not place at the City Championships, captains Amirbek Ahtamov ’16 and Nicholas Pavlov ’16 must be given credit for helping the team advance to the playoffs. Along with the other captains, their leadership and dedication turned a potentially disastrous situation (due to injuries) into a winning season.
This season was also Head Coach George Hero’s final year leading the Midwood grapplers. As the founder of the wrestling program and coach for 33 years, he will be remembered for his tireless efforts in fighting to create the team and then transforming it into one of the top PSAL wrestling squads in NYC.
“It is with great sadness that I am retiring as the Head Coach,” Mr. Hero stated. “It has been a privilege to train and guide these young men over the years, but it is time to move on. I will always be a part of Midwood Wrestling and follow their future successes enthusiastically”.
The team’s seniors will be heading to college, and leaving their places vacant for the younger members to step in. It is expected that the success of the 2015-16 season will motivate the squad to go even further next year. “Our goal for next season is the team championship and more individual city champions, commented Orts Lamroe ’17. “We can only go forward after the inspiring example of this year’s seniors”.