Herricks matmen alums hold reunion

Hyram Landers

We had the opportunity to renew some old friendships recently at the Highlander Wrestling Alumni Reunion held recently at the Davenport Press Restaurant in Mineola, which, by the way, is a great place with a terrific menu, reasonable prices, and fine service. Hosts Leno and Dennis are outstanding.

Assistant coach Leo Kouroupos organized this event in a couple of weeks with some guidance from head coach Cliff Forziat. Despite the relatively short notice quite a few “old guys” made their way in for an afternoon of reminiscing. Among those in attendance were Bill Bores (1976), Tim Carroll (1977), Neil Breitkopf (1978), Jim Woska (1986), Chris Hewitson (1989), Steve Cimino (1989), Kelsey McCabe (2000), Jesse Bodo (2005), Patrick Jardine (2005), Clint Bodo (2005), Eric Goldberg (2006), Maciej Jochym (2007), Jim Flaherty (2007), Frank Perillo (2008), Tim Joyce (2009), Louis Flaherty (2009), and Bill Rynne (2012). 

Additionally, and while they were unable to attend on this particular day, quite a few more of the old boys stopped in during the days preceding and following the Davenport festivities: Rob Frankfurt (1983) and his kids, Evan Waxman (1993), Kevin McCarthy (1993), Rob DeTrano, (1997), Joe Carranza (1998), Lieutenant Gianluigi Sacco USAF (2004), Joe Venezia (2007), Brandon Peyer (2007), Won Jon Jyung (2008), Vinod Singh (2010), Tom Dunn (2011), Ryan Singh (2011), and Kevin Ryersen (2011).

The current high school matmen looking resplendent in jacket and tie were well represented. Seniors Andrew Farrell, Mike Vespe, John Temperino, Corey Iuculano, and Mike Lopez, junior Chris Woska, sophomores John Vouzonis and Caitlin Stolle (manager) plus freshman Anthony Polo were introduced to the greater Highlander Wrestling community.  

There is a special quality here that has been nurtured among these fellows and ladies, a sense of mutual respect. It is a quality that has nothing really to do with the wins and losses born out of competition. In fact, there was virtually no discussion of such all afternoon. Instead, they spoke of their families, of friends and teammates that they had seen or heard from, and of those for whom they had lost track. 

These fellows completed their high school wrestling careers during which they dedicated long hours six days each week in season, working through three to five pound practice sessions just to earn the opportunity to go out on the mat to confront the daunting challenge of competing in a one-on-one physical combat confrontation in an arena filled with spectators. There is clearly a mutual respect among wrestlers that spans both generations and team affiliations. 

Athletics builds character. That is an adage that has been respected axiomatically over the ages, but there are corollaries. 

“As a coach you really cannot create good strong character or give someone self-esteem,” Forziat noted at the reunion. “By the time that a coach gets a student athlete that student athlete has already developed a sense of self from his or her relationships and interactions with family and friends.”

Athletics reveals character. 

“The best that a coach, mentor, teacher can really do is to provide challenging opportunities for people to discover the character that they do possess and to realize that they are able to persevere and to succeed in situations that they thought were over their heads,” Forziat continued. “It is our task as mentors to point these positive qualities out to them, to reinforce them, and to help them to realize the strengths inherent in good character, and to know that they are capable of meeting challenges regardless of any setbacks along the way.”

We certainly hope so because tomorrow they venture to Wantagh High School to compete in their conference championships (also known as the Qualifier). Wantagh is a squad deep in talent and ranked No. 1 in New York State. The other teams are no slouches either (Farmingdale, Garden City, Sewanhaka East and West, and Great Neck North.) 

Individuals who place high enough on Saturday will be eligible to compete in the Section VIII (County) Championships at Hofstra University.

In the mean time several Highland grapplers had success on the mats in last week’s Ground Hog Festival. 

Matthew “Lazarus” Mach (fr-106), Anthony “Canis Furiosus Minor” (fr-113), Joe DeVito (jr-120), and Jason Liarikos (jr-152) each had pin victories. Andrew Farrell (sr-120) and John “CP” Temperino each pinned both of their opponents; and Matt “Cobra” Esposito had two pin victories as well. Paul “Canis Furiosus Major” Tantillo (sr-145) had the crowd fired up scoring three pin victories including his final match against a 152 pounder who had “CF Major” on his back for quite a spell, but beware of the canis! Tantillo fought out of trouble and tossed his opponent to for his third pin of the day.

Good luck tomorrow, gentlemen.  Don’t take any prisoners.

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Hyram Landers

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