This year's ninth annual Long Beach Wrestling Tournament, called the “Battle of the Beach” (hosted by Lynbrook High School due to Hurricane Sandy), kicked off the 2012-13 high school wrestling season for the Hewlett Bulldogs.
Coach Stephen Jones of Hewlett, entering his second year as head coach, was anxiously awaiting the start of this season. By all indications his team has the potential of not only being the strongest team Hewlett has ever placed on the mats, it has the very real potential of being one of the elite programs in all of Nassau County.
“Coming into the season I had very high expectations. I worked with many of the kids all off season and I knew how much potential we had. These boys wrestled all year round and put in the time and hard work,” Coach Jones said during the weeks leading up to the start of the season.
His team did not disappoint. Lead by senior Captain Simon Greebel and senior Lester Enriquez, both of whom took first place in their respective weight classes, Hewlett finished second behind perennial powerhouse, Wantagh High School.
Only in its sixth year as a varsity sport, the Hewlett team, now wearing brand new singlets, are no longer the pansy it has been for most of its years. It now boasts a team of 35 dedicated varsity and junior varsity wrestlers. Coach Jones, who after being hired right before the start of last season has also been able to assemble a solid group of coaches, including Asst. Coach Ryan Murphy (formerly of Lawrence High School), and two new PAL coaches, Nick Khoury and Oliver Astone (both from Long Beach), both of whom showed up to volunteer their coaching expertise to Hewlett’s wrestlers during the tournament.
While in the past Hewlett had only one coach actually coaching on the mats during tournaments when often more than one wrestler was wrestling, there were now four coaches on the mats working with the wrestlers. As Coach Jones had previously indicated the “stronger teams always have many assistant coaches, all designated to work with specific weight classes.” Through Coach Jones, hard work and dedication, the fruits of his efforts have begun to realize results.
In reflecting on Saturday's success Coach Jones stated, “I was not surprised at all about our performance. I expected us to finish top two. I believe in our team and I know what we are capable of. Many of the people at the tournament were stunned with our grit and toughness. Both coaches and referees were coming up to me all day in awe. They could not believe how far our program has come in one year. When they asked me questions about our program, I told them we have a group of boys who buy into the program and have grown to love it. We have leaders who really set the tone in the room.”
Coach Jones went on further, “Hewlett is a great place to coach because you have kids that are both tough and smart. In most cases you are stuck with one of the two, but the boys are not only tough, they are intelligent so they implement what they learn in the room and use it. They don’t make many mental mistakes like other programs.”
And Coach Jones is still clearly not satisfied as we went on to state. “Although we had a good tournament, we have a lot of things to work and improve on," he said. "I expect to get better as the season goes on.”
Joining Greebel and Enriquez in placing at the tournament were senior Captain Robert Rosenberg, who finished second on a controversially reffed match, senior Captain Aaron Weinberg, junior Matt Kaminer and freshman Owen Bachelder who all both placed third, junior Captain Oran Revivo and eighth grader Lucus Pincus who both placed fourth and senior Justin Ciraolo who placed fifth.
The Hewlett Bulldogs next match will be held on Dec. 7 and 8 at Baldwin High School in a two-day tournament that is known to be one of the toughest in Nassau County. Coach Jones has set the bar high for his team constantly challenging them so that when the Nassau County Championships come around he will have a battle tested team ready for the main event.
For those youngsters (grades 1-8) looking to experience the opportunity of becoming an elite wrestler, PAL still has room. For more info, contact Stephen Jones 516-220-3773 or Director/PO firstname.lastname@example.org.