Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  SPORTS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives

A Wrap-Up of Liberty Wrestling

By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY — March 17, 2000 -- Talking with John Lennon, an 18-year coach of the Liberty wrestling team, is a lot like conversing with a zen mat master.
Words like sacrifice, dedication and focus keep cropping up in any discussion you’re likely to have with Lennon on the subject of wrestling.
In talking about the ying and yang of grapplers, he said that the mental, physical and emotional challenges of the sport can make for a long, hard season, yet produce rewards for those kids with the guts to stick it out.
“To physically go one-on-one against somebody in front of a crowd with everybody watching puts a lot of pressure on kids,” he said. “A lot of kids today just aren’t used to that kind of pressure [because] there’s no crowd to hide behind or nobody else to point the finger at.
“It’s a very personally demanding sport,” he added. “Some kids excel, and others just can’t take the pressure.”
Disappointing Season
According to Lennon, at the beginning of the season he thought he had “a tough bunch of kids,” but as the season wore on, a lot of them lost their focus. Several injuries, matmen dropping out because they couldn’t keep their grades up, and a few drop-outs because of the sport’s demands didn’t help the Indian grapplers better their 1-10 record this year.
“It was a disappointing season, with its ups and downs,” said Lennon. “It didn’t turn out like I expected. I started out the season with what looked like a very promising team, but as the season progressed it fell apart.”
Lennon began the season with six seniors, a number which dwindled to two. And after Brian Caruso broke his arm while snow boarding, there was only one senior left on the team.
“We ended up with a team of freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “Teamwise, we didn’t fare well. But individually we had a couple of freshmen that wrestled real well for us, and we had four guys place at the National Conference of the OCL Tournament.”
What about next season?
“Along with a few returners, we have good numbers coming up from the modified program,” said Lennon.
The Liberty modified wrestling program is run by Karen Brock, while Todd Panich serves as assistant coach of the varsity squad. Lennon has his eye on several young wrestlers in the mods: Russell Jackson, Anothy Koyt, Ryan Martin and Odje Wilson.
“Wrestling isn’t for everyone,” said John Lennon. “It takes a lot of determination, a lot of guts and there’s no instant gratification. It’s not like opening up a box of Cracker Jacks and finding a prize in every box. Wrestling takes a lot of hard work, but it gives you a great balance in life. It’s a challenge to put it all together mentally and physically. It’s not going out there WWFing and being an idiot. The always changing patterns make it complicated and a real challenge.”
A Look at the Matmen
‡Danny Ratner (96 lbs. weight class, record: 3–3 OCL, 13–10 overall). The freshman competed in the 103-lbs. class at the OCL conference, finishing fourth. “Probably the most improved wrestler on the team this year… did an excellent job at the sectionals.”
‡Joe Wilson (125 lbs., 2–3 OCL, 9–16). The senior “will be sorely missed next year because of his positive attitude and dedication...wrestled real well at the conference tournament until he ran into the same guy from Monticello (Brian Ortiz) that he had trouble with all year, during a wrestle back for fourth place… his best year… did a great job for me… finally got rid of his hair after a league match.”
‡Ryan Ringi (130 lbs., 2–3 OCL, 9–3). The sophomore placed fourth in the OCL National Conference tourney. “Came back after some difficulties… wrestled real well at the conference and was supposed to go to the sectionals, but didn’t show up.”
‡George Conklin (135 lbs., 0–5 OCL, 7–16). The 10th grader took to the mat in a wrestle back for fourth place at the conference tourney but came up short. “Really started to come on this season and wrestled some real good matches… plagued with injuries all season… exhibited good desire and hopefully will be back next year.”
‡Chad Washington (140 lbs., 2–4 OCL, 16–8). Placed first at the Edgemont Tournament, and was named outstanding wrestler (96–140 lbs. divisions) at the Saugerties Tournament. The senior placed third at the OCL Conference. In the sectionals, lost to the top–seeded Mid-Hudson Athletic League grappler by two points in his second match of the meet.
‡Chris Kusznir (145 lbs., 2–1 OCL, 10–10). The freshman was out for two weeks at the end of the season with a shoulder injury, but came back to do well at the conference. “Really made good strides as we closed out the season… I’m very enthusiastic about him coming back next year.”
‡Randy Caruso (152 lbs., 3–4 OCL, 11–12). After his brother Brian Caruso broke his arm while snowboarding before the OCL Conference tourney, the sophomore stepped up to the 160–pound class to take fourth place. He was out with a shoulder injury at the start of the season. “A good wrestler.”

top of page  |  home  |  archives