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 youre 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 arent used to that kind of pressure
[because] theres no crowd to hide behind or nobody
else to point the finger at.
Its a very personally demanding sport,
he added. Some kids excel, and others just
cant take the pressure.
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
couldnt keep their grades up, and a few drop-outs
because of the sports demands didnt help the
Indian grapplers better their 1-10 record this year.
It was a disappointing season, with its ups and
downs, said Lennon. It didnt 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
We ended up with a team of freshmen and
sophomores, he said. Teamwise, we didnt
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
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 isnt for everyone, said John
Lennon. It takes a lot of determination, a lot of
guts and theres no instant gratification. Its
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. Its a
challenge to put it all together mentally and physically.
Its not going out there WWFing and being an idiot.
The always changing patterns make it complicated and a
A Look at the Matmen
Danny Ratner (96 lbs. weight class, record:
33 OCL, 1310 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
Joe Wilson (125 lbs., 23 OCL, 916). 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
his best year
did a great job for
finally got rid of his hair after a league
Ryan Ringi (130 lbs., 23 OCL, 93). 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 didnt show up.
George Conklin (135 lbs., 05 OCL, 716).
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
exhibited good desire and hopefully will be
back next year.
Chad Washington (140 lbs., 24 OCL,
168). Placed first at the Edgemont Tournament, and
was named outstanding wrestler (96140 lbs.
divisions) at the Saugerties Tournament. The senior
placed third at the OCL Conference. In the sectionals,
lost to the topseeded Mid-Hudson Athletic League
grappler by two points in his second match of the meet.
Chris Kusznir (145 lbs., 21 OCL, 1010).
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
Im very enthusiastic
about him coming back next year.
Randy Caruso (152 lbs., 34 OCL, 1112).
After his brother Brian Caruso broke his arm while
snowboarding before the OCL Conference tourney, the
sophomore stepped up to the 160pound class to take
fourth place. He was out with a shoulder injury at the
start of the season. A good wrestler.