Rob Potter | Democrat
FALLSBURG YOUTH WRESTLING Club members Caleb McCallion, left, Joe Conway Jr., center, and Jalen Harvey earned medals last weekend at a tournament in New Jersey,
By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG After only three months, the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club has made great strides.
Since it was formed in May, grapplers from the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club and their coaches have traveled to tournaments throughout New York State as well as neighboring states. And many times, the local wrestlers came home with first, second or third place medals.
On Monday night, wrestlers, coaches, parents and siblings celebrated the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club’s accomplishments at an awards dinner in the Fallsburg Middle School cafeteria.
Before everyone helped themselves to the buffet dinner, Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club Head Coach Al Feldman and Fallsburg Central School Superintendent Dr. Ivan Katz spoke to those in attendance. Both men have extensive amateur wrestling backgrounds and shared some of their experiences in the sport.
From 1985 to 1988, Katz was a member of the U.S. National Team and wrestled in competitions around the world. He noted that the lessons which the sport of wrestling teaches, such as perseverance and sportsmanship, have served him well throughout his life. He pointed out that some of his teammates from the national team are now “lawyers, doctors, clinicians and psychologists people who are at the top of their field.
“When we look back on this group of young wrestlers in a few years, we will see amazing differences,” Katz said. “Because of this club, I hope to see division champions, sectional champions and state champions from Fallsburg Central School. I am so proud of the wrestlers, coaches, parents and everyone else who is associated with the club.
“I am 100 percent behind you,” he added.
Feldman, who won multiple state championships in both freestyle and Greco-Roman styles as a high school wrestler on Long Island and earned a scholarship to wrestle at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, praised the young wrestlers, who range in age from 5 to 15, for their achievements.
“It’s amazing what you have accomplished since we started this club,” he said. “Our wrestlers have accumulated 32 medals in three months. Eight of those were first place medals.
“We have 7-year-olds who are working harder than 14-year-olds,” Feldman continued. “These kids come here three times a week to train. We have some non-athletes we are turning into wrestlers.”
Following dinner, Feldman presented awards to his fellow coaches, the wrestlers, the club’s board members and the club’s sponsors.
All of the wrestlers received personalized trophies. They included, alphabetically: Joshua Begbie, Lucas Bennett, Joe Conway Jr., Steven DeMestrio, Mike DeVito, Luke Evens, Jalen Harvey, Isiah Jackson, Joey LaCatena, Kevin Lemke, Caleb McCallion, Nick McLean, Mark Rapfogel and Mark Stuble.
Al Feldman also presented special awards to three wrestlers. Caleb McCallion was named the Most Improved Wrestler, Mike DeVito received the Sportsmanship Award and Jalen Harvey earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award.
The coaches and board members who received personalized appreciation plaques included: Jim Baker, Michelle Bennett, Joe Conway, Phil DeVito, Deana Feldman, Diane Harvey, Tony Harvey, Eileen Jackson, Regina LaCatena and Chris Lemke.
Businesses which received appreciation plaques included: Butcher Boys of Monticello, Malek Furniture, Monticello Meats and Weinert Recycling.
In addition, Al Feldman presented an appreciation plaque to Katz and special recognition awards to Phil and Susan DeVito and Carita McCallion.