Wantagh Warriors Wrestling

Wantagh, New York

The Warrior's Blog


    As we get further along in the off season, I wanted to mention a few wrestlers that have really stepped up the pace and I are going for it now: James Langan, Matt Rogers, Matthew Soethout and Joseph Conklin who is now attending all of the practices. In addition, it was also nice to see Gavin Casey who looks great and is doing well coming off his injury.

    I would encourage everyone to try and bring new wrestlers to our team for next season. It is easy to learn how to wrestle. I can say with confidence that we can have one of the best seasons at Wantagh next year if we all stick together, respect our parents, coaches, teachers and friends.

    The school board met with several of our coaches and parents. Please keep your fingers crossed for improvements for next season which would include: new wall mats, floor mats, a new heating and air conditioner unit which would be out of the room, chin up bars, ropes and banners honoring our County Place winners, All State Wrestlers, and All Americans.

    Some tournaments that are fast approaching: The Summer Heat held at Hofstra University Sunday, July 31, 2017. You must be pre-registered by July 25, 2017. There are no walk Ins, The Thousand Island Duals August 5th and 6th, VHW Duals held at Nassau Community College August 13, 2017 and the Super 32 Qualifier being held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at Muhlenberg College.

    Remember you can attend Wantagh practices, VHW, Ascend or privates. The bottom line to win is to wrestle all year and keep learning. Any questions ? Ask a coach or see Mr. Loew.

    The same wrestlers are also getting a shout out for the intensity that they show: Charles Maier, Joseph Russo, Justin Vines, Christian Encarincation, Josiah Encarincarion and the middle school wrestlers that are always wrestling and looking to improve. With great strength and power there is great responsibility ( Spiderman )


    The Bison Open was held at Bucknell University on Saturday, July 8, 2017. The team took 12th out of 25 teams finishing with a record of 2-3. We could have been 4-1 and lost two matches by three points or less. One slam call cost us six points. It was a very tough tournament and we needed the toughest competition. Steel sharpens steel.

    The following wrestlers stepped up to represent themselves:

    109lbs: Elijah Rivera, 9th grade, Bayshore HS, 2nd in Leaque 2

    Matt Griffin, 3rd and 4th in NYS at 106 lbs

    116lbs: Bobby Moore, 8th grade, Wantagh HS, 2nd in Nassau CTY

    Aiden Araoz, Wantagh HS, 3rd in Nassau CTY, NHSCA All American

    123lbs: Christian Encarincation, Wantagh HS, 2nd in Nassau CTY

    129lbs: Joseph Moore, Wantagh HS

    135lbs: Justin Vines, Wantagh HS, NYS Champion, NHSCA All American

    140lbs: Andrew Schutzman, Seaford HS, 3d place Div. II

    147lbs: Ryan Burgbacher, Pat Medford HS, 5th in Suffolk

    155lbs: JD Moore, Division HS

    163lbs: Matt Rogers, Wantagh HS, 5th in CTY

    174lbs: James Langan, Wantagh HS, 3rd in CTY

    190lbs: Jonathan Loew, Wantagh HS, 3rd NYS, NHSCA All American

    215lbs Zack Ward, Uniondale HS, NYS Champion

    285lbs: Jayson Gomez, EagleAcademy, 3x PSAL Champion, made states, Fargo Cadet All American

    Coaches: Paul Gillespie, Reggie Jones, Justin Accordino, Ray Handley Sr., Irwin Loew

    Not only did WANTAGH have eight wrestlers in the Bison Tournament. Charles Maier was at the Fargo camp for the last two weeks in preparation for the Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota. Joe Conklin is at the Army West Point Wresting Camp as well. This is why we are ranked number ONE going into next season in New York State.


    High school wrestlers now have one of their own as new head coach of the Buffalo Bills in Sean McDermott. While McDermott has been recognized in the NFL for his football smarts and determination, it was on the mat where he learned that hard work pays off.

    Sean McDermott played football and wrestled his junior and senior year at LaSalle College High School, just north of Philadelphia. McDermott is still considered that school’s most accomplished wrestler having been a two-time All-Catholic and National Prep School Champion at 171 lbs in 1992 & 93′.

    McDermott was an outstanding high school football player as well starting at quarterback, safety, punter, place kicker and he returned most punts and kicks. However, when football season ended McDermott took off the pads and dominated the wrestling mats.

    McDermott went undefeated in 75 consecutive matches – a streak that stretched across two high school seasons and was named the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer Wrestler of the Year. McDermott was also selected to the USA High School Wrestling Tournament.

    It’s obvious from some of the quotes Sean McDermott has made over the years that wrestling played a big part in making him who he is today. “Wrestling embodies what it takes to achieve in this world,” McDermott has said. “There’s no one else to blame but you and it comes down to preparation. That’s what it’s all about.”

    “When I wrestled, I would think about my opponent and if I’m training harder than he is. That’s still true today. You pay your dues, you work hard and you try and do the right thing. There are going to be bumps along the road, but you just have to stay focused on your goals and keep challenging yourself, and good things will happen along the way.”

    In 1992 McDermott’s football coach Joe Colistra said, “Sean is always saying how hard wrestling is and how easy football is.”

    McDermott once explained how he excelled in both sports, “It was an oddity to go both ways at La Salle, but wrestling is a big help. It helped me be rugged and aggressive, so I can stick it out for all four quarters. The things I get from wrestling carry over into football”

    Sean McDermott had a number of college wrestling scholarships, but chose to attend the College of William and Mary as a football walk-on. McDermott made the most of that opportunity becoming team captain and then an assistant coach for one year before joining the Philadelphia Eagles scouting department. Yet, every bio written about McDermott cites his high school wrestling success as an example of his mental toughness.

    In Friday’s Buffalo News Terry Pegula gave writer Tim Graham this quote,”You can see from his wrestling background, being a two-time national prep champ, determination, work ethic and just an absolute will that was very impressive that he’s carried through his life.”

    The Buffalo Bills have gone 17 seasons without making the playoffs. The man now calling the shots knows what it means to be mentally focused and physically prepared to reach a goal. Let’s see if those lessons learned on the mat will carry over to success in the NFL for Sean McDermott.


    Successful coach reflects on Wantagh roots

    Tom Ryan, of Ohio State, looks for second straight NCAA wrestling title


    By Andrew Hackmack

    A high school wrestling career that essentially happened by accident for Tom Ryan has turned into a remarkably successful coaching career: He will be seeking his second straight national collegiate championship next weekend.

    Basketball was Ryan’s first love when he was a student at Wantagh Middle School in the 1980s, but he was cut from his seventh-grade team. So, at the urging of his brother, Frank, Ryan gave wrestling a try. He went on to wrestle for five seasons on the varsity squad, capturing three county championships and falling just short of a state title.

    “It was life-changing,” he said of joining the wrestling team, noting the inspirational coaches and great teammates he had during his six years representing Wantagh.

    He won the county championship at 119 pounds his sophomore year, and finished fourth in the state in his weight class. The next year, at 132 pounds, he was again the county champion, with a third-place state finish. A torn ligament in his ankle during his senior year (138 pounds), in which he was one of three Wantagh county champions, spoiled his quest for a state title, but it didn’t dissuade him from continuing with the sport. “It kept me hungry to pursue success at the next level,” he said.

    After graduating from Wantagh High in 1987, Ryan received a full scholarship to Syracuse University, where he wrestled for two years, in addition to rooming with his brother. He then transferred to the University of Iowa, and walked on to the team there, competing for three years.

    Immediately after he graduated, he got an assistant coaching job at Indiana University, and spent two years there before moving back to Long Island to take the head coach position at Hofstra University. “It was a blessing,” he said of coaching less than 10 miles from where he grew up. “It was an incredible opportunity.”

    He was only 24, and knew Hofstra was taking a chance on him. Ryan led to the team to an eighth-place East Coast Wrestling Association finish his first year, then seventh place

    before the program took off. Pride wrestling then had three years of second-place finishes and six years at the top of the conference. In 2006, after 11 years at Hofstra, Ryan took his current position at Ohio State. “I was extremely happy at Hofstra,” he said. “I loved Hofstra. But this was a chance to compete at another level.”

    The Buckeyes have improved steadily ever since, stepping up from ninth place in the Big Ten conference his first year, to winning the NCAA title last year, the first in the 95-year history of OSU’s wrestling program.

    March 17-19, the NCAA wrestling championships will take place at Madison Square Garden, and Ryan will be there with his team. Coming back to his home state is just part of the excitement as his wrestlers look to defend their title. “We’re in a position to win again,” he said. “Our objective is to win a championship.”

    Only nine other teams in the nation have won a Division 1 championship since 1928, with Oklahoma State and Iowa State having dominated the sport, and, more recently Penn State. Ryan said that cracking that elite list was tough, but was accomplished through good financial support for Ohio State’s program, and talented wrestlers. For example, he coaches Kyle Snyder, who, at 19, became the youngest world champion in USA Wrestling history and is a favorite to make the Olympic team.

    “We’re attracting many of the top student athletes in the United States,” Ryan said. “Motivated people want to be around motivated people.”

    In memory of his son

    One of the toughest challenges Ryan has faced has not been as a coach, but as a father. In 2004, when he was coaching at Hofstra, his 6-year-old son, Teague, died of sudden cardiac arrest.

    “I would say he’s the most influential figure in my life,” Ryan said of Teague. “He caused me to think long and hard about why I’m on Earth, how I got here and where I’m going.”

    Losing a son, he said, set him on a journey to discover his faith, and gave him perspective about his own religious beliefs, which were greatly strengthened. He also was grateful that Hofstra named its practice facility for his son, who would have turned 17 last month.

    Two years later, Ryan and his wife, Lynette, made the difficult decision to uproot their family so he could take the job at Ohio State. Their oldest son, Jordan, will graduate from OSU in May, and their other son, Jake, is a red-shirt freshman on the wrestling team.

    “It’s been surreal,” Ryan said of coaching his son, a starter at 157 pounds, and watching him develop the same passion for wrestling.

    His daughter, MacKenzie, is a freshman in high school. Ryan said he still has some family members on Long Island, but most have moved away, including his mother, who now lives in Pennsylvania.

    He said he is grateful not only to have found wrestling at an age when he could turn it into a career, but also for his overall upbringing. He credits a combination of amazing parents, great friends and being around other people who also had big dreams. “Wantagh provided me with a great framework of good people,” he said of the place he spent the first 18 years of his life. “Wantagh is an amazing place to grow up.”

    Football and Wrestling

    How Wrestling Builds Better Football Players


    Tim Krumrie was known for his intensity as a football player and coach. Krumrie spent 12 years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection as a nose tackle that helped lead the Bengals to the 1989 Super Bowl. Prior to that Krumrie spent four years as a starter at the University of Wisconsin. In 16 years of college and pro football, he never missed a start. He was known for his toughness, tenacity, and technique.

    He credits those traits to wrestling. Krumrie was 29-0 as a senior at Mondovi High School in Wisconsin, winning a state heavyweight championship his senior year (1979), and spent two years as the heavyweight on the Wisconsin wrestling team, where he placed fifth in the 1981 Big Ten tournament.

    “Wrestling gave me the technique to succeed in football,” said Krumrie, who went on to work as a defensive line coach for 15 years in the NFL after retiring as a player. “In wrestling, you are alone on the mat. Many times, I was alone against the center. I would play 60 plays a game in football. That’s like 60 starts to a wrestling match. Each play is a new start, a new match.”

    As NFL training camps kick off across the country, former wrestlers everywhere are gearing up for another season of football, and another chance to use their wrestling background to succeed on the football field. Crockett Gillmore burst on the scene as a tight end for the Baltimore Ravens last year.

    “Wrestling set me up for success as a football player,” said Gillmore, who expanded on his wrestling backgroundbefore the 2014 NFL Draft. “There are so many movements that are related in football. A big part of the game is technique, and I learned that in wrestling.”

    At least 18 NFL teams have an ex-wrestler on the roster. Many teams have multiple wrestlers. The Pittsburgh Steelers have seven ex-wrestlers. The Indianapolis Colts have four, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, and Austin Blythe, a center who was a 2016 seventh round pick from the University of Iowa who is from Williamsburg, Iowa, where he won three state titles and recorded a state record 143 pins during his career.

    USA Football is the national governing body for amateur American football in the United States. Coaches and leaders with the organization see the impact wrestling has on the development of football players.

    “Balance and control against an external resistance, leverage and positioning and the ability to move a non-willing opponent are skills needed for all football positions,” said Andy Ryland, Senior Manager of Education and Training for USA Football said. “Wrestling does a great job teaching this.”

    The Minnesota Vikings have four wrestlers on the roster and head coach Mike Zimmer is a former wrestler. His dad, Bill Zimmer coached Mike in football and wrestling at Lockport Township High School in Illinois and Bill is in both the Illinois High School wrestling and football hall of fames. Zimmer talked about how wrestling helped him go the extra mile in athletics and as a coach.

    “I think you learn more from wrestling than any other sport,” Zimmer says. “You find out so much more about yourself and about competition. When it gets down to it, it’s you and the guy across from you. When I was wrestling, for the six minutes that you’re out there, it is one of the toughest, most demanding sports that I’ve ever been around. I think guys that can go through that and compete with all the different things going on, it really defines who you are.”

    Krumrie rattled off a laundry list of skills learned in wrestling that transfer to the football field. It starts with the eyes, he says, being aware of your opponent and focusing on their every movement. Hand control. Technique. Stance. Balance. Footwork. Endurance. Quickness. Strength.

    “In wrestling, if you get control of the hands, if you get that inside step, you have the edge,” said Krumrie.

    It wasn’t just the interior linemen who benefited from wrestling either, says Krumrie. Skill players also use a wrestling background to their advantage. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is a former wrestler.

    “Look at everything a cornerback does,” he said. “Tackling is about form and technique. Using your hands. Wrestling teaches that.”

    It also teaches something else.

    “I can teach technique, but I can’t teach heart,” says Krumrie. “Every wrestler I ever coached had heart and tenacity. That was a given.”

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