A water park, two days of wrestling and some hardware to bring back home to New York.
That’s what Team NYWAY experienced last weekend, as the group traveled to Michigan for the Grand River Rumble, a two-day event featuring an individual tournament on Saturday and a Duals competition on Sunday.
In two days, the grapplers each competed in about 10 bouts in the Elementary School Division and in the end, five New Yorkers placed in the top four individually (including championships for Stevo Poulin and AJ Burkhart) while the squad took ninth during the Duals.
Poulin was undefeated throughout the weekend, going a combined 10-0 over the two days. During the individual event, he outscored his opponents 26-2 and added a pin on the way to his crown. He tacked on three more falls, a technical fall and a major decision while representing Team NYWAY during the Duals.
“Stevo was very focused, like he normally is,” said Steve Poulin, his father and one of the coaches, along with Adam Burgos of G2 World Wrestling Academy. “There were a few kids he was excited to wrestle, like Lain Yapoujian from Colorado who took second at Reno Worlds this year. [Poulin won 7-0 in the individual tournament and 9-3 in the Duals against Yapoujian]. Stevo was pretty dominant.”
Also dominant was fellow champion Burkhart, who compiled a 9-1 mark overall, with four pins (three in less than a minute) as well as three major decisions. But it was one of his close matches that was among the most memorable moments of the weekend, according to Steve Poulin.
“AJ had an awesome match with PJ Crane of Cincinnati Grapplers [a 2-0 victory for Burkhart],” Poulin said. “He had never beaten him before and beat him at the Duals. Everyone was freaking out; it was awesome. It was worth the trip out there just to have AJ beat him for the first time.”
Three additional team members medalled, including Tyler Barnes, who was the runner up at 110 pounds. The Journeymen wrestler won eight of his 10 bouts, including a pair of pins.
“Tyler wrestled really well all weekend,” Poulin said.
Also making the podium for New York were Dillan Palaszewski and Colin Bradshaw. Palaszewski dropped his opening bout in the 85-pound bracket, but responded with three victories to take third. On Sunday, he added another four wins for Team NYWAY, including three falls.
Bradshaw also began with a loss, in the 50-pound tournament, but bounced back in the consolations to finish fourth. During the Duals, he won three matches, all by fall.
The individual placers weren’t the only ones who contributed to the squad’s performance.
In the Duals competition, Nicholas Noel won four of his six bouts at 95 pounds, including a pin in less than a minute over Nathan Conley of Indiana Gold. Also getting their hand raised for Team NYWAY were Andy Lucinski (60), Justin Smith (65), Ryan Burgos (70), Christian Bradshaw (75) and Camerin Galvin (105). Wyatt Smith stepped in at 80 pounds for the Empire State, while Jake Cook took the mat at 135 on Saturday but injury defaulted his last match and did not compete during the Duals.
“It was a great event,” Poulin said. “We had a fun time as a team. For some of the kids, it was the first time they experienced something like this, so it was eye opening. These types of events help kids realize what they need to do to take things to the next level.”
But it wasn’t all about wrestling.
“There was a water park right there and all the kids went on Saturday after the tournament,” Poulin said. “Then on Sunday, the Dual meet was actually at the park. The wrestling was great but I’m guessing the park was probably the favorite part of the trip for the kids.”
50 Pounds: Colin Bradshaw, 4th
55 Pounds: Stevo Poulin, Champion
85 Pounds: Dillan Palaszewski, 3rd
90 Pounds: AJ Burkhart, Champion
110 Pounds: Tyler Barns, 2nd
Team Dual Meet Results
Round 1: Chi City MonStarz defeated Team NYWAY 38-16
Round 2: Flat River Black defeated Team NYWAY 30-28
Round 3: Cincinnati Grapplers defeated Team NYWAY 63-6
Round 4: Indiana Gold defeated Team NYWAY 37-22
Round 5: Team NYWAY defeated Junior Titans 48-18
Round 6: Team NYWAY defeated Contenders Wrestling Academy 33-30