City Highlights: After a Banner Year, Who Will Stand Out for the PSAL in 2013-14? (Season Preview)

BY MATT DIANO

In addition to crowning the first ever NYS Champion from the PSAL when Adis Radoncic rallied from the #6 seed to win the 170-pound small school title, the boys from the five boroughs would enjoy a banner year in Division I, scoring an all-time high of 61 team points (up from 10 in 2011).  Those points came from the efforts of five All-State individuals, including 126-pound finalist Keanu Thompson (Grand Street Campus).  In DII, Radoncic would be joined on the podium by Brooklyn International’s Cheick Ndiaye (currently competing for the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club), who took 4th at 113 pounds.  With this collective effort, the seven young men (two more than in 2012) who wrestled their way into the top-6 of their respective divisions and weight classes would establish a new standard for the section that has long been hailed as the “Empire State’s richest untapped resource.”

Whether 2013-2014 will continue this trend of growth and progression remains a mystery as the PSAL truly is a section in transition this season.  Gone are the majority of the seasoned veterans who sat at the forefront of last year’s breakout campaign.  Four of the seven placewinners graduated and during the offseason, Radoncic made the decision to transfer to Poly Prep.

On the bright side, while only two All-State wrestlers return, an abundance of others will enter the season with experience at the Times Union Center.  As previous appearances helped provide the maturity the 2013 squad needed to flourish (six of the seven made at least their second trip to Albany last season), the 2014 group will need the returning qualifiers to build off and learn from having one NYS tournament under their proverbial belts. Also imperative will be to get large contributions from those wrestlers who just missed making the trip last season, and have been working toward realizing their own golden moments.

Division I: The Proven Commodities

Malik Grant (Curtis)—A first time City Champion as a sophomore in 2013 at the smallest weight class, Grant compiled an impressive 33-6 record, recording 30 pins.  He cruised to last year’s DI title, winning all of his matches by no fewer than five points, including a pair of falls.  In his debut in the state capital, he would take some lumps, going 0-2 with a 9-3 loss to Section VI’s Donny McCoy before being eliminated by eventual 5th place finisher, Vinny Vespa (Section IX). Grant was also the highest placewinner among DI competitors at the 2013 Mayor’s Cup, finishing 4th.  If the City is to have any chance of matching last season, Grant will need to break into the win column on the big stage.  Early speculation suggests that Grant will be attempting to make 99 pounds for the third straight season (finished 3rd in the PSAL as a freshman in 2012).  If he succeeds, it is hard to envision anyone knocking the returning champ off his throne.

Adam Gomez (Cardozo)—A major catalyst in helping his school rise from 21st in 2012 to 3rd last season in the team standings, Gomez became the first wrestler in the four-year history of the program to win an individual title when he scored bonus points (a fall, two major decisions, and a technical fall) in all four of his matches to claim the 106-pound hardware.  At the state tournament, the now-junior would show that he is going to be one to watch when he narrowly missed the medal stand, falling a single victory short when he was pinned in the blood round by the wrestler who later went on to take bronze, Section V’s Jon Haas. Gomez, who certainly did not show any signs of a sophomore jinx last year, is expected to be back at the same weight class this season and will be hungry to surpass what was an incredible 2013 season that witnessed him go 31-4.

Saidyokub Kahramonov (New Utrecht)—A senior leader, the stud from Brooklyn will look to make his third consecutive trip to Albany.  A city finalist in each of the past two seasons, Kahramonov would be unstoppable last season, punching his ticket to Albany by crushing his opponents with three pins and a technical fall to claim his first individual gold.  However, as nice as it must have been to be among the Kings of the City, this young man would just be getting started, going 3-3 (loses to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place finishers) under the roof of the Times Union Center to earn a 6th place finish.  In doing so, he became the first wrestler in the history of the New Utrecht program to bring home an All-State medal.  And, with last season’s 132 pound bracket being senior heavy, the potential will be there for Kahramonov to make his swan song a memorable one.  If nothing else, history has taught us that the more experience he garners, the better he seems to perform.  In 2012, despite being a sectional runner-up, he would get the call to represent the PSAL when the champion was forced to scratch because of injury.  He would go 0-2, but seemingly grew from the opportunity.  With 2013 rival Sam Melikian (3rd in NYS last year) having moved on to the collegiate scene, Kahramonov will also head into the new year as a favorite to pick up the only NYC honor he has yet to earn, a Mayor’s Cup title.  He has placed 3rd and 2nd respectively in 2012 and 2013.  He completed his junior season with a record of 35-7 with all but one of the defeats coming to opponents who placed at the state tournament.

Konstantin Parfiryev (James Madison)—The only other returning state placewinner for the PSAL, the senior has that fine wine quality about him in that he simply gets better with age.  A 40-match winner (40-7) last season for coach Ned M. Campbell, Parfiryev would hit a home run in his first trip to Albany, kicking off his NYS tournament experience with a 7-5 upset over Section I champion, Joe Mastro, en route to taking home 6th place honors at 152 pounds. (Mastro wrestled back to finish 3rd; was a 2013 FloNationals All-American and currently competes for North Carolina State). Parfiryev will enter his final scholastic season with a chance for his fourth All-City performance.  In each of his first three seasons on the Madison varsity, he has improved his position on the medal stand, going from 4th in 2011 to the previously cited title last year.  Now that he is on top, it would take a Herculean effort to knock him off the perch.  While we never say never, as long as he stays healthy, he is about as big a favorite as anybody in the entire state to be heading back to the capital in 2014.  With two-thirds of the placewinners from the 152-pound NYS bracket back again this season, a run to the title would be challenging, but a repeat All-State showing seems like it is in the cards.

Camilo Gaitan (Brooklyn Tech)—One of the most improved wrestlers in the PSAL last season, Gaitan went from going 1-2 in the 2012 City Championships to winning the 160-pound title as a junior last season.  Getting his hand raised in 31 of the 40 bouts he wrestled in 2013, the Engineer senior would have a few close calls, winning a pair of 6-5 decisions in the quarter and semifinal rounds of the PSAL tournament.  But he would save his best for last, securing his spot on the bus to Albany with an 18-9 major decision over Long Island City’s Thomas Jones in a clash of the top-2 seeds.  Gaitan would struggle in his introduction to the NYS Tournament, going winless and getting pinned in his two matches.  Now a year older and one of the few qualifiers who is back from last year’s 160-pound bracket, Gaitan will be poised to make it three straight years that Brooklyn Tech has put at least one representative onto the podium at the DI tournament.

 

Division I: The Senior Heroes (seeking their first title in their final season)

Daniel “Omega” Amancio (MLK)—The 2013 PSAL runner-up at 120 pounds to NYS 6th place finisher, Santo Curatolo (Tottenville), Amancio darn near shocked the NYC wrestling world when he pushed the three-time defending champion to the brink before dropping a 4-3 decision in the title bout.  Still, even in defeat, the MLK captain proved that when he is at the top of his game, he is as dangerous as any wrestler.  A first time All-City honoree with his silver medal showing in 2013, the wrestler they call “Omega” has continued to progress every year.  Known to be a tireless worker who spends significant time working out at and wrestling on behalf of the Beat the Streets Wrestling Club, if Amancio is able to ascend to the top of the podium, he will become the first Knight wrestler to qualify for the NYS tournament.  When Curatolo moved up to 126 for the Mayor’s Cup, Amancio, who went 32-4 last season, seized the opportunity, going 5-0 with three first period falls to win the hardware.  Last month, he would continue to hone his craft, going 4-1 at the Columbus Day Duals.  In September, against a field consisting mostly of NYC wrestlers, he was the gold medalist at the Steeplechase Open.  He is expected to be back at 120 for his senior season.

Bertin Saimbeau (Wingate)—Like Amancio, Saimbeau found himself on the cusp of glory, only to be denied in the large school finals last season, 7-3 by Julian Alsbrooks of New Utrecht at 138 pounds.  He will be looking to erase those memories in his final crack at the mountaintop.  Already an All-City wrestler, the Wingate grappler has made noticeable strides throughout his career.  As a freshman, he went 1-2 at the City Championships, but has not failed to medal since, earning a 4th place finish in 2012 to complement his performance last season.  Depending on where Kahramonov elects to go this season, Saimbeau could either stay at 138 or move up to 145 where it is possible he will be challenged by Madison’s Marc D’Chiutiis (assuming he is able to make the weight for another season).

Marc D’Chiutiis (James Madison)—D’Chiutiis was a PSAL runner-up last season, losing in the 145-pound finals to Eagle Academy’s Nigel Williams.  With the rumors that Eagle Academy will be returning to the Division II scene after moving up and competing well in Division I for one year, the door has swung open for individuals at this weight class.  And, if there is one wrestler who deserves to go out on top, it would be the Madison wrestler who also played bridesmaid in 2012 at 126 pounds.  Adding to his resume, D’Chiutiis placed 3rd at the 2013 Mayor’s Cup.  A 30-plus match winner in his junior season (31-11), D’Chiutiis might just give coach Campbell one of the top 1-2 punches in all of the five boroughs.

Alex Palmer (MLK)—The three-year Knight captain would have a below average showing at last year’s City tournament, getting upset in the quarterfinal round and then choosing to not wrestle back. But we could not ignore his full resume, which includes his runner-up finish in 2012 and a 4th place finish as a freshman in 2011.  The mere fact that he has a career victory over Parfiryev (6-2 in the 2012 PSAL semifinals) shows that when he is at his best, he possesses the ability to make noise regardless of who lines up opposite him.  Where he needs to improve is in his level of consistency. With so much established talent in the middle weights this season, Palmer can’t be anything less than firing on all cylinders if he hopes to put that elusive cap on his varsity career by winning the City title.  He ended his junior year with a 27-8 record.

John PierreLouis (Springfield Gardens)—PierreLouis is a two-time PSAL bronze medalist who has not deviated much in weight, staying at 189/195 throughout his scholastic career.  In a word, he is a pinner.  In six of his eight career wins at the City tournament, he ended the bout via fall, including in his third place matches the past two years.  In 2012, he stuck 2013 Junior Greco-Roman All-American, Roland Zilberman (who finished as the PSAL runner-up @195 last season for Lincoln).  Last year, his victim was 2012 PSAL small school champion, Miguel Perez from Eagle Academy.  PierreLouis will also be seeking his third straight top-8 finish at the Mayor’s Cup, having claimed 5th place as a sophomore before defaulting to 8th in 2013.  In 2010, it was Springfield Gardens senior Francisco DeCristo taking 5th in NYS @170.  Might that magic be in the air this season for PierreLouis?  Only time will tell!

 

Division I: Team Race

1. Brooklyn Tech—Until someone finds a way to stop this runaway train, Brooklyn Tech has to be considered the early favorite to win a fourth consecutive team title.  Led by defending champion, Gaitan, the Engineers will feature a plethora of returning placers — Julian Polian (6th @106), James Rosado (4th @113), Devon Hoyte (3rd @120), William Hernandez (6th @126),  and Andy Huang (2nd @132).  The only question that remains is how well this deep group of wrestlers will adjust to competing under new head coach Steve Flanagan, who replaced the architect of Tech’s recent success, Todd Bloom. Flanagan has an excellent track record, having led Wingate to back-to-back top-3 finishes in 2011 and 2012. Among his many accomplishments as a coach, Flanagan mentored McZiggy Richards to a 3rd place finish at the 2012 NYS DI tournament.

2. Cardozo—Cardozo is a team that came out of nowhere last season.  When writing the 2013 preview, Chris Milani’s squad was not even on my radar.  However, they were so outstanding last season that not only are they deserving of my apologies, their performance commands that I give it. Still a relatively young program, this is a team that has improved leaps and bounds each year.  In 2011, the squad finished 33rd in the team standings with nine cumulative points and the following season moved up to 21st with 28.5. Then, last year would be the coming of age as the Judges not only took 3rd in the City Championships, but also finished as the dual meet runner-up.  With a strong nucleus returning, Milani and company have no intention of taking any steps backward in 2014.   Joining the previously mentioned Gomez as wrestlers to watch are returning All-City competitors: Jacob Delgado (2nd @99), Douglas Chau (5th @113), Steven Kim (5th @132), Tommy Qu (6th @145), and Taqee Burns (4th @152).

3. James Madison—Coach Campbell’s team earned 3rd in the Dual Meet Playoffs last season before finishing sixth in tournament action to conclude the 2013 campaign.  With a defending champion in Parfiryev, a two-time runner-up in D’Chiutiis, and two other returning All-City student-athletes (Askar Raimbek 4th @132; Mark Ifraimov 6th @285), the squad should be in position to compete yet again in 2014.

4. MLK—Right below Madison is the team they defeated in the Dual Playoff consolation match, the Knights of MLK.  Similar to Cardozo, the Tim Muscarella-coached program is still very much in its youth stage, having been in existence for less than a decade.  However, if recent trends hold up, 2014 may very well be the season that puts the program on the map for good.  Sitting at the head of the table will of course be returning and former City finalists, Amancio and Palmer.  Sophomore sensation Ramel McIntosh (6th @113) and senior Kevin Kabadi (6th @170) make the Knights four strong.  However, in speaking with assistant coach Eric Klein, what will make or break the season will be the efforts from guys who were role players in the past but are now being asked to take on more responsibility.  The perfect examples would be Jose PerezOhanugo Okorie, and Guillermo Rivas, who as #8, #5 and #7 seeds, all missed the medal stand last season by one victory at 138, 160, and 182 respectively.

5. Wingate—Even with the departure of Flanagan, the Wingate program didn’t skip a beat, rolling to a 6th place finish at the City Championships in 2013. With three top-4 wrestlers back to spearhead this year’s team, there is every reason to believe that Wingate will be strong at the end.  Saimbeau is the headliner, but Marcus King (3rd @160) and Maleke Cunningham (4th @182) are quite capable of giving a star performance any day of the week.  Seeded 4th, King came one point shy from being a potential champion last season, losing 6-5 to Gaitan.  Cunningham would wrestle his way into the semifinals, but defaulted his last two bouts, leaving him with a 4th place finish.  If a lightweight like Shamar Griffith, who was seeded 6th but came two wins short of placement, can put all the pieces together and provide Wingate with a fourth threat, it is very feasible to see them challenge for a top-3 spot.

 

Division II: The Incumbents (Former or Defending Champions)

Dolan McColgan (Petrides)—The small school champion the past two years at 99 pounds (finished 3rd as a freshman), McColgan will enter his senior season with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after having what some might deem a disappointing showing in Albany in 2013.   When McColgan defeated Fordham Prep’s Chris Martorello in the finals of the 2013 Mayor’s Cup, the general consensus was that the victory was the sign of good things to come and that he could challenge for a spot on the podium at the Times Union Center.  Unfortunately, the pieces would not fall into place and he would drop his only two bouts of the state tournament to give him an overall record of 1-4 in Albany.  After getting his hand raised in 35 matches last season (35-3), and with one more crack at the medal stand remaining in his scholastic career, we can expect to see a very determined McColgan in 2014.

Mohammed Guernah (RKA)—The departure of Radoncic to Poly Prep leaves this talented super sophomore as one of two defending champions for Robert Dicanio’s RKA squad.  Seeded 3rd (out of 4) in the 120-pound bracket, Guernah would be lights out in his first City Championship tournament, pinning second-seeded Sean Caffrey of Petrides in the second period, before earning a 14-9 decision over top-seeded Jean Marti of Baruch in the title bout. Guernah would receive a very unfavorable draw, getting eventual state bronze medalist, Kellen Devlin, in his opening bout.  The truth is that the Gotham City freshman would never quite get on track, getting stuck by Devlin at the :58 mark and then losing his consolation bout by fall to Section III’s Mike Boyle.  That one weekend aside, as the only freshman qualifier from the PSAL last season, Guernah knows that he still has plenty of time remaining in his career to make his mark.  He finished his frosh campaign with a record of 16-5 and will need to be just as good this season to make up for the loss of his heralded former teammate.

Daniel Padulo (Baruch)—After years of being overshadowed by his older brother, Anthony, a four-time DII City finalist/2012 Champion, Daniel Padulo would finally get his moment to shine. He would capitalize on this opportunity, winning his only match of the PSAL tournament via second period fall over now two-time City runner-up David Medina of RKA.  Padulo would encounter hardship when making the trip to Albany, getting pinned in his first round match by Nick Forget (finished 5th) and then eliminated one match later in the consolation bracket by Section XI’s Hunter Hulse.  If he hopes to conclude his high school career with a top-6 finish in February, Padulo is going to have to work hard to improve upon the 14-16 record that is attributed to him on the NWCA database.

Steven Cook (RKA)—The senior leader will have added pressure on his shoulders with the departure of Radoncic. A City titlist in his first appearance in the PSAL DII tournament, Cook would show that seeding is just a number when he pulled off the upset of top-ranked Nate Muse of Petrides to win the 132-pound crown.  Unfortunately, circumstance would prevent Cook from competing in Albany, robbing him of what would have been an excellent opportunity to see how he compares to the rest of the Empire State elite.

Nigel Williams (Eagle Academy)—Williams might be among the most battle tested wrestlers in the five boroughs, after attending blue chip events across the country.  A first-time champion in 2013 at 145 pounds after previously finishing as the runner-up in his freshman and sophomore seasons, the Eagle Academy senior will be seeking his first win in Albany after going 0-2 in both 2011 (injury replacement) and 2013.  To say that his 0-4 record is misleading would be an understatement.  Williams is a dangerous draw for any wrestler; he has excellent throws and can put opponents on their backs at the drop of a hat.  A winner of three matches at the Eastern States Classic, Williams has proven himself to be a jack of all trades by also winning a handful of bouts at both the Junior Duals and the Junior Nationals in the international styles.

Nathanael Rose (Eagle Academy)—Rose is on pace to become a four-time City Champion, having won the 182-pound weight class in back-to-back years, once in each division. He has continued to gain recognition across the state and his power and raw athleticism are drawing parallels to that of the previously mentioned McZiggy Richards. As a freshman in 2012, Rose demonstrated untapped potential, scoring bonus points in both of his City tournament matches before going 0-2 at the NYS DII tournament.  Last season, he just missed placing at the Eastern States by one victory, finished second at the Mayor’s Cup (to NYS placewinner Matthew Roberts of Monsignor Farrell), and then wrapped up his sophomore season by making the round-of-8 at the NYS Tournament. It is the immense development that he seems to make from year to year that has me thinking that all the stars are aligned for Rose to be 2014’s version of Radoncic for the PSAL.  I believe the Eagle Academy junior is going to be a NYS Champion before his career is over; the only unanswered question is whether he’ll be a multi-time titlewinner.

Miguel Perez (Eagle)—A PSAL DII Champion two years ago as a freshman, for a while, it looked like he was on the path to Titletown when he posted a respectable 1-2 record in his debut in Albany in 2012.  Last season, when his school made the decision to compete at the large school level, Perez would find himself in a deep bracket that featured eventual NYS placewinner Kevin Tynes (previously of Brooklyn Tech; now at Stanford) and the aforementioned Greco All-American, Zilberman. Now that Eagle will be returning to DII, Perez should be considered a heavy favorite to win the next two City titles.  With regards to upstate, with most of the top-8 finishers from last year’s NYS Tournament having graduated, it would not be premature to say that Perez could find himself in the mix to make the medal stand.  After all, if you can win one match as a freshman, winning three (which is what it takes to make All-State) is not unfathomable.  Perez went 32-10 last season.

Christian Gioia (Petrides)—A returning two-time City finalist, Gioia would win his first title in 2013, going 2-0 behind a pair of decisions over Banana Kelly’s Edward Bonner (8-5) and Baruch’s Kenshawn Anderson (5-1).  He would go winless in Albany. Gioia is one of the individuals who might get hurt the most from Eagle Academy’s return to the DII ranks.  If he and Perez are at the same weight class, Perez would need to be considered a heavy favorite because of their 2012 title bout which was won by the Eagle junior, 15-0.

Elvin Gervacio (Brooklyn International)—A three-time finalist as an upperweight wrestler, Gervacio won the PSAL title in 2012 at heavyweight and finished 2nd last season down at 220.  However, despite not being a champion in 2013, the big man would be summoned into action in Albany, taking the place of Anthony Hernandez (Petrides) who went unopposed at 285.  In two trips to the state tournament, Gervacio has gone winless, including 0-2 last season with losses to the wrestlers who finished 3rd and 6th.  On the bright side, with five of six placewinners having graduated, there is reason for optimism.  For the PSAL to match what they did last season, Gervacio is going to have to apply what he has learned the past two years and find a way onto the podium.

 

Division II: One More to Watch

Nate Muse (Petrides)—A wrestler who has experienced nothing other than the City title match thus far in the first three years of his varsity career, Muse is hoping that the fourth time will be the the charm after settling for silver in his previous three attempts.  The top seed at his weight class each of the last two years, if there is anyone in all of Staten Island that is going to be fired up for the postseason, it is Muse, who has unfinished business.  Muse would be called into duty, as an injury replacement in Albany.  He would lose both of his matches, but gained the kind of big match experience that he will need to get over the hump and finish his career with the City title.

 

Division II: Team Race

As has been the case much of the past decade, the team title will be a battle between Eagle Academy and Petrides.  A year removed from finishing second in the DI team standings, on paper, one would have to think that Eagle would have the edge.  The Bronx located school should receive huge point contributions from the trio of defending/former champions (Williams, Rose, and Perez), as well as a group of All-City wrestlers who will be in title contention in the smaller division.  This collection of talent includes, but is not limited to, the following: Jairo Pepin (6th @120), Rashid Powell (5th @126), Zimba Hamm (6th @152), Vance Cuffie (5th @160), Roshane Gray (5th @170), and Marc Diaz (3rd @220).

Petrides, who in the absence of Eagle went on to win the small school team title last season by a 44 point margin over Baruch, will be anchored by McColgan, Muse, and Gioia, and solidified by Caffrey (3rd @120), Jason Falloon (4th @120), Robert Welgoss (3rd @138), Tristan Ferrigno (2nd @145), and Tyler Saracena (2nd @182).

 

Returning Qualifiers from 2013 – Division I

Malik Grant, Curtis (99)

Adam Gomez, Cardozo (106)

Saidyokub Kahramonov, New Utrecht (132)—6th

Konstantin Parfiryev, James Madison (152)—6th

Camilo Gaitan, Brooklyn Tech (160)

Returning Qualifiers from 2013 – Division II

Dolan McColgan, Petrides (99)

Mohammed Guernah, RKA (120)

Daniel Padulo, Baruch (126)

Nate Muse, Petrides (132)—Injury replacement

Steven Cook, RKA (132)

Nigel Williams, Eagle Academy (145)

Nathanael Rose, Eagle Academy (182)

Christian Gioia, Petrides (195)

Elvin Gervacio, Brooklyn International (285)—replacement pick

For more on New York City wrestling, see Gotham City Wrestling.

 

From Shut Down to the Garden: Westchester Wrestling Ready to Grapple Again in 2013-14

Wrestling was back at Westchester Community College for the first time in quite a while.  And then, all of a sudden, the season came to an abrupt halt. The planned trips to national qualifying and then Nationals were no longer possible.

It began in the fall of 2012 for head coach Joe Regan and the squad, operating as a club team out of the student FSA (Faculty-Student Association) office.  Westchester performed well early on, in a tri-meet against Stony Brook and the University of New Haven and then at the Long Island Open and the New York State Intercollegiate ‘B’ event on the campus of Cornell University.

“We had basically three or four weeks to get the guys prepared for the New York tournament, so it was an accelerated process,” Regan said. “Our guys got beat, but were competitive. We had some top five placers at the Long Island Open. I was pretty satisfied with how they competed against a lot of Division I and Division III wrestlers.”

Next up was another tri-meet, this time against Mount St. Vincent and a Division III squad from Ohio.

“We didn’t have a full lineup but it was tough,” Regan said. “We got our butts kicked by the Division III team. We were winning against Mount St. Vincent before we got pinned in two straight matches and wound up losing.  It was frustrating.”

Regan and the Vikings went from being a bit frustrated about the results on the mat to a more significant frustration.

“What happened next – we basically were shut down by the institution because we were being run as a club and clubs needed a faculty sponsor,” Regan said. “It was awful, just terrible.  We were looking forward to going to NCWA [National Collegiate Wrestling Association] qualifying tournament and then the national tournament.  We saw Stony Brook do pretty well at NCWA nationals.  We beat them and I thought we had a couple of guys who could have been All-Americans.  But it was out of our control.  We weren’t allowed to continue.”

According to Regan, the group was determined to find a solution, but didn’t find success initially. In essence, the season was over for the Vikings.

“It didn’t look good for the continuing of our team as a club. There were all these roadblocks,” Regan said. “And then the athletic department called and said they would take us on.  I was flabbergasted. We were working with Adam Frank [the Director of Student Involvement] and he went to bat for us.  He thought we didn’t belong with the Spanish club and all the other clubs – we belonged in athletics.  The Athletic Director told us he didn’t have much of a budget for us, but we could be a part of the department. It was incredible.”

So, according to Regan, the team will return to action in 2013-14.  The Vikings will compete as part of the NCWA, but there’s a different long term plan.

“The next goal is to join the NJCAA [National Junior College Athletic Association] and field a great junior college program in the future,” he said.

Whatever happens next, Regan believes the team has been embraced the surrounding area.

“There’s good support behind us,” the coach said. “We’re excited this is happening for the community. Wrestling is popular in Westchester and Putnam counties and we also draw from Beat the Streets.  It’s a fantastic thing to have an opportunity for wrestlers here.  Not everybody is ready to stop wrestling after high school and only a small percentage go to Division I. With student loans going the way they are, you’ll see more and more kids going local.  Here, guys can go to open tournaments to wrestle Division I and Division III guys but in the end have their own national tournament.”

The nationals won’t be the only big event next season.  The Vikings will also have the chance to take the mat at the World’s Most Famous Arena for the Grapple at the Garden on December 1 alongside some of the country’s top teams.  [Westchester will battle Stony Brook in a dual meet].

“I don’t want to take one ounce of credit for making that happen,” Regan said. “It was all [Stony Brook head coach] Shaun [Lally].  He’s doing a fantastic job and I’m grateful that he wanted to include us as a part of that great event.  He had a good idea to promote local teams at the NCWA level at the Grapple at the Garden and obviously we’re very excited to be a part of it.”

Regan’s also excited about what the future holds.

“We have a lot of work to do,” the coach said earlier in the summer. “We need to recruit and fill some spots. But we have some very good wrestlers back too.”

Among the grapplers that Regan mentioned were David Rivera (149), Justin James (157) and Ray Ramos (174).

Regan had positive things to say about the performances of those wrestlers on the mat and about their development throughout the course of the year.  And, they were also significant in another way, according to the coach.

“Those guys were a huge part of pounding the pavement on campus, fighting for our survival,” Regan said. “They were completely essential in fighting the good fight.”

Regan also thanked Dave Colagiovanni and Dominick Oddo for their help and acknowledged all the work of Alex Yntriago, who worked with the program from the start with initial head coach Joe Boxer, originally as an assistant and heavyweight coach and now in some other capacities as well.

“Alex [Yntriago] has a history with some of the kids from the Beat the Streets program and does a really good job with his relationships in the New York City area,” Regan said. “He likes the promotion side of things and does very well for us in that regard too.”

“Promotions is something I do for a living,” Yntriago added. “I like to work on ways to get coaches and wrestlers interested. My objective is to expand the program by getting New York City hyped about it. I think this program can be a launching pad for New York City, Long Island and local kids. My efforts are also on teaching guys how to be champions in life.”

His efforts also may be spent on the mat, as Yntriago has a year of eligibility left and could compete at heavyweight this season.

So, after a dramatic year, Westchester looks forward to competing again.  Regan discussed a solid schedule, including events such as the Grapple at the Garden, meets with Yeshiva and Bergen Community College, an invitational at the University of Southern Maine and the New York State Championships at Cornell.

“We didn’t think we were having a team for a while, so to be where we are is fantastic,” Regan said. “We have a lot to look forward to here at Westchester.”

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Westchester CC is working to raise funds to continue moving the program forward. (For more information on how to help, see this link).

Beat the Streets's "Rumble on the Rails" Will Feature Team USA vs. Russia and Iran in NYC in May

 
 
For years, the annual Beat the Streets event in New York City has featured some of the best wrestling talent around.

2013 will be no exception.

On May 15, Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall will be the host of the “Rumble on the Rails”, involving three of the world’s top wrestling nations – the United States, Russia and Iran.  Action is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. when the United States takes on the Iranians.  Shortly afterwards, Beat the Streets exhibition matches will take place before the US and Russia square off in another dual at 6 p.m..  Following the competition, the annual Beat the Streets Gala will begin at the Bryant Park Grill.

The nations will come together to support both the Beat the Streets program as well as show unity for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement.

For more information, see Here.

 

 

Brooklyn Tech Defeats Cardozo to Earn PSAL Dual Meet Championship

Photo courtesy of beat-the-streets.org

Brooklyn Tech captured the PSAL Dual Meet Championship on Tuesday night at FDR High School, topping Cardozo 52-14. It was the second title for the Engineers in the past three years.

For more information, see the recap on Gotham City Wrestling here and/or the Beat the Streets coverage here.

 

'A Unique Opportunity for NY Kids': SUNY Sullivan Adds Wrestling Program Starting This Fall

For years, SUNY Sullivan has welcomed some of the best wrestlers in New York to its Loch Sheldrake campus for a weekend in January for the Eastern States Classic.

And grapplers have again ascended on the campus in the summertime for top-notch camps, including the J Robinson Intensive Camp in 2012, run by the longtime University of Minnesota head coach.

Now, wrestling will be a fixture at SUNY Sullivan year round, as President Dr. William Murabito and Director of Athletics Christopher DePew announced earlier this month that wrestling will be one of two sports added, beginning this fall.  (Women’s volleyball is the other).

According to DePew, the move to bring wrestling to Loch Sheldrake was in the making for some time, as he and the institution have become more and more connected to the sport over the years.

“We have developed very strong relationships with the Friends of Section 9 wrestling and also with members of Beat the Streets such as Al Bevilacqua and Bill Crum,” DePew said.  “Those individuals have been suggesting starting a wrestling program here for a while.”

DePew began to look at the possibility but was uncertain whether some of the start up costs, like new mats, might be prohibitive.

But when a new mat arrived, courtesy of Beat the Streets wrestling, the enthusiasm continued to grow.

And when DePew presented the proposal to add wrestling, as well as women’s volleyball, to the leaders of the institution, the Board not only approved it, but demanded that it go forward as part of the college’s five-year growth strategy.

It is believed that the programs will be an important recruitment tool for up to 40 new students in the next year and will be the first step of an overall plan to add four more athletic programs by 2015.

In addition to meeting the strategic needs of the institution, DePew believes there will also be a profound impact on the wrestling community.

“There are limited opportunities for wrestlers on the collegiate level and we’re happy to be providing a great option,” he said. “We believe we offer a unique opportunity for New York kids to get away from home and have the true college experience, but still be close enough to get home if they need to.  There is a bus from the Port Authority in New York City that goes to the flagpole at our school. We know there are so many good high school wrestlers in the state of New York, including in the Beat the Streets program, and we want to offer them a place to continue wrestling.”

There are of course some things currently being worked out.  Student housing is currently at capacity and there is an ongoing initiative to expand on-campus living.

And the leader of the program is still being determined, with the search for the head coach underway.  According to DePew, a number of candidates have already expressed interest and he is hoping to have the coach on board by mid February.

Even without the staff in place, the enthusiasm for the sport came through in conversations with DePew and was very clear during the Eastern States Classic.  In fact, DePew worked in the concession stand from the opening of the tournament in the morning through its close on both Friday and Saturday.  His excitement about making wrestling events a bigger fixture at the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse was palpable.

“I think this is a great opportunity for SUNY Sullivan and for the New York wrestling community,” he said. “We have some work to do, and I would say I’m cautiously optimistic.  We have seen NJCAA programs like Nassau and Niagara do very well in New York and we expect that we can have that kind of success as well. This fits in well with our continued quest to be the very best Junior College Athletic Program in the country.  I believe that the success of our current programs will breed immediate success for our future programs. We expect to become a national Junior College power in year one.”

Keys to the City: A Look at the PSAL's Top Wrestlers and Teams in 2012-13

 

 

By Matt Diano

 

Division I

Returning State Qualifiers (From 2012):

113 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, Tottenville

120 Pounds: Keanu Thompson, Grand Street Campus

126 Pounds: Mike Gannone, Tottenville

132 Pounds: Saidyokub Kahramonov, New Utrecht

170 Pounds: Anatoliy Anchakov, Grand Street Campus

285 Pounds: Leon Gonzales, Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Seniors to Watch

Santo Curatolo (Tottenville) – Curatolo is looking to win his fourth PSAL large school crown, making him the second to accomplish the feat in as many years (joining Jorje Jimenez who pulled off the achievement from 2009-2012).  In his first three trips to the state capital, Curatolo garnered an overall record of 1-6 (1-2 in 2012). Competing in the international styles, Curatolo had a breakout junior campaign, earning All-America honors at the Junior National Greco-Roman Championships, finishing sixth at the 120 pound weight.  While there remains some uncertainty as to whether he will remain at 113 pounds for a second consecutive year or move up to 120, the fact is that given his track record, Curatolo will be a significant favorite at whatever weight he competes at this season.

Keanu Thompson (Gianna Aragona)

Keanu Thompson (Grand Street Campus) – A runner up to Curatolo in 2011, last season Thompson made his debut in Albany, going 2-2, just missing the podium when he dropped a hard-fought 5-3 decision to eventual NYS fourth place finisher, TJ Fabian of Section XI. Competing in the international styles, Thompson has already tasted the glory of the top spot, winning the 2012 NYS Junior Greco-Roman title at 126 pounds.  An odds-on favorite to make a repeat trip to Albany, Thompson is expected to be competing at 126 pounds in 2013.

Leon Gonzalez (FDR) – A career heavyweight who showed a lot of promise as a freshman in 2010 when he placed third at the sectional tournament, Gonzalez experienced a bit of a sophomore jinx the following year, failing to place at the PSAL large school championships.  He more than made amends for his surprising 2011 effort, winning his first sectional crown last season with a narrow 2-1 decision in the finals.  At the NYS tournament, Gonzalez tallied a 1-2 record, pinning Section I representative, David Varian in the first round before ultimately dropping his next two matches to the wrestlers who finished third and sixth respectively (Cole Lampman of Section II and Mike Hughes of Section XI).

Anatoliy Anchakov (Gianna Aragona)

Anatoliy Anchakov (Grand Street Campus) – Joining Curatolo as the only multiple-time champion in DI, Anchakov has been a titlist the past two years for Coach John Zarcone. As he attempts to cap his career with a third championship, evidence would suggest that on paper, he might be the hardest person to dethrone.  He has cruised the past two years, recording bonus point victories in all of his PSAL tournament matches.  He also hopes to break into the win column in Albany, having been competitive in many matches, but going 0-4 in 2011 and 2012.

Bohang Liu (Townsend Harris) – A wrestler who has been on the cusp of breaking out the past two years, Liu finished third in the PSAL as a sophomore, before improving his spot by one slot in 2012, finishing as the runner-up at 106. Expected to remain at this weight class in 2013, his big match experience earned him the #1 ranking in the Gotham City Wrestling preseason rankings.  If Liu wrestles up to his potential, there is every reason in the world to expect that he will close out his scholastic career with his first berth to the NYS tournament.

Kevin Tynes (Brooklyn Tech) – Despite the obvious size difference, there are many career similarities between Liu and Tynes.  Like the person who precedes him in this preview, Tynes has been in title contention the last two years, notching third in 2011, followed by a second as a junior.  A battle tested student-athlete thanks in large part to the competitive schedule wrestled by Brooklyn Tech every year, should Tynes successfully navigate the PSAL (which is the anticipated outcome), he could very well be a sleeper to make the podium in Albany.

Shaquille Williams (Brooklyn Tech) -Despite the fact that he is still seeking his first All-City distinction, Williams is dangerous for the mere fact that last season, he stuck the eventual large school champion Leon Gonzalez on two separate occasions.  And, as the expression goes, “to be the best, you have to beat the best.”  Williams has demonstrated an ability to do just that, thus justifying his #1 rating in the preseason Gotham City rankings.  The victim of an ill-timed (no pun intended) sickness bug, those in the know feel that Williams could have easily been the defending champion if not for the health issue that rendered him unable to compete in the sectional tournament.

 

Also Keep An Eye On….

Saidyokub Kahramonov (New Utrecht) – After rumors that he may have moved out of the city following the conclusion of his sophomore season, a person in the know confirmed that the 2012 PSAL runner-up will be back for his junior campaign.   A finalist last season, losing to current Brown University freshman Ahmed Elsayed, Kahramonov got the call to represent the PSAL when the man who beat him was unable to compete.  In Albany, he went 0-2, but was competitive, losing 7-5 in his lone consolation match.  Now a year older and more experienced, he will be hungry to improve upon last year’s showing.

Alex Palmer

Alex Palmer (MLK) – Perhaps the most decorated and polished wrestler the MLK program has had in its short existence, Palmer has been one to watch since earning All-State honors on the Schoolboy level in 2010.  A two-time PSAL placewinner heading into his junior season, finishing fourth in 2011 and second last season, the coaches at the Manhattan based school are confident that this is the year he will put it together and ascend to the top spot of the podium.  Should Palmer win individual hardware, he would become the first wrestler in program history to qualify for the NYS tournament.

Soslan Gularov (Sheepshead Bay)—A wrestler who seemed to appear from out of nowhere, very little is known about Gularov.  In fact, until his showing at the 2012 NYS Junior GR & FS tournaments (he was a double champion), his was a name that many in NYC had not yet heard.  This anonymity has quickly become a thing of the past as Gularov opened many eyes when he came one victory short of being a Junior Freestyle All-American last July at the 220-pound weight class.  Armed with about as nasty a body lock as you will find in the Empire State, it is with good reason that aficionados are predicting a top-6 finish for him in Albany.  Everything will come down to how well he makes the transition to mat wrestling.

 

Team Race

With no one team bringing back more than four returning All-City wrestlers from 2012, it could be said that the battle for the top spot is as open as it ever has been in recent times.  The parity in talent in 2013 is so widespread that on any given weekend, any one of a handful of teams could get hot at the right time and reap the benefits.

A team that will certainly be there at the end is two-time defending champion Brooklyn Tech.  While graduation did hit hard as the squad lost a pair of NYS placewinners (Christian Masaya, sixth at 152 and Patryk Kopczynski, fourth at 220), Coach Bloom’s team still has the fortune of returning a quartet of sectional medalists.  Let by their hammer, Tynes, Brooklyn Tech will also get solid contributions out of Yaneev Hirsch (fourth at 99), Devon Hoyte (fourth at 113) and William Hernandez (fourth at 120).  Despite not being a returning placewinner, big man Shaq Williams is looked at as a title contender.

Matching the perennial NYC powerhouse in terms of total returning All-Section honorees is Wingate Campus.  Anchored by 2012 PSAL bronze medalists Kenton Greaves (120) and Cedrick Stephens (170), Wingate will also get huge efforts from their two fourth place finishers, Bertin Saimbeau (132) and Malik Francis (145).  Nicholas Bynoe, who came one win short of making top-4 last season will also prove to be a factor this season.

The team that bolsters the best 1-2-3 punch in the City is Tottenville.  Just like the classic Yankees had their murderer’s row, so too does the Staten Island-based school.  Starting out with Curatolo and ending with Gannone, Tottenville features 2012 120-pound finalist, Nick Azen in the middle.  With all three ranked #1 in their respective weight classes in the preseason rankings, if they do work, big numbers will follow.

Yet another squad that you can never sleep on is Grand Street Campus.  Tied for the lead with two returning sectional champions, the Zarcone-mentored team can expect to get mega efforts out of Thompson and Anchakov again in 2013.  Complementing the abilities of the two beasts will be Geudy Tavarez (99) and Justin Vasquez (152) who find themselves ranked in the top-4 in the preseason polls.

Continuing with the trend, James Madison is also a team that has to be considered in the hunt for the team title.  With a trio of returning studs, sectional finalist Marc D’Chiutiis (126), bronze medalist Konstantin Parfiryev (145) and fourth place finisher Javaughn Grant (220), if Madison can get a big effort from one of its 285-pounders, Mark Ifraimov or Kujtim Nikq, the team could be in business.

Finally, the student-athletes from Martin Luther King (MLK) are expected to enjoy the finest season in program history.  While Palmer may sit at the head of the table, the Knights possess quality all throughout their lineup.  Joining Palmer as the only other All-City wrestler from last season is 220-pound bronze medalist, Michael Diese.  Others who may not have found the podium yet in their scholastic careers but are well positioned to do so in 2013 are captains Danny “Omega” Amancio, the #2 ranked 120-pounder in the preseason rankings, and Johnny Alicea, the #4 rated 132-pounder.  Amancio came a single win short of the podium last season, but is fresh off an eye opening performance at the NYS Junior Freestyle tournament that witnessed him finish in the top-6.

 

Division II

2012 Returning State Placewinners

Second Place: Cheick Ndiaye (12), Brooklyn International, 106 pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (From 2012):

99 Pounds: Dolan McColgan, Petrides

132 Pounds: Paul Schoenberg, Baruch

145 Pounds: Adis Radoncic, Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy

160 Pounds: Tyson Simon, Petrides

170 Pounds: Isaiah Blake, Baruch

182 Pounds: Nathaniel Rose, Eagle Academy

195 Pounds: Miguel Perez, Eagle Academy

285 Pounds: Elvin Gervacio, Brooklyn International

 

Seniors to Watch

Alpha Diallo (Brooklyn International) – A bridesmaid in 2012 at 113 (wrestled up to help the team) after finishing third as a sophomore, 2013 is the year that Diallo is finally expected to climb to the top step of the podium.  Ranked #1 at 106 points in the Gotham City preseason poll, Diallo will look to become the next in the growing line of Brooklyn International wrestlers to achieve success at the DII state tournament.

Cheick Ndiaye (Brooklyn International) – Hailed by former Beat the Streets coach Mike Torriero as a kid with the potential to be “the best the City has ever seen,” Ndiaye took a big step last season in turning this compliment into a reality, finishing second at the NYS DII tournament.  In doing so, he became the first PSAL wrestler in either division to make it to the state finals.  Already a two-time PSAL champion (after placing third in the section as a freshman), Ndiaye heads into 2013 as a near lock to add a third title to his mantel.  The only question that remains is whether he will earn the DII state crown to go with it. A multiple-time NYS placewinner in the international styles on the Cadet and Junior levels, the Brooklyn International student-athlete was recently named to the Honorable Mention portion of the top-10 New York senior list published on Intermat.

Paul Schoenberg (Baruch) – A 3x PSAL finalist (who owns a win over Ndiaye as a freshman), Schoenberg won titles as both a sophomore and a junior at 112 and 132 pounds, respectively.  Going 0-4 in his two trips to the state capital, Schoenberg will look to end his career by breaking into the win column.

Tyson Simon (Petrides) – Winning a bronze and a silver in his first two years at Petrides, Simon broke through as a junior, securing his first trip to the state tournament in grand fashion, pinning returning NYS qualifier Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy in the finals.  Simon posted an 0-2 record at the state tournament, but gained a wealth of experience; something he hopes to capitalize on as he attempts to repeat as a sectional champion in 2013.

Isaiah Blake (Baruch) – A three-time DII sectional placewinner, Blake seems to get better with age, as he has improved his position on the medal stand incrementally each year. Finishing fourth as a freshman, and then third as a sophomore, the stars all aligned for Blake in 2012 as he earned the first sectional crown of his scholastic career.  Running into the juggernaut that is Section V’s Burke Paddock in the first round, Blake struggled in his Albany debut, going 0-2.

Faheem Simpson (Eagle Academy) – The 2011 PSAL small school champion at 285 as a sophomore, Simpson struggled with injuries last season and was unable to participate in the sectional tournament.  Now back to full strength, he has the mental edge of knowing that the last time he faced the returning PSAL Champion (in the 2011 finals), he pinned him.  In his 2011 appearance in Albany, Simpson snuck in a win by fall in his first consolation match before being eliminated one round later to finish with a 1-2 record.

 

Also Keep An Eye On….

Dolan McColgan, Photo by Boris V

Dolan McColgan (Petrides) – The 2012 PSAL DII 99-pound champion after finishing third the previous year, McColgan picked up a victory at the state tournament, knocking off Alexis Bleau by a score of 6-1 in the consolation rounds.  McColgan concluded his debut in Albany with a 1-2 overall record, with both losses coming at the hands of 2013 wrestlers to watch, Alex Herringshaw and Tyler Aslanian.

Adis Radoncic (RKA) – On pace to be a four-timer in the PSAL, having won titles at 135 and 145 in his first two years at Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, Radoncic enjoyed a major jump in performance on the state level last year.  He erased the memories of an 0-2 record in his first trip to Albany by compiling a 2-2 mark last season, falling one win short of being a NYS DII placewinner.  A talented thrower, he is capable of putting anyone on his back in an instant.

Nigel Williams (Eagle Academy) – A two-time sectional runner-up, Williams does not know what it feels like to wrestle in a PSAL consolation match because he has never been in one thus far in his career.  This is a pattern that we see continuing in 2013 as the Eagle Academy junior will be intent on making his way back to Albany after serving as a 2011 replacement qualifier.  In his appearance two years ago, Williams took some typical freshman lumps, going 0-2 against older and more polished competition.

Nathaniel Rose (Eagle Academy) – A fab frosh last season, Rose wasted no time making himself a name to know on the NYC wrestling scene, winning the DII sectional title right out of the gate.  Most impressive was the fact that he made a compelling argument for the unofficial title of best freshman in the City, scoring bonus points in both of his sectional tournament bouts.  He was humbled a bit in Albany, though, going 0-2 against a predominantly upperclassmen field.

Miguel Perez (Eagle Academy)- Another diaper dandy in 2012, Perez joined his aforementioned teammate in winning a PSAL small school title as a freshman.  At the DII state tournament, he finished 0-2, but showed signs of growth, rebounding from a loss by second period pin, to make a respectable showing of himself in a 6-5 defeat in the consolation round.  As he continues to grow into body, look for those narrow losses to be transformed into close wins.

Elvin Gervacio (Brooklyn International) – A two-time PSAL finalist, Gervacio went from being the pinned to the pinner in the span of one year, ascending to the top spot and punching his own ticket to the Times Union Center.  He went 0-2 at the DII state tournament, but still has two years remaining to do damage.

 

Team Race

Having taken turns hoisting the hardware the past two years, all signs point to another epic battle for NYC DII supremacy between defending team champions, Eagle Academy and the 2011 top team, Petrides.  With less than 10 total teams in the PSAL DII ranks, both squads are loaded with returning placewinners from last season.

With at least one person indicated at every weight class in the preseason rankings, Petrides may have the most balanced lineup of any team in NYC.  If they do indeed put a person in the top-4 of all 15 weights, it is hard to imagine anyone being able to outscore them in tournament play. Led of course by the dynamic duo of returning champions, McColgan and Simon, the Staten Island-based school will also count on huge efforts from a number of other wrestlers to come up big during crunch time to regain the title.  These wrestlers include 2x PSAL runner-up Nate Musa (132 in 2012), 2011 finalist/third in 2012 Sean Caffrey (at 106), 145-pound fourth place finisher, Isiah Beckles, as well as runner-ups at 182 and 195 pounds, Christian Gioia and Joshua Ferlazzo.

Eagle Academy, very much attached to the championship trophy earned last season, has no intention of lying down as the squad also enters the new season with its share of weapons.  If it’s possible, on paper, Eagle might be more dangerous than Petrides as they possess as strong a backend as you will find in NYS (although 99 isn’t a weight class that includes a member of Coach John McGarry’s team).

With return of former state qualifiers at 182, 195, and 285, Eagle has the luxury of knowing that if they are within striking distance late in the evening, Rose, Perez, and Simpson will close strongly and bring home team gold.  Featuring a complementary front end that includes 2012 99-pound bronze medalist Rashid Powell, 106-pound sectional runner-up Jairo Pepin, and 120-pound third place and fourth place finishers, Randy Ramirez and Trevaughn Cummings, it’s seemingly in the cards that they will have the firepower to stay within reach of Petrides.  Throw in 2x finalist Williams and 145-pound third place finisher, Zimba Hamm, and it might give you the championship formula.

For more on the PSAL, including the preseason rankings mentioned above, check out www.gothamcitywrestling.com

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

Features:

Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak