It’s hard not to be excited about the Adam Frey Classic this year. Just ask Penn State National Champion Ed Ruth.
According to Adam Frey Foundation Board Member Josh Liebman, Ruth was in the middle of a special family occasion when he was contacted about the event.
“Ed had a lot going on, but he called back right away and said he definitely wanted to do it,” Liebman said. “It was on his mind enough that he couldn’t wait until the next day to call.”
In the fourth annual event for the Adam Frey Foundation, Ruth will square off against Lehigh’s two-time All-American Robert Hamlin in the feature bout in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“We were trying to think of matchups that would be really exciting for wrestling fans and we knew [Hamlin] would be involved,” Liebman said. “He and his family have been really supportive of the Foundation and with the event being at Lehigh this year, it was a great fit.”
Ruth has posted first and third place finishes at NCAAs, while Hamlin has taken second and fourth.
After holding the first three Adam Frey Classics at Rider, Liebman is excited for the new location at Grace Hall on Lehigh’s campus.
“So far, it’s been nothing but great,” he said. “Everyone has been very supportive and interested in being part of the event and helping it grow. The sports marketing staff has helped out and the coaches have too. I really wanted to get Pennsylvania involved since Adam was from there. It’s like he’ll be closer to home, at least for a year.”
Besides the new arena, another addition in 2012 is a match of high school stars with the top rising junior in the country, Chance Marstellar, taking on New Jersey state champion Johnny Sebastian.
“We’ve never done a high school vs. high school match before,” Liebman said. “Last year, because of an injury, [Blair Academy’s] Brooks Black stepped in to wrestle Zach Rey. But this year, Marstellar really wanted to be a part of it. The college kids weren’t in a hurry to wrestle him, but [Sebastian] was excited. He loves to test himself. I expect Johnny to start next season ranked in the top 5 or 10 at his weight, so I think it’s a premiere matchup.”
It’s one of many bouts Liebman is looking forward to viewing. (The full lineup is listed below). He believes the tilt between 141 pound All-Americans Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly) and Perry, NY native Mike Nevinger (Cornell) will be one to watch.
“That match may not jump out at people, but I can’t wait for it,” Liebman said. “They’re both so tough on top and a little funky on their feet. I think it could steal the show.”
While heavyweight battles aren’t typically the most entertaining affairs, Liebman is anticipating 2012 All-American Nick Gwiazdowski’s meeting with former Pittsburgh Panther Ryan Tomei. He predicts good action and “not a lot of the hanging on you often see at heavy.”
Liebman added that having Gwiazdowski, a former star at Duanesburg High, in the event is exciting for another reason. When he was a senior in high school, the recent NC State transfer participated in the New York-New Jersey Charity Challenge, which benefitted the Adam Frey Foundation. In fact, Gwiazdowski’s pin sealed the victory for the Empire State.
“It’s something I’d like to have on a regular basis — having guys be a part of an event in high school and staying involved with our organization in college. It feels like watching guys grow up through your peewee program,” Liebman said. “That’s what’s great about the wrestling community. Everyone, even if they didn’t know Adam personally, wants to know his story and get involved.”
Adam Frey’s alma mater, Blair Academy, has been very involved from the start. This year, the event will be set up as a dual meet between Blair and Angry Fish with several alums of those squads coaching and competing. As a bonus, Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer, may serve as an honorary coach.
Nevinger and Gwiazdowski won’t be the only representatives from the Empire State. All-American Justin Accordino of Hofstra will take the mat, as will John Jay graduate Billy Watterson (Brown), Brockport native Christian Boley, Columbia’s Jake O’Hara, Cornell’s Caleb Richardson and Binghamton’s Pat Hunter and Cody Reed. In addition, Beat the Streets (BTS) wrestlers from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore will participate in exhibition bouts between 1 and 2 p.m. before the main event begins.
“I’m really excited about having BTS,” Liebman said. “It’s a chance for kids to get outside the city. One of the important parts of the BTS program is for kids to strive for a college education, even if it’s outside of wrestling. This is a great chance for the kids to visit a college campus and see that it’s something they may want.”
What Liebman wants is to fill Grace Hall as close to capacity as possible. He wants the wrestling community to come together to support the Foundation and celebrate Adam Frey’s life.
“In the past, our events have had a fun atmosphere,” he said. “Top talent comes but since it’s not a pressure situation, the guys go out there and relax and wrestle. It’s more open, more fun. It quickly becomes a feeling of reunion rather than a somber event where we’re memorializing Adam. Adam wouldn’t have wanted that; he wouldn’t want a moment of silence. He’d rather have everyone having a good time.”
Exhibition Matches 1-2 p.m. – Beat the Streets New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore
Main Event Matches, Beginning at 2 p.m.
Chuck Zeisloft (Rider) vs. Billy Watterson (Brown)
Nic Bedelyon (Kent State) vs. Steve Mytych (Drexel)
Mike Nevinger (Cornell) vs. Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly)
Tyler Small (Kent State) vs. Vinnie Fava (Rider)
Caleb Richardson (Cornell) vs. Pat Hunter (Binghamton)
BJ Young (Newberry) vs. CJ Cobb (UPenn)
Justin Accordino (Hofstra) vs. Jake O’Hara (Columbia)
James Fleming (Clarion) vs. Joey Napoli (Lehigh)
Ian Miller (Kent State) vs. Shane Welch (Lehigh)
Chance Marsteller vs. Johnny Sebastian*
Bekzod Abduakhmanov (Clarion) vs. Josh Asper (Maryland)
Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) vs. Jimmy Resnick (Rider)
Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) vs. Ricky McDonald (Brown)
Christian Boley (Maryland) vs. Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State)
Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) vs. Ryan Tomei (Pitt/ OTC)
Max Wessell (Lehigh) vs. Cody Reed (Binghamton)
Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) vs. Ed Ruth (Penn State)**
*High School match
***Match-ups provided by Josh Liebman
To purchase tickets in advance: http://ev6.evenue.net/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventList?groupCode=S&linkID=global-lehigh&shopperContev6.evenue.net
For more information, please visit adamfrey.us