Stevo Poulin and AJ Burkhart Claim Titles; Team NYWAY Competes at the Grand River Rumble in Michigan

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.”

Individual Placers

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

Stevo Poulin Takes Third (and First) Like a Champ at Gene Mills Eastern Nationals

By Betsy Veysman

It looked like a simple mistake.  The registration for the Gene Mills Eastern Nationals listed Stevo Poulin’s name twice – in the Midget division at 54 pounds and in the Juniors at 60.

It wasn’t an error.

After three titles in the event in the past, the nine-year old was looking for a few additional tough matches.

“Sometimes the younger division isn’t that much of a challenge,” Stevo said. “I wanted a bigger challenge.  I’ve done it before [wrestling in two brackets] at local tournaments. I wanted to try it again.”

Although he had to shuttle back and forth between mats and on more than one occasion had to literally run from the final whistle of one match to his next bout, the Schuylerville native went 8-1 overall.

“I knew I would win the [Midget],” he said. “I thought I had a chance with the older kids because they weren’t much heavier.  I was kind of close to winning.”

Poulin, who weighed in at 53 pounds, breezed through the Midget bracket and into the finals with three victories.  There, he thought he might face an opponent from Maryland who he had beaten in a close match earlier in the year.  However, he instead faced his practice partner, Joey Scheeren, in the title bout and came out on top by major decision.

“They were out there almost laughing in the finals. It was almost like they were telling each other knock-knock jokes,” said Steve Poulin, Stevo’s father.  “We traveled with them to the tournament and [Joey and Stevo] are friends.”

Things were a bit more serious in the 60-pound division.  Poulin won his first two before facing Pennsylvania’s Luke Rex.  The bout went into overtime, where Poulin was penalized for scissoring the head, resulting in a victory for Rex.

Poulin bounced back to take third place, to earn two medals on the day.  But that wasn’t what Steve Poulin wanted to talk about.

“When he lost, he didn’t get upset,” the father said.  “He ran right over to his next match.  I overheard one of the other parents saying that every kid should learn from Stevo’s match.  I thought they were going to say something bad about Stevo or about the scissoring call.  But instead they said other kids should learn from how he walked off the mat, held his head high and knew how to handle the loss. He handled himself really well and that made me feel really good.”

It was the first time Poulin had lost at the Eastern Nationals, an event he has enjoyed attending for several years.

“It was the first big national tournament I ever went to,” Stevo Poulin said. “I like it because Gene Mills is there and I like the awards [which are signed by Mills].  I have good luck there.”

Poulin hopes for more good luck next week at the Brute Empire Nationals (dual and individual) in Brockport.   He will compete for Journeymen and he looks forward to a possible rematch with Ryan Crookham, who defeated him 4-0 last summer.

There’s also something else on his mind as the weekend approaches.

“Stevo is six wins away from 400,” his father said. “Hopefully, he’ll get there this weekend.”

If it doesn’t happen this time, there will be plenty of other opportunities as the Ohio Tournament of Champions, the Minimen Nationals and several other events are on the horizon.

“It will be a busy spring and summer,” Steve Poulin said. “But we’ll still make time for soccer and other things Stevo wants to do.”

One thing Stevo wanted to do was acknowledge another victory in the family at the Gene Mills tournament.   His cousin, Orion Anderson, another outstanding youth wrestler, was the champion at 70 pounds.

A full list of Gene Mills Eastern Nationals champions will be posted when available.  For more information on the tournament, see http://www.cnypin2win.com/