Friday Night Lights Coming to Massapequa and Fulton This Weekend

Action at the Freestyle and Greco Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota begins on Saturday with the Women’s Cadet tournament. But plenty of wrestling will take place much closer to home in the Empire State this weekend, from Long Island to Fulton to Rochester.

On July 13, a pair of Takedown Tournaments will take place different parts of the state.   Friends of Massapequa Wrestling will host “Friday Night Lights” in John Burns Park beginning at 5 p.m..  The event will continue for several hours, featuring competition in seven divisions, from Intermediate to Masters.  Up to 400 grapplers have taken the mat at this event in the past.

For more information on the Massapequa Friday Night Lights, see the flyer:

Click to access 2012MassapequaTakedown.pdf

The success of this event on Long Island in recent years caught the eye of some in the upstate area and resulted in the first “Friday Night Lights” event held by the Friends of Section 3 Wrestling in 2011.  The second edition will also be held on July 13, at Fulton High School’s Athletic Complex, starting at 6 p.m.

“We saw the event in Massapequa and thought it would be a perfect fit up here as well,” said John Drew, one of the organizers. “Vito Mundo, who runs it down there in Long Island was very supportive and instrumental in getting us off the ground.”

In last year’s inaugural event, Drew said 327 wrestlers participated, from five different states.  This year, a group from Canada will add an international component.  According to Drew, pre-registration is well ahead of where it was in 2011 and he expects to reach 400 grapplers, which is the maximum that can be accommodated.

“We had a bracket with four state placers in it last year, so it’s not all just for fun – we definitely have kids who really want to come out and win it,” Drew said.  “But overall, we like to call it a wrestling festival rather than a wrestling tournament, with vendors, concessions and sprinklers for the kids.  It’s a family-friendly atmosphere and a fun night for everyone.”

For more information on the Section 3 “Friday Night Lights”, please see the flyer:

Click to access fnl.pdf

For those who prefer wrestling on the sand, Ontario Beach Park in Rochester will be the place to be on July 14-15.  On Saturday, the US Beach National Championships will occur in six divisions and on Sunday the Senior Beach World Team Trials will take place, with the winners advancing to the World Beach championships in September.  In addition, Sunday’s action will include the National High School Beach Duals.

Wrestling 4 Vinny's Victory: More Than 350 To Participate in Takedown Tournament To Benefit Vinny Vespa

Vinny Vespa Poster;

Last weekend, Vinny Vespa attended the Adam Frey Classic in Pennsylvania where in addition to receiving the Courageous Wrestler Award, he saw some of the nation’s best wrestling talent compete to benefit the Adam Frey Foundation.

On Saturday June 30, he will once again get an opportunity to watch great wrestling, but this time, it will be to support him in his battle with Lymphoma at the Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament at Monroe Woodbury High School, beginning at 8 a.m.

“The thing I’m most excited about is for Vinny to see how many supporters he has,” said Michael Vespa, Vinny’s older brother. “It will be awesome when he walks in and sees how many people came out to benefit him and how many people are on the mats wrestling just for him.”

Indeed, the mats will be busy, as close to 400 wrestlers signed up, according to one of the event’s organizers, Bob Voelker.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Voelker said. “Registration really exploded over the last week – it’s fantastic.”

The registration includes a wide range of competitors.  There are accomplished grapplers like Hofstra’s Jamie Franco, former junior college All-American Nick Rausenberger and at least five 2012 New York State placers.  And on the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of people like Voelker’s son Troy, a former high school football player who doesn’t have experience on the mat.

“Troy hasn’t wrestled before but he wants to help; wants to do something to be a part of the event,” Bob Voelker said.  “There are a bunch of people like that.  They just want to show support to Vinny.”

The variability in registrants goes beyond experience in the sport.  There are youth wrestlers participating as well as seven entrants over the age of 55.  In addition, at least five states will be represented, with one Monroe Woodbury alum flying up from Florida to take part.

While Vinny Vespa won’t wrestle, his brothers Michael and Marco (a NHSCA Middle School National Champion) will.  For Michael, who took some time off after high school, it’s an ideal opportunity to return to competition.

“Honestly, it’s amazing,” Michael Vespa said. “It will be my first time back on the mat in years and it’s for my brother at my high school, wearing a singlet that says my brother’s name on it.  It’s inspiring.”

But the event will offer much more than just wrestling action. There will be family fun activities such as a dunking booth, bounce castles and face painting as well as a barbecue and a number of raffles. In addition, other entities, such as Cookies for Cancer, will be selling goods to benefit the Vespa family.

“The unbelievable amount of support has overwhelmed me,” Voelker said. “It has restored my faith in people.  It amazes me how many people have come forward. The support and love of the wrestling community has been truly remarkable.”

Michael Vespa believes that support and love will be on full display on Saturday.

“I think there will be something for everyone,” he said. “I hope people will come out to see my brother and enjoy a day of fun with some great wrestling.  I know that it will mean a lot to Vinny in his battle.”

For more information, please see the event flyer: