Flatbush took another step into the future on Friday (2/12) when Sophomore student-athlete Yaron Sternberg took to the mats at the Wittenberg Wrestling Tournament for his first match, and he did more than just wrestle. He won!
Sternberg laid the foundation for the fledgling Flatbush Wrestling program when he reached out to Flatbush Athletic Director back in the early parts of the Summer of 2015. At the time, Sternberg was in the process of transferring to the Yeshivah of Flatbush from HALB’s Davis Renov Stoller High School (DRS), where he was introduced to wrestling as a Freshman. Sternberg has been working since September to build a program at Flatbush, spreading the word about a program and gathering classmates to join him. Though Athletic Director Amkraut is actively working to get a larger program moving forward, the Wittenberg Invitational would give Flatbush the opportunity to take the first step into interscholastic competition.
The Wittenberg Invitational, now in its 21st year, was created to give Yeshiva wrestlers an avenue to compete against each other in a large tournament format, and to connect in the atmosphere of athletic competition. It is sponsored by the Yeshiva Wrestling Association and has been run by Neil Ellman, the long-time head coach of Yeshiva University’s wrestling program. Ellman named the tournament for his mentor and former coach during his days as a student-athlete at YU, Henry Wittenberg – arguably the greastest Jewish freestyle wrestler in history.
The three-day tournament, hosted by The Frisch School, with shabbat events at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, NJ, got underway on Friday morning, and Sternberg was among the first competitors. Wrestling at 160 lbs., Sternberg was awarded the 5th overall seed among 13 competitors in one of the largest weight classes in the competition. First up for Sternberg would be Moshe Gutfreund of TABC. Relying on his experience from his Freshman season at DRS, Sternberg took a cautious and strategic approach to the bout. Sizing up his Storm opponent, Sternberg began shooting the leg, scoring points on takedowns and reversals, building up up a 15-3 lead on points. In the second period (a bout can go a maximum of three 2-minute periods, with the winner either outlasting his opponent on points after the end of the third period, or by pinning him at any point in the bout), Sternberg gave up two points on a reversal. However, he took them right back on a reversal of his own, then earned three back points to take a commanding 20-5 lead. Sternberg brought the bout to a close when he got his opponent with his back and shoulders on the mat, pinning him at the 3:33 mark.
“I was a bit nervous at the start, not having wrestled in competition since last year,” noted an exhausted but satisfied Sternberg. “I focused on staying within myself and using he basic strategies I learned last year. I know my next match will be tough, but I am looking forward to shabbat and relaxing with my former teammates and my new friends.”
With a nice long break for Shabbat, Yaron Sternberg can relax and enjoy this first-ever victory for a Flatbush Falcon on the wrestling mats. Come Sunday morning, Sternberg will be right back at it, looking for win number two!
NEST NOTES: By pinning his opponent for the win in taking the bout, Sternberg scored 4 points for Flatbush. Had he only won by outpointing his opponent, Flatbush would have garnered 3 points in the team competition.
Sternberg will next face SAR’s Daniel Osen in the Quarterfinals. Osen won his first match by pinning JEC’s Matan Levy in just under one minute. The bout is scheduled for around 9:30 am on Sunday morning.