After a rewarding opening day, Flatbush Sophomore Yaron Sternberg lost a hard-fought battle in the Quarterfinal bout of the 21st Wittenberg Wrestling Invitational on Sunday, 2/14, held on the campus of The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey.
Though tournament director and Yeshiva University Coach Neil Ellman was serving as Sternberg’s coach for the tournament, his event director duties made it difficult for him to be in Sternberg’s corner for his match. Therefore, it is a great thing that the yeshiva wrestling community is a close knit and supportive one. In addition to a wealth of support from his competitors from a variety of different schools, he received coaching tips from many of their coaches as well. In fact, for his quaterfinal bout, Mark Shirian, DRS’s Head Coach and Yaron’s coach as a freshman, offered to step up and be in Sternberg’s corner for him.
Scheduled for the fifth bout of the day on mat number 3, Sternberg would face off against SAR’a Daniel Osen. Osen wrestled at 170 lbs. last season, and though he dropped weight to qualify for the 160 lb.ion, he entered the mat with a distinct size advantage over Flatbush’s entrant. Right from the start, Osen took control, attacking the less experienced Sternberg, taking him down to the mat and pressing the advantage. In fact, it looked like Osen would make quick work of Sternberg, turning him on his back and looking to record a pin just one minute into the match. But Sternberg was not going to go that easily. Battling hard to stay in the match, Sternberg rolled off his back, and soon broke Osen’s hold to score an escape and get on the board. Osen again would take down the Falcon, and again looked like he might record a fall for the match, but Sternberg held on, letting the clock hit :00, surviving the opening round, but trailing on points.
The second round saw a more balanced competition. Gaining confidence, and being reminded by Coach Shirian to rely on the fundamentals he learned last year, Sternberg looked to begin taking the match to Osen. For the first time in the bout, Sternberg began to attack, not merely look to defend. Countering Osen’s own attacking strategy, Sternberg reversed Osen, flipping him, and getting the Sting wrestler on his back. For a brief moment, it looked like Sternberg might pin the SAR veteran. Osen managed to escape, however, and the 2nd round ended with Osen still maintaining the advantage on the scoreboard.
The third and final round saw the competitors start as the did at the outset, facing each other, looking for an opportunity to get the advantage. Again, Osen pressed the offense, and looked for the pin. Again, Sternberg fended of the attack. With under 20 seconds to go, Sternberg scored another escape, closing the gap to 11-8. Knowing he would need three points just to equalize the bout, Sternberg looked to shoot the leg and score a takedown. But, Osen knew all he needed to do was to evade Sternberg’s attack. Osen did just that, and Sternberg’s valiant effort in the Quarterfinals fell short, with Osen moving on by virtue of the 11-8 victory.
Though disappointed by the result, Sternberg earned the respect of his competitors across weight classes and schools. He also had one more chance to place in the competition, through the consolation bracket.
Unfortunately, Sternberg came up against an opponent who was more interested in winning that in providing fair competition. Utilizing illegal moves, which were only minimally checked by the official, Sternberg soon found himself the victim of a shoulder dislocation (it was short lived, as it almost immediately relocated in its socket). COninuing with similar unscrupulous strategies, Sternberg’s opponent soon again held Sternberg in a dangerous position, threatening again to dislocate his joints. Facing the unchecked and unscrupulous attack, Sternberg resigned, choosing not to continue a bout that found him facing an unsportsmanlike opponent and potential personal harm. Though difficult for any competitor, Sternberg chose the honorable route, rather that engage his opponent in poor sportsmanship. As such, Sternberg was an equal example to his fellow wrestlers of sportsmanship in defeat as he was in victory the Friday before.
Chazak U’Baruch to Yaron Sternberg for his efforts in Flatbush’s first venture into the world of interscholastic wrestling!
NEST NOTES: Sternberg’s opponent in the Quaterfinals, SAR’s Daniel Osen, would go on to take second place in the 160 lb. weight class, losing in the finals.