The Flatbush Varsity Wrestling program showed just how far it has come in three short years, as three of the 11 Falcon wrestlers scored points for the team while five wrestlers earned a top-6 finish – with Co-Captain Yaron Sternberg winning the 152 lb. division, during the second and final day of competition on Sunday (2/18) in the 23rd Wittenberg Wrestling Invitational run by the Yeshiva Wrestling Association and hosted by The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ.
For Flatbush, the Sunday competitions saw each team member begin the day still with an opportunity to advance and score points for the team. Co-Captains Yaron Sternberg and Joey Maswary, along with Freshmen David Hidary and Ordavid Menashe and Senior Sammy Burekhovich were alive in the winner’s brackets, having won their bouts the Friday before. Sophomore Jonathan Baum and Freshman Ronnie Sasson, Flatbush’s two entrants in the 113 lb. division, would have their first chance to compete on Sunday, so they, too, were alive in the winner’s brackets. All the other wrestlers were relegated to the wrestle-back brackets.
The battle in the 113 lb. division was an interesting one for Flatbush in particular. Jonathan Baum won his first match and was in contention for a spot in the 3rd place bout. He looked to have a good path, as the wrestler standing in his way from DRS was one he defeated twice earlier this season. But, as he was looking to make a move, his arm slipped away from his opponent, and it gave the Wildcat the room he needed. Baum went down, losing by pin. That set up an all-Falcon bout for 5th place between Baum and teammate Ronnie Sasson. The more experienced Baum won, earning the 5th place points for the team, with Sasson finishing in 6th place.
Also taking 6th place in his weight class was the Senior Burekhovich. On the heels of his opening round pin on Friday, Burekhovich was primed for big things. He kept the momentum, defeating his first opponent of the day. But, he fell in his next bout. With his energy sapped, he dropped his final two bouts in the wrestle backs, the last one securing him his 6th place finish.
Securing a 4th place finish for the Falcons was the younger Co-captain, Sophomore Joey Maswary. Working his way through the division, Maswary moved to the 3rd place bout, but could not secure the win, settling for the 4th place finish and denying him a spot on the podium.
That set up the key weight class for Flatbush, at 152 lbs. Traditionally one of the most hotly contested divisions with a large number of entrants, it was a huge challenge facing the 2nd seeded Falcon Co-captain, Senior Yaron Sternberg. Sternberg already held the best finish by a Falcon at Wittenberg when he place third in 2017. Could he improve on that finish?
Sternberg won his first two matches by pin, but faced a tough challenge in the semi-finals. He worked his moves, looking for a road to a pin, but his cagey opponent played a defensive game plan. No worries. Sternberg built up a cushion on points, and maintaining the advantage, outlasted his competitor through the three rounds for the 12-5 win on points. That set up a championship bout with Frisch’s top entrant in the weight class. the powerful Sternberg set up his opponent and scored an early takedown. He stayed in control, and took the 2-0 lead into round 2. Selecting the down position, Sternberg soon escaped Frisch’s Farkas for another point, then scored another takedown for a 5-0 lead. Farkas stood up, but Sternberg kept control. That set up the key move of the match. Sensing Farkas’ weight shifting, Sternberg executed a hip toss.
“It was the most perfect hip toss I ever pulled off in competition,” Sternberg would remark afterwards. “[Head] Coach [Michael Amuev] called it ‘textbook’!” Sternberg pressed his advantage and began maneuvering Farkas’s shoulders towards the mat. Farkas fought back, and almost shifted out. But, Sternberg put his full weight into the Frisch wrestler. Seconds later, it was all over. The referee slapped the mat and raised his hand. It was a pin, and Flatbush had its first Wittenberg champion ever!