Garnets host Miller Invitational

By MIKE SMITH

Brian Gardner looks to flip an opponent at the Miller Invitational. Gardner and teammate Walter Florio’s battles in practice have gotten them ready for a grueling wrestling schedule. Photos/Bobby Begun

Brian Gardner looks to flip an opponent at the Miller Invitational. Gardner and teammate Walter Florio’s battles in practice have gotten them ready for a grueling wrestling schedule. Photos/Bobby Begun

On Dec. 7, the Rye Garnets hosted a score of other programs in the annual Bernie Miller Invitational at Rye High School. Competing in a number of dual meets proved challenging for the Rye squad, but head coach Matt Beatty is confident that his team will steadily improve as the season goes on.

Brewster dominated the tournament on Saturday, winning all five of their dual meets, while Lakeland/Panas finished second, edging a normally stacked John Jay squad. At 1-4 on the day, the Garnets weren’t quite successful  as Beatty hoped they would be coming in.

“We didn’t fare all that well,” Beatty said. “But we certainly did have a couple of highlights.”

One such highlight was the performance of Garnet senior Fritz Zahringer, who won the 152-pound division and was named the tournament’s most outstanding senior. Coming into the 2013-14 season, Beatty said he expected big things from his senior captain and, so far, Zahringer hasn’t disappointed.

Walter Florio locks up with an opponent on Saturday. Florio wrestled at 138 pounds, but could drop weight as the season goes on.

Walter Florio locks up with an opponent on Saturday. Florio wrestled at 138 pounds, but could drop weight as the season goes on.

“He was dominant in all of his matches,” Beatty said. “Fritz works so hard. After last season was over, he immediately began training for this year.”

Zahringer is one of four senior captains Beatty expects to lead by example; Alex Raynor, at 170 pounds, and Walter Florio and Brian Gardner, who wrestled at 138 and 132 pounds respectively.

Beatty said the battles in practice between Florio and Gard ner bring a lot of energy to the rest of the squad and have served to make each grappler more prepared for his in-section opponents.

“That’s one of the things we look at; basically, there are no friends in practice,” Beatty said. “That doesn’t mean getting into fights, but you need to push yourself to get better and that’s something I never have to remind either of those two.”

Junior Jackson Kligerman hits the mat on Dec. 6. Kligerman should be a force if he can remain healthy this year.

Junior Jackson Kligerman hits the mat on Dec. 6. Kligerman should be a force if he can remain healthy this year.

In addition to his senior leaders, Beatty is excited to watch the continued growth of quite a few of his youngsters, including junior Jackson Kligerman. Kligerman showed promise last winter, but was hampered by injuries. Beatty feels the junior could thrive this year if he manages to stay healthy. In the lower weightclasses, Beatty believes Frank Goldzer, at 113, is another wrestler who could be ready to turn heads.

“Frank was great last year as a freshman, wrestling at 99 pounds” Beatty said. “Right now, I think he’s just trying to grow into this new division.”

The Garnets will compete in an out-bracket Section Dual Meet Challenge event this week, after press time, and compete in a few more tournaments before the new year.

As his team grinds its way towards the divisional and sectional tournament, Beatty is insistent that they not focus so much on their overall record as getting better each time they hit the mat.

“What we’ve been talking about a lot is peaking,” Beatty said. “The record, it means nothing. What matters is, as sectionals approach, really getting that skillset to perfection.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com 

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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.