By MIKE SMITH
On Feb. 15, Mamaroneck senior Youssif Hemida added another section title to his already crowded trophy case, claiming the 220-pound championship with a 5-2 win against Horace Greeley’s Brock Cvijanovich at Clarkstown South High School.
Hemida, who claimed last year’s title after a neck injury cost him most of the regular season, said he came into this season with a repeat on his mind.
“I had unbelievable motivation coming in,” the senior said. “How many people get to say that they’re two-time section champs?”
According to Mamaroneck coach Dave Colagiovanni, Hemida’s quest to reclaim the 220-pound division started in the offseason, as Hemida traveled outside of the area to take on some of the best competition in the nation.
“What he brings to the table is that he’s very focused and very consistent,” Colagiovanni said. “Those are things that helped him maintain his number one spot all year.”
Wrestling in Fargo, S.D., and in the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina in the offseason helped Hemida, who was undefeated this year, perfect his craft.
“You’re going up against top level wrestlers there and you learn a lot of things from your losses,” Hemida said. “You look at a lot of Section I champs, and they might be undefeated in the section, but if you don’t get outside the state, I don’t think you learn a lot from that.”
Hemida wasn’t the only Tiger wrestler to make waves at sectionals, however, as teammate Roger Ransom took third place at 170-pounds with an 11-3 decision win over Somers’ Andrew Gross. Ransom faltered in the semis against eventual section champion Nunzio Crowley, who handed the Tiger a 1-0 loss. It was the fourth meeting between the two defensive-minded grapplers this year, with Crowley coming out on top in each match.
“We were hoping to see a little different match this time,” Colagiovanni siad. “But we ended up wrestling him similarly to the other times.”
Next up for Hemida is the state tournament, which will kick off in Albany on Feb. 27. The senior’s unblemished regular season record—combined with a win at the prestigious Eastern States tournament—will likely mean a top-seed at states, a position that comes with a certain degree of pressure.
“I expect other guys are really going to be coming after me, and you see every year, one of the top seeds loses in the first round because he’s expecting an easy match,” he said. “I’m going to wrestle each match like it’s the finals and I’m not going to take anyone lightly.”