An opportunity to win a state title rarely comes to a high school athlete, and from Scarsdale, wrestlers have not historically gotten to the state tournament at all. That’s why this season was most unusual … as not one or two, but three athletes from Scarsdale and Edgemont vied for state wrestling titles in Albany. This past weekend, Edgemont brothers Tyler and John "Trey" Aslanian, and Scarsdale’s Jacob Berkowitz were all given a chance at the New York State tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. Despite snowy wet weather, the venue drew a large crowd, including families and teammates from all over the state who came to support their respective teams. Westchester’s section 1 crowd was particularly loud as they cheered on all the wrestlers from the schools in the section.
The New York State tournament includes the top 16 wrestlers in the state for each weight class, and some of thebest high school wrestlers in the country. The competition may seem intimidating, but Edgemont and Scarsdale wrestlers were confident. Sophomore Tyler Aslanian won his first section title in Division II at 99 pounds a few weeks ago, flying under the radar as one of Edgemont’s standouts of the year. The young wrestler looked to repeat his success at the New York State tournament. In his first round match Tyler easily handled his opponent and came out with a strong win at 8-0. Soon after, he lost a close match to Luis Weirbach of Hoosick Falls, 4-1. Although disappointed by the tight match, Tyler hoped to bounce back and wrestle for third place. He got his momentum going and defeated his next opponent 7-1. After this exciting victory, expectations were high but Tyler was unable to secure a win and eventually fell to 3rd place finisher, Joe Nelson, 8-4. With two impressive victories, Tyler will look to place as the top wrestler in New York in years to come.
His brother, Edgemont Junior John Aslanian at 113 pounds entered the tournament as a strong second seed, placing second in last year’s tournament. With an impressive wrestling career and well-performed season, John was considered a contender for the state title. On day one, John dominated his opponents, securing a 7-0 victory in his first round match, and a 6-2 win in his second match. On the second day, Aslanian edged out a victory over the 3rd seed from Warsaw, winning 7-2. After these performances, a state title seemed to be within the junior’s grasp. In a hard fought final match, Aslanian lost 5-0. Although a 2nd place finish two years in a row in a top wrestling state is extremely impressive, Aslanian will train hard for another year to work to capture a state title.
Proud Coach Peter Jacobson made the following comment about the brothers' performance, "Tyler and Trey have each really committed themselves to training the past year and it shows in the improvements they've made. This was Trey's third trip to Albany and he knows exactly what he needs to do to perform at his best at this point. While this was Tyler's first time up there, he also handled the pressures like a pro. Our program has also been fortunate enough to send athletes up to the State Championships each year for the past five years so our coaching staff has a good deal of experience preparing our athletes to perform at a very high level. To have Trey make the state finals two years in a row and have Tyler finish in the Top 8 his first time up there, says volumes about their own personal abilities to prepare. We're confident that we'll see each of them on the top of the podium next year."
It’s been over 50 years since a Scarsdale wrestler had a chance at a state title. At 182 pounds, Senior Jacob Berkowitz has excelled as one of the best athletes Scarsdale has had in many years and is arguably the best wrestler in Scarsdale’s history. The D1 Binghamton-bound senior has had his eye on placing high in this past week’s tournament. In last year’s New York State tournament, Berkowitz went 0-2. This year his confidence was boosted by more experience and a different strategy. With two section titles under his belt and over 100 career wins, the senior was expected to upset many of his opponents in the tournament. As the number 4 seed, Berkowitz showed his strength over his competition in day one, scratching and clawing his way through his first two opponents with a score of 4-1 and 5-1. Advancing to the semifinals on day two, Berkowitz faced a tough opponent -- the number one seed, McZiggy Richards of Wingate. Keeping calm and wrestling to win, Berkowitz edged out one of his most impressive victories of the year, beating McZiggy 3-1. Advancing to the finals, Berkowitz kept the same game plan and strategy against his skilled opponent, Nick Bellanza of John Glenn. The match came down to the last second, but Berkowitz was unable to score a takedown in the limited time remaining and took second place in the tournament. The 9-6 loss certainly rattled Berkowitz,but his name goes down as one of the most skilled wrestlers’ in Scarsdale history. Coaches Barney Foltman, Brian Roemer, and Jeremy Szerlip as well as Berkowtiz’s family and teammates were proud of Berkowitz’s performance and will remember this season for a lifetime.
Contributor Daniel Jureller is a senior at Scarsdale High School, headed to Lafayette College in the fall. He is looking forward to studying English and education.
Photos courtesy of Leslie R. Berkowitz and Peter Jacobson