LOCH SHELDRAKE – Few would question who the best 220-pounder in New York State is now that Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida added an Eastern States Classic title to his resume on Saturday at Sullivan Community College. But that doesn’t mean that Maryland-bound senior is satisfied.
“I wasn’t too happy with my weekend,” he said. “I really don’t think that I wrestled to my full ability. I came out with first, but I definitely want to start having a bigger gap between me and the rest. I want to have more major (decisions), more (technical falls) and more pins.”
Hemida entered the tournament as seventh-ranked wrestler in the country in his weight class according to intermatwrestle.com — higher than anyone else in the state — and he beat 10th-ranked Vin Feola of Walt Whitman for the second time in a week with a 4-1 decision in the finals.
He also knocked off some of his other top competitors, including a 5-2 decision over Horace Greeley senior Brock Cvijanovich in the quarterfinals, and he was not taken down once all weekend. But his focus quickly shifted to next month’s state championship tournament, which he wants to win in even more impressive fashion.
“State championship, no losses and give up no takedowns,” Hemida said of his goals. “I want to start dominating my matches. My eyes are on the prize for a state title.”
Hemida was the only local wrestler to reach the finals at the ultra-competitive tournament, but four took fifth and four others placed.
North Rockland senior Blaise Benderoth entered the weekend with high hopes after placing in each of the past four years, but he lost a tight 1-0 decision to Jonathan Viruet of Springfield Central in the semifinals and ended up placing fifth at 160 pounds.
“It makes me humble, and it’ll definitely make me work harder in the room and make my coaches push me harder,” Benderoth said. “They’re probably going to keep pushing me until I mentally break and break and break, and then that won’t happen anymore.”
Suffern seniors Daiton Powell (132 pounds) and Peter Pjetri (195) also placed fifth, with Powell working his way all of the back after losing to top-seeded Vito Arujau of Syosset in Friday’s round of 16.
“My coaches told me before the whole tournament that, ‘There’s no reason why you shouldn’t place. You’re just as good as any kid here at this tournament, no matter if you’re the first seed or the 18th seed,’ like I was,” Powell said. “Today just proved that I can hang with everyone.”
Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida, left, defeated Walt Whitman’s Vin Feola in the 220-pound final at the Eastern States Classic wrestling tournament at Sullivan Community College Jan. 10, 2015.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the weekend was Kennedy junior Alex Melikian, who came into the tournament unseeded and ended up taking fifth at 182 pounds.
“Anyone who wants to wrestle, I’m willing to wrestle them. It doesn’t matter if they’re a national champ,” he said. “I had a lot of nerves, but I went out there, wrestled hard and had a lot of fun.”
John Jay sophomore Conor Melbourne (138), Mahopac senior Ryan Delahanty (285) and Cvijanovich each placed sixth, while Carmel junior Alex Leone (152) took eighth.