TRR photos by Ted Waddell

The new generation: Jovane Dennis listens intently to veteran wrestling coach John Lennon of Liberty.

Eldred-Liberty-Sullivan West grapplers defeat Ellenville 51-18

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — The combined wrestling team of Eldred-Liberty-Sullivan West (ELSW) got off to an auspicious start in the first-ever match at Sullivan’s West High School on Wednesday, December 6.

As in the last few seasons, the schools combined forces to field a competitive squad of grapplers, thus giving the student athletes a chance to learn responsibility, sportsmanship and strong work ethic out there on the mat in a take-no-prisoners sport, which focuses upon individual performance and team spirit.

The ELSW team is co-coached by John Lennon of Liberty, now in his 38th year at the helm of local high school mat-men.

He is joined by a quartet of coaches from Eldred: Dan Ratner, James Guara, Josh Potter and Ryan Stutz.

Lennon said the sport teaches student athletes perseverance, and the art of “sticking it out... how to work with a group on a combined team.”

“It’s pretty tough sport,” he added.

The veteran coach gave a heads-up to athletes looking to play college-level football after high school, as the powers that be in college gridiron programs “really like to see that you’ve wrestled on that resume.”

“If they’re football players, they really should be out here wrestling, not just lifting weights in the off-season…college coaches are looking for wrestlers,” said Lennon.

He added that the last decade or so have produced several top-notch wrestlers from sectionals champs to state finalists.

“The last 10 years have been the best,” said Lennon.

Ellenville’s coach Lech Rekuc has coached wrestling for about three decades, the last five years with the Blue Devils.

“Wrestling is like life school because it makes character for the kids and [teaches] responsibility.”

Nick Rekuc is a 16-year-old junior on the Ellenville team and started wrestling about seven or eight years ago in the footsteps of his grappler father.

“At first I didn’t like it, but then I realized it was in my blood… I can’t live without practicing.”

Nick Curreri, a 16-year-old 11th-grader at Eldred, is part of a wresting family: his older brother Noah placed second in the state championships last year, and his 14-year-old brother Joseph, a freshman at Eldred, has taken to the mat.

In the last couple of years, Nick has placed second and third in Section IX championships.

“I just like the hard work and determination… it’s our new family thing.”

Jovane Dennis of Liberty High is a 17-year-old junior who has his eyes on the world of professional wrestling.

He got into the sport with a rather inauspicious beginning.

“I got dragged into it, like in the seventh grade… my father was, like, ‘Oh, it’s wrestling,’ and I thought maybe it was like the WWE,” referring to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., the pro wrestling circuit founded in 1952 as Capital Wrestling by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt.

“So I guess I’m just stuck with it now,” said Dennis.


99-lb class Joey Curreri (ELSW) by forfeit; 106-lb class no contest; 113-lb class no contest; 120-lb class Walter Evans (ELL) pinned Tim Dirie (ELSW) @ 4:52; 126-lb class Daniel Adam (ELSW) defeated Dan Mahany (ELL) 7-5 in sudden victory; 138-lb class Nick Curreri (ELSW) pinned Tiler Mendez (ELL); 145-lb class Andrew Crandall (ELSW) by forfeit; 152-lb class Henry Peters (ELSW) by forfeit; 160-lb class Luke Jones (ELSW) pinned Chris Senkbeil (ELL) @ :57; 170-lb class Caesar Santiago (ELSW) by forfeit; 182-lb class James DeAveiro (ELSW) by forfeit; 195-lb class Nicholas Rekuc (ELL) pinned Drew Bendy (ELSW) @ 1:55; 220-lb class Jovane Dennis (ELSW) pinned Victor Blinov (ELL) @ 1:47; 285-lb class Jason Lonstein (ELL) by forfeit.


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