Two hundred wrestlers from 14 yeshiva high schools across the country descended on YU’s Wilf Campus for the 18th Annual Henry Wittenberg Wrestling Invitational from February 15 – 18.
The Torah Academy of Bergen County (Teaneck, NJ) wrestling team took first place at the tournament, with SAR Academy High School (Riverdale, NY) and Ida Crown Jewish Academy (Chicago, IL) placing second and third, respectively. Other participating schools included Davis Renov Stahler (Long Island, NY), Derech HaTorah (Brooklyn, NY), Fuchs Mizrachi (Beachwood, OH), Kushner Academy (Livingston, NJ), Maimonides (Brookline, MA),Yeshiva University High School for Boys / Marsha Stern Talmudic Academy (New York, NY), New Community Jewish High School (Los Angeles, CA), North Shore Hebrew Academy (Great Neck, NY), Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy (Elizabeth, NJ), The Frisch School (Paramus, NJ), and Yeshiva High School of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA).
The Dominator Award went to TABC’s Robert Elsas, and Aaron Siegel of Yeshiva of Atlanta was named Most Outstanding Wrestler.
But the weekend was about more than just wins and losses. After Freddy Knapp of Kushner Academy defeated Zac Welgrin of Yeshiva University High School for Boys in a tough match, the two were seen sharing a laugh. ”This has been a lot of fun,” said Welgrin. “Despite the competitive atmosphere, we’ve all been able to get along and make some new friends over the weekend.”
In addition to first-rate wrestling competition, the long weekend included a Shabbaton complete with communal meals and inspirational lectures from special guests, including Yuri Foreman, a former World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight champion studying to be an Orthodox rabbi, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who made a surprise appearance and shared a dvar Torah with the athletes.
“Shabbat was amazing,” said Nattan Pittinsky, a wrestler for Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy. “The highlight of Shabbat was Mayor Booker speaking. He expressed a tremendous amount of Torah knowledge. It was also really nice getting to meet other students with a similar passion for wrestling.”
The annual event is named for Henry Wittenberg, a former Yeshiva University wrestling coach and legendary Olympic medalist who founded Yeshiva’s wrestling program in 1955. Wittenberg passed away in 2010 at the age of 91.