Sayville, H.S. wrestlers Justin Liu, Justin (JP) Siracusa and Kevin Bethea left on the “red eye” bus from Bethpage State Park at midnight on Wednesday and headed to Buffalo State University to compete in the Empire State Games (ESG), a sporting event patterned after the Olympics. These three Sayville wrestlers were ready for an experience of a lifetime. They had the opportunity to meet and compete with athletes from all over New York State.
On Wednesday evening, all athletes dressed in their official Empire State Games black and gray warm-ups and participated in the opening ceremony. Some of the highlights for these boys were the Parade of Athletes, fireworks display and a concert by Third Eye Blind, where Justin and JP were quickly lifted overhead and crowd surfed through the stadium.
Thursday morning brought weight checks, exercise and the opportunity to watch Greco Roman style wrestling matches, volleyball and gymnastics. Friday morning’s weigh-ins for Freestyle wrestling was at 11:30AM. After days of exercising, carefully monitoring their weight and resisting temptation to overeat at the abundant buffets provided to the athletes, the three boys happily made weight and treated themselves to pizza and fast food for lunch. At 3PM the boys were in their red and blue reversible singlets and warming up for the day’s Freestyle Wrestling matches. Each of these boys proudly walked onto the mat twice and did their best against tough competitors. Later, they were back at the dorms and mingling with the other athletes from around the state. Of course, they treated themselves to some of their favorite junk food that they missed while getting ready for their weigh-ins.
On Saturday, JP Siracusa (106 lbs.) and Justin Liu (115 lbs.) finished up with three more matches. JP placed 4th and Justin placed 5th in their Freestyle Wresting weight classes. They were each very happy with their standing. Like many athletes, these three wrestlers went to the Games for the experience and to do their best. It wasn’t all about coming home with medals. Not only were three medalists for each event brought up to the podium, but those athletes placing 4th through 6th were also brought up for recognition and were just as proud as the athletes with medals hanging around their neck. The wrestlers boarded the coach bus home at 4PM (again, with yummy snacks in hand) and arrived home early Sunday morning.
The boys all appreciated their Empire State Games experience and feel inspired to do their best to qualify for next year’s Games in Rochester. They would like to thank Team Long Island's volunteer wrestling coaches for helping to make their experience a wonderful one. The boys plan to continue to improve their skills by practicing and competing as part of Sayville’s Wrestling Club and Sayville High School’s Wrestling Team. A special thank you goes out to Coaches Gary Pesko and Michael Vetrano for their year-round commitment to Sayville’s wrestlers.