IT is spring and that means the PSAL girls freestyle season has begun. The expectations for the Madison Golden Knights Girls Freestyle team were high for the “Flushing Thaw,” the PSAL’s first Girls Freestyle tournament of the year. The Golden Knights had five returning wrestlers from last year’s inaugural season, coupled with Liliya and Salma who joined during the winter wrestling season. This experience paid off in the season opener.
Senior Captain and returning city qualifier Omina started the day off on the right foot, posting a pin fall in Madison’s first bout of the day. The 105-pounder bounced back nicely from a 2nd round tech fall loss to Brooklyn Tech’s Siew with a tech fall of her own over Bronx Science’s Lyn, then a pin fall over Wingate’s Webster. This pin would prove crucial as Omina fell 16-6 to Truman’s Villamil, resulting in a 3-way tie for 2nd place in the round robin group. The first tie-breaker is the number of pins. Since Omina had pinned Webster, she won the tie-breaker and earned her first silver medal.
When she wasn’t wrestling, Omina stayed busy helping her teammates prepare for their matches, and she video-taped matches and provided feedback to the wrestlers.
Madison’s other two captains, Christina and Victoria Alloggio picked up where they left off last year. Both sisters wrestled last year and represented Team New York at the National tournament in Fargo, North Dakota. They did not disappoint in their first tournament of the PSAL Girls Freestyle Season.
Christina swept her weight class with 3 wins and 3 pins against noticeably larger opponents. A senior, Christina placed 2nd in the 2016 City Championships at 255lbs. She is looking to improve upon that performance and become Madison’s first PSAL City Champion. Christina is off to a great start.
Victoria, a junior, also had a perfect day. She was 4-0 with three pins and a tech fall, earning her first gold medal at 198 lbs. Last season, she placed 3rd at 198 lbs. Victoria was the “road warrior” in the 2016 season, typically running through the consolation bracket and winning bronze medals. She capped off the 2016 year earning All-American status at the Fargo Cadet National Tournament. This year, she is in the driver’s seat and has set her expectations high for PSAL titles and another trip to Fargo.
The 112-weight class held much in store for Melany Espinosa in her senior campaign. She is a returning wrestler who remained at her 2016 weight class, Melany suffered a first-round loss to Truman’s Brown, but improved as the day moved on. She wrestled back with two straight pin falls over Brooklyn Tech’s Xu and Francis Lewis’ Lin. This performance put her into the 3rd place bout, again against Brown from Truman. Brown would get the best of Melany once more, dropping her to a 4th place finish.
Making her freestyle debut, Salma Kasymova had a nice 3-2 finish in the 121 lbs. bracket. Her first match was an important pin fall over division rival Dufrense from Wingate. Following a loss to CSI’s Campbell, Salma stormed back in the consolation bracket by earning two straight pin falls over Bronx Science’s Cham Nancy and Brooklyn Tech’s Anna Ho. Salma’s quest for a 3rd place finish fell in a re-match against Campbell of CSI.
Parvina Eshonkulova found herself in a six girl round robin at 172 lbs. Another returning wrestler, Parvina had her ups and downs in the season opener. Starting off right, Parvina had a quick pin over Bronx Science’s Fatema. Parvina fell to Brooklyn Tech’s Poux in the 2nd round, but would pin Poux’s teammate Ye in the 3rd round. Parvina lost her next two matches to Francis Lewis’ Arroyo and AP Randolph’s Soliman to finish the day at 2-3 for a 4th place finish. Though a disappointing day for Madison’s senior, Parvina’s wins by pin fall would fuel the Golden Knights’ best tournament finish.
Madison’s newcomers saw some success today as well. Yasmeen Campos (130 lbs.) and Melanie Rodriguez Ferrei (148 lbs.) both earned their first wins in their first competition. Yasmeen and Melanie both lost their first-round match, but won their next one. Yasmeen posted a pin fall over Brooklyn Tech’s Liu while Melanie pinned Bronx Science’s Prova.
Petal Bartholomew, Caryssa Perez, and Lena Elkin also deserve recognition for their support today. Though they were not competing in the tournament, they still showed up to Flushing to cheer on their teammates. This was a strong showing for Madison as a team and shows a strong sense of unity, which is essential in a team sport.
James Madison had nine wrestlers compete (there are 13 weight-classes total) at the Flushing Thaw. Every win, pin, tech, and medal contributed to Madison’s team-high 4th place finish.
The Knights look to build on this successful start with a competition at home on Wednesday, March 29th against the High School of Fashion Industries. Then on Saturday, April 1st is the first girls’ wrestling tournament hosted at James Madison High School. It will be a team round robin event.