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MTA Wrestling Takes Third Place at Wittenberg

by Shimmy Mandelbaum ('16)


For the first time in history, the Henry Wittenberg Wrestling Invitational Tournament was held at The Frisch School, after Yeshiva College, the previous host school, cut back their wrestling program this past year. Approximately 200 yeshiva high school wrestlers participated in the event which took place over President's Day weekend. Returning 2015 champions SAR succcessfully defended their title, taking first place for the second year in a row; an impressive feat for a program in its fifth year. For the first time in Wittenberg history there was a tie for second place between TABC and Kushner, and for the second year in a row MTA not only finished in third place but took both individual awards: Naftali Horowitz defended his title as Most Outstanding Wrestler and Akiva Axel took the Dominator title by having the most pins in the least amount of time.

Wrestling began on Friday morning, February 12th, on four separate mats (one of which was MTA's) at The Frisch school. Sixteen schools were represented from across the country. After several hours of non-stop matches, the wrestlers were transported to a hotel in New Jersey for their annual Wittenberg Shabbaton.

The tournament continued all day on Sunday, with many matches in the 14 different weight classes, from 106 lbs. through 285 lbs. While each individual winning wrestler advanced in the brackets, he also gained overall points for his teams. In addition to having 14 individual champions by Monday afternoon, the school team with the highest overall score would be deemed the winner as well.

This year, the consolation finals, as well as the finals, were held on Sunday night, as opposed to Monday morning, for the first time in league history. At approximately 3:30 PM, wrestling began with the 5th/6th place matches followed by the 3rd/4th place matches. At 5:00 PM, after opening remarks by Coach Neil Elman, former YU and MTA wrestling coach and founder of the Yeshiva Wrestling Association, the packed crowd at Frisch was treated to an exciting display of high-level wrestling, as each of the 14 championship matches took place on a lone center mat. Monday's matches were also live streamed, with commentators, on (The championships are now uploaded to Youtube as well.)

The SAR Sting had a dominating position on the final day of wrestling, with 10 wrestlers taking part in the final matches, five of them taking first in the championships themselves. The team's overall score for the tournament was 303 points. The TABC Storm and Kushner Cobras both finished in second place with a total of 205 points each.

The MTA Lions returned to the winner's circle for the second year in a row by earning 202.50 points as a team and coming in third. The team placed 6 wrestlers in the finals. Captains Naftali Horowitz (145 lbs.) reclaimed his postion at the top of the podium by beaing a Wittenberg Hall of Famer for the second year in a row. Akiva Axel (126 lbs.) made it to the finals after an exciting semifinals match and upset last year champion, Max Berger from SAR by pin which allowed him to also take the Dominator award. Yosef Kurlantzick (152 lbs.) made it the finals for the second year in a row and this time made it the top of the podium as well. Yaakoc Kurlantzik (170 lbs.) made it the finals for his third year in a row and finished in first while entering the Wittenberg Hall of Fame. Full results and brackets are posted at

Other notable MTA place winners were Alex Knapp ('17) who took second place at 285 lbs., Izzy Frasco who took second place at 220 lbs., Aron Fried ('16) who took fourth at 285 lbs., and Abie Veroba who took fourth at 195 lbs.