NE Regional Tournament Preview

Thus far, the 2017-18 season has been a year of tremendous growth for the Philadelphia Public League! A record-high 29 PPL wrestlers will make the trip this weekend to Bethlehem Liberty High School to compete in the PIAA Northeast Regional Tournament. Congratulations to all PPL qualifiers; you continue to make us proud!
Below are just a few of the most interesting storylines headed into the weekend:
 
106lbs–Tatiyana Ortiz (MBA)

Two years ago, Ortiz broke through barriers in the sport of wrestling by becoming the first female district qualifier in PPL history. In 2015, her qualification forced the Philadelphia Catholic League to change rules that barred Catholic school wrestlers from competing against females. Since that point, girls wrestling in the city of Philadelphia has grown tremendously; a large part of that is to her credit.
Fast-forward to this season and Ortiz is continuing to have a substantial impact on the sport. This weekend, Ortiz will become the first female wrestler to compete in the PIAA NE Regional Tournament as she is slated to face off against Matt Mayer of Bethlehem Catholic in the prelims. It will be interesting to see if the Archdiocese of Allentown follows suit with Philadelphia. A change to this ruling could be yet another step in the right direction for women’s wrestling!
126lbs–Reynaldo Garcia (MBA) & Zamire Rice (OVB)
126 is a LOADED weight class in the NE Region; with 5 guys ranked inside the top #15 by PA Power Wrestling. Within the weight class, however are two underrated wrestlers from the Public League with a lot of talent. Garcia & Rice have gone back and forth this season and given each other some great matches. This postseason, in fact, Rice’s only 2 losses have come at the hands of Garcia. It will surely be a lot of fun to see these two young guns put their aggressive styles to the test.
138lbs–Mike Rubino (NE)
At the beginning of the season, Mike won an appeal for a 5th year of eligibility with the PIAA. In his final season of high school wrestling Mike has shined with a 33-6 record. After a 3rd place finish at the District XII Tournament, it will be interesting to see if Rubino can continue to make the most of his senior season.
152lbs–Lucien Anderson (CEN)
A regional qualifier in 2017, Anderson hopes to make his first trip to Hershey this season. He has cruised to league and district titles thus far, and we are now anxiously awaiting this weekend to see if he can get over the hump.
 
 
160lbs–Angel Garcia (MBA)
Angel finished 5th in the region last year, only one win away from qualifying for the state tournament. This offseason, Garcia has worked as hard as anyone to improve his skills; highlighted by a 3rd place finish in Greco-Roman at the Fargo National Championships. While Garcia has seldom been challenged in a match this season, this weekend will truly show where he stands amongst the elite in this weight class.
 
195lbs–Daishawn Tilghman (OVB)
As a freshman Tilghman made the most of his 5th seed at the regional tournament and went 2-2 at regionals. After qualifying for Fargo this summer and truly dedicating himself to the sport, things feel different this season. After winning the 1st district title in Overbrook history in absolutely dominating fashion, Tilghman is primed for another deep run. A trip to Hershey is undoubtedly within reach.
220lbs–Jameel Coles (NE)
Jameel has been nothing short of spectacular this season and his record speaks for itself. With an unblemished 37-0 record, he won league and district titles with seemingly relative ease. Coles will look to continue that dominance this weekend, against a far tougher field of opponents. How high can Coles climb on the podium? Only time will tell.
 
Once again, congratulations to all PPL regional qualifiers and congratulations to all PCL qualifiers as well. Let’s go District XII!
To follow this weekend’s action, brackets/updates can be found here.

January Wrestler of the Month – Kenneth Purvis

Each month, Beat the Streets Philadelphia recognizes one student-athlete as ‘Wrestler of the Month.’ Selections are made based on recommendations from coaches, mentors, and/or BTS staff. For January, we have selected Kenneth Purvis of Frankford High School!
Executive Director, James Mangan spent some time with Kenny just before the start of the featured match of the month; Frankford at South Philadelphia. Audio from this interview can be found at the bottom of this article.
Kenny, a senior at Frankford High School and Juniata resident has a positive energy that is a pleasure to be around. His 6 foot tall, 270 lb frame is naturally balanced with a smile that never fades. When speaking with him it is obvious he has a positive outlook on life. Considering the things Kenny has to overcome on a daily basis, his personality is an inspiration.

“It’s a hard neighborhood, so we all go through a lot”

Kenny comes off as a natural leader amongst his peers. It would make sense that his favorite class offered at Frankford is Peer Group Connection taught by Mrs. Damond. Having that support system in the school encouraged Kenny to be active in other ways, including improving his own physical health. Kenny met former Mariana Bracetti Academy wrestler and current Beat the Streets mentor Edwin Morales three years ago at the same neighborhood gym. It is there that Kenny was motivated by Edwin to begin wrestling. As a 10th grader Kenny was 40 lbs heavier than the maximum weight class, but that didn’t discourage him. The nature of wrestling challenges individuals both physically and mentally helping many achieve goals otherwise thought to be impossible.

“I lost a total of 5o pounds, I feel a lot better.”

Coach Joe Farina discusses match strategy with Kenneth Purvis

On the year, Kenny is undefeated in the Public League, more impressive is his commitment to success in the classroom. Kenny plans to finish this marking period with second honors. Frankford’s Head Coach Joe Farina understands the importance of putting academics first. That message is reinforced at every wrestling practice as part of a holistic development philosophy. Upon graduation Kenny has his eye’s set on attending Brightwood Career institute to pursue a career as an electrician. It is clear Kenny knows where he is going, but he admits there is still some unfinished business on the mat as a senior…

“I want to make it to States, I want to go all the way in my last year!”

If you would like to contribute to Beat the Streets and help to create more opportunities for kids like Kenneth Purvis, you can visit our Donate Now page here. If you would like to consider giving in other ways, either as a mentor or wrestling coach, please fill out one of our interest forms and we’ll be in touch!
Audio from the interview:

 

December Wrestler of the Month-Julio Ortiz

Each month, Beat the Streets Philadelphia recognizes one student-athlete as ‘Wrestler of the Month.’ Selections are made based on recommendations from coaches, mentors, and/or BTS staff. For December, we have selected Julio Ortiz of Mariana Bracetti Academy!
Julio sat down with Beat the Streets Executive Director, James Mangan during a MBA High School dual meet to discuss why he loves wrestling. Julio started wrestling last year as a 6th grader. His older sister, Tatyana was his inspiration for joining the team. Tatyana has had her fair share of success as a female 106lb wrestler in PIAA District 12, including an appearance at the District tournament last year. Even though Julio looks up to his bigger sister, he is starting to emerge from her shadow. His hard work and dedication to the sport led to a second place finish in an open tournament this year. He told us how that accomplishment is one of his proudest moments. His confidence continues to improve, while his behavior and attention in class is at an all time high.
When asked about his favorite wrestling move, Julio with out hesitation said “Blast Double”. He has watch his favorite wrestler, Angel Garcia (MBA 160lb Junior) hit the move in competitions and practices routinely. Julio’s 7th grade goals are heavily oriented around academics. When asked what his biggest goal for this year is, he discussed achieving honor roll first and foremost.

“I want to finish the second marking period with honors!”

Lastly we asked Julio what else he wants everyone to know about him. He smiled when telling us his favorite color is MBA blue, his favorite subject is Math, and he wants to one day win an Olympic medal.
If you would like to contribute to Beat the Streets and help to create more opportunities for kids like Julio, you can visit our Donate Now page here. If you would like to consider giving in other ways, either as a mentor or wrestling coach, please fill out one of our interest forms and we’ll be in touch!
 

September Wrestler of the Month-Pat Daly

Each month, Beat the Streets Philadelphia recognizes one student-athlete as ‘Wrestler of the Month.’ Selections are made based on recommendations from coaches, mentors, and/or BTS staff. For September, we have selected Pat Daly of the Police Athletic League! At 12 years old, entering 6th grade at the Science Leadership Academy Middle School, Pat has been wrestling since he was six years old. He has been a big part of the PAL Wrestling program and rarely misses a practice. This month, Pat was one of the first people to ask us about coming to the Mentoring Center. Despite being one of our younger wrestlers, Pat took the initiative to seek us out an re-engage on his own. Combined with his longtime commitment to wrestling through PAL, it was easy to recognize such a great kid!
When we sat down with Pat last week to talk to him, he shared with us that what actually got him started wrestling was an interest in WWE. He recalled walking into his first practice (as MANY of our kids have) expecting to climb into a ring with a mask on an pile drive the other kids. Much to his surprise, however, this type of wrestling was much different. Over the years, Pat says that he has grown to love ‘real’ wrestling. He has made many friends, really likes his coaches (especially Coach Ed), and says the physicality of the sport is his favorite aspect of it.
Off of the mat, Pat says that wrestling has helped him with focus and discipline in school; but more than anything it has taught him confidence. In Pat’s observation, there’s no room for doubting yourself in wrestling; if you second guess decisions on the mat you’re probably going to find yourself on your back. In the classroom, Pat says this has helped him to confidently give answers in class, on tests, and while doing homework!
After talking about wrestling, we asked Pat if he knows yet what he wants to be when he grows up. Impressively, Pat says that he wants to be a marine. When we asked him why, he gave us a very simple answer almost instantly:

“Because I love my country and I want to defend it. I believe in it, and that’s something I want to fight for”

(…Yeah, wow was our reaction too). For a 12 year old to express that sentiment is particularly impressive. While he certainly still has a lot of time left in school, we look forward to working with him as he works toward achieving his goals.
We closed by asking Pat who his favorite athlete was and why. Pat say his favorite athlete is Jordan Burroughs. A few years ago, Burroughs made a visit to PAL and Pat was particularly impacted by it. Specifically, Burroughs’ ability to ‘flip the switch’ between being a killer on the mat and a genuinely nice person off of it was something that resonated with Pat. He says that that’s the type of person he tries to be.
If you would like to contribute to Beat the Streets and help to create more opportunities for kids like Pat, you can visit our Donate Now page here. If you would like to consider giving in other ways, either as a mentor or wrestling coach, please fill out one of our interest forms and we’ll be in touch!
 

August Wrestler of the Month- Aboubakare Diaby

Each month, Beat the Streets Philadelphia recognizes one student-athlete as ‘Wrestler of the Month.’ Selections are made based on recommendations from coaches, mentors, and/or BTS staff. Recommended by coach Ian Hammond and BTS staff member Dan Altomare, the Wrestler of the Month for August is Aboubakare Diaby!
Champions don’t become great by training when everyone else does; they do so by working while their competition rests and when nobody is watching. For Aboubakare, this mantra has defined his summer not only on the mat, but in the classroom as well. While most kids chose to stay home and relax, Aboubakare challenged himself. Over the past three months, he chose to partake in the Beat the Streets Summer Program and attend wrestling camp in North Carolina. In the Summer Program, Aboubakare was engaged daily; he asked questions, honed his math skills, and attended every single class. Additionally, Aboubakare traveled with a select group of Beat the Streets wrestlers to North Carolina for a week-long wrestling camp. For his commitment to learning, dedication to wrestling, and overall embodiment of what a Beat the Streets Philadelphia wrestler should be, Aboubakare is an extremely deserving recipient of this distinction.
This fall, Aboubakare will be entering his freshman year at Central High School after performing exceedingly well at Mastery Charter School. He began wrestling two years ago after being encouraged by his teacher, Mr. Wise, and he largely credits his work ethic in the classroom to the sport of wrestling. When asked about how wrestling has helped him in life, Aboubakare had this to say:

            “Yes, definitely. In 8th grade I became very interested in attending Central High School. While I was always a good student, wrestling gave me the tools to grow as a student. BTS helped me keep my grades up, go through the high school application process, and make my interest a reality.”

From a wrestling standpoint, what Aboubakare enjoys most about wrestling is the individuality within a team sport. He says wrestling has taught him a lot about accountability. To him, this means not just taking credit for his successes, but owning up to his failures. He looks forward to continuing to wrestle at Central High School and competing at 126.
Looking past high school, Aboubakare has his sights set high. At this point, Aboubakare says that he’s interested in studying civil engineering. His interest in engineering stems from his enamorment with the buildings in Philadelphia and how some structures are both creative and functional. Secondarily, he has considered studying law. Aboubakare attributes this interest to his dissatisfaction with the judicial system as it currently stands and says he wants to be part of the change he hopes to see in the future. His favorite school is Penn State University.
Lastly, Aboubakare told us that his favorite athlete is Kyle Dake. He chose Kyle Dake because of how much he admires his persistence in challenging Jordan Burroughs. Despite falling short to this point, Aboubakare sees resilience in Dake and cites his recent close matches as reason to believe that a win over Burroughs isn’t far off.
For those who didn’t know Aboubakare before reading, we hope this sheds some light on who this awesome kid is. If you’re a coach, volunteer, parent, or part of the Beat the Streets Philadelphia community, we bet you know some other other kids who deserve to be recognized as well. If there’s a wrestler at your program who has done an outstanding job, contact us at [email protected], write ‘WOM-(Wrestler Name)’ in the subject line, and tell us briefly why the student-athlete you’re recommending should be recognized!


If you want to support Beat the Streets and help wrestlers like Aboubakare, visit our Donate Now page

May's Wrestler of the Month: Angel Garcia

Angel Garcia has been following up a tremendous regular season, with an even better offseason. The Marianna Bracetti Academy freshman put together a 33-11 record while winning a public league title, taking third in the district, and third in the region. His season ended one win away from qualifying for the state tournament. While many wrestlers take time a break after the season, Angel continued practicing and worked on improving his technique.
Angel put his skills to the test by competing in some of the best offseason wrestling tournaments in the country. In March, he took 7th place to earn All-American honors at NHSCA Freshman Nationals in Virginia Beach. A month later he placed 4th in the prestigious War at the Shore tournament, falling to the eventual champion 1-0 in the semi-finals. Then in May he found himself on top of the podium in both Freestyle and Greco Roman at the Pennsylvania State Tournament. His performance there qualified him to train at the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center, and also earned himself a spot on Team Pennsylvania at Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota, later this summer.
Angel’s impressive off season performances have earned him the May Wrestler of the Month honors.

February's Wrestler of the Month: Samirah Conners-Reed

Samirah Conners-Reed was faced with a dilemma at the end of the season. She was unsure of whether to enter the beginners or advanced bracket at the Beat the Streets youth tournament. By all accounts she was a beginner, not even having completed a full season of wrestling yet. However, her dominance in the practice room gave her the confidence to challenge herself in the advanced bracket. The decision turned out to be the right one, as she reeled off 4 straight wins including a pin in the finals to take home the championship. The bracket was co-ed, and Samirah beat male wrestlers in both the semis and finals to win and was the only female placer in the weight class.
The 7th grader at Wissahickon Charter School took naturally to wrestling and began to excel immediately at practice. Her combination of strength, body control, and gut instinct made her dangerous right from the start, and her strong work ethic and competitive nature helped her progress rapidly. Samirah displays a strong desire to get better, and consistently works to hone her technique in the wrestling room. Her hard work has paid dividends and she recently placed 2nd in the Folkstyle State Tournament. For taking 1st and 2nd her first ever tournaments, Samirah has been named the March Wrestler of the Month!

Tatyana Ortiz Becomes 1st Ever Female District XII Qualfier

Tatyana Ortiz, a freshman wrestler at Mariana Bracetti Academy, recently became the first ever female wrestler to qualify for the PIAA District XII tournament while competing against boys. It was no surprise to her coaches because she consistently has demonstrated the willingness to work extremely hard both on and off the mat. She has also recently joined our mentoring program and our staff along with her mentor are working hard to ensure she is able to transfer this approach into the classroom. We are extremely proud of Tatyana’s accomplishment and are excited to watch her realize her full potential both on and off the mat.
You can check out local coverage of her story through the following links:
Philadelphia Inquirer Artcile
Fox29 Good Day Video