PIAA State Championship Preview

This past weekend, a record-high 40 Philadelphia Public League wrestlers took to Bethlehem Liberty High School for the 2020 PIAA NE Regional Tournament. We are so proud of the kids’ hard work & dedication to the sport. To see that hard work result in another record-setting season is just a bonus!

Following an absolute bear of a tournament, we are proud to share that two extremely deserving student-athletes advanced to the PIAA State Tournament this coming weekend in Hershey, PA!

Before we continue, however, I’d like to acknowledge a few guys who had strong tournaments. Aboubakare Diaby (138), Reynaldo Garcia (138), Naseen Pennington (152), & Ahmir Ragsdale (160), & John Colbourne (195) all had strong showings, and although they came up short, each of these guys impressed us greatly!

Now…on to our 2020 PIAA State Qualifiers!!!

Angel Garcia (US #10 / PA #4) Mariana Bracetti Academy 

What more can we say about Angel at this point? As he prepares to make his 3RD (Yes, 3RD) trip to the PIAA State Tournament, Angel has already solidified his position as the most accomplished wrestler in Philadelphia Public League history. The PPL’s all-time leader in wins (124) is gearing up to take on one of the most talented weight classes in the nation. Don’t believe me? Just ask FloWrestling! The PIAA AAA 170lb weight class features an astounding 5 top 12 wrestlers nationally & 6 DI commits. While the challenge of the weight class has forced some to drop down or bump up, Angel has embraced the challenge. Angel is looking forward to being tested & seeing just how high he can climb on the podium.

Off of the mat, those close to Angel are incredibly proud to see how the young, scrappy kid from Rizzo PAL has grown into the young man he is today. Angel prides himself on his loyalty to his family and his teammates, coaches regularly take notice of his leadership, and his relentless pursuit of excellence in all phases of his life is abundantly clear. Congratulations Angel, now take care of business!

Daishawn Tilghman (PA #14) Overbrook

 A 4x regional qualifier, Daishawn Tilghman, is FINALLY a PIAA State Qualifier. Few wrestlers have shown the Grit that Daishawn Tilghman has throughout his wrestling career. I could write about his trials & tribulations this kid has faced for hours, but I’ll try to keep it brief. In the last 12 months alone, Daishawn suffered a disappointing end to his season at regionals in 2019 (despite being favored to qualify for the state tournament). He lost at NHSCA’s deep into wrestle backs. He had a blood round loss at Fargo in Greco-Roman. To top it all off, dropping a 1st round loss at regionals this past weekend (he was the #2 seed). After such a string of heartbreaking defeats, most wrestlers would have likely packed it in and called it a career, but not Daishawn. With tremendous support from his teammates and his coaches, Daishawn managed to rattle off three consecutive wins by fall, followed by a 1-0 decision to avenge his first-round loss in the consolation finals!

As proud as we all are to see Daishawn finally “get over the hump” he is far from finished. Having been ranked as high as #6 in PA this season, Daishawn is completely capable of climbing the podium in Hershey & now has the confidence to believe he can do just that.

Daishawn has always been an absolute joy to coach/mentor, and everyone lucky enough to know Daishawn would tell you that. Daishawn is consistent, smart, funny, & studious; he’s the total package. I can say to you both personally & on behalf of BTSP that he will be missed as he graduates from Mastery Shoemaker this spring. While his plans are not officially set just yet, Daishawn has a number of exceptional options in front of him & he plans to continue wrestling in college. Great work so far Daishawn, now finish the mission!

Edwin Morales – In Their Shoes

Growing up wasn’t easy for me. Between being bullied, exposed to an environment ridden with drugs, and losing friends to street violence, life was just flat out difficult. For some reason, however,  I find myself standing before you all today. I found a way to rise up, to persevere. Before I continue, I want to thank my family, friends (who chose a positive path), and Beat the Streets Philadelphia. Specifically, I want to mention Coach Ed from PAL, James Mangan, Ben Reiter, Matt McConnell, Ben Greer, Chris Hanlon, and Max Tannenbaum!

Thank you for helping to “save me from becoming just another statistic.”

I first began wrestling with BTSP 8 years ago, as a member of the Mariana Bracetti Academy wrestling team when Coach Tannenbaum, my teacher at the time, asked me to give the sport a try. Although I wasn’t great at the start, seeing my younger brother Luis stick with it challenged me to do the same. 

Early in my high school years, school wasn’t quite ‘my thing’. I did a lot of my homework ‘on the fly’, I didn’t have big goals for myself, and for the most part l saw school as something I had to do in order to pursue a military career. With help from my mentor, Penn wrestler Lorenzo Thomas, all of that changed for me. I learned to balance my time between the mat and the classroom, the importance of goal setting, and the fulfillment that comes with helping others! Pretty quickly, I saw my grades jump from C’s/D’s to A’s/B’s; ‘just okay’ stopped being enough, and I even began to get excited about school!

Before I knew it, my improvements in the classroom began to translate to success on the mat. I continued to take advantage of all of the opportunities BTSP had to offer. I wrestled year round, competed around the country, and made strides quickly! After 4 years of grinding, I finished my career with over 100 wins & became the 1st state qualifier in school history!

I focused my time on simultaneously helping myself & others. While I took classes at Community College of Philadelphia, I continued to give back to BTSP as much as possible. I helped coach wherever I was needed, mentored high school wrestlers, and continued to give back. I refused to be deterred. Eventually, I finished the school year at CCP with a 3.7 GPA; opening the doors for me to attend a 4-year college and wrestle at Bridgewater State University.

Today, I am proud to share that I’ve been successful at Bridgewater State. Not only am I on track to earn Academic All-American status; I’m also doing very well on the mat as I continue to chase my dream of becoming a National Champion!

Looking ahead, I know that I want to dedicate my future toward helping kids like me. I want to show kids who might feel stuck like I did that there is always a way out of the hood; and it’s is not by getting involved in the streets, by skipping class, or thinking negatively. It’s about going to class, studying, thinking positively about the conflict we find ourselves in, and most of all, not being afraid to ask for help when it’s needed. Not enough students had the opportunity I did; and I want to make sure that continues to change. My name is Edwin Morales, and I am a proud student athlete who grew up through the Beat the Streets Philadelphia program.