The Rye wrestling team hosted the 12th Annual Bernie Miller Invitational Tournament to start off the winter season. Fourteen teams participated, including both public and private schools from within and outside of Westchester.
The Tournament was sponsored by Carpet Trends and is named in honor of longtime Rye High School wrestling coach, Bernie Miller. Miller was a physical education teacher at RHS and served as wrestling head coach from 1960-76. He was also the district’s Athletic Director from 1976-1991. While head coach, his teams had an outstanding dual meet record of 187-23-5, winning the League Championship in 13 of his 16 years. In addition, the Garnets won three Section 1 Championships (1968, 1969, and 1974) and were twice Section 1 Runners-up (1966 and 1971). They also won eight Divisional Titles. From 1962-65, the Garnets had a 43-match unbeaten string. Miller was named Section 1 Coach of the Year in 1964 and was inducted into the Westchester County Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1990.
A good-sized crowd braved the snow and rain to fill the two gymnasiums at Rye High School for the one-day event, with wrestlers arriving at 7 a.m. and not leaving until 8 p.m. Brewster High School ended up winning the team title, followed by Scarsdale and Mahopac. Rye finished seventh. Bernardo Magalhaes of Brewster, who wrestled in the 171-pound division, was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Rye’s Graham Zahringer won the 152-pound division, with a decision over Alex Schwartz of Horace Mann. To win the finals, a wrestler had to get through four rounds of wrestling. Some of the other top finishers for Rye were Donovan McSorley, who finished fourth in the 152-pound division, Peter Kennedy, who finished 4th in the 130-pound division, and Joe Similacaj taking 5th place in the 171-pound division.
The Tournament serves as the primary fundraiser for the Garnet team and also gives the wrestlers several matches in which to compete against strong competition, particularly versus teams that they won’t meet during the regular season.
“The tournament was a huge success, with a very good showing from the varsity squad,” said RHS head coach Matt Beckley. “It was a great day of wrestling with great support from the community. Thank you to Carpet Trends for their continued support in sponsoring the event.”
The Garnets are a young but deep team this year, with over 30 wrestlers, mainly underclassmen. Seniors Kennedy and Zahringer, along with McSorley, a junior, serve as team captains. Rye went 2-3 at the Horace Greeley Duals over the December 12 weekend, with two wrestlers going 5-0. Beckley said Zahringer and McSorley were outstanding in their performances and stood out as two of the top wrestlers in the tournament.
Rye now begins its dual-meet competition as well as competing in several tournaments throughout the season. The varsity team also organizes the Rye Youth Wrestling Program starting in January, for any students from second to sixth grade in the Rye City School District.
— By Jeff Dempsey