Battle at the Beach wrestling tournament returns to Long Beach

Alexander Vargas of Syosset, left, goes on the Alexander Vargas of Syosset, left, goes on the offensive against John Kalinoglu of Massapequa during the final round of the Battle at the Beach wrestling tournament at Long Beach High School. (Dec. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Long Beach took second place on Friday in the 10th annual Battle at the Beach wrestling tournament, with first place going to Massapequa. It was the biggest wrestling tournament Long Beach has hosted so far, with 19 schools competing, a great tribute to a great tournament more than a year after superstorm Sandy.

Last year, due to the storm, Lynbrook High School hosted the tournament. This year, with a newly refurbished gym, those at Long Beach High School were happy to welcome back the event.

"We were really fortunate that our neighbor, Lynbrook, allowed us to hold the Battle at the Beach there last year," Long Beach athletic director Arnie Epstein said. "But we're happy it was back in Long Beach this year. It's a tradition here."

Long Beach was hit hard by the devastating storm. The city suffered an estimated $200 million in damage and about 15,000 homes experienced at least some water damage.

"A lot of my players were affected," wrestling coach Ray Adams said. "A lot of the kids were homeless. Some were living in shelters. The whole [gym] floor had to be torn up. Every bit of athletic equipment was destroyed in the school."

Before the new gym was built, the boys traveled to Calhoun High School in Merrick to practice. When they were finally able to return to Long Beach, the damage in the gym forced them to practice on mats in the school cafeteria. Despite the struggle, Adams and his team made sure they stuck together.

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Senior Mike Alcivar's home was significantly damaged by Sandy and both of the family cars were destroyed. Alcivar and his family lived in a Nassau Community College shelter for about two weeks after the storm.

"Living with strangers was tough," Alcivar said. "But it brought the community together. My team was worried about not having a wrestling season, but we pulled it off."

"We had a huge crowd," Epstein said of Friday's event. "The tournament provides a sense of pride for the community. It was truly an inspiration to see everyone come together. Being able to provide this new facility is great."

Long Beach's Jacori Teemer, Matt Maquet and Keith Wildstein all won their weight classes and Hewlett's Matt Kaminer completed the most pins in the least time with four in 14:58.

The city of Long Beach is still in a rebuilding process, but the sense of pride in the area remains strong.

"Everyone helped each other out after Sandy," Adams said. "It truly brought the community together."

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