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Friday, 29 January 2016 13:43

Eighth Grade Wrestling Phenom!

By | Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It wasn’t shaping up to be Saratoga High wrestling’s night. 


Going into their match against a strong Averill Park squad on Wednesday, January 20, the wrestlers had sported an impressive 18-2 record and came in riding a nice winning streak. But even the best teams can have one of “those nights”. 


The match began with the 132 Lb. class, and Saratoga couldn’t get itself untracked. After finishing the 285 Lb. class, they found themselves down, 48-0. Certainly unfamiliar ground for a team that had done so well this season, and just as certainly, no would have blamed them if they just packed it in at that point and resolved to go get ‘em another day. 


But that’s not the nature of this team – and not the nature of its 99 Lb. wrestler, eighth-grader Eric Griskowitz. He approached his rival as if the match was just starting: Outpointing and ultimately pinning his opponent, he registered the first points Saratoga would earn on that evening. Although I must admit that I am still learning much about this sport (thank you, Publisher Beatty), it was readily apparent that Eric demonstrated a tremendous level of technical precision and prowess that belied his young age. He provided a spark as well; Saratoga registered two more pins and a victory on points, before the match ended. The Blue Streaks did fall on that day, 21-54, but they made it respectable and more importantly, never gave up. 


Because of Eric and other underclassmen on the wrestling squad, Saratoga Springs appears primed for a long run of success – and it’s character-building nights like these that contribute a large element that sweetens those victories to come.



Eric Griskowitz has been at this awhile, despite his young age. After a 26-8 debut record on the varsity last year, yes, while in the seventhgrade, he became the all-time school leader in the 99 lb. class early this season, and just keeps adding to his own record. This year, he’s at a sizzling 32-2, and the only thing that may stop him is his own growth. “I trained down from about 115 at the beginning of the year,” he said, so it is likely that he will jump more than one weight class in his next year, perhaps several more before he is honored on a senior night (see back page) similar to before the January 20 match vs. Averill Park. 


Eric’s actually been at this a lot longer, wrestling in kindergarten as a member of the Pee Wee Squad, and was a manager of the modified varsity wrestlers while in the sixth grade. Eric started to develop two of his favorite moves – the arm bar and spladle, during that time, and got inspiration along the way from his older brother, Drew, who was on the Blue Streaks wrestling squad as a senior with Eric last year and is now a freshman club wrestler at the University of Delaware. His gets a lot of support from his family (which includes parents Greg and Gloria, younger sister Catharine and younger brother Kyle) as well. 


In talking to Eric, you tend to forget that he’s only in the eighth grade. He’s serious about his craft, and you come away with the sense of pride he has in his accomplishments, and the drive he has to accomplish more, without sounding cocky. When we spoke, he noted that he needed only three wins in his last 10 matches to tie the all-time eighth grade record at SSHS. His 58 wins to date also puts him on a good pace to threaten the school’s all-time wrestling victory mark of 208, a number Eric knew and volunteered instantly. He felt some of his most important wins came in his first match last year, where he beat his Niskayuna opponent in the last quarter to clinch the victory. “It made me feel like I belonged on the team,” he said. Among his many victories this year, he felt his biggest were at the Mohonasen Tournament, and at Saratoga Invitational Wrestling Tournament earlier this month.


His serious and calm manner presumably extends to schoolwork, where Eric listed math and science as his favorite subjects, but it definitely extends to his hobbies. “I like to make money,” he said. To that end, you’ll find him cutting lacrosse fields and lawns as well as snow removal. Lest you fret that his snow removal business has taken a hit on his wallet this year, Eric noted that he also logs some after-school hours at his mom and Aunt’s Putnam Market, where you’ll see him packing and stocking the shelves, and taking a turn or two at the cash register.  


Speaking of lacrosse, that’s another sport that Eric plays. He’s a goalie on the modified squad. He’d like to pursue both in college, but when the day comes where he might have to specialize in one of the other – lacrosse would get the nod. 


I’m guessing he’s probably pretty good at that too. Another reason to look forward to spring.

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