Over President’s Day weekend, the Aces competed in the 20th annual Henry Wittenberg Invitational Wrestling Tournament at Yeshiva University. After a uncharacteristically low 6th place finish in last year’s tournament, ICJA secured a hard-fought 4th place finish this year.
While the overall championship was won by SAR, Ida Crown scored 170 points and edged out Kushner Academy for 4th place by two points. With 15 schools from across the country participating, it was the largest Wittenberg to date.

The highlight of the entire tournament was Senior Captain Jacob Zwelling’s dramatic pin of SAR’s Kenny Burstein with 21 seconds to go in the match to win 1st place at 195 lbs. With that pin, in one instant, Zwelling ended his illustrious ICJA wrestling career, won his first Wittenberg title, became a member of the Wittenberg Tournament Hall of Fame, and–with his pin–provided the Aces the decisive two bonus points needed to take sole possession of 4th place. After dominating most of the match, Burstein caught Zwelling for an instant in a bad position. Zwelling, though, immediately fought out of danger and proceeded to finish Burstein off in short order.

“Although the team didn’t come in first,” Zwelling said, “We certainly improved since last year. I’m so proud of this group of guys, and I can’t wait to see what they can do in the years to come. The Ida Crown wrestling team is most definitely on the rise.”

Sophomore Akiva Goldberger made the finals at 113 after a convincing performance in the quarter-finals and semi-finals. He fell short in the finals, after taking an early lead against his opponent from SAR.  Goldberger’s second place finish should set him up well for a championship run next season.
Junior Ofri Ben David (126), Sophomore Raphi Chernoff (138) and Junior Matthew Jacoby (145) all took 3rd place in their respective weight classes. Ben David lost in triple overtime in the quarterfinals to a wrestler from Frisch, but he show tenacity as he fought through the consolation brackets to the 3rd place final. In that final, he ran into the same Frisch wrestler. This time, though, Ben David pinned him in 2:56. Chernoff, who won at Regionals the prior weekend, showed great form in what proved to be the toughest weight class in the tournament. Only a sophomore, Chernoff’s 3rd place finish was his second time placing at Wittenberg. Jacoby also had an excellent tournament, losing only to the eventual champion in the semi-finals.

Jacoby’s opponent in the 3rd place finals turned out to be his teammate, Junior Nate Bomben. Bomben had an unfortunate draw, which saw him lose to the #2 seed from RTMA in the Round of 16. After that early loss on Friday morning, Bomben wrestled and won five matches over the course of a long Sunday.  In doing so, Bomben knocked wrestlers from RTMA, DRS, Frisch, Maimonides, and New Community Jewish High School out of the tournament.  Monday’s showdown against Jacoby proved to be one of the most entertaining and well-wrestled matches of the entire tournament. Jacoby edged Bomben, 14-9.

Junior Ilan Kaissar took 5th place at 132, while his brother, freshman Erez Kaissar finished in 6th place at 120.

“Historically, Ida Crown has been the most dominant team at Wittenberg,” Coach Doug Klein, a veteran of all 20 installments, commented, “But times have changed, and the tournament has gotten tougher and tougher. We have a young team with several vacant weight classes. With that in mind, we had a successful tournament.”

Congratulations to all of our wrestlers and our coaches on a job well done. As always, the Aces were recognized throughout the tournament for their outstanding middot, sportsmanship and derech eretz.