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Apr 10, 2018 11:07 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Long Island Wrestlers Get A Taste Of Culture And Competition During Trip To Netherlands

Westhampton Beach wrestling coach Paul Bass, right, and Mt. St. Vincent College coach Dan Zanie, third from left, took four high school wrestlers to the Netherlands to compete in a Greco-Roman tournament over the spring break.
Apr 10, 2018 11:07 AM

Four high school wrestlers and two coaches expanded their horizons, both in the sport and culturally, during an eight-day trip to the Netherlands from March 29 to April 5.

Longtime Westhampton Beach varsity wrestling coach Paul Bass and coach Dan Zanie—the head of USA Wrestling for New York state—brought four current high school wrestlers overseas to compete in a two-day tournament, which featured wrestlers from 24 different countries.

It was a step outside the box for the American contingent in more ways than one. Aside from taking in the sights and culture in a foreign country, the four student-athletes also competed in a different style of wrestling, Greco-Roman, which differs greatly from folkstyle, which is the dominant form in the states and is used in high school matches. In folkstyle, wrestlers can score points and takedown by going after an opponent’s legs with trips and grabs. Attacking legs is not allowed in Greco-Roman, where the emphasis is on upper body moves, turns and positioning.

Greco-Roman is vastly more popular in Europe, and is one of two forms used in the Olympics, along with freestyle (similar to folkstyle, but with a higher scoring outcome). Bass said that his wrestlers learned a lot by competing in the unfamiliar style, which is why he was not disappointed with the 0-12 finish in the tournament.

Westhampton Beach junior Jake Kass represented his school, and he was joined by three other Long Island wrestlers—senior Bailey O’Brien of Locust Valley, freshman Patrick Gantner of Newfield, and Coach Zanie’s son, Jared Zanie, of Walt Whitman.

The tournament, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, was held in Utrecht, and after the two days of competition, the group of six spent the rest of their time sightseeing and visiting Amsterdam.

“The trip was neat because they got to see Europe,” Bass said. “By the end of it, they were Snapchatting with kids from France, Russia. The cultural exchange part is really what the trip was about.”

Of course, ever a student of the sport, Bass said he soaked up more than the culture.

“I was watching [the other wrestlers and coaches] do things, and so technically, I picked up some stuff,” he said. “It was a really cool thing.”

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