Wrestling: After milestone win, Middletown coach Jason Lichtenstein keeps looking forward

·4 min read

During a day where he reached a coaching milestone, Middletown wrestling coach Jason Lichtenstein was only focused on the other matches to come.

The Middletown grad, who is in Year 13 at the helm of his alma mater's varsity wrestling team, recorded his 200th career win Saturday during a 33-30 win over Roy C. Ketcham. Assistant coach Eugene Noboa brought over a plaque to celebrate as a picture was taken, then the focus shifted to the next opponent.

“The 200 wins was awesome. It hasn’t happened a lot," Lichtenstein said. "Middletown has a lot of turnover in coaches, so we haven’t had a lot of people with the ability to get 200 wins. It’s pretty cool to be one of the few coaches in the history of that district to get to that mark.”

Middletown head wrestling coach Jason Lichtenstein poses for a portrait at Middletown High School in Middletown, NY on Monday, January 24, 2022. Coach Lichtenstein has reached 200 career wins as coach.
Middletown head wrestling coach Jason Lichtenstein poses for a portrait at Middletown High School in Middletown, NY on Monday, January 24, 2022. Coach Lichtenstein has reached 200 career wins as coach.

In matches against Ketcham, Chester, Warwick and Wallkill, the Middies had to forfeit two weight classes at 152 and 160 pounds. Each match came down to the very last bout as the Middies went 2-2 on the day. The win over Ketcham came from sophomore Bryson Tibbs pinning his opponent at 189 pounds, making it 24 pins on the season.

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After the team returned back to Middletown High School, there were decorations waiting at the school as Lichtenstein's family greeted him.

Noboa said he is "extremely proud" of the coach.

"He does a lot of work to get the team to where they are, behind the scenes," Noboa said. "He actually didn’t even mention his 200th win was coming up. We just knew, because that’s just the person he is. So I was really proud of him, because I know what he does on and off the mat for these guys. I was really proud of him to see that work come to light. We’re not a very big dual meet team, except for this year, we’ve done some dual meet tournaments. But mostly in the past it’s only been individual tournaments. For him to reach this 200 wins mark was really impressive.”

Middletown head wrestling coach Jason Lichtenstein runs a warm up drill  during practice at Middletown High School in Middletown, NY on Monday, January 24, 2022. Coach Lichtenstein has reached 200 career wins as coach.
Middletown head wrestling coach Jason Lichtenstein runs a warm up drill during practice at Middletown High School in Middletown, NY on Monday, January 24, 2022. Coach Lichtenstein has reached 200 career wins as coach.

The Middies are a young team, with only three seniors in the lineup. The team did not compete last season.

"We’re very young and very solid and the future looks bright for our team because these kids really work hard, they know what it takes and that’s Coach Lichtenstein’s doing, he just instills that in them every day," Noboa said. "To be with him over the past 10 years, it’s great to see all the hard work come to light.”

Undefeated sophomore wrestler Stephan Monchery wrestles in the 285-pound weight class and is ranked No. 2 in New York state, Lichtenstein said.

"I think coach Lichtenstein getting his 200th win is a great representation of all the work he has put in all his years of coaching," Monchery said. "Coach Lichtenstein’s drive to always improve has led me and the program to do great things."

Middletown's Stephan Monchery, left, wrestles Monroe-Woodbury's Daniel Jabbour during the Section 9 Division 1 final four match-ups at Minisink Valley High School in Slate Hill, NY on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD
Middletown's Stephan Monchery, left, wrestles Monroe-Woodbury's Daniel Jabbour during the Section 9 Division 1 final four match-ups at Minisink Valley High School in Slate Hill, NY on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD

Lichtenstein also credits others such as Jayden Norris, Joseph Torres, Andrew Sgambati and Jalen Charles for the team's success.

But, to Lichtenstein, this milestone couldn't have been achieved alone, he said, crediting others around him, including Noboa for the work he has done on his youth club, The Bear Cave, the last nine years. As a result, the Middies have the numbers they do now.

Monroe-Woodbury's Michael Zrelak, left, wrestles Middletown's Jalen Charles during the Section 9 Division 1 final four match-ups at Minisink Valley High School in Slate Hill, NY on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Zrelak won the match. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD
Monroe-Woodbury's Michael Zrelak, left, wrestles Middletown's Jalen Charles during the Section 9 Division 1 final four match-ups at Minisink Valley High School in Slate Hill, NY on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Zrelak won the match. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE TIMES HERALD-RECORD

This season, the Middies made an appearance in the Section 9 dual meet semifinals.

Lichtenstein said he didn't know what he was going to get out of the team after having a whole year off from competition.

"For these guys to just keep winning dual meets the way they’re doing, I tell them every day, what they’re doing is remarkable," he said. "They don’t know from day to day whether someone is going to be contact-traced, or if someone is going to be out. They just come to practice every day and they work, and every day they just continuously get better and improve, and they don’t let a lot get to them. They have this really great attitude about them and it’s not surprising, getting to know these guys, that they’re as successful as they are, because their work ethic and attitude are unbelievable.”

And the support around Lichtenstein is what ultimately has gotten them to where they are now, he said.

"As a coach, I have a hard time with the accolades, because I know a lot of times the accolades that I have are associated with other people," Lichtenstein said. "Without the guys that I’ve been coaching with for the past 13 seasons, none of this is possible. I’ve been really fortunate to have amazing assistant coaches who have been with me and share my view for the program and where I want to go with it.

MKramer1@th-record.com

Twitter: @MKramerTHR

This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Middletown wrestling's Jason Lichtenstein earns 200th coaching win

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