Falcon wrestler honored for strength off the mat

A wrestler and his coaches pose after the student-athlete received an award.

Falcon Tabriz Khetab was granted the prestigious Section 2 Jeff Blatnick Inspiration Award.

At the ceremony March 9, the Albany High School star wrestler was supported by his coaches Paul Florio (pictured right of Khetab) and Matt Sitors (pictured left of Khetab), who nominated him for the accolade.

The Blatnick Inspiration Award was created in memory of Jeff Blatnick - a former Section 2 champion, New York State champion, NCAA champion, Olympic gold medalist and coach at Burnt Hills High School - and is given annually to a student or coach in Section 2 who has battled obstacles, helped someone, gone above and beyond or served as an inspiration.

Ask anyone who knows Khetab, especially his coaches and teammates, and they’ll say he has done all of the above and more!

Two-and-a-half years ago, Khetab and his siblings were hiding from the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan. They eventually made it safely to a neighboring country, flew to Indiana and, ultimately relocated to Albany in 2021 because of its status as a sanctuary city. Khetab’s parents and younger siblings are still in Afghanistan.

Khetab, who went a perfect 25-0 during the regular season and finished his senior season 30-2 overall, didn’t even learn the style of wrestling most widely practiced in the United States until last year, when he was a junior and joined the varsity team.

Khetab was profiled in the district’s most recent issue of Capital Education. You can read that piece here.

Congratulations Tabriz, we’re proud of you!