NORTH TONAWANDA (WIVB) – Two young men are credited with intervening in a brutal attack on a teen girl in North Tonawanda. One of the teens, Simon Griskonis says instinct took over when they stepped in to help.
“It was the right thing to do,” Simon said.
Video shows three girls attacking the victim on Wednesday. Simon and his wrestling teammate Anthony, are the two teens that break it up. Simon says that quick thinking is in part because of the skills they learned while on the wrestling team.
“Ever since I started wrestling I really feel like I’ve been more willing to stand up for others,” he said. “I’m not nervous to say something or voice my opinion. So I really feel like that was a huge part of me being able to run over there and not be afraid to say something.”
“We try not to focus on becoming better wrestlers, we teach life skills,” said North Tonawanda High School wrestling coach Wally Maziarz. “We want, as a coach, to see our athletes become better role models, better men and women in and out of the classroom and in the community.”
Those are the values Maziars tries to instill in the players on and off the wrestling mat.
“Yes sports are important, you learn a lot of great characteristics, positive characteristics, integrity, discipline, determination from sports,” he said. “But in the end it’s about better a better person, being a better role-model. Getting your homework done. Helping your neighbors out.”
Maziarz says Anthony and Simon proved they are role models in the community, but he never doubted they weren’t.
“I was not surprised that those two did the right thing and stepped up the way that they did,” he said, adding he hopes people learn from the example Simon and Anthony set.
“Just as an example the kind of sense of pride that we have for each other as a family, as a whole, goes a long way,” Maziarz said. “As far as the wrestling community it’s embedded in the culture. To build each other up instead of break each other down and I was just glad those two boys could be a blessing for someone on that day.”
“Not enough people are willing to step up nowadays for people they don’t know or really care enough,” Simon said. “I feel like that’s something in our society that needs to change.”
On Saturday, the victim’s parents sent an emotional “Thank you” to Simon and Anthony for stepping in and helping their daughter.
North Tonawanda Police say the three girls seen attacking the victim will be charged in family court.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.