For Hauppauge's Ben Tepperman, Friday night's dual meet against East Islip couldn't come fast enough. The ninth-grader has had a memorable January and was looking to add to his resume. He also was looking to exorcise some past demons.
The memory of last year's dual meet loss to East Islip still haunts him. When these teams met a year ago for the Suffolk League IV wrestling title, Tepperman cruised into the third period with a 7-0 lead over East Islip's Griffin Brown and seemed to have the bout locked up.
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"He had the win and let it get away when Brown hit a perfect headlock for the pin, which also keyed [East Islip's] victory," Hauppauge coach Chris Messina said. "He basically told me that he was wrestling up at 113 pounds [Friday] to meet Brown."
As fate would have it, Tepperman and Brown were slated to open the dual meet at 113. Tepperman came out with a vengeance and dominated early, pinning Brown in 3:53, and Hauppauge went on to a 46-26 win before a crowd of 300 in Islip Terrace.
It was the 17th straight win for undefeated Hauppauge, which also is 3-0 in Suffolk IV. East Islip dropped to 15-4, 2-1.
"It was important to get us off to a good start," said Tepperman, who finished third at the prestigious Eastern States Tournament last weekend. "I thought we wrestled well throughout the lineup."
Tepperman certainly redeemed himself and the Eagles followed suit. Hauppauge reeled off three straight pins in the final three bouts to secure the win. It began when super heavyweight James Louison pinned Nick Zito in 2:51 to extend a two-point lead to 34-26.
Eighth-grader Jake Silverstein followed with a quick pin at 99 pounds. The speedy Silverstein matted Dillon Nasrudin in 1:12 and eighth-grader Justin Seau pinned Matt Moskowitz in 3:12 at 106.
"We've been wrestling well," Messina said. "We had guys who went out and did their job to save team points even when they lost. I thought Francesco Bisono did a great job against one of Suffolk's outstanding wrestlers."
Bisono, ranked third in Suffolk, met second-ranked Dennis Ferro of EI in the marquee bout at 152 pounds. Ferro was the clear aggressor, but Bisono fended off most of Ferro's onslaught and became "defensive" at the end to keep it close, according to Ferro, who had three takedowns in a 7-2 decision.
"He stayed on the defensive and tried to keep it close into the third period," Ferro said. "You have to wrestle him smart so he can't capitalize with a big move late."
But it would be about the Eagles on this night. Hauppauge led 28-23 after Dominic Holder decisioned Justin Rigo, 8-4, at 195 pounds. Jon Wilson got East Islip within 28-26 when he beat Alex Donnarumma, 9-2, at 220 pounds. Wilson had Donnarumma on his back but couldn't quite finish the pin that would have given East Islip a one-point lead.
"It's a good win for us," Tepperman said. "We feel good about it."