Connetquot, Sachem East lead Sachem North Invitational
Look up and down the tournament brackets from the Sachem North Invitational Saturday night and it's easy to see which teams came in with a deep, dynamic squad and were ready to wrestle.
The champion in every weight class except for 106 and 285 pounds was either a Sachem East, Connetquot, Sachem North or Islip competitor, led by Connetqout and Sachem East -- with four champions each. Sachem North checked in with three.
"The quality of our team is great," Sachem East's Conor O'Hara said. "We have a tough guy at just about every weight class. We're looking to try and place a guy at every weight class in the counties."
O'Hara came up big in one of the marquee matchups. At 132 pounds, O'Hara squared off against Gino Titone of Connetquot, who was the winner at 132 pounds at the Smithtown tournament last weekend. The 132-pound class started a string of three straight championship bouts that were contested between Sachem East and Connetquot.
O'Hara defeated Titone, 7-4, at 132 and was followed by his teammate Jakob Restrepo, who defeated Connetquot's Greg Cherry at 145 pounds.
The trilogy was capped off with a bout between the consensus top two 145-pound wrestlers in Suffolk County and the match lived up to the billing. Brendan Dent of Connetquot edged out Sachem East's Jackson Mordente in a 2-1 decision.
"I just wanted to treat it like any other match," Dent said. "Unless my calendar is wrong, it's January; it's not February. Like any other match, I wanted to work my stuff and that's what I was thinking about before the match. After the match, I was excited and I'll enjoy it tonight. But tomorrow, I just have to lace up the shoes again and keep working."
The meet's most exciting match came at 113 pounds, with Eddie Hart of Connetquot scoring a 5-3 overtime victory against Harborfields' Tim Johnson. Johnson had scored two late points to send the match into the extra session but Hart came out quick looking for the takedown -- and he nailed it.
"We started [overtime] on our feet and I figured he was tired, so I knew I had to take him down and I got the win," Hart said.
It was another strong showing for Connetquot, which according to coach Bill Santoro, won its fourth tournament of the season at Smithtown last weekend.
"This is an individual sport but Connetquot wrestles as a team," Dent said. "We all pull for each other and it's so much more fun to have a team that is deep and can succeed together. It's great to watch guys work hard all week and get what they worked for on Saturday."
The only competitor not from one of the big four schools to win it all was Mike Figueroa of Central Islip at 106 pounds.
"I feel like it's a privilege," Figueroa said. "At first, I wasn't certified at 106, but coach kept going to the re-certifications and helped me finally get to 106. Hopefully, it will give me an opportunity to [get] to the finals at counties, but I just have to keep working hard."