After hours of wrestling, all eyes narrowed in on Connetquot’s Gregor Malkasian and MacArthur’s Jake Hunter competing in their 220-pound match in the championship round.
The advantage went back and forth through the opening rounds. Both wrestlers tried to keep their poise and balance as they waited for their opportunity to strike. Luckily for Malkasian, he got it first.
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“It was difficult but I just tried to remain calm,” Malkasian said. “Once I saw my opening I was able to take it.”
That opening came in the third round when Malkasian grabbed Hunter with a headlock and pulled him down to the mat for the pin in Connetquot’s 51-29 victory over MacArthur in the final of Saturday’s fourth annual Terry Haise Invitational tournament at Freeport High School. The gym erupted in excitement as Malkasian made his way to the side of the mat to celebrate with his teammates.
How was Malkasian able to keep his composure?
“To be honest, I really don’t know,” he said. “It’s just something that just came from inside I guess.”
Malkasian knew his match with Hunter wasn’t going to be easy.
“The kid was tough,” Malkasian added. “He wasn’t going down without a fight and he stayed calm, too, so I guess it was just who got the first opportunity.”
His teammate and senior captain Tom Repalone’s opportunity came earlier in his match.
“We were tied up, I saw my shot,” said Repalone about his first-round pin less than a minute into the match. “I grabbed his leg, felt his head coming over and just locked up the cradle and took it over.”
Repalone, one of the best 138-pounders on Long Island, was confident entering his match against the talented Travis Cooksey saying, “I knew I was going to win. I went in tough.”
The Terry Haise Invitational is held to honor Freeport’s former varsity wrestling coach, who was a Pennsylvania state champion and went on to compete at Syracuse. Haise, who now coaches in the middle school, was in attendance as he watched Connetquot, MacArthur, Commack, Freeport, East Meadow, Westbury, Great Neck South and Brooks of Massachusetts wrestle.
The T-Birds were thrilled with their performance as Repalone called their tournament victory a “great accomplishment” adding “we lost a lot of guys but we also fight back.”
The fight was evident on Saturday and it was thanks to their resiliency and ability to capitalize on the opportunities they were given.