Jericho hasn't had a Nassau County wrestling champion in 40 years. The Jayhawks came oh so close last year when an undefeated Jun Yoo lost in the 160-pound title bout in the Nassau sectional tournament.
"We've been on the doorstep but it's been so elusive, that title," Jericho coach Kevin Brodsky said. "We had four All-County wrestlers last year, which was unprecedented, but we wanted that champion so bad."
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That championship void could be filled Sunday at the Mack Center at Hofstra University. Senior Jaison White is two wins away from the 160-pound crown. His first opponent in Sunday's semifinal round is Isaah Flaherty of Sewanhaka-East at 10 a.m. White placed third in Nassau at 170 last year.
"Jaison wrestles year-round and has become quite the technician," Brodsky said. "He had eight takedowns in his first win and another 12 in the quarterfinals. He's so efficient on his feet -- broken all of our team records for takedowns in a season."
White is 32-0 this season and has a career record of 103-24.
It's another exciting possibility for a Jericho program that started in 1960 and only had 17 All-Nassau wrestlers in the school's first 40 years. Since 2000, the program has honored 19 more All-Nassau wrestlers and if White can find himself on top of the winners' podium, he'll be Jericho's first county champ since Ron Richmond won the 119-pound title in 1974.
Wantagh junior Blaise Kavanagh, the sixth seed at 132 pounds, blazed his way into Sunday's semifinal round with two one-point wins over seeded opponents. Kavanagh pushed the action against defending champion Owen Bachelder of Hewlett and came out on top when Bachelder was hit with a fleeing the mat call, earning Kavanagh a 3-2 win in the round of 16.
He then came from behind to upend third-seeded Kearney Gutierrez, 5-4, in the quarterfinals. Kavanagh trailed the entire match and gained a takedown after a scramble late in the third period for another breathtaking win. "He's having a heck of a tournament," Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie said. "He's got momentum and wrestling smart matches."
MacArthur's John Dougherty was pounding his way into the semifinal round -- but it was a little too much. Dougherty earned a pin in 1:23 and was then handling Division sophomore Ricky Almonte, 16-4, in quarterfinal action. With 10 seconds remaining in the third period and the match in hand, Dougherty, the second seed, was penalized for an illegal slam and disqualified.
Almonte appeared dazed and lay on the mat as medical personnel assisted him. He walked off under his own power and will not compete in the semifinals.
"It's a concussion and he's out," said Ed Ramirez, the Nassau wrestling coordinator. "They checked him out and he's not able to go. He'll officially place sixth in the county."
Almonte, who said he was feeling OK at the end of the evening, said of Dougherty: "He was winning big and deserved to win. He didn't do anything vicious. I feel bad for him."
Division coach Bob Bennett said: "The doctor said Ricky has a mild concussion and cannot continue tomorrow. We were willing to relinquish the bout so Dougherty could move on but that's not an option. Once the wrestler is disqualified, that's it."