John Arceri paced the outer portion of the mat for nearly 20 minutes as part of his pre-match routine, seemingly planning every maneuver he could possibly attempt in the finals of Saturday’s 45th Annual Huntington Holiday Tournament at Huntington High School.
The senior wrestler, who went 42-1 last season and won the state championship in the 113-pound class, wrestled at 132 in this tournament and didn’t have trouble adjusting.
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“This is the best I’ve wrestled,” Arceri said. “I’m developing new moves and actually using them on guys.”
He didn’t wrestle into the third period in any match, pinning Kevin Cahill (Kings Park) in the second, William Mejia (Huntington) in the first, Connor Kentoffio (Patchogue-Medford) in the second and Sterling Nenninger (Port Jefferson) in the second.
Kings Park’s AJ Leo was Arceri’s final test, and the defending state champ pinned him on a well-executed half nelson 43 seconds into the second. Arceri led 12-0 after the first, and chose to start on top in the second because he knew he could turn Leo over.
“I was working my takedowns and scoring some points,” Arceri said. “I didn’t want to pin him right away.”
It was easy to see the gears moving in Arceri’s head. He stays low, pops up quickly and catches opponents off guard. He plots each and every move, evidenced by the efficiency with which he wrestles (and his pre-match pacing). He works tirelessly — though no movement is wasted — to wear out his opponent.
“He’s a tremendous worker; he’s in tremendous shape,” coach Travis Smith said. “His technique is tops in the county. He just has to keep doing what he’s been doing.”
Arceri said he was the first freshman to win a Suffolk County title for Huntington, and now he’s looking to be the first four-time county champion. That’s just one of a handful of goals he has set for himself this season.
“State title and undefeated, that’s what I want,” he said, confidently.
Huntington had three other winners, as Ryan Mock (106), Chris Bierd (182) and Khari McNeil (285) were tops in their classes.