Finally, Max Soria could be his own man.
The Kings Park senior's high school wrestling career will irrevocably be linked with his twin brother, Mike's. But the relationship ceased to be conjoined last weekend at the National High School Coaches Association senior nationals at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
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Max, who placed third in New York last month, capitalized on his newfound freedom. The 103-pounder won four matches in two days, including a 7-3 decision over Joseph Barnes of Missouri in the final, to win the senior national title.
The finals, which were broadcast live on ESPN360.com, will be played on tape delay on ESPNU at a date to be determined.
"It was more fun ," Max said. "There wasn't the pressure from everyone else. It was more pressure from myself."
New York's state tournament is the end of the season for most high school wrestlers, but the national tournament allows the top wrestlers from around the country the chance to showcase their talents for college recruiters.
As such, Max wasn't burdened with the need to win the event. Neither he nor his brother worried about their policy of not wrestling each other, which has forced one of the brothers to forfeit to the other in the past two state meets. A finals appearance would more than meet their requirements.
Max breezed through his bracket with a technical fall and two major decisions in the first three rounds. Mike, after a first-round loss, rallied for a fourth-place finish.
"At a national level, most of the matches are one point or two points," Kings Park coach Clark Crespi said. "Max wrestled at a college [level] intensity. When he got a lead, he kept at it."
Added Max: "I think I was more nervous in the first round than I was in the final. After dominating those kids, I knew I wasn't going to lose in the finals."
Huntington's Damon McQueen (third at 119 pounds), Rocky Point's Anthony Volpe (fourth at 160), and Central Islip's Andy Rodriguez (fourth at 145) and Alan Gomez (eighth at 103) were the other Suffolk place-winners for a New York contingent that was second, 431/2 points behind New Jersey. Wantagh's Matt Loew (sixth at 215) was Nassau's lone place-winner.