Locust Valley rules the mat. There was no doubt about that after Sunday's Nassau Division II wrestling championships at Carle Place High School. Locust Valley took home seven individual county titles and scored 264 points en route to its second consecutive county championship.
"We have a special group of young men," coach Joe Enea said. "Since we won last year, it's been their focus, as well as the coach staff's, to repeat . . . "
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Tenth-grader Bryan Coll set the tone with a 9-7 overtime decision over Carle Place's John DeRidder at 99 pounds. After being down by five points early, the bout was tied at 7 after two periods. Coll was able to force overtime and earn a takedown.
The formula for an overtime victory, according to Coll, is simple. "It's just mental toughness," he said. Coll was named champions of champions following the meet.
"It would have been very easy for him to pack it in and give up," Enea said. "But he didn't. He just kept on fighting."
Eighth-grader Hunter Dusold followed Coll's victory by pinning Oyster Bay's Andre Perez in 1:30 at 106 pounds. "I went out there knowing I was going to win," Dusold said of his match.
At 113, Nick Casella pinned Clarke's Tyler Constantine in 1:05. "I did well when I got on top. I really controlled him," Casella said. "My mind-set was, 'don't let him get to the second period.' "
Casella beat Constantine earlier this season at a dual meet. This gave the sophomore both confidence and something to aim for. "I wanted to go out there and be aggressive," he said. "Last time, I didn't pin him and I really wanted to get that."
Sam Ward took his 132-pound bout, defeating Wheatley's Erik Rodriguez. Ward earned a technical fall 3:32 into the bout. "I was just working takedowns, trying to score, and finish the match," Ward said. "I did well from my feet, worked my shots well, and keeping the pressure on him."
Teammates Yamique Webb and Joe Bressingham squared off at 170 pounds. Webb came out on top, 9-2. "It was kind of weird at first," Webb said of wrestling his teammate. "But I had to go out and win because I wanted to go to states."
All winners qualified for the state tournament in Albany on Feb. 22 and 23. With seven qualifiers, the Locust Valley bus certainly won't be a quiet one.
"It's going to be so much fun," Casella said.