Mike Marrero celebrated his pin with a reverberating roar, the MacArthur bench rose to its feet to join him, and his mom greeted him with an elated hug.
The Generals (5-0) already clinched the match a bout earlier, but when Marrero came from behind to pin Mepham's Louis Hernandez in 3:49 at 152 pounds, thus toppling a first-ranked state wrestler, a clear statement was made.
"We're going to do damage in the postseason, I guarantee it," Marrero said. "This year is going to be different . . . I'm not supposed to win that match."
Here's a few reasons why:
1. Hernandez had just won the 145-pound title at the Eastern States. 2. He defeated Marrero, 12-9, earlier this year. 3. Marrero once trailed 10-4.
But none of that mattered after Marrero scored a takedown to bring him to within four. After an out-of-bounds reset, he caught Hernandez's wrist, hit a roll-through tilt and navigated a pin. With the 57-18 victory, the Generals take first place in Conference 2A and hold their spot as the second-best team in Nassau.
"It could have been 100-0, but I didn't care," Marrero said. "I was never going to stop. You don't really pin people in tilts, but I had this one really tight and I was squeezing, squeezing, and before I noticed, he was on his back."
MacArthur clinched the match on Sal Randazzo's 9-0 major decision over Matt Assael at 145. With one regular-season match left, the Generals are in prime position to challenge No. 1 Wantagh, the reigning state champions.
"This is a great confidence builder," coach Robert Paletta said. "We want to be the best in Nassau and the best in the state."
They'll have to topple a giant to get there, but Wednesday, the Generals proved capable.