Pat Smith scores big wrestling win for Wantagh
On a day Wantagh was carried by its lightweights, it was the team's biggest wrestler who came away with the largest win.
Freshman Pat Smith pinned MacArthur's Jonathan Ruby in 3:39 at 285 pounds to clinch Wantagh's 43-28 win and secure the Warriors' third straight Nassau County Dual Meet Championship.
"I was just pumped that I could do it for the seniors," Smith said. "I've struggled all year but I came [through] when it mattered the most."
Struggling has been defined differently at Wantagh (12-3) than anywhere else on Long Island over the past few seasons. The defending state champions had a 44-match dual meet win streak snapped by East Islip in December and entered the Dual Meet Championship as an unseeded team.
"I told the kids that doesn't matter now, it's the end of the season that counts and boy did they step up," Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie said. "I knew when we beat Locust Valley on Friday that they were on."
Smith helped prove that there is no such thing as a rebuilding year for Wantagh wrestling.
After being taken down and controlled early in the first period against Ruby, Smith scored with a reversal. In the second period, he made his move.
"He was really strong and got an early takedown and I couldn't do anything from there," Smith said. "Then I saw the opportunity and rolled him [for the pin]."
It was just another case of an inexperienced wrestler making his mark at Wantagh.
"I was nervous and I walked into the practice room in the gym and was watching through the glass during his match," Gillespie said. "To have him do that -- it's unbelievable. He was a kid that lost a large percentage of his matches this year, but now, he won it for Wantagh."
Wantagh got the usual contributions from defending state champion Kyle Quinn at 113 pounds and all-county qualifier Nick Vines at 160. Quinn put Wantagh out to an 11-0 lead when he pinned MacArthur's Travis Cooksey in 1:56 and Vines won a 3-1 overtime decision over Sal Randazzo that proved critical as MacArthur went on to win the next four matches before Smith stopped them cold at 285.
Vines beat Randazzo last season in the finals and was again wrestling with a large brace because of a torn ACL, according to Gillespie.
"I've won four county titles on this team and this is by far the best feeling," Vines said. "We've never been the underdog and we always blew everyone out of the water and to have a match like this as the underdog is an unreal feeling."