Roslyn's Lanzilotti wins, aims at history

Johnny Pellegrino of Division Avenue High School (Levittown), Johnny Pellegrino of Division Avenue High School (Levittown), top, gets an advantage on Long Beach's Anthony Posada in the second round of the Nassau County varsity wrestling championship tournament at Mack Sports Complex, located on the campus of Hofstra University. (Feb. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Roslyn wrestler John Lanzilotti is looking to make history, the sort of history that buoys a modest program to new heights.

The 112-pound junior is seeking to become the first wrestler at the school to win an individual county championship. With his pin of East Meadow's Vinny Pannullo at 4:36 in the quarterfinals of yesterday's Nassau County Wrestling Championships/State Qualifier, Lanzilotti is only two matches from that goal.

"Since I lost [fifth place at 103 pounds] at least year's county championship, my coach [Paul Turano] said that next year, we will have our first county champion, and it will be you," Lanzilotti said.

Lanzilotti's path to an elite wrestler began, he said, when he quit his other athletic activities. He played football his freshman year and left the baseball squad midway through his sophomore season.

He said baseball and football got in the way of his wrestling training. Since he enjoyed wrestling most, why skimp on his mat preparation? So with peace of mind and a more open schedule, wrestling became the singular focus of his athletic existence.

He spent the offseason and summer training with the VHW Wrestling Club, traveling to tournaments and wrestling against some of the very best the Northeast had to offer.

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When this season began, he settled in at 119 pounds. After going 18-0 at 119, Lanzilotti shaved off 7 pounds and went about getting certified at 112. He is now 26-0 at his new weight class, which he says is where he feels most comfortable.

"Going to 112, I was undefeated, and knowing that, I didn't think anybody could beat me," Lanzilotti said.

If he is correct, Lanzilotti (46-0) will make Roslyn history, a 48-0 mark en route to a program first. There are, however, two matches to go.

At 189 pounds, Wantagh's Joe Kavanagh did what he has been doing the entire season: pinning his opponents and making it snappy. After a first-round bye, Kavanagh won his two matches in a combined 2:00 on his way to this morning's semifinal round.

In the second round, it took him only 18 seconds to beat East Meadow's Chris Parisi. The quarterfinal match went 1:42, with Calhoun's Nick Pititto on the receiving end of Kavanagh's wrath.

Kavanagh is 32-0 this season with 23 pins, seven forfeit victories and two decisions.

"I just try and wrestle my match," Kavanagh said. "It really wouldn't matter to me if I didn't pin anybody all year. I just go out there and do my work. "

That "work" has led to pin after pin after pin. In Nassau, Kavanagh has established himself as a pin artist, the type of wrestler who ends things when an opponent shows the slightest sign of vulnerability.

"It's not getting your opponent to his back," Kavanagh said. "It's learning what to do when he is on his back.

"And I've had a lot of practice with it. So when I put him on his back, I keep him there."

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At 145 pounds, Long Beach's Dylan Palacio and Massapequa's Chris Sarro advanced to separate semifinal matches. Palacio will face North Shore's Dean Shmuley in one semi, and Sarro draws Farmingdale's Jovanny Concepcion in the other one. If Palacio and Sarro meet in tonight's finals, it would be a rematch of a Dec. 29 bout won by Sarro with a 4-2 decision.

In the competitive 135-pound class, Bellmore JFK's Bobby Krug will take on Sewanhaka East's Christian Dluginski in one semifinal, and Long Beach's Edisson Tigre-Borja and MacArthur's Angelo Rella square off in the other semifinal match. Krug (40-2) is undefeated against Nassau opponents this season. Tigre-Borja is the reigning runner-up at 130 pounds.

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