A handful of the top wrestling teams on Long Island converged at Sachem East High School Monday to participate in the annual Long Island Challenge, a dual meet tournament. For the hosts, it wasn't much of a challenge at all.
Sachem East pushed its dual-meet record to 15-0 this season and firmly entrenched itself as the team to beat on Long Island, if not all of New York, as it won all three matches it participated in.
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The tournament came down to a dual between Sachem East and Islip, also one of the top teams in the state. After both teams decisively won their first two matches, Sachem East defeated Islip, 46-18, to capture the tournament title.
The Flaming Arrows opened the day with a 58-14 victory over Garden City and followed that up with an impressive 55-21 win over MacArthur, which was second in the Nassau dual meet championships a year ago.
"This early in the year it's almost worse to be ranked first," Sachem East coach Isaac Ramaswamy said. "If you start believing that you can just go out and produce that result, it's downright dangerous. The good news is we have a bunch of kids, as they showed today, that are unaffected by that type of thing so far and they haven't given in to the pressure."
Sachem East's Mark Tracy won a crucial matchup between two of the top 182-pounders in Suffolk when he decisioned Ronnie King, 7-3, to put his team ahead 28-10. Sean Dee clinched the match when he pinned Nick Bayne in 4:28 at 285 pounds.
"He's tough," Tracy said of King. "I went in there and he's really strong and he's big and he had a game plan that I kind of had to adjust to in the second period. I knew I had to do something to win."
Early on, the teams went back and forth as Sachem East's Pete Longo scored a 15-0 technical fall at 138 pounds to tie the dual at 10 after four bouts. Junior Jakob Restrepo continued to show that he is a top contender at 145 pounds as he defeated Joe Demasi of Islip, 12-3, to keep momentum rolling. Austin Serra followed up with 4-0 decision at 152 pounds for Sachem East.
"We don't really think about who we wrestle as much as we just take one match at a time," Restrepo said. "We go after whoever is in front of us and not like we're defending anything. We know we have to go take it and wrestle our match."
So far, the entire Sachem East team has done just that and figures to be in the thick of the state championship race.
"Every team has a shot to beat every team," Ramaswamy said. "The rankings right now are not the important rankings -- the ones that come out in March are the ones that matter."