Joe Davidson was an integral part of the success of the Sachem wrestling program. To honor the former wrestler and coach, Sachem North not only holds an annual tournament in his memory but perennially dominates the opposition.
Sachem North finished 8-0 Friday and Saturday, beating some of the top competition on Long Island en route to its third win in four years in the Joe Davidson Memorial Duals. The Flaming Arrows have lost a total of one match in four years.
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"You always think about going undefeated and you always expect to win," Sachem North coach Ray Pickersgill said. "If you don't expect to win, you shouldn't be competing."
Pickersgill said 1974 Suffolk champion Davidson, who passed away in 2005, had a direct impact on him as a coach and mentor.
"We really wanted to do something to remember him because he touched so many Sachem wrestlers over the years both as an athlete and a coach," Pickersgill said. "We honored him with something we knew he would love -- two days of great wrestling."
There was talent on each of the mats as five matches took place concurrently throughout two days. Sachem North was led by the dominance of 220-pounder Steve Mills and 132-pounder Sean O'Hagan, both of whom finished undefeated. Matt Marino and Gio Santiago also were undefeated for the Flaming Arrows.
"Going 8-0 and winning the tournament is really nice," Mills said. "It gives us momentum going into the league matches that are coming up. It gives everyone a little bit of confidence and it allows the younger kids to watch and see what we can do, and we can use this confidence in January and February and be rolling in the important part of the season."
Deer Park's Zach Lugo was named the most outstanding wrestler after navigating the treacherous waters of 145 pounds with an 8-0 record, including wins over tough 145-pounders Ryan Hake of Bayport-Blue Point and Tom Gerle of Floyd.
In the match of the day, returning county finalist Steven Lee of West Babylon and Shoreham-Wading River's James Szymanski squared off at 106 pounds. Szymanski led most of the match before Lee scored a point after getting to his feet in the third period. The match went into the ultimate rideout, and Szymanski was able to escape from the bottom and pick up the victory.
Any disappointment from Lee was not apparent after the match. "I want the state title really badly," he said, still intent on avenging last year's loss. "Last year was just counties but now I'm looking for states."
The match of the day Friday came at 99 pounds, where East Islip's Jesse Dellavecchia defeated Eastport-South Manor's John Busiello, 4-3. Both coaches left that match knowing there could be a potential rematch at the county championships.
"They wrestled an end-of-the-year match in December," ESM coach Nick Garone said.
Other 8-0 performances included SWR's T.J. Fabian, Floyd's Daniel Palminteri and ESM's Travis Passaro. How many of these competitors remain standing at the county championships in a little more than a month remains to be seen, but on this day, some of the top wrestlers on the Island shined brightly.