Ward Melville's Nick Piccininni, Longwood's Corey Rasheed winners
There were some fresh faces and new champions crowned at the Suffolk League I championship. Then there were the stalwarts, like defending state champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville and defending state-finalist Corey Rasheed of Longwood. Saturday was about winning, but also preparation for counties and states in the coming weeks. Both wrestlers came into the League Tournament undefeated on the season and both left that way.
"Kids are trying to go after me now and I have the target on my back but I just take that target and put it on their backs and go right after them," Piccininni said. Piccininni's victory in the finals over Mat Bradice of Floyd at 113 pounds gave him 131 career wins, tying the school record at Ward Melville.
In a tournament filled with tight matches, it was Piccininni and Rasheed who once again shined -- no surprise given the credentials they've accumulated in the last few years.
"Leagues -- of course it's a big tournament -- but mentally I'm paying attention a little bit to counties but mostly my mind is set on states and nationals," said Rasheed, who defeated Michael Pistone of Sachem East at 152 pounds. "It's mostly states because nationals are after the season, but I'm just so excited for the states. I've been waiting for so long."
On the team side Sachem East once again showed why it's considered one of the top two teams in the state, scoring 263.5 points. Brentwood was second with 223 points. The Flaming Arrows had nine finalists and seven champions, including a run of four straight from 126 to 145 pounds that included Anthony Messina, Jakob Restrepo, Conor O'Hara and Jackson Mordente.
"In the team aspect we really feed off each other's intensity," O'Hara said. "If the guy before you has a great match you just go out there and try to wrestle even harder than he did."
"It shows how hard we work and how we've grown from the beginning of the season and why we're one of the best in the state," Mordente said. "It shows what Sachem is all about."