David Estrella prepared for the 2017-18 wrestling season by not wrestling.
When he began practice in late November for this, his senior season at North Babylon, Estrella’s last appearance on the mats was last February at the state tournament. But Estrella didn’t exactly take it easy in the interim.
He starred at midfield for the Bulldogs’ lacrosse team, traveled the summer lacrosse circuit (earning a scholarship to Stony Brook in the process), participated in late-summer team drills for the North Babylon football team, and then excelled at running back and linebacker last fall for a team that lost in the Long Island Class II Championship Game.
“When the football season ended, he couldn’t take a break, even though his body needed it,” North Babylon wrestling coach Vinny Innes said. “But you need a certain number of practices before you can participate in the meets so he couldn’t take any time off. It’s amazing the caliber of wrestlers he has beaten that dedicate their lives to that one sport. Wrestling is his third sport.”
But there was Estrella, first in Suffolk last Sunday, after defeating Nick Blanton of Glenn, 14-4, to win the 170-pound county championship. For that feat, Estrella, who will enter the state tournament with a 201-29 career record, 39-2 this season, is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“You never see a three-sport athlete like him these days,” Innes said. “I didn’t see him on a mat from late February to late November and then he blows the dust off his shoes and beats kids who are wrestling year-round.”
Estrella simply shrugs off his Ironman routine. “I’ve been doing it since I was 5 years old. My parents raised me to play three sports,” Estrella said. “It was a childhood dream to play in the LIC in football. It wore me down at times, but this is my last year doing all three sports.”
And quite a year it has been. Last spring, Estrella scored 41 goals with 20 assists for a Bulldog team that struggled through a 4-12 season. In the fall, Estrella earned first-team All-Long Island as a hard-hitting linebacker and top running back who gained 2,095 yards and scored 26 touchdowns. He just won his second consecutive county wrestling title and hopes to improve on last year’s fourth–place finish in the state tournament on Feb. 23-24 in Albany.
“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kid to coach,” Innes said. “He’s a phenomenal athlete and a special kid. He’s humble, he listens and he does everything right. He’s got the highest number of victories in North Babylon history. There’s no doubt he could’ve been a Division I wrestler.”
But Estrella chose lacrosse as his singular ticket to college. “I felt the opportunity to play at a high level and my best chance for playing time was in lacrosse. I also wanted to stay home and Stony Brook is the perfect place for me.”