Senior Eduardo Ramirez of Amityville put the final touch on another impressive pin and moved slowly from the mat. The exhausted senior had beaten Brentwood's Michael Cardona in 5:39 at 138 pounds and was immediately greeted with a big hug from his father, Ed. There was a moment of gratification followed by a deep breath.
"You work your tail off to get to the county tournament," Ramirez said. "Everyone is so good so there can be no mistakes."
The second-seeded Ramirez moves into Sunday's semifinal round at 10 a.m. against third-seeded senior Matt Marino of Sachem North at the Suffolk wrestling championships in the Mack Center at Hofstra.
The last Amityville wrestler to win a Suffolk crown was Angel Mazara (152) in 2008.
Ramirez said he's never wrestled Marino, who is 40-1, and will be concerned with his mind-set more than the skill set of his opponent. "I usually don't watch my opponents," said Ramirez, who is 38-4. "I bring it to my level of wrestling. I'm a little bit of a brawler and I can break a person. If I have a guy that thinks he can break me by being aggressive I just use my skills to offset his intensity."
Ramirez also credited his close relationship with his dad, who also serves as the Baldwin athletic director and wrestling coordinator in Nassau, for his success. "He means well and wants only the best for me but there are times when it's difficult," Ramirez said. "My Dad has extremely high expectations as do I."
Ed Ramirez added, "we have a great relationship and the sport has brought us closer. I've watched him grow from a little boy to a young man and really mature. You know, [he laughs] he's really a super computer guy into computer programming who's getting it done in a singlet. I'm very proud of him."
Connetquot leads the team scoring for the first time with 74 points. The Thunderbirds moved four wrestlers into the semifinals but hold a tenuous lead over Hauppauge (72.5), Sachem East (69.5), Glenn (67) and Rocky Point (63). Sachem East, the defending team champion, has five in the semifinals.
Two-time defending state champion Nick Piccininni, a junior from Ward Melville, cruised into the semifinal round at 120 pounds with a win by technical fall and a major decision. Piccininni improved to 39-0 and ran his win streak to 129, the second longest in Long Island history. Shoreham-Wading River's Jesse Jantzen won 163 bouts in a row between 1996 and 2000.
Defending state champion Shakur (Corey) Rasheed of Longwood recorded two first-period pins on his way to the semifinal round. Rasheed, a senior, had pin times of 29 and 19 seconds at 160 pounds. He pinned his way through the state tournament as a junior and is a four-time state place winner.
"It's rare to have two defending state champions that are undefeated in one season," said Bob Panariello, the Suffolk wrestling chairman. "These are two of the most dominant guys we've seen."
Rasheed and Piccininni will join Huntington sophomore John Arceri (113), Eastport-South Manor senior Travis Passaro (126) and Rocky Point junior Tommy Dutton (145) in the semifinal round. All five are returning Suffolk champions. Dutton's first round win, a pin over Mount Sinai's Luke Marino in 26 seconds, was the 200th of his career. He became the eighth Suffolk wrestler with 200 wins.