The charismatic C.J. Archer, the heartbeat of the Rocky Point wrestling team, flexed for the bench and then the crowd. The Eagles senior had every reason to be excited.
Archer pinned Hauppauge’s Nick Smith in 1:30 at 145 pounds to clinch Rocky Point’s 38-33 win over Hauppauge on Saturday night in the final of the Suffolk Dual Meet tournament at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood.
Archer used a double bar arm to put Smith to his back for the first-period pin. The bench erupted as the win helped the Eagles open a 38-12 lead with only four bouts left.
“He came in aggressively and I just waited for the right time to run my move,” said Archer, who improved to 27-0. “Some people don’t like when I celebrate. If it upsets them, then they should send someone out to beat me. Coach Goldstein told me before I went out there that I could clinch the title. When I saw our bench going crazy it was the greatest feeling in the world.”
Rocky Point (20-2), which lost to Glenn in last year’s final, beat highly regarded Half Hollow Hills East and Lindenhurst in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.
“This was our goal all season and I was so happy that it was C.J. going out to win the clincher,” Goldstein said. “Some things didn’t break our way last year. This time around we had it all going our way.”
Two weeks ago, Rocky Point beat Hauppauge, 45-26, to earn the League V regular season dual meet title. Hauppauge (14-2) forfeited two weight classes in that loss. But Saturday night the Eagles of Hauppauge had a full lineup.
“We’re built to win tournaments not dual meets so I’m proud of our guys for battling and getting into the final,” said Hauppauge coach Chris Messina. “Rocky Point is incredibly consistent throughout the entire lineup. We have five hammers and some inexperience so we needed to pull a few upsets.”
Rocky Point won eight of the first 11 bouts, including two one-point wins to take a 38-12 lead. Senior Nick Pagnotta erased a 2-0 deficit and came back for a 3-2 win over eight-grader Dan Mauriello at 106 pounds. The win avenged a 1-0 defeat to Mauriello last week.
At 138 pounds, Bobby Cassazza earned a 4-3 win over Biagio Mendolia with a third-period escape in an exciting bout that set the stage for Archer.
“We had contributions across the board today and we needed that from everyone,” Goldstein said. “We came out a little flat against Hills East in the first dual meet of the day in the quarterfinal round. And I was a little out of character when I ripped into them in between matches because I didn’t want them to let a great opportunity slip away.”
Rocky Point senior Kyle Strovink, who will attend Lamar on a Division I baseball scholarship, watched his school lose in the dual meet final last year and decided to join the team this year. The 195-pounder opened the championship with a 10-6 win over Nick Trentini.
“I hadn’t wrestled since the ninth grade when I injured my shoulder,” Strovink said. “But when I saw them lose last year, I couldn’t resist being a part of the team this year and trying to help them win. This is the way it should end — as champions.”