Junior Azeez Oluwa of Bay Shore walked out of the East Islip gym Saturday and right into a snowstorm. He carried with him the prestigious Rocky Gilmore Award, presented to the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. What a delight — even on a snowy day!
Moments earlier, Oluwa edged highly regarded Half Hollow Hills East senior James Spadafora, 3-2, to win the 138-pound class at the 30th Rocky Gilmore Memorial Tournament at East Islip High School in Islip Terrace. Oluwa, who was seeded fourth out of 12 wrestlers in the 10-team tournament, won all four of his bouts to take home the hardware. He beat top-seeded Mike Zarif of Mount Sinai, 5-1, in the semifinal round.
In the final, he used a powerful double-leg takedown, to snap a tie at 1 and take a 3-1 lead late in the second period. Spadafora used an escape early in the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2 but could not muster any offense against Oluwa, who held on for the one-point win.
“It was a brute force takedown in the second period where Azeez just got in deep on the move and powered his way for the points and control of the match,” Bay Shore coach Alex Porcelli said. “He’s really come a long way. This was a good tournament win for him.”
Oluwa has improved markedly throughout the early part of the season. Porcelli attributes the wrestling room work ethic and Oluwa’s practice partner Nick Corsini, as keys to that improvement.
Corsini, a sophomore, also reaped the benefits of the practice regimen, when he captured the 132-pound weight class with a 5-0 win over Hills East’s Khalil Bannister.
It was still a banner day for Hills East. The Thunderbirds earned the team title for the second year in a row with 265 points and crowned four individual champions, including Jonathan Spadafora at 113 pounds, Tate Kershner at 126, Philip Spadafora at 145 and Yashiya Minor at 220. Philip Spadafora pinned his way through the tournament as he earned the award for most pins / least time with four pins in 5:43.
Central Islip finished second, the school’s best finish in the Rocky Gilmore in the 19 years they’ve competed. The Musketeers crowned champions in three weight classes, including Kwesi Omoa at 106, Malcolm Bunce at 152 and Tyzier King at 195.
“It’s a good measuring stick to where we are just a couple of weeks before the league tournament,” Central Islip coach Brad Brzozinski said. “I thought our guys went out and did a great job.”
The tournament was condensed to four straight rounds of wrestling and the consolation brackets were shortened.