Jake Einbinder paces the fringe of the wrestling mat, sometimes hopping on his toes, other times jogging with small strides -- never standing still. It's half a tactic to stay loose for his upcoming bout, half irrepressible adrenaline as he watches his teammate and brother, Sam, wrestle in the preliminary round of the Nassau Division I Tournament. Suddenly, Sam has his opponent on the mat.
"Yeah! Get him! You got this!" Jake shouts while leaping on the sideline.
That level of nonstop passion has fueled Einbinder since he joined Bethpage's wrestling team as a seventh-grader. Now a senior, the 145-pounder has his sights set on a state title -- his consecutive pins in Friday's preliminary and quarterfinal rounds at Hofstra's Mack Center were the first step -- but he must first repeat his county-winning performance from last season.
Einbinder will have his chance Sunday when he begins Day 2 at Hofstra with a semifinal bout against Wantagh's Blaise Kavanagh, who also advanced to the semis on back-to-back pins.
"Jake has made tremendous, tremendous jumps this season," Bethpage coach Ron Abatelli said. "Better on his feet. His tilts are a lot better. He worked hard during the offseason and did everything he had to do, so hopefully it will come together for him."
Off a sixth-place showing at states a year ago, Einbinder has followed that up with a 38-2 record this season. "I want to take it home this year," Einbinder said. "That's the game plan. To win it all."
After capturing his first bout in the 132-pound preliminaries, Sam, a junior, fell in the closing seconds of overtime in his quarterfinal matchup against Port Washington's Teddy Tannenbaum. Einbinder called it "very emotional" to watch, especially considering how close the two brothers are.
"In practice, we always drill with each other. We wrestle live with each other. We do everything together," Einbinder said. "He lost a tough one today. But I always try to encourage him. He does the exact same for me."
Just as Einbinder was feverishly supporting him on the sideline, Sam will be his brother's biggest fan Sunday. And if Einbinder wins his weight class in Nassau, there's no doubt where Sam will be during the state tournament Feb. 27 and 28 in Albany.
"I'll be right there with him, cheering him on," Sam said.
Einbinder won't be the only returning state place-winner looking to get back to Albany. Vito Arujau of Syosset and Jacori Teemer of Long Beach -- state champs last season -- each won their preliminary and quarterfinal bouts. State runners-up Peter Pappas (Plainview JFK) and Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) also won both of their Day 1 bouts.
"I just feel like I got stronger this year," said Quinn, who was a state champ in 2013. "My technique's gotten a little better. I'm excited for Sunday and to try and get back to states."
With Quinn leading the way, Wantagh (114.0) narrowly trails Massapequa (115.5) for the team lead. Long Beach (98.5), Plainedge (86.0) and Farmingdale (73.5) round out the top five.