Justin Crawford entered Sunday’s Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA wrestling tournament with one goal in mind.
Crawford, a St. Anthony’s senior, has been on the radar since winning a CHSAA state title as a freshman in 2015. He placed second in that tournament last season and was third in 2016.
Despite that, he had never captured a Nassau-Suffolk league title — until Sunday.
In one of the marquee matches, Crawford scored a 17-2 technical fall over Kellenberg’s Sean Coakley to win the 145-pound bracket in the tournament at Chaminade.
Crawford was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler and the champion of champions.
“I wrestled him earlier this year and I wasn’t happy,” Crawford said. “I really just wanted to come out today and score as many points as I could.”
Coakley previously finished second at the CHSAA state tournament at 113 in 2017 and third at 113 in 2016.
“Coakley is a really great kid but Crawford is doing exactly what we expected,” St. Anthony’s coach Tony Walters said. “He’s the most consistent wrestler we have. He’s wrestled national caliber kids and beat them. I definitely think he’s top three in the state and he wants to win a New York state title. That’s the goal.”
“I’m just trying to stay focused,” Crawford said. “Winning a state title has been the goal and that’s what I’m going for.”
As a team, St Anthony’s had eight of the 15 champions and sent 14 wrestlers to the finals. Nicholas Greer won his third consecutive title at 285, Matthew Savarese repeated at 195 and Maguire Horl captured his second at 220 after winning in 2016. The Friars took the team title with 441.5 points. Chaminade was second with 349 and Kellenberg finished third with 254.5.
Horl missed a chance to repeat last season after suffering a shoulder injury the week leading up to the league tournament. He was cleared to wrestle in nationals in March and has been preparing for a run at a state title.
“We worked on strengthening it and getting him as many matches as possible,” Walters said. “He’s looking to get back to Albany.”