Christian Hansen tread where no Cold Spring Harbor seventh-grader had been before. On the doorstep of history, the 99-pounder maintained the poise of an upperclassman.
“It was a big moment,” Hansen said, “But I was ready for it.”
In front of his home crowd at Cold Spring Harbor High School, Hansen defeated Carle Place/Wheatley’s Joe Contrastano by a 5-3 decision at the Nassau Division II wrestling championships on Saturday. Hansen is the first seventh-grader in program history — which dates back to 1962, coach Mike Ferrugiari said — to win a county title.
“It’s actually my first varsity tournament that I’ve won,” said Hansen, who qualified for the state meet in Albany on Feb. 26-27. “It was just the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Hansen had lost to Contrastano twice earlier this season. “The improvement Christian has shown week-to-week has been amazing,” Ferrugiari said. “He’s a bright kid and on the mat, he shows it.”
At 106, Oyster Bay sophomore Keith Cassar flashed the steady improvement he’s made as well. He defeated Clarke’s Brandon Marohn, 12-3, after he had lost to him in last year’s county final, 4-3.
“Keith walked off the mat last year and said to me, ‘I’m never taking second place again,’” said first-year coach Jim Durso, who has been a mentor to Cassar for three years. “No one’s worked harder for this.”
Cassar is the first county champ in the Durso tenure at Oyster Bay. “That means a lot,” Cassar said. “I’ve been through a lot with him. I’m extremely excited, not only for myself but for him.”
At the end of the day, it was Locust Valley (277.50) which won the team event by a resounding margin over second-place Cold Spring Harbor (159.00).
Locust Valley’s Jon Gomez, with his strength, quick feet and ultra aggressive approach, appeared a different breed of wrestler than the rest. The 120-pounder and reigning state champ operated with machine-like efficiency and defeated Seaford’s Andrew Schutzman by tech fall (30-14) in 1:58.
“I went through this tournament just thinking one match at a time,” Gomez said, “But yeah, in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking about Saturday night in Albany. Winning another title.”