With time running out on Joe Giorlando and potentially Long Beach’s reign at the top of Nassau County wrestling, he fought his way out.
No. 1 Long Beach trailed by four points when Giorlando faced No. 2 Wantagh’s Nick Coppola at 195 pounds during the Nassau dual meet championship at Clarke High School Saturday. Another loss would have severely hindered Long Beach’s chances of a third straight county title. And Giorlando knew it.
“As soon as he threw me, I was down 6-3, I was doubting myself, I was,” Giorlando said. “But then I looked over to (assistant coach Miguel Rodriguez) and he told me, ‘You have 59 seconds left. Keep wrestling until the time’s up.’”
Giorlando used those words and nearly every one of those 59 seconds remaining on the clock. After Coppola let Giorlando up for a point, the Long Beach senior knew he was a takedown away from the tie. But he shot for more.
“As soon as I felt that move I was like ‘This is my opportunity,’ ” he said. “I just went with all my heart. I pressed it and threw him over me and I squeezed him as tight as I could, hoping to get that pin. And when I did, it was one of the greatest feelings of my life.”
Giorlando recorded the pin with just five seconds remaining on the clock, turning a 6-3 match deficit into a fall victory and scoring six points for Long Beach — putting the Marines ahead by two. Long Beach held on to win 32-30 for its third straight county championship.
“That was amazing,” John Colletti said. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming. We knew he was going to win the match but to win like that was huge.”
“I’ve been coaching 24 years and I’ve been wrestling for close to 40 and that was probably the biggest match I’ve ever been a part of,” Long Beach coach Ray Adams said.”
Long Beach struggled to open the championship, dropping the first five matches and falling behind 21-0 before Jacori Teemer’s pin in 38 seconds at 132 pounds. Long Beach followed with major decision victories by Colletti (145) and Charles Spada (152), a pin victory by Tyrese Byron (160) and decisions by Brandon DeVivio (171) and Elijah Rodriguez (220).
“It just tells you the attitude of these kids,” Adams said. “Never say die.”
Byron said he wasn’t looking for the pin at the start of his match, but once he saw his opportunity, he pounced.
“At first I wasn’t fully going for pins because I didn’t want to mess up anything and get caught, so I had to feel the guy out,” Byron said. “Once I felt the guy out, I knew what I could accomplish and I got that pin and it felt great.”
The team took celebratory selfies, videos and nobody wanted to leave the gym. They wanted to make the most of their third straight championship and time together.
“It’s a little emotional,” Byron said. “Last dual meet ever possibly but at the same time, it feels great because we got the job done. We accomplished what we wanted to do.”