There are moments in an athlete's life when the obvious is unforgettable. For Josh Gutierrez, the behemoth of a wrestler at Connetquot, that moment came Friday night in a Suffolk II dual meet.
Gutierrez said the one-point loss suffered by Connetquot in the Suffolk football semifinals to Sachem North in late November still resonates throughout his school.
"The pain is still there, the memory is still raw," said Gutierrez, a star senior center. "It doesn't go away. All I wanted was to beat Sachem North tonight. It's about pride in our school."
Anchored by the speed of big man Gutierrez at 285 pounds, the T-Birds won three of the four bouts between 182 and 285, including the only pin from Gutierrez.
The boost from the heavyweights helped Connetquot go on to a stirring 48-15 win over defending champion Sachem North under the spotlight before a packed house in Bohemia. The electric atmosphere was abuzz all evening as two of Long Island's top 10 teams got after it.
Gutierrez hit Sal Baldinucci with a five-point move early and never relented throughout the first period before pinning Sachem's big guy at 1 minute, 53 seconds.
Gutierrez followed wins from Tom Flanagan at 195 and Chris Beal at 182.
The T-Birds made it consecutive pins when Tony Novotny matted Justin Flynn in 1:59 at 99 pounds for a resounding 20-3 lead.
"We took the pressure off the middleweights," Gutierrez said. "We have a lot of respect for that program and this was a huge win. We finally got them."
In the bout of the evening at 145, Gino Titone and Anthony Nunziata were in perpetual motion for three frenzied periods. Titone was superior on his feet and Nunziata was dangerous on the mat with one neat reversal at the end of the second period to draw within 7-5. Titone, who'd hit a claw earlier and dropped Nunziata to his back for a four-point used a third-period takedown to come away with a 9-6 victory.
"That was the biggest win of the dual meet," Connetquot captain Greg Chery said. "Our guys wrestled well all the way through the lineup. It was a team effort."
Chery followed Titone's win with a pin over Joe Mineo in 34 seconds to ignite the crowd and clinch the win for Connetquot as the T-Birds took a 38-15 lead.
"He shot in and I countered with the half," Chery said. "This was a big win for us and a great confidence booster for the remainder of the league season and the league tournament. We have a lot of respect for them and their program."