SYRACUSE — It was quite a day for the Massapequa wrestling team.
The Chiefs reeled off four straight dual meet wins, including a stirring 41-29 win over Hilton (Rochester), to capture the state Division I dual meet championship before a crowd of 800 at the SRC Arena in Syracuse.
And they had the smallest guy on the team leading the way. Freshman Anthony Conetta used a five-point move late in the third period to erase a 4-2 deficit and come away with a stirring 12-6 win over Gregor McNeil, the state’s top-ranked wrestler at 99 pounds.
Conetta also beat Suffolk’s top-ranked wrestler at 99 pounds earlier in the day when he edged Sachem East’s Jared Weinhaus, 1-0, in a first-round match. He was the biggest guy on the team in the key moments.
“He really came through,” Massapequa coach Ron Serrano said. “Conetta’s win was a key to the [team] win as was Marco Musso’s big win at 285 pounds.”
Musso, who plans to wrestle at 195 in the county individual tournament, bumped all the way up to 285 against Hilton’s imposing Colin Burns, who weighs about 55 pounds more than Musso.
“Marco lost earlier in the day and was able to put it behind him and focus on the Hilton match,” Serrano said. “He’s of the mindset like the rest of the team, that when we lose a match, we move on, make adjustments and come back stronger. That was not easy what he pulled off in the final.”
Musso battled Burns for three periods and came away with a 6-4 win.
“I kept my balance and used my quickness to get the lead,” Musso said. “I was definitely concerned going out there against such a bigger guy. But we needed that win and that was my job in the final.”
Musso’s win was set up by Angelo Petrakis' pin at 220 pounds.
After Hilton’s top-ranked Sam DePrez (28-0) scored a powerful first-period pin of Frank Kempton at 195 in 1:07, Petrakis responded with a first-period pin of Jacob Cretelle in 1:09.
“It was so intense,” said Petrakis. “They pinned our guy and I went out and pinned their guy.”
Musso’s win gave Massapequa an 18-6 lead but Hilton reeled off four wins in a row at 113, 120, 126 and 132 to forge a 26-18 lead. Hilton’s Rocco Camillaci and Ryan Burgos sandwiched pins around wins by Greg Diakomaholis, the state’s defending champion at 113, and Nate Lee’s 7-5 victory on a late takedown at 126.
Mike Blando got Massapequa back on track with a hard-fought 8-1 win over Ryan Hinman at 138 and the Chiefs answered with three wins for a 30-26 lead.
“It’s a long day for the guys that go four bouts,” Serrano said. “It takes a real team with a strong mindset. The dual meet tournament is grueling, and you need a strong bench and guys that are willing to sacrifice for the team.”
Earlier, Massapequa disposed of Sachem East, 35-23, and Minisink Valley, 42-27, in a very strong opening pool in the 12-team tournament. The Chiefs topped previously unbeaten Minisink Valley (23-1) behind two first-period pins by Conetta and Musso to advance into the semifinal round against Fulton. They hammered Fulton, 42-28, to reach the final.
Serrano pointed to team leaders John Casamassina at 170 and Thomas Greenblatt at 182, who each won four bouts, as vital cogs in Massapequa's lineup.
“We have an unbelievable special group of guys,” Serrano said. “And they earned it to be in the states.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story mispelled Anthony Conetta's last name as Connetta.