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Menendez, Collado lead Hauppauge to wrestling win

(top) Huntington High School Kevin Mender gets pinned

(top) Huntington High School Kevin Mender gets pinned by (bottom) Happauge High School Ken Collado during the match held at Huntington High School. (January 22, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Photo by Frank Koester

After his match, Damon McQueen wanted a seat on the end of the bench. So he bumped his Huntington teammates one spot and settled in with his large headphones.

McQueen and Hauppauge's Chanse Menendez became well versed in bumping guys around Friday night, as each was strategically moved up a weight class.

McQueen's move foiled a potential matchup of all-state performers, and Menendez's clinched the League V match for visiting Hauppauge, 37-24.

Menendez, who generally wrestles at 171 pounds, used two takedowns, a reversal and a stalling point to earn a 7-2 win over Duncan Murchison at 189. Menendez said of wrestling a larger opponent: "I knew I wouldn't be able to shoot through him, so I had to shoot around him."

Both coaches were dancing around each other's star wrestlers Friday. Rather than put McQueen, a defending state runner-up, against Ken Collado, a 2008 state champion, at 119 pounds, Huntington coach Kieran Mock held McQueen for the 125-pound bout. The move backfired slightly, as Collado earned six team points with a bar-arm pin, and McQueen picked up only four for the Blue Devils with a major decision over Michael Ehlinger.

"He saved us two points right there," Hauppauge coach Chris Messina said of Ehlinger. "If he doesn't, the whole feeling of the match changes."

That's because the Eagles (5-0) led by just one when Menendez took the mat.

"We knew it was going to be close because they have a good, strong lineup," Menendez said. "I just wanted to wrestle the way I am capable of."

And he had plenty of support from Collado. Since his match lasted only 2:45, Collado had an abundance of energy. He bounced up from the bench to scream instructions, then moved over to sit on the medical kit to consult with Messina and finally landed on the warm-up mats to help his teammates prepare.

"Today was kinda scary," said Collado, who has yet to lose to a Long Island wrestler this season. "We've never been [as close as] 25-24 with a team. I was trying to help out as much as possible."

As for meeting McQueen, he knows there'll be plenty of time for that with the League V, Suffolk and New York State tournaments on the horizon.

"It would have been a test," he said. "It would have motivated me if I lost to him."

Said McQueen: "I wanted to wrestle him but I had to do what's best for the team."

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