Mount Sinai wrestling coach Matt Armstrong remembers traveling to West Point as a kid to watch the unofficial state dual meet championships.
Thirty years later, the event became official and Armstrong’s team was in the running for the inaugural crown.
Mt. Sinai went 4-0, culminating with a 33-30 win over Canisteo-Greenwood, to win the first ever state Division II dual meet title at the SRC Arena in Syracuse on Jan. 27. The Mustangs finished the season 16-1.
“Developing a team is such an accomplishment,” Armstrong said. “I’ve always said that aspect of wrestling is something that should be highlighted. Instead of focusing on one or two kids, we built a team. One of the greatest things to see is the camaraderie of the team.”
Brendan Goodrich, who finished second in the county at 99 pounds, clinched Mt. Sinai’s last two wins in the dual meet tournament. Goodrich needed a win in the final match of the Mustangs semifinal victory over Tioga and came away with a 9-0 major decision that gave his team a 34-32 victory. He also won a 5-3 decision to clinch the final.
Matt Campo pinned all four four of his opponents at 126 pounds in a combined 3:31.
And those were just the Mustangs’ county runners-up, which also included Joe O’Brien, who went 2-1 with two pins wrestling at both 132 and 138 pounds.
Mike Zarif went 4-0 during the dual meet championship before winning the 138-pound state title a month later. Mike O’Brien (120), Mike Sabella (182) and Jake Croston (195) each won Division II individual county championships and were integral parts of winning the dual meet title.
“It’s a huge thing to have kids like that,” Armstrong said. “We knew we could put Zarif up against anybody and we’d get at least three points, maybe more. We had the depth and having the top guys absolutely helped us in being able to juggle the lineup.”
Armstrong said wrestlers like Joe O’Brien, Adham Shata and Jack Tyrrell filled in the holes where needed, picking up key wins but also making sure not to give the opposition bonus points.
“When you go to a tournament as prestigious as this — the kids knew it would take a lot of effort from everybody,” Armstrong said. “It was an incredible job by a great group of kids.”