Wrestling has always been special for South Side’s Kyle Mosher. Maybe because it’s in the junior’s bloodlines.
Mosher’s grandfather is former Valley Stream South wrestling coach Bill Linkner, who has since retired to South Carolina. Mosher’s older brother, Craig, wrestled at Kellenberg. Not surprisingly, he also had uncles and cousins that wrestled.
“Sometimes there is pressure because of who I come from, and it’s a lot to live up to,” said Mosher, who wrestles for the combined team of South Side/East Rockaway. “But [my grandfather] is always supportive and my parents, too.”
Mosher won both his two bouts by pin at 145 pounds during the first day of the Nassau Division I wrestling championships at Hofstra on Saturday.
The four quarterfinal winners from each of the 15 weight classes wrestle in the semifinals at 10 a.m. Sunday. Wantagh — winners of six of the last seven Nassau team titles — leads the way with 10 semifinalists. Massapequa is second with six.
The parade of champions begins at 5:45 p.m. Sunday and the finals start at 6:30 p.m. Mosher hopes to reach the finals, and win, after finishing as runner-up the last two seasons, including last year at 138 where he placed fourth in the state. He won the 99-pound Nassau title as an eighth grader.
“Last year, I only used one or two big moves,” said Mosher, who added that he missed five months in the offseason after having surgery on his left shoulder. “With my time off, I feel like now I can hit my full repertoire of moves.”
Mosher registered a pin at the final horn (6:00) in his quarterfinal match to advance to the semifinals and improve to 41-2 this season.
“You always want to score as many points as you can for your team,” said Mosher, who added his grandfather hopes to make the trip to Albany for the state championships in two weeks. “I just wanted to put an exclamation point on my match and I did.”
Mosher wasn’t the only wrestler to do that on Saturday.
Port Washington freshman Dan Gibson knocked off a top-seeded wrestler for the second straight year. The 120-pounder earned a pin in 2:59 in the quarterfinal round. Last year, Gibson toppled the No. 1 seed at 106.
Gibson can’t explain his penchant for defeating top-ranked opponents.
“I don’t know,” said Gibson, who used a half nelson and notched the pin. “I feel with every match I get less and less nervous. I don’t have anything to lose.”
A pair of defending state champs also advanced to the semifinals. Long Beach’s Jacori Teemer, a four-time state and Nassau champion, recorded pins in 31 and 29 seconds, respectively, at 152. Also, Justin Vines, the defending state champ at 126, registered a pin in 57 seconds and won his quarterfinal bout, 15-6, at 132 for Wantagh.
“I think we could have four to six kids that can reach the finals,” said Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie, with a smile. “We are in a great battle with Massapequa. It’ll be great. I love this tournament.”