Keith Cassar wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
The Oyster Bay senior was once again in the finals of the Nassau Division II wrestling championship and once again his quest for a title would go through a wrestler with county championship experience.
Cassar did just what he did twice previously and defeated Locust Valley’s Vito Rodriguez, 9-1, at 120 Saturday night at Cold Spring Harbor to claim his third consecutive title.
The third time was the charm for two other Nassau wrestlers as well. Carle Place senior John DeRidder (160) won his third crown and Bailey O’Brien of Locust Valley (170) also won his third consecutive Nassau II title.
“It really feels amazing,” Cassar said. “To put in all this work and all this effort to get three titles is awesome.”
Cassar got off to a quick start and led Rodriguez 6-0 after the first period.
“I feel like each year has gotten harder to an extent,” Cassar said. “They all know what I do — I hit tilts every time. All of my county wins have been major decisions so I think the only difference was that they knew what I was going to do coming in.”
DeRidder, who wrestles for the combined Carle Place/Wheatley team, earned his third title and second consecutive with a pin in 1 minutes, 3 seconds.
Last year DeRidder won the Nassau title at 182.
“It’s pretty rare to win another title at a lower weight class,” DeRidder said. “But I was bulking up for football and I got up to right around 185 [last year] but I wanted to get back down to my lean state and not have fat on me like I did.”
DeRidder’s first Nassau title came at 106 pounds in 2014.
“I was at about 175 during football and as I trained harder and harder during wrestling I dropped pretty much a pound a week and it all came off,” he said.
This year O’Brien was counted on to be a leader for a team that has had great success over the last decade and the Falcons didn’t miss a beat.
“I’ve been on the team since eighth grade and I’ve seen a lot of change,” O’Brien said. “A lot of the guys I grew up with were able to teach me the things I’m able to do now. We have great coaches and everyone pushes each other in the room. All that combined makes for a great team.”
Oyster Bay’s Jack Wieboldt also was in his third consecutive title match but came out on top for the first time when he pinned Jack DeNatale of Locust Valley in 3:20 at 138.
“It was awful the past two years,” Wieboldt said. “Last year I was one point and one second away. I was tired of losing.”
Cold Spring Harbor’s Gaven Bell, who won at 126 pounds, was named the tournament’s champion of champions and most outstanding wrestler.