Ray Costa still gets nervous.
In previous years, the Cold Spring Harbor senior said he’d let those nerves get to him, sometimes struggling under pressure, but Saturday afternoon on his home mat, the Seahawks’ wrestling standout refused to back down. Instead, he embraced every emotion, pinning Seaford’s Joe Blasi in 2 minutes, 54 seconds and capturing a Section VIII Division II championship at 145 pounds to book his ticket to the New York State Championship in Albany later this month.
“I’ve learned how to handle the pressure and use it all positively,” Costa said. “Those butterflies are a good thing now. It means you’re ready to go.”
Costa grabbed control early, taking a 2-0 lead after the first period and settling into his offense. He brought pressure throughout the second period, looking to make a move, and 54 seconds in, found his opportunity, holding on for the pin and the title.
“If I get into my offense, I rarely lose,” Costa said. “My goal was to come out and get to his legs early, tire him out and, hopefully, get him on his back.”
Although he still had to contend with butterflies before the match, Costa’s victory wasn’t unexpected. Cold Spring Harbor coach Mike Ferrugiari said Costa, who also won most pins in least amount of time with four in 6:42, has established himself as one of the best wrestlers in Seahawks history and his success this season has only helped his legacy grow.
“We talked about it from day one with him,” Ferrugiari said. “We told him that this was his sport and he could do it, he’d be the one to have his name in the rafters.”
Costa’s victory highlighted a dominant day for Cold Spring Harbor as three other Seahawks captured championships, including Gaven Bell, who pinned Wheatley’s Dean Sheinman in 3:13.
“Every single move in that match was another step for me,” Bell said. “I wanted to take him down, win the first period, then get the turn and I was really dedicated to doing that.”
Cold Spring Harbor placed first in the team totals, with 267 points. Seaford (262) and Locust Valley (246) rounded out the top three. Clarke’s Austin Carman was named most outstanding wrestler, at 152 pounds.
Brendan O’Hagan led the way for Seaford, pinning Clarke’s Maxwell DeLeon in 1:06.
“I knew If I worked my offense and got on top, I could finish it,” O’Hagan said. “I’m extremely confident and I can’t wait for states.”
For Costa, this latest victory is another moment in a high-school career he said sometimes feels like a dream.
He’s already clinched one championship this year, leading Cold Spring Harbor football to a 42-20 victory over Shoreham-Wading River in the Class IV LIC, and, now, he’s got his sights set on a state wrestling title. He’s certain there’ll be nerves there, as well, but he’s hopeful that will only help propel him to the top of the podium.
“We want to put the icing on the cake and go up there and get the titles,” Costa said. “This is what we’ve been working for.”