Wantagh’s Joe Conklin didn’t expect to walk onto the mat for his 160-pound match in the Nassau Dual Meet final with the Warriors trailing Massapequa by six points after 11 matches.
But that’s exactly the situation the Warriors senior found himself at Clarke on Saturday.
He had one thought going through his head as he prepared to take on the Chiefs’ Thomas Greenblatt with four bouts remaining: “Just get a win,” Conklin said after the final.
That’s precisely what he did. Conklin earned a hard-fought 6-1 decision, and started a run of four straight victories to close the final as top-seeded Wantagh earned a thrilling 37-28 win against No. 2 Massapequa before a crowd of more than 300. It was the Warriors’ first Nassau dual meet crown since 2014 and their eighth overall.
“It was a little closer than we thought it would be,” Conklin said. “Hats off to them. They wrestled a hell of a match.”
It was an outstanding final for both South Shore programs. After Wantagh (27-0) won four of the first six matches to take a 16-9 lead, Massapequa (22-2) rallied with a 2-0 decision at 126 by Nick Karamoshos, and a pin at 132 by Mike Blando in 2:44 as the Chiefs led 18-16.
After Wantagh won by forfeit at 138, which put the Warriors ahead 22-18, Massapequa answered at 145 with a major decision (11-3) by Jeremy Scutellaro, and a pin in 3:16 by Garrett Gibbons at 152 gave Massapequa a 28-22 advantage with four bouts left. The Chiefs were looking for their first Nassau dual title since 2011.
Conklin only led 1-0 after two periods in his 160-pound match. However, late in the third period, Conklin earned a takedown and back points to grind out a 6-1 decision as Wantagh trailed 28-25.
“I knew once I did that,” Conklin said, “we weren’t going to lose.”
Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie had a similar feeling. “Once we got that decision, I knew we had a good shot to win,” said the sixth-year Warriors coach. “We have a few great guys above him.”
Talented sophomore Matt Rogers earned his team four points and gave Wantagh the lead for good (29-28) after a 16-3 major decision at 170. Then, James Langan earned a tough 3-1 decision at 182 to make it 32-28.
Finally, Jonathan Loew won his bout at 195 by technical fall in 3:23 (20-4) to leave no doubt as to which team will represent Nassau in next week’s first state dual meet championship in Syracuse.
“I feel so proud for each of us,” Rogers said. “We’ve been undefeated all season, and now we get a chance to go upstate and bring home a title.”
Conklin added: “Winning the dual meet state title has been our one and only goal all season. Now we have a chance to make some history.”