Having seen Riverhead earn a 49-18 win over West Bablon on Wednesday, Hauppauge knock off rival Huntington 37-24 on Friday, and Islip's Kyle Wade take Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at his school's Kris McDonald tournament on Saturday, it became clear that Section XI is chock full of strong wrestlers.
Here are some observations from the past week of those matches...
-West Babylon's performance against Riverhead is not indicative of how the Eagles will fare at the county tournament. This team has at least three or four guys who should place at the county tournament, and one, John Wilkinson at 285, who is the odds on favorite to win it. As WB coach Vinny Innes told me after the match, "Riverhead was awesome and we were flat."
That pretty much sums it up. Myles Buhner (171) and Edwin Perry (140) both beat quality opponents in Frank Speights and Jordan Colon, respectively. For my money, I'd expect to see these matchups again at the League IV tournament at Smithtown West in a couple weeks.
-After watching Hauppauge in action for the first time on Friday, I'm convinced the Eagles and Glenn are the top two teams on Long Island, by far. But don't take it from me.
"It would be a great match, they have their studs and we have ours," Hauppauge coach Chris Messina told me after the match.
Messina added that while he's unhappy about finishing second at counties the past two years, it's still an accomplishment to consistently be among the top 5 or 6 teams.
"Put in in persepctive, do you know hard hard it is to be in the top 5 every year" he asked. "I hate taking second, but I know next year and the year after that we're going to be just as strong."
As for this year, he has at least five wrestlers — Mark West (96), Ken Collado (119), Kevin Panebianco (135), Anthony Piscitello (14) and Chanse Menendez (171) — who will be in the mix for a county title. It would be the third of Collado's career.
Winning the state as a sophomore, Collado seemed wide-eyed about the experience, not sure how to react to his success. But now having been in so many big matches, maturity is certainly on his side.
"It's all about experience," he said. "I just try to help out as much as possible."
The road isn't easy though, as he'll have to get past Damon McQueen of Huntington in his own league just to get the top seed at the county tournament.
For Huntington, Maurice Loadholt (pictured) had a heck of a match, as he earned a 4-2 win over Adam Lepkowsky.
-The action on Saturday at the Islip Cup was fast-paced, as the finals were held simultaneously on two mats. But Brentwood outlasted the competition with five individual champions. The Indians won the event by 72 points over Islip. Eric Orellana came up big at 103 pounds, as he earned a 6-3 win over Central Islip's Alan Gomez.
All the scoring came in the third period. Orellana scored on a takedown, but Gomez escaped. Gomez then recorded a takedown, but Orellana reversed Gomez and then put him to his back to close the match with four straight points.
The 103-pound class in Suffolk is stacked with both Soria brothers from Kings Park and Corey Rasheed of Longwood (all three placed at states last year), plus Orellana, Gomez, and Stephen Dutton's younger brother Thomas, who was named Champion of Champions at the North Fork Invitational on Saturday. Quite a collection of talent.
-And finally, a milestone watch. At 16-0, Glenn has won 54 straight dual meets, which is seven behind Hauppauge for the fourth longest streak in Suffolk history.
Also, Stephen Dutton's 214 career wins are tied with P.J. Gillespie of Long Beach for third in Long Island wrestling history, two behind Wantagh's Paul Liguori (216) and seven behind Shoreham-Wading River's Jesse Jantzen (221). Dutton is 38-0 on the season.
In the Nassau scene, the Class A and B dual-meet championship brackets were released. Massapequa is the top seed in Class A and Wantagh is No. 1 in Class B. Below are the schedules for Saturday's action.
Massapequa vs. Herricks, 9 a.m.
Bellmore JFK vs. Freeport, 9 a.m.
Syosset vs. Division, 9 a.m.
Sewanhaka East vs. Long Beach, 9 a.m.
East Meadow vs. Mepham, 11 a.m.
Calhoun vs. Farmingdale, 11 a.m.
Uniondale vs. Garden City, 11 a.m.
Baldwin vs. MacArthur, 11 a.m.
*First and second round matches are at Uniondale. The second round begins at 1 p.m. The tournament then moves to Clarke for the semifinals at 3 p.m., and the 5 p.m. final.
Wantagh vs. Mineola, 9 a.m.
North Shore vs. Bethpage, 9 a.m.
Lawrence vs. Clarke, 9 a.m.
Great Neck North vs. Locust Valley, 9 a.m.
Plainedge vs. Oyster Bay, 11 a.m.
Island Trees vs. Glen Cove, 11 a.m.
Lynbrook vs. Cold Spring Harbor, 11 a.m.
Westbury vs. Seaford, 11 a.m.
*First and second round matches are at Clarke. The second round begins at 1 p.m., semifinals are at 3 p.m. and the final is at 5 p.m.