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Bay Shore makes its mark in Rocky Gilmore wrestling tournament

Josh Sanchez, Elijah Rivera, Carlos Espinal and Mark Vasquez won their classes in a second-place finish behind powerhouse Brentwood.

Josh Sanchez of Bay Shore wrestles Sean Coakley

Josh Sanchez of Bay Shore wrestles Sean Coakley of Kellenberg in the 145 pound weight class during the 31st annual Rocky Gilmore Wrestling Tournament at East Islip High School on Saturday, January 6, 2018. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Bay Shore senior Josh Sanchez had lost twice in recent wrestling tournament finals.

He had one thought going into the 31st annual Rocky Gilmore Tournament at East Islip on Saturday.

“I knew I was going to win today,” said Sanchez, a 145-pounder, who had lost in the finals at the Cliff Clark Classic at Bay Shore and the Raider Invitational at Patchogue-Medford. “I knew once I got through my semifinal match, I was confident coming into the finals. . . . Those two losses stung bad.”

Sanchez admitted he didn’t know much about his finals opponent — Kellenberg’s Sean Coakley. He wasn’t aware that Coakley was a state CHSAA finalist at 113.

“He was?” said Sanchez after learning about Coakley’s background. “Sometimes it helps not knowing names.”

Sanchez and his Marauder teammates are hoping to bring the Bay Shore wrestling team name back into prominence among Suffolk programs.

Sanchez (145 pounds), Elijah Rivera (99), Carlos Espinal (132) and Mark Vasquez (152) all won their respective weight classes as Bay Shore had 274.5 team points and finished second to Brentwood (332.5) which won the Rocky Gilmore for a record 13th time.

Mount Sinai (217.5) was third led by Most Outstanding Wrestler Mike Zarif (152). Central Islip (192) was fourth and Half Hollow Hills East (134.5) rounded out the top 5. Brentwood and Bay Shore each had seven finalists, followed by Central Islip (6), Mt. Sinai (4), Hills East (3), Bayport-Blue Point (2) and Kellenberg (1).

“It always means a lot to win this tournament,” Brentwood coach Ralph Napolitano said. “We always look forward to spending a great day with guys we respect banging heads in a good way.”

The Indians’ champions included Ean Segarra (106), Wenchard Pierre-Louis (113), Anthony Gomez (170) and Nathaniel Lennon (220).

“It was a testament to the whole team,” said Napolitano, in his 16th season. “It takes every one of us to wrestle our best and win this event.”

While Bay Shore didn’t win the event, it made a good showing as it heads into the stretch run of its League II schedule. Vasquez was recently pinned by his opponent in the 152-pound finals, Central Islip’s Jose DeJesus.

“I knew coming into the tournament that I would eventually see him,” Vasquez said. “I had to forget the emotions I had after losing that match. I knew this was a brand new match and I’d have to give it my all to win.”

Vasquez returned the favor with a pin in 2:56.

“That was a big win for Mark,” Bay Shore coach Alex Porcelli said. “It shows we are peaking at the right time. We are where we want to be — getting better near the end of the season.”

Porcelli, the first-year head coach, was a Suffolk champ and graduated from Bay Shore in 1987.

“It’s great for the program to be involved in good competitions like this,” Porcelli said. “We were right on Brentwood’s tail all day. I believe we are up there with some of the top-tier teams in Suffolk. Our goal is to become one of the best programs on the Island.”

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