The spring time decision came easily for Bay Shore’s Elijah Rivera.
The three-sport athlete was going to commit to one sport year-round. The change of seasons would not bring a change of sport. Rivera was going to wrestle all year long
“All my life I’ve enjoyed playing different sports,” Rivera said. “And I knew it was time to dedicate myself to one sport and reach my potential. I’ll miss football and lacrosse but I know what needs to be done to win in wrestling. And it’s my one love.”
The decision to focus on wrestling and travel the country throughout the offseason has paid mighty dividends for Rivera. The junior cruised through three opponents to capture the 106-pound weight class at the 32nd Rocky Gilmore Memorial Tournament Saturday in East Islip.
Rivera beat Joe Sparacio of Bayport-Blue Point, 13-4, in the final. Sparacio gained a single-leg takedown at the edge of the circle for an early 2-0 lead. That advantage was short-lived as Rivera used a reversal and two back points for a 4-2 lead after one period.
“He’s a very good wrestler,” Rivera said. “But I used some quickness and a great defense to build a big lead.”
Rivera scored on a well-timed duck-under and spin behind and a single-leg takedown with back points to build an 11-3 lead. The win helped Rivera improve to 24-0, including 18 pins this season.
“He’s a perfect example of a kid who’s all in,” said Bay Shore coach Alex Porcelli. “His work ethic is outstanding.”
Rivera, who was 35-2 and finished fifth in Suffolk as a sophomore, was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
“I worked all summer with different styles like Freestyle and Greco Roman to improve my hips and balance,” Rivera said. “It’s definitely paid off. And my confidence is much better than last year.”
Mount Sinai’s Mike O’Brien punctuated an exciting final round with a 7-5 overtime win over Bay Shore’s Nick Corsini at 132 pounds. At the start of overtime and the mat surrounded by more than 800 spectators, the two exhausted wrestlers looked for that big takedown to win it. O’Brien just missed a takedown 14 seconds into overtime and then earned the win when he took Corsini down on the edge of the circle.
Brentwood won the team title for the 16th time with 275.5 points and two champions, in Wenchard Pierre-St. Louis at 120 pounds and London Castillo at 285. Mount Sinai finished second with 241.5 points and Bay Shore was third with 239.
Izayah Rahman-Bailey of Brentwood, the 220-pound champion, earned the most pins in the least amount of time award after he pinned three opponents in 5:18.