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Sachem community comes out strong for Paul Di Iorio

Brentwood's Kevin Rivas escapes the grasp of Sachem

Brentwood's Kevin Rivas escapes the grasp of Sachem North's Chris Ladd in their 120-pound match. (Dec. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The gymnasium at Sachem East rocked, the bleachers packed with fans from four of the top schools in Suffolk's division one.

Sachem East defeated Floyd, 57-15, and Sachem North was victorious over Brentwood, 35-30, but a night of top notch wrestling was secondary to the cause.

The night was about 2008 Sachem East alum Paul Di Iorio, recently diagnosed with cancer. The former All-League and All-County grappler, Di Iorio was a team captain, a heart and soul team member that still holds the Sachem East single season record for wins with 29.

"Paul was one of our best wrestlers and a terrific kid," Sachem East coach Sean O'Hara said. "Wrestling was secondary tonight -- we were here to show our support for him and any way we can help, we are happy to do it. It was a good night in that sense -- we had a full gym and had a lot of people came out to support, and made donations to help him and his family out. We appreciate all the help and we're looking forward to him making a strong recovery."

Di Iorio went on to St. Mary's College and studied in the honors program, majoring in biochemistry. He was unable to make the event because of treatments he was receiving. His younger brother Chris was in attendance and was floored by the response from the Sachem and wrestling community.

"It's great that both Sachem schools can come together and do something like this," Chris Di Iorio said. "When I first walked in I saw the JV matches and I was overjoyed because I honestly didn't think that many people were going to be here. I wish Paul could have been here but for me and my family it's skyrocketed morale. It's a great feeling and the money will help with the treatments, too."

The event came together after the coaching staffs at both Sachem schools decided to move their meets together for the good cause.

Each dual meet had a main event of sorts, pitting top county contenders against each other.

For Sachem East-Floyd it was at 145 pounds. Sachem East leader Jackson Mordente squared off with Floyd's Tom Gerle in an early season showdown. Mordente came away with a decisive 9-1 victory.

"I just wanted to send a message and say 'this is my weight and we're going to keep it that way,' " Mordente said.

The other big match was defending county champ Gio Santiago of Sachem North against Carlos Toribio of Brentwood.

It was a back and forth match the went to overtime, and it was in the third extra session that Toribio edged out the final two points in a 10-8 win.

As the gym emptied out and the emotions came down, it was easy to see this was a successful night for all -- no matter what happened on the mat.

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