Very little separates Bellmore JFK and Mepham wrestling.
Geographically, the two schools are 2.5 miles apart, a short jaunt up or down Bellmore Avenue gets you from one school to the other.
Both programs are chock full of mat history, with both teams having success at the State tournament going back decades.
JFK and Mepham are deadlocked, with the dual meet tally reading 18-18-1 in 37 matches before last night's clash. In dual meet No. 38, and on JFK's Alumni Night, the Cougars broke the tie with a 41-27 win in the Conference II-B opener.
"This win was reminiscent of the 70s and early 80s, when Kennedy and Mepham ruled the world," JFK coach Brian DeGaetano said. "To wrestle this well in front of our alumni was very special."
Mepham took an early 6-0 lead on Mike Paccione's pin at 145 pounds. But JFK responded, as Mike Pizzarusso took a major decision at 152 and John Luxmore pinned Zach Hoffman 1:35 into the 160-pound contest.
Both coaches believed the outcome would be determined from 140-189. And at 189, JFK's Jonathan Silverman did his part. Down 6-5 in the waning seconds, Silverman had the Pirates' Stephen Tsai backing up.
With six seconds left, Silverman earned a two-point takedown, and the match, to give JFK a 17-6 lead after five bouts.
"Time was running down, I took my shot and I took him down," Silverman said.
Added Silverman: "That was a big momentum shift because that was going to be a tough weight to win. It was one of those weights that determined the match."
At 285, Jeff Scialo upset Mepham's Jason Sorto, pinning him with one second left in the first period. Scialo and Silverman's unexpected triumphs proved too much for the Pirates.
In the penultimate bout, Cougars standout Bobby Krug pinned Gary Dubovick at 1:31 to extend the lead to 41-21. The final score was wider than expected, the result of a few stunners and JFK's top wrestlers staying true to form.
But in this young season, both teams are expected to make noise in Nassau. And on an Alumni Day where many of the past JFK greats returned, the rivalry was rekindled.
"It's awesome," Mepham coach Mike Anderson said. "I think the kids understand the history of the rivalry. This match came right away, but it could be for a conference title."