The St. Anthony's wrestling team has grown accustomed to the road-warrior mentality. Seeking the top competition off of Long Island, the Friars have been on the road every weekend this season.
They've traveled to Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The team is battle-tested and it was ready for Sunday's CHSAA league tournament.
"The goal is to be ready for the end of February for the league and the state tournaments," said St. Anthony's coach Tony Walters, who is in his 19th year. "It's all about the preparation. The best thing to do is find the competition and go after it."
The Friars were on the road again Sunday. But this was only a local destination -- Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville -- to compete for the 15 weight classes in the CHSAA league tournament.
And according to Walters, the five-time defending CHSAA league tournament champions were not just there to defend their team title, but more importantly send as many qualifiers to the CHSAA state tournament as possible.
St. Anthony's did just that. The Friars crowned eight champions and qualified 19 of its 23 competitors for next weekend's CHSAA state tournament at Chaminade. Winners there will advance to the public high school championships in Albany the following weekend.
"We've wrestled great competition all season," said St. Anthony's senior Richard Antonacci, who earned the 152-pound title with a 16-6 win over Chaminade's Johnmarco Coppola. "I've competed against some of the top guys in the country. It's really helped us."
St. Anthony's was so dominant that they had both finalists at 132 and 285 pounds.
The coaches elected to have the wrestlers compete for seeding purposes.
Junior Kevin Jackson upended senior Marshall Winston, 16-0, at 132 in a matchup of Friars. In one of the more interesting moves of the day, Friars 220-pound starter Peter Corbett, a junior, was bumped up to 285 pounds to wrestle teammate Nick Fortini.
After a scoreless 3:30, Corbett turned Fortini for the pin with 13 seconds left in the second period.
"Our schedule has benefited our guys," Walters said.
Chaminade also had an excellent day of wrestling.
The Flyers brought an army of participants and 24 of its 43 wrestlers qualified for the state event. The Flyers crowned four champions, including two first-period pins in the finals at 182 and 220 pounds. Senior Connor Watson pinned St. Anthony's junior Kyle Buser in 1:15 at 182 and senior Charles Pederson pinned Kellenberg junior Eric Burel in 1:14 at 220.
The Flyers won the team title with a total of 492 points, finishing well ahead of St. Anthony's 438.5. It ended the Friars' six-year run as the high-team scorer. Credit the tremendous team depth for the traditionally strong Chaminade program.