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Luis Valdez pins down team title for Sachem East

Luis Valdez of Sachem East (red) pins Aiden

Luis Valdez of Sachem East (red) pins Aiden Hamilton of Rocky Point (gray) at 195 pounds  during the Suffolk Division I Tdual meet championship at Bay Shoreon Saturday. Credit: Brad Penner

Luis Valdez was understandably quite nervous.

The Suffolk Division I dual meet title was coming down to the final bout at 195 pounds.

Valdez paced behind the Sachem East bench hoping teammate Ryan Paolella would pin his opponent at 182 pounds and clinch the team title.

The Flaming Arrows led by two points and Paolella, who had been bumped up a weight, lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Rocky Point’s rugged Brian Smith.

Now the pressure was really on the junior Valdez.

Sachem East trailed by a point and Rocky Point, the three-time defending champion, was a win away from another dual meet crown.

“Ryan has come through so many times with big wins,” Valdez said. “And he lost a real battle. And I just felt like I had to pick him and my team up.  It was terrifying and exciting to have the championship all on me.”

Rocky Point’s Aidan Hamilton, who bumped up to 195 pounds, came out and took Valdez down for a 2-0 lead. Valdez used an escape and a takedown with four seconds remaining in the first period for a 3-2 lead.

“He came out and took it to me and then I settled down,” Valdez said. “And then it was on.”
Valdez scored a reversal early in the second period and ran a tight bar arm on Hamilton for the pin in 2:42 sending Sachem East onto a 42-37 win over Rocky Point to capture the Suffolk Division I dual meet title Saturday before a crowd of more than 1,200 at Bay Shore High School.

The Valdez win completed a sweet run by the Sachem East squad. The fifth-seeded Flaming Arrows (12-1) beat No. 4 Connetquot in a quarterfinal before upending top-seeded Eastport-South Manor in Saturday’s semifinals. Rocky Point (19-2) was the two seed.

“I turned him and just squeezed until the ref slapped the mat,” Valdez said. “It was incredible seeing all those people celebrating.”

The pin ended Rocky Point’s stranglehold on the dual meet crown and sent the gym into bedlam.

“I’d put Valdez against anyone, he’s our best fighter,” said Sachem East coach Isaac Ramaswamy. “He’s one of those guys you can count on all the time. We’re a team of guys like that — all 15 of them are critical to our winning. And we have such a fantastic support system and when one falls the others pick them up.”

Sachem East (12-1) has not been defeated on the mat this season. The lone loss came when the school self-reported the use of an ineligible wrestler in the wrong weight class, thus forfeiting a League I dual meet against Patchogue-Medford.

“We’ve had a terrific season,” Brendan Syrop said. “We’ve been underdogs all year and no one but us expected [we would] be in position to win the county title.”

Valdez embraced his coaches and hugged every guy in a Sachem East uniform. He was still blown away by the moment.

“It really happened, right?” he laughed. “This is crazy!  How about us?”

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