It was senior night for the Rocky Point wrestling team as the Eagles squared off against Huntington in a well-anticipated Suffolk League V dual. Each of the 12th-graders were honored and introduced before the match but it was a junior and freshman who sparked the Eagles (4-1) to a dominant 48-21 win on Friday night.
Junior Tommy Dutton, a returning county champion and state place-winner, set the tone early when he was able to pin Huntington's highly regarded sophomore JP Puca at 152 pounds and stake Rocky Point to a 12-0 lead. Puca scored an early takedown in the bout, but the Rocky Point wrestler answered quickly by escaping and getting a takedown of his own before securing the pin early in the second round at 2:09.
"We started off with a strong part of our lineup and that really helped the momentum," Dutton said. "Once we started off strong, the rest of the team was able to keep it going. When he scored the first points, I knew that I had to get up and just keep going after him."
Freshman Dylan Zabbara followed Dutton with a pin of his own, but in more dramatic fashion. After trailing the entire bout and down 4-1 in the match's final 15 seconds, Zabbara turned a takedown into a cradle and secured the pin with just 10 seconds left at 160.
"I can't say enough about [Dylan]," Rocky Point coach Darren Goldstein said. "That's a ninth grader who's wrestling his first year on varsity and he kept plugging away and plugging away and saw his opportunity with a little time left and never gave up hope."
After that, it was time for the Rocky Point seniors to shine. Joe Russo, Joe Zabbara and Charlie Canepa consecutively secured pins that put the Eagles out to an insurmountable 36-0 lead. Russo was particularly impressive, pinning Shanguel Bradshaw in just 34 seconds.
"It really built a lot of momentum for us," Russo said about his match. "It helped everybody and set the tone for the rest of the match."
Huntington (3-1) scored the next 12 points, including a matchup between League V contenders at 220 featuring Anthony Puca and Sean Ferguson. Puca won, 3-2, when he was able to escape in the ultimate tiebreaker period after three overtimes could not decide a winner.
Huntington's impressive lightweight contenders were also victorious as Kyle Mock won a 4-0 decision over Nick Pagnotta at 99 and John Arceri pinned Manny Romero in 2:34 at 113.
But it was not enough to overcome the wave of momentum that Rocky Point rode to its early lead and crucial league victory.
"Huntington is a historically strong program -- you look over there and there are all-stars in the stands and an all-star coaching staff," Goldstein said. "We needed to get ahead like that to feel secure in what we were doing."