Little kids put their pointer fingers and thumbs together in a square over their eyes as if to take a mental picture when Islip's Kyle Wade walked by. The hometown kid was a local celebrity last night.
And why not after his 5-3 win over Deer Park's Rich Lugo in the 152-pound final earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Kris McDonald Islip Cup in his home gym?
Even though Wade and Lugo fought tooth and nail, Wade knew their matchup was supposed to be a semifinal rather than a final. Why? Because defending state champion Andy Rodriguez of Central Islip didn't compete due to illness.
Rodriguez wrestled Friday night against Sachem North, but afterward was taken to the hospital where he was given chest X-rays and released. Central Islip coach Brad Brzozinski was unsure of Rodriguez's exact diagnosis Saturday afternoon (Rodriguez was not at the tournament), but believed it may be a bronchial infection.
So while Wade will take the victory, especially in front of family and friends, he knows things could have played out differently.
"With him out, I moved up to the No. 1 seed, so I was figuring this was mine to lose," he said. "Obviously being at home is big, having a support group. But there's also a lot of people to impress."
That support group includes Wade's mother, who was calling for her son to try bar arms moves during most of the second period. But her son did most of his work from his feet and he scored on two second-period takedowns to take a 4-3 lead going into the third period. Lugo let him up to start the final period, but couldn't secure the tying takedown.
Said Lugo: "Wade's a good defensive wrestler, he makes me work hard."
Brzozinski believes Rodriguez, who would have been wrestling up one weight class had he faced Wade or Lugo, would have made both guys work even harder. But that wasn't meant to be.
"We always want to get him the toughest competition, so that was the idea when we bumped him up a weight," the Central Islip coach said. "It hurt us to scratch him."
On this day, the tournament that is named after a 1992 Islip graduate and former Bucs wrestler who tragically died in a car accident in 1994, belonged to a hometown kid.
"Wrestling's at the center of my family," said Wade, whose younger brother Brad is a teammate. "It's a really great feeling to win this tournament here my senior year."