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Wantagh’s Justin Vines is quite a mat rat

Sachem North's Eddie Galante, left, is taken down

Sachem North's Eddie Galante, left, is taken down by Wantagh's Justin Vines at 113 pounds at Wantagh on Saturday Dec. 19, 2015.

If you can’t find Justin Vines, it’s probably because he’s in the gym.

“We call him a mat rat,” Wantagh assistant coach Todd Bloom said. “We basically have to kick him out of the wrestling room.”

Vines’ hours of training were put to good use during his takedown of Sachem North’s Eddie Galante with 46 seconds remaining in the second period in the final of the Warriors’ 70-7 win over the Flaming Arrows on Saturday. That match punctuated the 16th David Bloom Memorial Tournament.

The sophomore wrestled at 113 pounds for the host team, but his strength was equal to that of competitors several classes larger. Galante couldn’t match him.

Vines’ drive to get the pin was clear from the opening movements of the match. He had Galante on his back for most of the second, and his anticipation of both Galante’s escape and takedown tries made it evident that Vines had also done his homework.

“I’ve wrestled that guy a couple of times, once two years ago at 99,” Vines said. “I know his technique, so it was pretty easy for me today.”

Hard work and preparation? What a concept.

“He’s nonstop,” said coach Paul Gillespie of Vines’ 4-0 showing in the tournament. “We have a lot of good sophomores this year. He’s one of our best.”

Among the day’s top wrestlers were brothers Christian, a freshman, and Josiah Encarnacion, an eighth grader at Wantagh Middle School.

The elder Encarnacion (106) finished 3-0 in the tournament after a technical fall in 4:34 against Connor Green. Encarnacion worked him so hard that the beginning of the third period was delayed so Green could catch his breath.

“I wanted to stay tough on top, ride him out and look for my takedowns,” he said.

Josiah, Wantagh’s smallest wrestler, showed poise beyond his years, pinning Reggie Berrios 29 seconds into the second at 99 pounds. He used ankle picks, drag-arounds and other techniques to dominate.

“Today I was just coming here to do my best,” he said. “Turns out I went undefeated, 4-0.”

His effort drew rave reviews.

“Josiah only weighs 93 or 94, but boy, is he something else,” Gillespie said. “He’s a little undersized, but his toughness and tenacity really make up for it.”

Added Vines: “He’s tinier than everybody, but he’s still a beast.”

Bishop Hendricken (Rhode Island), Cumberland (Rhode Island), Hewlett, Glenn, Poly Prep and Roosevelt also participated in the dual meet.

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