Joe Kavanagh of Wantagh, right, gets ready to pounce on...

Joe Kavanagh of Wantagh, right, gets ready to pounce on East Meadow's Chris Parisi in the second round of the Nassau County varsity wrestling championship tournament. (Feb. 12, 2011) Credit: James Escher

The memory of 2010 still paints a painful picture for Wantagh's Joe Kavanagh.

One point. One measly point from a state title. But the 3-2 loss to Rocky Point's Billy Coggins in the 171-pound final was the last time Kavanagh, Newsday's Nassau Wrestler of the Year, lost.

One year later and 18 pounds heavier, Kavanagh completed a 38-0 season with a pin of Mount Sinai's Frank Abbondanza in the 189-pound state final.

The 2010 loss to Coggins fueled Kavanagh's perfect season.

"It was definitely a lot of motivation . . . I figured there was no way I was not going to let myself win," Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh not only won, he routinely pinned the state's best wrestlers. He was comfortable at a weight in which he didn't have to fast for two days prior to competition. The extra 18 pounds, which meant he was going against stronger wrestlers, made little difference to Kavanagh. He set out to own 189.

"Since the beginning, I said this was my year," Kavanagh said. "Someone has to come out and beat me and make a point."

Nobody made that point. Not at the Nassau championships, where he won three of his four matches by pin. Not at his first three matches at states, which included an 11-5 semifinal victory over Shenendehowa's highly rated Tony Fusco. And not in the state final, where he pinned Abbondanza in 3:35 and ignited a celebration.

"It was pretty crazy," Kavanagh said. "It didn't kick in until later. When I got off the mat, everybody wanted to see me and speak to me. I just couldn't wait to talk to my parents."

Kavanagh said the disappointment of 2010 "never really goes away." But this perfect season is sure to help blunt that pain.

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