Chaminade’s Michael Sanfilippo rarely gets nervous on a wrestling mat.
But even the Flyers’ senior was a little shaky prior to the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA wrestling championships at St. Anthony’s on Tuesday night.
Wrestlers in 13 weight classes competed simultaneously on three mats as dusk became night under the bright lights of Cy Donnelly Field. (Yes, that was correct. The event was held outdoors.)
"It was a new atmosphere and, honestly, I had the jitters," he said. "But as I started to wrestle, the butterflies started to go away."
Sanfilippo recorded pins in three straight matches, before reaching the 138-pound title match. The New York University signee scored the bout’s only points on a takedown in the first period and held off St. Anthony’s junior Jake Podolsky, 2-0.
After Sanfilippo won, he immediately jumped off the mat and held up four fingers before looking up to the sky. Sanfilippo, who won his fourth CHSAA individual crown, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
He, like many in the CHSAA, weren’t even sure there would be wrestling earlier this year.
"COVID almost ruined our season," he said, "and it hit some families very hard."
Sanfilippo knows firsthand. He lost his uncle, Anthony DeNoyior, on April 19 from the coronavirus. The Suffolk County auxiliary police captain from Deer Park was 55. (See Newsday’s story on DeNoyior)
"He was a great family guy," said Sanfilippo, a CHSAA state champion at 126 last season. "I didn’t always see him, but he always followed me and what I was doing with my wrestling."
Sanfilippo and sophomore Shane Meenaghan (118) both captured individual titles and helped Chaminade win the CHSAA team crown with 353 points. St. Anthony’s (340) was second, followed by Kellenberg (310), St. John the Baptist (93) and Holy Trinity (70).
Kellenberg’s Omar Reyes took the individual title at 160 pounds. He had the quickest pin of the tournament (seven seconds) and was named The "Mr. Joe Cloonan" Champion of Champions.
"It just hit me right now, how big this really is," he said. "It shows that all my hard work really paid off."
Other Kellenberg titlists were James Perrotta (102), Brendan Martin (110), Anthony Iadevaio (126) and Hector Ketant (189).
St. Anthony’s Matthew Dahill (285) took home most pins/least time honors (3 pins in 3:07). He was one of six Friars’ champions, including Dominic Seminera (132), Mick Brown (145), Frankie Theroux (152), Griffin Goldstein (who won by decision against teammate, Daniel Buffa, at 172) and Andrew Bardak (215).