Wrestlers Back on Top
wrestling is back on top after sweeping through the first five weight classes
and nipping defending Suffolk champion East Islip to claim the team title at the
37th annual holiday tournament last Saturday. The performance marks
a stunning reversal from last winter when Huntington struggled with a young and
relatively inexperienced squad. That was then, this is now.
Damon McQueen (96
lbs.), Jose Vasquez (103), Francisco Pereira (112), Stephan Riley (119) and
Guillermo Dominguez (125) each captured weight class crowns to help the Blue
Devils topple mighty East Islip and run away from the rest of the eight team
field. “We are a very young team, but we had a great day,” Huntington head
coach Lou Giani said.
Four Blue Devil
wrestlers finished second, including Marco Lagone (125), Justin Giani (135),
Jayson Santiago (160) and Dashaun Thomas (215). Nigel McNeil (3rd-96),
Maurice Loadholt (6th-112), Omar Santiago (3rd-119), Jaime
Pereira (4th-130), Matt Vickers (4th-152), Christian Nicky
(6th-160), Morris Romero (6th-171) and Allan Hendrickson
(3rd-189) also earned places among the top six finishers in each
accumulated 252.5 points in the unofficial team scoring, nearly 100 points more
than last year’s total of 155.5, which placed the team fourth in 2005. East
Islip finished second with 246.5 points.
strong result came on a day when school officials dedicated the Louis D. Giani
Gymnasium in honor of the coaching legend and unveiled four signs erected around
the facility denoting the new name.
The Blue Devils’
performance was reminiscent of their great teams of yesteryear. McQueen looked
sharp in three victories, pinning Roslyn’s Chris Roccotagliato in the
quarterfinals in 1:11, turning back teammate Nigel McNeil in the semifinals, 7-1
before shutting out North Babylon’s Tom Bennett in the championship bout, 8-0.
equally impressive, including a 0:17 second fall in the quarterfinals and an
18-1 semifinal decision over East Islip’s Nick Ventiere. The Huntington junior
pinned Massapequa’s Eric Kaufman in the finals in 2:36.
“Damon and Jose
each started off the season with great matches,” Huntington assistant coach
Travis Smith said. “They’re working hard and we expect to see continued
improvements each week. They’re talented and if they keep working hard they’ll
Seeded first at
112 lbs., junior Francisco Pereira is coming off a third place finish in last
year’s Suffolk Division I tournament and looking to challenge for the county
crown. After picking up a 0:19 second quarterfinal round pin, the junior edged
Northport’s Ryan DeVaney, 10-7 and took a 4-0 decision in the finals over
Central Islip’s James Guzman. “Francisco was pushed a little bit and maintained
control of his matches,” Giani said.
marked a return to competition for Riley, who sat out last year after placing
sixth in Suffolk as a sophomore. He won three matches, including a 7-2 decision
over junior Matt Sears of Northport in the finals. Dominguez also looked tough,
grabbing a pair of decisions and a pin en route to the 125 lb. title.
East Islip far outdistanced the rest of the field, as Massapequa (164 points),
Port Jervis (157), Northport (111.5), Central Islip (94.5), North Babylon (82)
and Roslyn (53) trailed the leaders.
The Blue Devils
return to the mats this Saturday (Dec. 16) when the team travels to the Port
Jervis tournament for a daylong competition.