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Blue Devil Wrestlers Crush Field at Upstate Tournament

“They came, they saw, they conquered.”  In almost military-like fashion, the Blue Devil wrestling team traveled to the inaugural Charlie Stratton Memorial Wrestling Tournament in upstate Unadilla Valley and crushed a field of five opponents, emerging from the daylong competition with six individual weight class champions and seven runners-up, among 17 place winners overall.

The team crown was Huntington’s fourth in five tournaments this season.  The Blue Devils traveled to Unadilla Friday night after practice and quickly settled in.  The next morning the squad headed to the tournament site, weighed in, ate breakfast and then went to work.  “The wrestlers had a lot of matches, which is exactly what we came for,” head coach Lou Giani said.

Huntington stormed through the field, outscoring runner-up Unadilla Valley, 293.5-158.5.  Walton (120.5), Cobleskill-Richmond (112), Deposit/Hancock (76.5) and Canajoharie Fort Plain (66) trailed far behind the leaders. 

Blue Devil champions included Jose Vasquez (96 lbs.), Stephan Riley (112), Francisco Pereira (119), Justin Giani (130), Allan Hendrickson (160) and Dashaun Thomas (215).  Nigel McNeil (96), Damon McQueen (103), Marco Lagone (119), Omar Santiago (125), Jimmie Garrett (135), Jaime Pereira (140) and Jayson Santiago (152) each finished in second place in their respective weight class.

Hendrickson, a talented senior who transferred to Huntington from Patchogue-Medford where he earned All-County honors last winter, won all five of his matches and was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler for the upper weight classes.  Francisco Pereira and Riley each went 4-0 on the day. 

The Blue Devils seem to be improving by leaps and bounds each week as the younger team members rapidly gain confidence and skills.  “Practice is tough and there isn’t any down time between conditioning, drilling and scrimmaging,” assistant coach Travis T. Smith said.  “It’s all business.  The kids want to win.”

Justin Giani had a big day, winning all three of his matches at 130 lbs.  “Justin looked good,” Smith said.  “We are building him up for what we hope will be a great run at the league and county tournaments.”  Thomas was also perfect, winning his three bouts in the heavyweight division.

Four other Huntington wrestlers captured third place in the tournament including Louis Puca (125 lbs.), Guillermo Dominiguez (130), Matt Vickers (152) and Chris Sandoval (171).  “Everyone had the team had good matches, which is what you want and what you need to continue improving,” coach Giani said.

The team is heading into the heart of the dual meet season, with eight matches looming between now and February 3.  The team will also travel to the Big Ten tournament in Albany, which is slated for Saturday, January 27.  The Blue Devils will host the Suffolk League V tournament on Saturday, February 10 and then look to peak at the Section XI Championships on Friday/Saturday, February 16-17 at Stony Brook University.