Newsday Articles Monday February 23, 1998

Massapequa Locks Up Title

By Gregg Sarra. STAFF WRITER

So how deep is the Massapequa wrestling team?

Well, consider this. Junior Ryan Kelly, the Chiefs' No. 2 man in the 112-pound weight class, is now No. 1. Kelly came into the Nassau County wrestling tournament unseeded and left with a championship late Sunday night before 1,813 fans at Nassau CC.

Kelly (23-7), who started wrestling only three years ago, was simply awesome. He left a path of destruction through his weight class, pinning the top two seeds and beating the third seed. He pinned teammate and top-seeded Joe Allen in 3:20 for the title.

"[Allen] made a move and I countered to catch him on his back," Kelly said. "I was surprised I was able to finish the move."

Allen and Kelly wrestled this county title match before - every day in practice as workout partners.

"It was hard to have to wrestle each other," Kelly said. "We're teammates and partners. I thought we might meet in the county final."

Kelly lost to Allen, 4-3, in the conference qualifier the only other time they met in competition this season. To get to Allen, Kelly pinned county champion Mike McCann of Mepham in 43 seconds in a semifinal. It was the second year in a row that Allen placed second.

"We've had a lot of depth in the past few years and I've addressed that issue with the kids," Massapequa coach Gary Mims said. "You shake his hand and he's your opponent. When it's over, you shake his hand and it's over. Our whole coaching staff had tears in their eyes after Allen lost.

"Take nothing away from Kelly; he was great. But because Allen is one of the nicest kids anyone could ever coach and he's a senior, it was devastating. I couldn't even talk to him after the match I felt so bad."

Massapequa crowned four champions. Defending champion Jerold Limongelli won his second title at 103, Wes Blauberg took the 140-pound class and Tom Katsigiorgis the 189-pound championship.

Bethpage's Anthony Riccardi (119) put the finishing touches on another brilliant run to the sectional title. He won the crown with an 18-10 victory over Wheatley's Shawn Swift. It was the fifth time Riccardi has placed at the sectional tournament, a county record.

"I just want him to keep wrestling the way he has all season," Bethpage coach Ron Abatelli said. "If he opens up and shows what he can do upstate, he'll do fine."

Division crowned two champions for the first time in school history. Junior Bill Bennett won at 135 pounds and junior Dan Carlon at 125. Bennett also won a county title in 1996.

"Billy [Bennett] was very focused this week and ready to go," Division coach Ray Downey said. "And Dan [Carlon] beat his opponent by a point a week earlier and improved on that. These two kids did everything it takes to move on."

MacArthur's Phil Soman shocked the capacity crowd when he used a takedown and two near fall points to take a 10-9 lead on heavily favored Eddie Gomez with 21 seconds left in the 145-pound match. Gomez escaped to force overtime, but Soman gained a takedown 42 seconds into overtime for a 12-10 victory.

"We have very tough kids at MacArthur," coach Howie Greenblatt said. "We don't get intimidated."

Soman was chosen champion of champions for his performance by his peers after the tournament.