The J. Taylor Finley Middle School wrestling compiled a perfect season, finishing completely undefeated at 10-0.
Coached by Michael Marinello and Travis Smith, Finley’s matmen were impressive throughout the campaign. The squad of 34 wrestlers was captained by eighth graders Anthony Annunziata and Michael Klein.
Finley grappled its way past Elwood (55-18), Copiague (59-9), East Northport (69-9), Hauppauge (63-13), Brentwood West (51-9), Nesaquake (76-6), Oldfield (45-30), Northport (38-26), Brentwood North (62-11) and Kings Park (71-6).
“We dominated eight of the teams we wrestled and beat two tough teams in a three day span,” said Marinello, Finley’s longtime head coach. “It was a focused and coachable team. Everyone on it was very supportive of their fellow wrestlers.”
The hardworking squad was strong from top to bottom. “The team set a goal of going undefeated early in the season and rallied around each other,” Marinello said. “They wanted to ‘hang the banner.’”
The top wrestlers on the team included:
- Jake Avarello: 7-1 record; “He’s a tough lightweight who often went up a lot of weight,” Marinello said. “He always got the team off to a great start.”
- Sam Cirlincione: 7-1 record; “Sam is a hard worker with a great attitude and a strong desire to win,” Marinello said.
- Jon Granito: 7-2 record; “John is one of the seventh graders who is most improved,” Marinello said.
- Sam Nicotra: 9-1 record; “Sam is ultra-talented and is excellent technically,” Marinello said.
- Enzo Pupillo: 10-0 record; “Enzo is quiet, not flashy, but he always got the job done,” Marinello said.
- Michael Kline: 5-2 record; “Mike was our most improved eighth grader,” Marinello said.
- Max Casiano: 10-0 record; “Max is experienced and mat smart,” Marinello said. “He’s experienced and mat smart,” Marinello said. “Max is a wrestler to build a program around.”
- Dante Salgado (7-1 record) and Teddy Leavy (6-2-1 record); “Dante and Teddy are two seventh graders who came with no experience,” Marinello said. “A combination of hard work and natural talent to work their way into the starting lineup and came up big in several close matches.”
- Anthony Annunziata: 9-0-1 record; “Anthony was one of our team captains and he finished unbeaten,” Marinello said.
- Christian St. John: 10-0 record; “Christian is very physical and strong and is one of four undefeated wrestlers,” Marinello said.
- Brett Bender: 9-1 record: “Brett outlasted several tough opponents to win close matches,” Marinello said.
- Nick Cesario: 6-3 record: “Nick will continue to develop strength and technique as he moves up to the high school,” Marinello said.
Eighth graders Chris and John Acompora were also important to the team’s overall success. “They are great teammates who will find more success as they gain experience,” Marinello said.
The roster also included seventh graders Cristian Alfaro-Bueso, Jerimiah Curtis, Cristian Delgado, Jasper Elgart, Jose Flores, Gerson Granados Escobar, Luis Hernandez-Galdamez, Matthew Levine, Ramon Lyons, Rigo Maldonado, Edwin Marroquin Chavez, Brayan Mejia, Za’Khie Ramos, Andrew Sullivan and Jose Villatoro; and eighth graders Joseph Algieri, Daniel Iglesias-Soriano and Nikolai Seferian.
Marinello and Smith presented awards to several of the team’s leading wrestlers. The recipients included:
Desire, Discipline and Dedication Award:
Seventh grade: Jake Avarello and Sam Cirlincione
Eighth grade: Nick Cesario and Joe Algieri
Hardest Worker Award:
Seventh grade: Sam Nicotra
Eighth grade: Brett Bender
Most Improved Wrestler Award:
Seventh grade: Teddy Leavy, Dante Salgado and Jonathan Granito
Eighth grade: Michael Kline
Most Valuable Wrestler Award:
Seventh grade: Max Casiano and Christian St. John
Eighth grade: Anthony Annunziata and Enzo Pupillo
“This group has the potential to vie for a county championship if they continue to dedicate themselves,” Marinello said.