Blue Devils Top State Ranked
The Huntington wrestling team won a series of close decisions to pull off one of the biggest upsets on Long Island this winter as the Blue Devils nipped state ranked Kings Park last Friday afternoon, 30-29.
The Kingsmen entered the dual meet as prohibitive favorites, ranked 12th in the state and boasting a 10-1 record with the only loss coming at the hands of non-league foe Sachem East, 37-36.
Huntington (9-2) jumped out to a 6-0 lead when Nigel McNeil opened the action with a pin in 3:43 at 119 lbs. A defending county and state champion, the senior has been untouchable this winter. "Nigel got us going," Blue Devil head coach Kieran Mock said.
After Kevin Mendez (125 lbs.) dropped a 7-5 overtime decision, Tye Jamison extended Huntington's lead to 9-3 with an exciting 2-1 victory at 130 lbs. "Tye gave us one of the most important wins of the night," Mock said. "Without it we couldn't have won the meet."
Kings Park then ran off three straight victories, pinning Matt Rosenbauer (135 lbs.) in 58 seconds, topping Austin Dunn (140 lbs.), 12-1 and edging Ken Stropoli (145 lbs.), 4-2.
Trailing 16-9, Huntington won five consecutive bouts to open an 11-point Blue Devil lead at 27-16. T.J. Wilson began the string with a pin in 3:21 at 152 lbs. Luis Mendez (160 lbs.) followed with a nail-biting 9-7 decision at 160 lbs. to give Huntington an 18-16 lead.
Louis Puca, who was second in the county and state tournaments last year, grabbed a hard-fought 6-3 decision at 171 lbs. "Louis really gutted out that victory," Mock said. "He's a warrior."
Huntington's penchant for winning close decisions continued when Duncan Murchison won 4-3 at 189 lbs. Sophomore Nick Lupi put the Blue Devils in a strong position with a 6-5 overtime verdict at 215 lbs to give Huntington an 11 point advantage, 27-16.
Kings Park (10-2) struck back, outlasting Anthony Puca (285 lbs.), 5-0, pinning seventh grader John Arceri (96 lbs.) in 1:12 and grappling past Brandon Mendez (103 lbs.), 13-3.
With Kings Park leading 29-27 after 14 bouts and a crowd of about 200 fans on their feet in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium, Mock gave final instructions to Corey Jamison before sending the freshman out on the mat for the last match of the meet.
Jamison, who has looked impressive this winter, put together a tightly controlled six minutes of wrestling en route to a solid 7-1 decision at 112 lbs. The victory gave Huntington one of its most satisfying league wins in many years.
"Everyone counted us out," Mock said about the conventional thinking of wrestling prognosticators handicapping the meet. "We've been working hard and it really paid off today."