Sports

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By Jim Ferchland

Middle Country All-County seniors Thomas Lettich, Peter Puglia and Tom Hussey led their team to its final win of the season at their home alley Jan. 25, sweeping Harborfields 3-0 to finish 10-2.

Lettich, who has the best Mad Dogs average with a 224, finished with a 630 on the afternoon. Bowling a 209, 225 and 196, he said he was not pleased with his results, adding he wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

“I knew what I had to come in and do today, and wanted to be an all star,” he said. “I was in the fifth spot and I needed a 675, and shot a little lower than that. I’m confident that I can probably still get in.”

Middle Country head coach Mike Messana said he knows how bad Lettich wanted to finish in the Top 5 spot. Lettich needed a 240 in his final game to put himself on pace for his average.

“It was the mental game,” Messana said. “He had a number in his head. Once you get that number in your head, it’s over.”

The Mad Dogs, which handily won 1,045-582, 1,013-660 and 1,035-594, received the best scores from junior Noah Axinn, who finished with a 701 — bowling 258, 217 and 226. His average is 214. Like most bowlers, he’s his own biggest critic.

“I felt I did pretty good,” Axinn said. “I could have done better. Overall, it was a pretty nice series.”

Hussey shot above his 192 average on Thursday (201, 163 and 204) rounding himself a 568 on the afternoon. Puglia finished with a 619 (182, 202 and 234). His average is second best behind Lettich at 212.

“I didn’t bowl good the first game,” Puglia said. “Then, I made adjustments … I bowled really good the third game. I wanted to end on a high note.”

Harborfields senior Ashton Madden had the best score for his team with a 482, rolling well above his 144 average with a 185 in game two. Michael Fellmeth, who has the highest average for Harborfields (161), finished at 460. He bowled at his best, a 163, in game one.

The Mad Dogs lost two matches all season, to Smithtown East and Northport. Messana said the most important part of the season is upon his team with the upcoming county tournament.

Middle Country is scheduled to bowl in the division finals Jan. 30 at Bowl Long Island in Patchogue at 3:30 p.m. The county tournament is Feb. 3 in Sayville at 9 a.m.

“The whole season really from the first practice in November to our last match today is just preparation for countys,” he said. “It just matters that you make the county tournament. If you make it, you have a shot to win. If you don’t make it, you’re out.”

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John Daly racing down the slope. Photo from Jonn Daly

Four years ago, Smithtown resident James Daly took his son John aside. The younger Daly had been in position to realize a long-held dream, only to see that dream slip away, as if it, and his sled, had slipped into a nightmare on Russian ice.

Competing in his second Olympics in the fast-paced sport of skeleton racing, John Daly was in fourth place in the Sochi Winter Olympics going into the final run of a four-heat race when his sled popped out of the grooves at the top of the mountain. That slip cost him time he could not afford to lose, sending him down to 15th place, and after the race, into retirement.

John Daly is a professional skeleton racer. Photo from Jonn Daly

Daly’s father grabbed him and said, “What happens to you today will make you the man that you’ll be tomorrow,” the son recalled.

At the moment, Daly barely registered the words, as the agony of defeat was so keen that he walked away from a sport that had helped define his life over the last 13 years.

His retirement, however, only lasted two. Daly wanted to rewrite his Olympic script.

The Smithtown native recently learned that he would represent the United States for a third time at the Winter Olympics, completing a comeback that required him to make marathon nine-hour drives from Virginia, where he’d gotten a job as a sales representative at medical technology company Smith & Nephew, to Lake Placid, where he returned to familiar stomping grounds.

A race official for bobsled and skeleton, the elder Daly continued to trek to the top of snowy and wind-whipped mountains, recognizing in the back of his mind that the middle of his three children might one day return to a sport where competitors sprint with a hand on their sled for five seconds and then dive headfirst onto a brakeless vehicle that can reach speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour.

When he learned his son made the Olympic team that will compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month, Daly couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.

“I’ve been telling everybody,” the retired EMS worker for the FDNY said with a laugh, even including random people he meets at the gym.

“When people watch the Olympic games on TV, they see a person from a town they never heard of,” James Daly said. “Now, all of a sudden, they see Smithtown. It’s great.”

The racing Daly, who is now 32, had a long road back to reclaim a spot on the American team. For starters, he had to go back to North America Cup races, the junior circuit of racing.

“Daly never really lost it. It was quite amazing to see.”

— Tuffy Latour

Daly “never really lost it,” said Tuffy Latour, the head coach of the USA skeleton team. “It was quite amazing to see. We were quite pleased.”

In January of last year, Daly earned a gold medal at Salt Lake City and followed that up with a gold and silver at Lake Placid.

Not only was his proud father there to celebrate John’s return, James also put the hardware around his neck.

“He’s been there from the time I went down the mountain the first time,” John said. “He’s always been there and for him to be there again, to put the medal on me for my first race back, it felt right.”

The pair joked while celebrating the first of several America’s Cup medals that the success felt familiar, like Daly was never gone.

At this point, Daly said he feels that the track in South Korea where he will square off against veteran sliders, including his longtime friend and teammate Matt Antoine, plays to his strengths. Latour said the American team is in a similar position preparing for South Korea as it was going into Sochi.

“We had a test of it last year in the World Cup,” the coach said. “The results were similar to what we had [in 2014].”

Latour said it sometimes helps to walk away for a few years and come back refreshed. He highlighted Daly’s experience as an asset in preparation for the 2018 games.

“He has nothing to lose,” said Latour, who appreciates how Daly’s comedic side helps steady his teammates during competition. He said Daly has the same energy he had before he left the race. “It’s great to have him around.”

John Daly, with father James, has had a successful season leading up to the Olympics in North Korea, grabbing gold in Lake Placid last year. Photo from John Daly

Daly said he’s proud to represent the United States. After he retired, he went to the gym, where he’d see people wearing sweatshirts emblazoned with the names of the colleges they’d attended. His sweatshirts read “USA.”

“That USA represents every college,” said Daly. “It’s a good feeling to wear it.”

At the South Korea games, Daly will be without teammate and friend Steve Holcomb, who died last year at 37. Holcomb’s story, including a recovery from an eye disease that made him nearly blind to a gold medal-winning driver of the celebrated Night Train sled, inspired people around the world, as well as his teammates.

As with his fellow bobsled and skeleton racers, Daly will be flying down the mountain in a suit that has Holcomb’s initials on it.

Daly will spend a next few weeks preparing for one more chance in the Olympics.

During the training to get back, Daly said his body and his mind demanded to know why he’s going through this work again.

He told himself: “I’m here to finish my career off the way I’d like.”

Bennarda Daly, who will attend the Olympics with her husband, said the South Korea Olympics will give her son something he didn’t get from the games in Russia.

“In South Korea,” she said, “he will finally get closure.”

Mount Sinai beat out Port Jeff, 45-28, for the county Division II title. Photo from Mount Sinai wrestling

By Jim Ferchland

Two quick pins ignited a spark for the Mustangs, and now they’re off to Syracuse.

The Mount Sinai wrestling team earned big wins from 195-pounder Mike Sabella and 220-pounder Jake Croston en route to a 45-28 victory over Port Jefferson for the Suffolk County Division II title. The Mustangs will travel upstate to compete in the first state title team championship Jan. 27 at Onondaga Community College.

Mount Sinai’s Mike Sabella puts pressure on his Port Jeff opponent. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“We wrestled two of our better kids,” Mount Sinai’s 18-year head coach Matt Armstrong said of the Jan. 20 meet at Bay Shore. “They have been steady, and that really got us going. We knew we had to come out and win those matches. Now, our goal is to place well in states — that would be exciting for a town like Mount Sinai.”

Sabella, ranked No. 1 in Division II with a 26-4 record, said for him, getting that first win for the Mustangs lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.

“It’s always stressful starting out the first match in any dual meet,” Sabella said. “Going out there and getting a win for my team was awesome. It was going to encourage the rest of my team to hopefully do the same.”

From weight classes 138 through 160, the Mustangs scored 18 consecutive points, giving them a commanding 45-18 advantage.

Mount Sinai’s Mike Zarif escaped from Port Jefferson’s Joe Evangelista to win a close match. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Junior Joseph O’Brien pinned Ryan Robertson in 3 minutes, 47 seconds in the 138-pound weight class. Senior Mike Zarif won a tight 2-1 decision over senior 145-pounder Joe Evangelista. Yusuf Azeem, a junior 145-pounder, beat Joe Longo with a 9-6 decision and sophomore Joseph Goodrich pinned Lucas Rohman in 2:36 seconds.

Zarif, right behind Sabella ranked second in Division II with a 28-3 record this season, usually fights at 138 pounds. He said he was asked by his coach to wrestle Evangelista, one of Port Jeff’s big guns.

“My coach came up to me and said, ‘We need you to knock off one of their best kids,’ so our team could have a better chance of winning,” Zarif said. “I just got ready with no preparation. Joe’s a great opponent. It was a good match.”

Port Jeff head coach Mike Maletta said Evangelista is one of the best wrestlers he’s ever coached, but his match was a turning point for Port Jeff.

“He is one of the best guys I’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been coaching,” Maletta said. “He gets called for a slam. It is what it is. The guy fell on his head and it changes the match. The guy escaped on him, and that’s the match.”

Maletta said he wanted to win one more match than Mount Sinai. Port Jeff won six matches to Mount Sinai’s nine.

Mount Sinai’s Joe O’Brien dominates before pinning his challenger. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“Once we feel we hit a certain spot in our lineup, we know we are going to win,” Armstrong said. “We definitely have solid kids. They stepped up and they did well.”

With two major decisions and two pins, Port Jeff trimmed the deficit to nine, 27-18, but couldn’t contain Mount Sinai the rest of the way.

Maletta said Mount Sinai was a great opponent, but he knows his team is full of competitors.

“We’re a good Port Jeff team,” he said. “We got pinned in six places — our best guys didn’t do what they were supposed to do. For us to beat Mount Sinai, everything had to work out right. It didn’t happen.”

Despite the loss, Maletta is confident in his guys competing at the league and county individual championships in February. For Sabella, his eyes are set on the matches this weekend. No. 2-seeded Mount Sinai will be  facing Falconer (No. 7) and Gouverneur (No. 10) in Division II pool play. Out of the four pool plays of three teams each, the winners will compete in the semifinal round and then move through the bracket from there.

“I think we should be a team others are scared of,” he said. “We are going to go up there to make some noise.”

Chris Crespo scores 16 points in victory

Denis Sullivan carries the ball toward the basket. Photo by Bill Landon

By Jim Ferchland

Senior guard Chris Crespo was the catalyst for Smithtown West in a 57-42 victory over Newfield Jan. 23. He had 16 points on the night, scoring seven of the Bulls’ 19 first-quarter points.

Chris Crepo squeezes between defenders for a bucket. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield head coach Anthony Agostino said Crespo made solid plays for his team all game.

“He makes everybody else around him better,” Agostino said. “He sacrifices his own individual points to get the ball where it needs to be. That’s why he’s a scholarship player.”

Crespo said he loves getting everyone involved in the game.

“I’m pretty sure every single one of my points were a layup or a foul shot,” Crespo said. “We hit a lot of threes today. When everyone is involved like that, it makes things a lot easier. It definitely feels good to get the ball moving and everyone scoring.”

Three players scored in double figures for the Bulls. Matt Behrens and Michael Gannon each added 11 points and combined for five 3-pointers. The team made eight triples on the night.

With the win, Smithtown West improves to 8-1 in League III, just behind undefeated Half Hollow Hills East, which outscored the Bulls in the county finals last year.

“It’s really about playing good basketball and us being able to hit our stride toward the playoffs,” said Smithtown West head coach Mike Agostino, Anthony’s brother. “We played well. The core kids who got a lot of playing time played great.”

Xavier Martinez shoots. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior Paul VonVoight contributed for nearly half of Newfield’s points. He led all scorers with 20. He got rolling in the fourth quarter, knocking down three 3-pointers to help Newfield outscore the Bulls 16-6, but it wasn’t enough.

Newfield falls to 2-7 in League III play and 4-11 overall. The Wolverines have lost three of their last four games. Despite the loss, Tony Agostino took some positives from the game.

“My guys fought till the very end,” he said. “Our goal was to keep them under 59 points. They scored 57, so we achieved one of our goals.”

Crespo said Newfield sat in their zone defense, which Smithtown West is used to seeing, so his team exploited that.

“Teams tend to struggle when playing us man-to-man,” Crespo said. “We have a lot of weapons. When teams play zone, we like to shoot threes. That’s what I like about us. When you play us, we play defense as hard as we can. We play a team-oriented style of basketball. In Suffolk County, we are a dominant force. That’s why we’ve won back-to-back league titles.”

Newfield is scheduled to play at Huntington (2-7, 3-12) Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Smithtown West will host crosstown rival Smithtown East (3-6, 6-9) the same day at 5:45 p.m.

Ward Melville's Ivanna Zavala-Arbelaez, on left, was the only Patriot to top Newfield's Ally Hu. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The stakes were high for the Patriots Monday night.

The last time Ward Melville’s girls fencing team faced off against Newfield it won by a single point, which was too close for comfort for head coach Kyle Hempe. With an undefeated streak on the line, the Patriots showed they learned from their mistakes, making a statement with an 18-9 home win Jan. 22.

Ward Melville’s Julia Duffy swept her opponents, winning both of her épée bouts. Photo by Bill Landon

“They were really fired up at home,” Hempe said. “We know Newfield is the second best team in our league, and they were really coming for it. So we went out, we worked as hard as we could, won a little earlier than we thought we would and we’re happy about that.”

Early wins came in the form of all three weapons. Ward Melville (10-0, 6-0 League II) took the second two of three in each of the first rounds of sabre, foil and épée.

Ward Melville’s Lauren Cappello started things off for the Patriots, putting the first point in the win column. The junior swept her sabre matches, 5-1, 5-2 and 5-2. Fellow sabre specialist Bridget Becchina, a senior, did the same while outscoring her challengers 15-4.

”We knew what we were coming into — I don’t think any of us were too worried — we knew we would have to bring it in each bout,” Becchina said. “I had confidence in the team, we had confidence in ourselves, and knew they have to beat us. We go out there and we just fence, and that usually works.”

Newfield (9-3, 5-2) was toughest in foil. Senior Ally Hu, who finished the day 2-1, took home victories in her second (5-1) and third (5-0) appearances out on the strip.

“[She’s] their strongest fencer, so was very happy with Ivanna Zavala-Arbeleaz, to see her come out with a victory there,” Hempe said. “But Bridget and Lauren are always solid for us in sabre so I’m happy for them and their performances, too.”

Ward Melville’s Catherine Cao, on left, gets a touch her Newfield opponent. Photo by Bill Landon

Junior épéeist Catherine Cao and senior Julia Duffy also swept their Newfield challengers.

“I’m proud that we came out with the win,” Duffy said. “Newfield gave us a run for our money, but we lean on all of the hard work that we put in, and reap the rewards.”

Junior sabreist Olivia Calise, who had dropped her first two bouts, blanked her opponent, 5-0, in the meet-clinching matchup.

With three meets left before the postseason Hempe said he’s confident going down the stretch, especially since the Patriots won’t be matching up with the Wolverines over that span.

“We’re not as worried, but we’ll go full force,” he said. “We’re happy to be in the position that we’re in.”

Ward Melville is back in action facing Centereach (5-7, 2-5) today, Jan. 25, at 4 p.m. Newfield will host Sayville today at 6 p.m.

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By Jim Ferchland

After Corey Connolly’s match-clinching win, he jumped in the arms of assistant coach Anthony Volpe. In that moment, the entire Rocky Point team surrounded them knowing what they just achieved.

“It was amazing,” Connolly said of helping the Eagles to their third consecutive Suffolk County dual meet title Jan. 20 He pinned Brentwood’s Hugo Vasquez in 1 minute, 35 seconds to give his team a commanding 37-3 advantage. “I’m so happy. I’ve waited my whole life to be county champ, and now it’s here. Training with these guys all season — hard work, it actually pays off.”

Rocky Point’s wrestling team beat Brentwood at Bay Shore High School, 37-33 even after chosing to forfeit the final five matches.

“I’m going to wrestle until we clinch,” Rocky Point head coach Darren Goldstein said was his mentality, chosing to protect his final grapplers by not competing if they didn’t need to. “Then when we clinch, we are going to walk off the mat. We are going healthy upstate.”

Senior Jake Pohl (27-10 record) got Rocky Point heading in the right direction when he earned a 5-0 decision over Jean Jasmine at 285 pounds. The Eagles cruised from there.

“It felt really good just knowing I went out there and got the job done,” Pohl said. “Once one person gets going on our team, everyone else gets going. It’s a train you can’t stop.”

Nick LaMorte, a seventh-grader and youngest on Rocky Point’s roster, won in a dazzling 12-9 decision over Fernando Romero in the 99-pound weight class to keep the train rolling.He scored a reversal and two back points in the final 13 seconds for the comeback win.

“It gave us momentum,” Goldstein said. “That can help you build.”

Rocky Point fought in 10 matches and won nine of them, dropping the 106-pound weight class.

After the loss, sophomore Logan Sciotto answered right back for Rocky Point earning a 5-2 decision over Brentwood’s Wenchard Pierre-Louis at 113 pounds. Sophomore Evan Mathias squeezed by Richard Diaz with a 5-3 decision at 120. Senior captain Ryan Callahan won his 138-pound match and classmate Donald Hammarth took his at 145.

Goldstein said he’s excited to be one of the first to represent Suffolk County in the state dual meet championship. Rocky Point will wrestle Jan. 27 at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. Section XI wrestling chairman Matt DeVincenzo, athletic director at Comsewogue, said 12 teams will be competing in four pools of three teams each, with the winner of each pool heading to the semifinals. The winners of those matchups will face off in the final. The Eagles, in the Division I pool, are grouped with Spencerport (No. 3 seed) and Jamesville-DeWitt, competing on mat three.

“We are going to try our best,” Goldstein said. “We know that we can compete with the best kids in the state — that’s really what we’ve been doing all year long. We got these kids focused, in the right mindset.”

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Hannah Manetta. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Warriors came up short against the cream of the crop for the second time this season, as the No. 2 Comsewogue girls bowling team fell to No.1 East Islip, 3-0. The Redmen clinched the conference title and improve to 9-0 in League III.

“They’re a great team,” Comsewogue 12-year head coach Bo Frimmer said, noting East Islip’s 11 county titles. “They’ve won states before. We are trying to get to that point. This is always who we try to beat every year. Coming into the match, we thought had a shot, and we did. We just didn’t close.”

Colleen McInerney. Photo by Jim Ferchland

The Redmen won each game by over 100 pins, with two bowlers exceeding 225 during the games. Junior Julianna Spina recorded a 256, and classmate Jenny Murphy scored 226 as East Islip took the games 1,043-935; 1,074-939; and 1,028-921.

“They work really, really hard,” East Islip head coach Harold Cooley said of his athletes. “They bowl all year round. They do what’s necessary to maintain where they are.”

Junior All-State bowler Hannah Manetta finished for the Warriors with 227 in Game 1, starting off the match with five strikes, a 234 in Game 2 and 246 in Game 3. Her consistent improvement led her to finish with the highest total score, a 707.

“Hannah bowled great,” Frimmer said. “Her goal for the year is to make the state team, which she did last year. She’s right on the cusp right now, so a day like today really helped her. It was a very important day for her.”

Senior Alex Gallo scored 202 in Game 1, 195 in Game 2 and 175 in Game 3. Sophomore Colleen McInerney bowled a 163, 153 and 163. Before the match, her average was a 177.

Alex Gallo. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“With East Islip, you’ve got to focus on making your spares,” McInerney said. “You have to put your head in the game more. Usually, when we bowl, we’re having more fun, but with East Islip, it becomes real serious.”

While the Comsewogue girls were struggling in the first two games, Frimmer spoke to his team about making the spare opportunities count, saying they can’t miss them in key situations.

“It’s the game of bowling,” Frimmer said. “You’re going to make your runs with your strikes, and if you don’t make your spares, it’s gonna kill your score.”

East Islip has been league champion since 2014. Two years ago, Comsewogue fell to East Islip by just three pins.

“We don’t usually beat them,” Manetta said. “We always come in second place in our league. I wasn’t expecting it to be easy. I wanted to show them that we are second in the league and we weren’t going down without a fight.”

Coming off a loss, Comsewogue has one more match before counties, and Gallo isn’t worried one bit. The Warriors traveled to Islip Jan. 17, but results were not available by press time.

“I have full confidence,” Gallo said. “I have no doubt in my team. If you feel confident, that’s the only way you’re gonna win.”

Comsewogue head coach Bo Frimmer explains to his team the importance of making spares against East Islip. Photo by Jim Ferchland

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Mount Sinai's girls lacrosse team won its first indoor national championship after besting the No. 1 and No. 7 teams in close games. Photo from Al Bertolone

The Mustangs will remain in good hands this spring.

The Mount Sinai indoor girls lacrosse team — led by sister sets Meaghan and Emma Tyrrell on offense and Meaghan and Kristen Scutaro on defense — claimed the school’s first national title this month. The Mustangs outlasted Bishop Ireton, Virginia’s BigLax 13-12 in a sudden-death victory in the final Jan. 7 to grab gold at the second annual high school IL Women Indoor Lacrosse National Championship.

“My girls played six games in two days and were warriors,” head coach Al Bertolone said. “They played hard and never wavered — came back from being behind in the final — it was great to see them win because they are the first Long Island team to win this tournament and to beat No. 1 McDonogh.”

Mount Sinai, the tournament’s No. 5 seed, was one of eight teams to advance out of pool play, going 3-0 to get to the quarterfinals. Over that stretch, the Mustangs scored 59 goals and let up 36. The team advanced to the semifinals with a 17-11 win over North Fork and beat McDonogh, Maryland’s Orange Crush, last year’s finalist, 13-12, to advance to the championship game.

“This really tested our team offensively and defensively, and our team definitely rose to the occasion, which is huge for us so early in the season,” senior Meaghan Scutaro said. “To beat the No. 1 team, McDonogh, has always been a goal of our team since I was in eighth grade. To finally have the chance to play such an outstanding team was surreal, and then to win it all was the cherry on top. We were all tired from playing such amazing teams, but we were excited, and knew that we wouldn’t come this far to not win.”

Bertolone pointed to the sister bonds as the glue that holds his team together. The competition had an added dose of intrigue as in the Mustangs’ first game of the tournament, against Run n’ Gun, five future Syracuse University teammates toed the line against one another.

“Playing with them shows you how it’s going to be in college,” junior Emma Tyrrell said of competing against future Orange teammates. “It’s great to play with them.”

Senior Meaghan Tyrrell’s lefty finish shined at attack, and her sister was consistently found unmarked at eight meters. Guarding by the University of Notre Dame-bound Scutaro twins, and blocking in goal by Sienna Massullo (2018, Pace University) and Emily Lamparter (2021, University of Maryland) also impressed.

“You know exactly how your sister plays, and you can depend on her to help you finish plays, which works in our favor having sisters on the offense and defense,” Scutaro said.

Seeing the chemistry continue to build now is just a taste of what’s to come this season when the Mustangs head outdoors, and, at the collegiate level.

“The culture we have established combined with the friendships they have has created a bond that is family-based,” Bertolone said. “It’s unreal how connected we are.”

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Smithtown West's Jack Swanson maintains control of his challenger. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Bulls have once again dominated League III this season.

Smithtown West’s wrestling team finished the season undefeated at 6-0 with a 57-18 win over visiting Riverhead Jan. 12.

Smithtown West’s Logan Hutter, on left, sizes up his challenger. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I have a senior group that’s ready to go, but I seem to have balance ,” head coach Ken Leverich said of the cohesiveness of his unit. “I have ninth graders in the varsity lineup winning matches, tenth graders, juniors and seniors — we look to keep this ball rolling.”

It’s the first time in school history the Bulls have won back-to-back league titles in wrestling. Leverich, who has been at the helm for 13 years, was hesitant to respond with how he felt.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just like to put numbers up on the banner.”

Smithtown West even had to forego having three starters compete because they were upstate at the Eastern States Classic tournament. Despite their absence, Leverich was content with the backup and depth of his team replacing Kyle Reilly, Matt Weitemeyer and Tim Nagoski.

Smithtown West Jack Desousa stands up on the mat after pinning his Riverhead opponent. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“When you have three starters away at another tournament, it was a little dicey without them,” Leverich said. “The expectations were a little uncertain versus Riverhead, but we were able to slide guys in with our depth and [they brought home] wins for us. It was big.”

Smithtown West junior 113-pounder Jack Desousa picked up a win and six points with a pin in 1 minute, 35 seconds over Riverhead’s Jason Daman.

“It’s amazing actually —two years in a row is great for our program,” the two-year varsity starter said of being part of another league championship-winning squad, also noting his closeness with Leverich, who he said has become a second father to him. “We have great coaches and I’ve been with them forever. I’ve had [Leverich] as a coach since second grade.”

Senior Jack Swanson finished his final match at Smithtown West with a win over Riverhead’s Chris Dubose in the 182-pound weight class. Leverich said the 10-3 decision over Riverhead’s Chris Debose was the highlight of the night.

“He stepped up and beat another county-ranked kid,” the head coach said of Swanson. “He’s got a ton of wins this season. He’s done a great job.”

Smithtown West’s Steven Zimmerman refuses to let his opponent escape. Photo by Jim Ferchland

At the 195-pound weight class, Smithtown West’s Steven Zimmerman pinned Romel Richards in 5:38 to give the Bulls a 37-3 advantage.

Leverich raved about freshman Nicholas Germano, who despite winning against Riverhead at 99 pounds as a result of a forfeit has only lost one match all season.

“He’s a little stud,” Leverich said of his 17-1 grappler. “Weight class 99 is where we should go furthest this year.”

Smithtown West junior James Campanelle earned a major decision over Jared Cawley (9-1) at 120 pounds, as did freshman Logan Hutter over Dominic Bossey (10-1) at 126.

Leverich said even with some of the boys’ close losses he was happy with how his Bulls performed.

“I wasn’t disappointed in any of my boys tonight,” he said. “They all wrestled well.”

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Patriots send some wrestlers upstate to compete, rest others in loss to Sachem East

Ward Melville's Chris Little battles for dominance. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Ward Melville’s wrestling team looked to cap off its undefeated regular season with another win Jan. 12, but with key competitors away at Eastern States Classic, it was a tall order for the Patriots to fill, which fell to Sachem East 51-27 on their home mat.

“We knew it was going to be a little tight,” said Ward Melville head coach Garrett Schnettler, noting his five starters away at the tournament. “Once we got [beyond] 138 pounds we knew it was going to be tight.”

Eastern States Classic tournament

Away at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, All-County senior Rafael Lievano notched his 100th career victory at 132 pounds. Junior Tom Fitzsimmons and senior Richie Munoz also competed.

Ward Melville senior 160-pounder Nabeel Ahmed struck first for his team, winning the opening match 10-6. The Patriots gathered additional points with a pair of Sachem East forfeits at 170 and 182 pounds, and senior Kevin Vera won his match 8-2 at 195 pounds to put his team out front 14-0.

From there, the Patriot lead slowly slipped away, with losses in the 220 and 285-pound weights classes before eighth-grader Christian Lievano started off the lighter weights with a pin at 2:39 over Sachem East’s John Tietjan at 99 pounds.

Sachem East got back in the win column at 106, 113 and 120 pounds to give the Flaming Arrows their first lead of the match, 26-24, and never looked back.

Ward Melville senior Ryan Mc Namara said the loss will have no effect on him or his teammates in preparation for the postseason, even if the win would have set a regular season record.

Ward Melville’s Kevin Vera tries to stay on top of his challenger to avoid letting up any points. Photo by Bill Landon

“Tonight’s loss isn’t going to phase us,” said Mc Namara, who was bumped from 170 to 185 so a junior varsity player could compete. Mc Namara won by forfeit. “We didn’t have as much experience, but they gave it their best. We’ll have everyone back in their spots in the lineup and we’ll give it our all [Wednesday].”

Ward Melville competes in the opening round of the newly created Suffolk County dual championship Jan. 17. Bracket information was not readily available for who the Patriots will compete against. Matches are currently scheduled to take place at 4 p.m.

“The guys at Eastern States, they’re doing pretty well,” said sophomore Dan Cassera, who was able to execute a pair of takedowns to pull away with a 9-6 win at 138 pounds. “We’re going to work hard [to get ready for Wednesday], put in a lot of practice, see what we did wrong and correct those things.”

Away at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, All-County senior Rafael Lievano notched his 100th career victory at 132 pounds. Junior Tom Fitzsimmons and senior Richie Munoz were also away.

“We’re already looking forward,” Schnettler said following the loss. “We take it one match at a time, and now we’re getting ready for the next meet. The guys are focused. We could’ve made tonight’s match closer, but we thought long term — gave some guys the rest who needed it — because round one of the dual meet championship is way more important than us going undefeated in the league.”

Ward Melville’s Christian Lievano attempts to keep his challenger on the mat. Photo by Bill Landon

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