Rocky Point High School sophomore Ava Capogna and junior Alexandra Viera made history during the inaugural NYSPHSAA Girls Invitational Wrestling Tournament in Syracuse Jan. 27.
In the first-ever New York State championship featuring over 200 female wrestlers, Capogna achieved a fourth-place finish at 120 pounds and Viera won first place at 126 pounds.
Longtime varsity wrestling coach Darren Goldstein has coached some of the finest athletes on Long Island. Over the last several years, he has coached many female wrestlers.
Goldstein recalled recent developments within Rocky Point’s female wrestling program. “Gianna Amendola, a 2022 graduate of Rocky Point and a current wrestler at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, was a pioneer as a woman in this sport,” he said. “She had a decorated career on the mats and set the stage for Capogna and Viera to excel within the difficulties of wrestling.”
Since she was 7 years old, Capogna has enjoyed wrestling. Her father had experience in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and he wanted his daughter to be involved in Rocky Point’s wrestling program.
‘This is an incredible achievement for these two amazing people and teammates.’
— Aidan Donohue
Beginning in third grade, Capogna began wrestling in tournaments in Long Island, New Jersey and upstate New York.
She was the first female on Long Island to be classified for the varsity team. As a seasoned veteran, her most effective moves are the double-leg takedown, headlocks, throws and drags.
This Rocky Point Eagle has already earned 40 wins against boys and is one of the captains of her wrestling squad. Capogna’s future is bright and she has already competed in the nation’s largest female tournament at Fargo, North Dakota.
Next year, Capogna is motivated to return to Syracuse again to gain a higher placement in the state competition.
Viera always wears a big smile with a can-do attitude. Her path to excellence began several years ago as a young girl wrestling in a Brentwood youth club. The only girl in this organization, Viera recalled her earliest moments in this sport with delight.
Consistently a top-rated wrestler, she has perfected her single- and double-leg takedowns and throws against opponents. After wrestling for Connetquot, Viera quickly emerged as a notable competitor for Rocky Point.
She appreciates her teammates for helping her transition into a new school. She credits her mom and stepfather, who were instrumental in mentally and physically preparing her for the rigors of the sport. She would also like to thank wrestling classmates Nick LaMorte, Jeron’Taye Coffey and Kyle Moore for their continual support.
As a rising senior, she hopes to continue wrestling at the collegiate level.
Coaches and teammates alike are in awe of these two trendsetters who have opened up doors and broken barriers for female athletes locally. Athletic director Jonathon Rufa summarized their achievements.
Capogna and Viera are “blazing a trail for girls along the North Shore of Long Island to participate in wrestling,” he said. “We look forward to their continued achievements and honor their recent accomplishments.”
Junior Aidan Donohue remarked on the important contributions of his two classmates. “This is an incredible achievement for these two amazing people and teammates,” he said.