Huntington’s Arceri finishes second in state wrestling finals
He gave it everything he had, but in the end, John Arceri fell just a little bit short.
The Huntington High School senior tasted defeat for the first time in two years when he dropped a 6-3 decision to Long Beach sophomore Jacori Teemer in the state wrestling tournament finals at the Times Union Arena in Albany on Saturday night.
Arceri won a pair of matches at 126 lbs. on Friday and captured a thrilling double overtime verdict in the semifinals on Saturday to advance to the championship bout. The standout athlete brought a 44-0 record into the finals against Teemer, who has now won three consecutive state titles.
“Teemer wrestled a perfect match against Johnny,” said Travis Smith, Huntington’s head coach. The Long Beach star notched a pair of takedowns and a reversal to build an insurmountable lead on Arceri, who normally surrenders few, if any, points.
“All of us are really proud of Johnny,” Smith said. “He’s accomplished some things that no other Huntington wrestler has ever done. He’s been a great kid to have in the practice room and an incredible competitor. No coach could ask for a better person to work with.”
Arceri has enjoyed a Blue Devils career of firsts. He’s taken first place in more than two dozen varsity tournaments, and he’s also realized achievements unique to Huntington’s long tradition of mat excellence.
He’s the first Huntington freshman to ever win a Suffolk wrestling title. Arceri is also the first Blue Devils grappler to win four Section XI titles. He is the program’s winningest wrestler with 195 career varsity victories.
“I really think the body of his work speaks for itself,” Smith said. “He’s never made excuses and he’s always been ready to go when it was his turn. He’s given us six fantastic seasons on the varsity team.”
Arceri topped Vestal junior Derek Osman in the opening round, 5-3 and then edged Niagara Wheatfield senior Vince Falvo in the quarterfinals, 6-1. The semi-final round bout against Monsignor Farrell senior Matt Seitz ended tied 1-1 after six minutes of wrestling, forcing overtime. Neither wrestler could break the deadlock in the extra session, so the duo went to the ultimate tiebreaker, which saw Arceri take top position and ride out his foe for the full 30-second period to claim victory.
“That match is going to go down as one of the most exciting we have ever had,” Smith said. “Johnny really hung tough. Not everyone can handle that kind of pressure, but he can, and he did.”
All eyes were on Arceri and Teemer (49-0) as the pair took the mat for the finals. The first period ended scoreless. Teemer scored the first points with a second period reversal, and Arceri escaped to make it 2-1, but Teemer knocked him down to extend his lead to 4-1. Arceri chose bottom position in the third period and escaped to cut his deficit to 4-2. Teemer proceeded to get another takedown to go ahead, 6-2 with 40 seconds remaining. Another Arceri escape made the final score 6-3.
“Teemer is a great wrestler,” Smith said. “We are very happy with Johnny’s effort. He gave us everything he had.
Arceri wasn’t at 100 percent during the tournament. He banged up his left knee during the Suffolk finals, but pressed onward during his four state tournament matches.
Arceri has signed an NCAA Division I letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Buffalo.
“We are really going to miss him,” Smith said. “He’s been such a big part of this program for so long.”