It was senior night on Friday, Jan. 22, and the Miller Place wrestling team pounced on Islip to win 34-31.
With the victory came something even sweeter: the Panther’s first piece of a League VI title in 36 years.
“We graduated a quality group of seniors last year, and I think people expected us to take a hit as far as our dual-meet team,” Miller Place head coach Matt Kaszubski said. “In the beginning of the season, we took a couple of losses that we shouldn’t have, and then after Christmas we really started rolling and coming together, and the group bought into what we were doing. The league title was a result of a lot of hard work over many years, and it was awesome to achieve that with this group.”
The Panthers finished last season 13-4 overall, and were 12-4-1 heading into the senior night dual meet, which was the team’s final match of the regular season.
At 106 pounds, senior David Selg found himself down in a match against a good opponent, but pinned him at the 4:36 mark.
“He’s very strong and his pin was huge for us,” Kaszubski said of Selg. “We also had Eddie Marbot, who is probably one of the scrappiest kids we have on the team, have a nice win for us.”
Marbot, a senior who weighed in at 138 pounds, won with a 5-2 decision over his opponent. Needing to win one more match to earn the win and a share of the league title with Elwood-John Glenn and Mount Sinai, sophomore Anthony McNaughton pinned his opponent in 1:25 at 220 pounds to clinch the meet.
“Everyone was celebrating,” Kaszubski said. “The motto of the night was wrestle for each other — wrestle for somebody else other than yourself. The kids really stepped up and it was a cool experience.”
For Marbot, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“It was an almost unbelievable experience to be a part of, and something that none of us will ever forget — especially me being a senior,” he said. “To win the league title on senior night was icing on the cake.”
Selg said the team environment became that of a family from the start of the preseason to the present.
“Everyone did what they needed to do,” he said. “When everybody left last year, nobody expected anything, just like coach said, and this year we came back and we were all a family, we stuck together and we won the league title. I’m really proud of my team.”
Marbot added that the camaraderie couldn’t be matched.
“Everyone dedicated their time to improving — going to open mats, going to camps — everyone really came together to build the team,” he said. “And coach Kaszubski, he’s the best coach and teacher that you could ask for.”
The Panthers made it to the postseason as the No. 12 seed, but fell to No. 5 Lindenhurst, 57-9, in the opening round Jan. 27. No. 1-seeded Rocky Point made it all the way through the bracket to claim the Section XI title.
As the wrestlers prepare for leagues and counties, Kaszubski said he has two grapplers, 132-pounder Eric Schreck and 160-pound Joe Bartolotto, who are looking to place high in the county. Selg and Marbot, along with seniors 126-pound Dan Curcio and 154-pound Ryan Ammirato, are also looking to make some noise in the postseason by being league champions and placing in the county tournament.
“We knew we had a good crew,” the head coach said. “It’s nice to see all the hard work over the last couple of years come to fruition. Everyone feeds off of each other and they want to win for each other, so it’s been a blessing to coach these kids.”
For wrestlers like Marbot, being a part of the Panthers’ team is something he’ll never forget.
“I’d be lost without wrestling,” he said. “To end the regular season like this, as a senior, it couldn’t have ended any better. We had a good run. Especially being that no one thought we were going to be anything this year, we really showed everyone.”