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Wrestling

Port Jefferson’s Preston Biedenkapp battles Nate Spuhler @ 170lbs for the county championship. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

North Shore grapplers made a statement in the Suffolk County Division 2 wrestling championship at Center Moriches High School Friday night, Feb. 9, when Shoreham Wading River’s Chris Colon defeated Aidan Lee (124 lbs) in a 12-4 decision for the county championship yet again. Teammate Gavin Mangano easily won his match 15-0 against his Port Jeff opponent, Frank D’Elia, at 131 lbs. 

Mount Sinai’s Brayden Fahrbach pinned his Port Jeff challenger, Cade Delgado, in just 38 seconds at 138 lbs for the county title.

Port Jeff’s Chris Lotten defeated Matt Cucciniello of Mount Sinai to become county champion at 152 lbs with a 9-2 decision. At 170 lbs, it was Port Jeff’s Preston Biedenkapp besting his Shoreham-Wading River opponent, Nate Spuhler, with a 6-0 decision.

John Glenn was the top team (302 points) followed by Mount Sinai (250) and Port Jefferson (214), with Shoreham-Wading River (175) placed fifth.

Winning the Rick Herrmann Most Outstanding Wrestler award was Shoreham-Wading River’s Gavin Mangano, while teammate Chris Colon shared the Jack Mahoney Champion of Champions title with John Glenn’s Tommy Aiello.

Wrestling took center stage at Comsewogue High School in the Warrior Duals tournament in a multischool invitational that featured three mats of action-packed wrestling Saturday, Jan. 13.

Comsewogue’s Mason Mangialino the All-State standout made short work of this West Islip opponent in the opening round with a pin at the 1:59 mark at 124lbs. Teammates Ben Field followed at 138lbs with a pin in the closing seconds of the second period with Nicholas Flaherty ending his match at the 1:29 mark with a pin at 145lbs. Brandon Bermingham won at 285lbs with a pin at the 1:04 mark for the Warriors and Irving Cruz picked off his opponent at 170lbs at the 1:25 mark.

The Warriors are back in action when they travel to Harborfields High School Saturday, Jan. 20. First match is scheduled for 9 a.m.

By Bill Landon

The Shoreham Wading River wrestling team continued their winning ways with a 47-24 win over visiting Mt. Sinai to clinch the league VII title going undefeated (5-0) Wednesday, Jan. 10 at home.

The Wildcats advantage comes at 124lbs and 131lbs with Chris Colon and Gavin Mangano where Colon pinned his opponent in 31 seconds. Mangano took a little longer to pin his challenger at 131lbs at the 2:40 mark of the second period. According to head coach Joe Condon the pair have only lost one match between them this season.

Mt. Sinai’s Brayden Fahrbach at 145lbs. had the shortest match of the night when he pinned his opponent in just 19 seconds.

The Wildcats will look to use their momentum when the Suffolk County Dual Championship competition begins Wednesday, Jan. 17. 

— Photos by Bill Landon

From left, wrestling coach Ted DiPasquale, Rocky Point High School’s Alexandra Viera and head wrestling coach Darren Goldstein. Photo courtesy RPSD

Rocky Point High School’s Ava Capogna and Alexandra Viera each claimed All-State honors while competing in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s inaugural New York State Girls Wrestling Invitational held on Jan. 27. 

The two student-athletes were selected to participate out of more than 500 female wrestlers from across New York State in the event that took place at the SRC Arena in Syracuse. 

Ava reached All-State status with a fourth-place finish at 120 lbs. Alexandra pinned her way to a New York State Championship, becoming Rocky Point’s seventh state wrestling champion.

Shoreham-Wading River School District's varsity wrestling team. Photo courtesy SWRCSD

The Shoreham-Wading River varsity wrestling team won the Nassau/Suffolk D2 Double Duals, defeating the Nassau County No. 2 ranked Locust Valley, 57-6, and Island Trees, 46-21. 

The Wildcat wrestlers finished the regular season with an impressive overall record of 25-6. The team defeated nine highly ranked teams from six sections — both large and small schools. The team will compete at the Suffolk County D2 New York State qualifier at Mattituck High School on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Comsewogue sophomore Mason Mangialino pinned his Bayport opponent in a multi-team invitational Saturday, Jan. 28, at Comsewogue High School. This win notches Mangialino’s 97th win for the Warriors as the sophomore strives for the 100-win milestone early in his varsity career.

The Warriors retake the mat on Saturday, Feb. 4, in the League V championships at Rocky Point High School. The first bout is slated for 9 a.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

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Ward Melville wrestlers competed in the Warrior Duals invitational at Comsewogue High School along with six other high schools Saturday, Jan. 14.

Patriot standouts Dean Sitler defeated his opponent in both rounds at 118 pounds as did teammate Chase Phillips winning both at 102 pounds. Ramsey Heilbron won his match in the second round at 132 pounds as did Gavin Marchese at 145 pounds. AJ Lollo pinned his Oceanside opponent at the 1 minute, 32 seconds mark at 285 pounds.

The Patriots are back in action when they host Smithtown East in a non-league matchup Jan. 20 with the opening bout scheduled for 6 p.m. 

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Smithtown West hit the mats at the Carl T. Korpi wrestling invitational at Miller Place High School Dec. 10 with championship performances by Joseph Jaeger at 102 pounds, pinning his opponent in the championship final at the 3:09 mark. 

Teammate Jack DiMaggio, at 138 pounds, defeated his opponent by a 4-2 decision, and Kenneth Leverich, at 145, ended it early, winning his match with a pin at the 1:23 mark. Michael Teplansky defeated Zack Wilson of Shoreham Wading River by major decision.

In consolation finals, Anthony Santaniello, at 145, defeated Vincent Zimmerman, of Centereach, and Philip Reneiris pinned his opponent at the 4:44 mark.

The Bulls are back in action when they travel to West Islip for a league matchup Dec 14 with the first bout scheduled for 6 p.m.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone introduced a plan Jan. 25 for the return of high-risk sports. Photo from Bellone’s office

High-risk sports such as basketball, wrestling and cheerleading can resume, days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gave local health commissioners the green light to allow these sports to restart.

Suffolk County has developed a sports plan in connection with Suffolk County School Superintendents Association and Section XI Athletics.

“We know how important sports are in our kids’ lives,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during a Jan. 25 press conference announcing the resumption of high-risk sports. “If we can get kids back on the field in as safe a way as possible, we know it’ll bring great benefits.”

As a part of the sports program, all student-athletes will have to take weekly tests for the COVID-19 virus. The county will provide free, rapid tests to school districts, which school nurses will administer.

“Testing is critical,” Bellone said.

New York State is expected to provide an initial allocation of 20,00 rapid tests and will look to provide more tests for schools to use each week.

Positive tests will result in a 10-day quarantine. Each coach is required to supply information to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services for an extensive contact tracing investigation.

The county issued several guidelines, including taking temperatures of players and coaches before practices and games, encouraging mask wearing whenever possible, enforcing social distances when student-athletes are not playing, minimizing equipment sharing, and requiring hand washing before and after practices and games as well as after sharing equipment.

The county also advised programs to play outdoors if possible and to use well-ventilated spaces.

Through Bellone’s office, the county has created the Champion of the Community Pledge, which encourages athletes to take numerous safety measures.

After they read the pledge, students will be asked to sign it and give it to the school.

As a part of this agreement, students accept that if they don’t honor their pledge, they “would be failing to comply with a legitimate school directive and pursuant to school and Section XI policies, students, faculty and staff will be subject to the appropriate accountability measures and disciplinary actions,” according to the pledge.

Athletes must stay safe, healthy and informed of COVID-19 updates, unite with team members and the community to have a memorable season, follow face mask, hygiene and social distancing guidelines, follow additional health and safety requirements, which may include testing and self-quarantining, operating in a healthy environment and completing daily declarations, lead by example and serve as a role model for team members and the community.

Boys and girls basketball, wrestling and competitive cheer will resume Feb. 1 and will conclude Feb. 27.

On average, more than 60,000 student-athletes participate in various high school sports during a normal school year.

Bellone also directed the Suffolk County Parks Department to work with Section XI to set up a fair process for districts to schedule cross-country meets in county parks.

Park sites that the county will make available for competition include West Hills County Park in Melville and Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown.

The cross-country season will begin March 1.

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Above, Mount Sinai senior Matt Campo won the day at the state wrestling championship March 1. Several other North Shore wrestlers placed on the day. Photo by Mel Jacoby

Like many students in the time of the coronavirus, Matt Campo, a senior at Mount Sinai High School, has had to wrestle with a lot, from having to take all schoolwork home, to planning for college not knowing what events will be like in just a few short months.

Mount Sinai’s Matt Campo in eighth grade. He started his career at 99 pounds and ends it at 170. Photo by Bill Landon

But Campo, at 170 pounds who early last month won the state championship against the No. 1 seeded wrestler in New York, the road has been long but worth it.

“Just making a name for myself in Mount Sinai — people know I’m a wrestling guy,” he said.

The path toward the championship started 6 years ago, when Campo joined the varsity team in 7th grade at 99 pounds. Mount Sinai wrestling head coach Matt Armstrong said that is rather rare, but Campo had quickly proved he was made of strong stuff.

“We knew early on he was very talented, and he always worked very hard,” Armstrong said. “His drive and his focus of winning a state championship got to be greater and greater, and he put in a lot of extra time and a lot of hard work.”

Joining the team in middle school, Campo said it was different than what he had seen before, with a new focus on the team dynamic. Though it would be the team-based mentality that would lead him to be class president for every year of his high school career.

Wrestling, to Campo, is a mental game. 

“In a match, every move has offense and a counter — you have to think three steps ahead,” he said. “Most wrestlers are extremely smart, the ability to have usually an edge over my opponent, it’s like a big chess match.”

At the Feb. 28 and 29 NYSPHSAA wrestling tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany, Campo would face his most formidable opponent, Mickey Squires of Norwich, the No. 1 seed. Squires had pulled off a win against Campo last year at the Windsor Christmas tournament where Squires won 6-4.  The finals was the seventh time Campo and Squires faced off, with Squires winning four and Campo winning two of those matches.

Armstrong said in the night before the match, he and his fellow coaches were discussing Campo’s prospects. Universally, it seemed every one of them were betting on Campo’s skills.

“We all thought Matt was going to win,” the coach said. “It was his work ethic and drive, he wrestled with the best kids and beat them or lost by a point or two. We just knew how focused he was, and thought he was gonna make that happen.” 

Matt Campo in 2018. Photo by Melvyn Jacoby

The match itself was an overtime nailbiter. It started with Squires scoring one point in the first period with an escape and took the lead 1-0.
Campo responded in the second period with a takedown, scoring two points and a 2-1 lead. Squires responded with a third-period escape, scoring one point. This tied the score at 2-2 and sent the match to overtime. The crowd was in a frenzy, knowing the first one to score would win the championship. In a dramatic finish, Campo scored two points on a takedown and won the match 4-2.

“It’s more I just go out there and just the ability to act and react in a match is what gives me an edge,” the wrestling champ said.

The tournament also represented a milestone for both him and Mount Sinai High School, leaving Albany with 200 wins under his belt. He is ending his high school wrestling career with 202 wins, a school record.

Beyond the mat, Campo has also started his own business that he’s now run for several years. Called Campo Creations, he does balloon twisting for parties and other events. It started several years ago, when he was bored in his room and started watching YouTube videos about making balloon animals. Though he is still getting calls during the ongoing pandemic, he said he has not been able to get out to do the job. 

After he graduates high school, he said he has plans to attend Siena College, going into the pediatric neurology program. He said he wants to become a pediatric neurologist, specifically because of his interest in the brain and his continuing desire to work with and help children.

Though Armstrong said the team is going to be missing Campo, along with a bevy of other seniors who are graduating this year, he thought Campo has the ability to accomplish anything.

“He definitely has drive and focus,” the coach said. “When he sets his mind to something, he’s gonna do it.”