Although Steve Tseperkas, who coaches East Hampton High School’s wrestling team, did not enter competitors in seven weight classes at the Frank (Sprig) Gardner tournament here Saturday, either because of lack of experience or insufficient practice time, he was able to vouchsafe some good news the next day concerning Sawyer Bushman, Jacob Hands, Mike Peralta, Colton Kalbacher, and Alfreddo Perez.
Bushman, a senior who wrestled at 119 last season, made the 126-pound final, losing to a state champion, and Hands, a senior who was Cory Pawlukojc’s backup last year at 171, also made the finals at 182.
Peralta, who’s a senior and who Tseperkas recently said would be the team’s “go-to guy” this winter, placed third at 152; Kalbacher, who’s only a freshman, placed fifth at 132, and Perez, a senior, was sixth at 195.
The facts that East Hampton had five place-winners and that “every kid wrestled at least two matches,” had, said Tseperkas, made it “a good day for us.”
Those Bonackers who didn’t compete in the tourney’s main draw, and who thus didn’t wrestle on the four mats set up in the gymnasium, vied in exhibition matches in the team’s adjacent practice room.
“The coaches were really impressed with Sawyer,” said the head coach. “He had a great tournament, winning three matches on the way to the final.”
In the first, Bushman pinned Hauppauge’s Jeremiah Shaw in 25 seconds. He won by pin in 1:57 in the second, and, in the third — the semifinal — he overcame a 4-2 deficit to decision Ward Melville’s Mohseh Ahmed 6-4.
Mark West of Hauppauge, a state champ two years ago at 96 and a county champion last year at 112, shut out Bushman 7-0 in the final, but because of West’s bona fides there was no shame in that loss. “Sawyer wrestled him tough,” Tseperkas said, adding that “we [he and Louis and Joe Russo, his assistants] know Sawyer can be all-county this year. He just has to believe.”
As for Hands, who because Pawlukojc and Peter Johann were ahead of him wrestled at the junior varsity level last winter, Tseperkas said that, after receiving a first round bye, he defeated Westhampton Beach’s Jake Martin 9-3, and upset Riverhead’s Josh Bloom, the class’s second seed, 6-5, in the semifinal.
Hands was pinned midway through the second period in the final by Ward Melville’s Chris Bursztyn, who used a half-nelson to put Hands’s shoulders to the mat.
Peralta, who had been the second seed in his weight class, suffered a disappointing 9-8 loss to Westhampton’s Devin Hogan in the quarterfinal round, but wrestled back to third, avenging himself in the consolation match by defeating Hogan 11-7.
Kalbacher, who went to a month-long wrestling camp in Minnesota this past summer, outpointed Bayport’s Mike Albanese 3-1 in the first round, after which he lost 8-0 to Westhampton’s Peter Broccoli. That loss put Kalbacher into the wrestlebacks where he went 1-2, defeating Saint John The Baptist’s Daghan Hart 7-6 before losing 6-4 to Bayport’s John Foley and 6-5 to Hauppauge’s Connor Kelly.
Hauppauge won the tournament, with Ward Melville second, and Westhampton Beach third. East Hampton finished seventh among the nine teams.
Tseperkas said he was thankful for the support he received from “the parents, the students who sold T-shirts and helped John Ryan, Steve Tekulsky, and John Krupp at the scoring tables, and from Joe Vas [East Hampton’s athletic director], who was able to get us a fourth mat this year, which made things run more smoothly.”
Bonac’s wrestlers were to have opened the season here with Mattituck-Greenport, a nonleague opponent, yesterday.
This Saturday, the Bonackers are to compete in the Doc Fallot tournament at Hampton Bays, beginning at 9 a.m.