Bouncing back from a 47-28 season-opening nonleague loss to Mattituck-Greenport here on Dec. 14, East Hampton’s wrestling team won the Doc Fallot team tournament at Hampton Bays High School Saturday — the first time that East Hampton had done so since 1999, according to Steve Tseperkas’s assistant, Louis Russo.
Whether that is so or not, the tournament win was certainly buoying for a team that, because of its relative inexperience and the tough league it is in, is expected to measure its success in terms of individual performances this winter rather than in wins and losses.
The good news is that East Hampton, according to its head coach, ought to be able to field a full 15-weight-class lineup, with the possible exception of 99 pounds, after Christmas.
The tournament at Hampton Bays drew eight teams, including several “B” squads. “We went 4-0 on the day,” Tseperkas reported Monday, beating three B teams and Miller Place, which used to be in our league.”
Lucas Escobar, who’s expected to wrestle at 106 after Christmas, Sawyer Bushman, who’s usually at 126, Mike Peralta, at 145, James Budd, at 170 and 182, and Jacob Hands, at 195, won all four matches they wrestled, and Matt Smudsinski, at 120, went 3-0.
But just as important — perhaps even more so, said Tseperkas — were Andrew Dixon and Harrison Kennedy’s efforts in the match with Miller Place. “That match began at 106 and went back up and back around before Andrew [who had made his varsity debut here on Dec. 14] wrestled at 285 and before Harrison, who had never wrestled a varsity match before, finished up at 99. If either of them got pinned, that would have been it for us, but they didn’t. Andrew lost 7-2 and Harrison lost 4-2. Because of that, we won 39-38, and Andrew and Harrison made it happen. It was a big win for us.”
The team’s most valuable wrestler that day was Bushman, who won twice by pin and once by a major decision at 126, and once by pin at 132.
Escobar won twice by pin and once by a technical fall at 113 pounds, and once by pin at 120. Peralta, after winning by pin, outpointed three other opponents, including Westhampton Beach’s Devin Hogan, with whom he had split in two earlier meetings this season. Budd, who had suffered a disappointing 6-4 overtime loss in the Mattituck match after having gone up 4-1, rebounded Saturday, winning two matches at 170 and two at 182. Tseperkas said he expects Budd, who won all his tournament matches by pin, to wrestle at 160 after the Christmas break. Hands, who was Cory Pawlukojc’s backup last year, and who flattened his Mattituck opponent, continued to impress Saturday, winning by pin three times wrestling up at 220, and once at 195.
“It was a complete, total team effort,” said Tseperkas, who added that Dallas Foglia’s name should be added to the list of those who refused to be pinned, in his case in a match at 145 with a heavily-favored Miller Place wrestler.
After the loss to Mattituck, Tseperkas, who had to forfeit at four weights on the 14th — “because two of our guys didn’t make weight and because in the other two cases we didn’t want to send out guys we didn’t think were ready” — made sure his charges knew that East Hampton would have won that match had it not had to yield 24 points by forfeit.
“I spent 15 minutes talking to them about that, that it was very important for every single kid to make weight. I drilled it into their brains, and they’ve bought into it. We only wrestled 11 weight classes against Mattituck. We won 6 of those 11, and Mattituck won 5. Yet Mattituck won.”
By the time Friday’s practice session ended, “everybody,” said the coach, “made weight. That way, we were able to field a full lineup at the tournament.”
Next up for the Bonackers is a two-day holiday tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Half Hollow Hills East.