East Hampton High School’s young wrestling team bore testimony to its schooling as it won three matches Saturday before losing to Centereach in the Doc Fallot Memorial Duals tournament at Hampton Bays.
On the way to the final, the Bonackers, who had three freshmen in the lineup — Axel Alanis, at 170 pounds, Robert Padilla, at 126, and Malachy Mitchnick, at 138 — defeated West Babylon’s B team 59-18, Sayville’s B team 52-24, and Long Island Lutheran 66-15 before losing to a strong Centereach team that had come out of the A Pool (East Hampton was in the B Pool).
Originally, Miller Place was to have been East Hampton’s opponent in the final — a team with which East Hampton’s coach, Steve Tseperkas, thinks the Bonackers match up well — but the fact that these teams are to meet in league competition soon led to Centereach’s substitution.
“We got beat up at Riverhead on Thursday,” Tseperkas said after Saturday morning’s win over West Babylon B. “We lost eight of those matches by pin, so I like the way our kids have come back today.”
Six of the 15 starters are sophomores, three are juniors, three — Dallas Foglia, Kevin Heine, and Alfredo Perez — are seniors, and the above-mentioned are freshmen. Nine of the 15, then, are underclassmen.
But, as Saturday’s showings demonstrated, all of them know what they’re doing. Mindful of the 48 points given up by way of pins at Riverhead, Tseperkas kept telling his younger charges to stay off their backs if they got into trouble. Not only did they, by and large, but each of them had his moments.
Lucas Escobar, a 120-pound junior, arguably East Hampton’s best wrestler, won by pin, and Padilla won 11-10 at 126 in the opening match, in which Luciano Escobar, Lucas’s brother, Foglia, by a technical fall, Gabe Vargas, Heine, Alfredo Perez, and Richie Browne, a first-year junior at 285, also were winners. In an exhibition afterward, Alanis used a cradle hold to pin a 170-pound Centereach opponent.
The semifinal with Sayville began at 138 and went on up to 285 before doubling around. Sayville had the upper hand in the early going — Mitchnick was pinned quickly, at 138, Colton Kalbacher lost 9-5 at 145, Foglia lost 8-6 at 152 after having led 5-2, Gabe Vargas was pinned at 160, and Alanis lost 17-12 at 170 before Heine came through with a pin at 182 and Browne followed with a pin of his own.
Thereafter, Jonathan Hansen, a sophomore, won by forfeit, Hai Duong, a sophomore, won by pin at 106, Abe Perez, a sophomore, lost 8-7, Lucas Escobar won by pin, Padilla won by pin, and Matt Smudzinski, a sophomore, won 4-0 at 132, running out the string.
Alanis, who almost pinned his opponent with a headlock late in his match, and Browne, a rookie, as aforesaid, came in for praise from Tseperkas during the post-match huddle.
“Lutheran’s going to forfeit at five weights — you’ve got a 30-point lead — so, if you do your job, you should win,” the coach added before everyone broke for lunch.
“Our numbers are a little down,” Tseperkas said during the break. “Last year, we had 30, this year we’ve got 23. . . . The team’s pretty much all freshmen and sophomores. Still, we should match up well with Amityville, Miller Place, and Mount Sinai in our league. Westhampton probably will be the best in our league, Rocky Point should be second best, and there’s John Glenn too. We’ll have our hands full with those teams.”
Louis Russo, Tseperkas’s assistant, said that “against the good teams we’ll probably forfeit at 106 [Duong] and 113 [Abe Perez].”
“And at 138 [Mitchnick] too,” said Tseperkas.
Kalbacher started the semifinal with Lu Hi off strong, pinning his man with 20 seconds left in the first period. Foglia, at 152, and Gabe Vargas, at 160, won by forfeit. Alanis used a headlock to pin his 170-pound opponent midway through the second period after falling behind 5-1 in the first. Heine won by pin midway through the first period at 182, and Luciano Escobar prevailed 8-5 at 195 before Alfredo Perez, at 220, and Browne, at 285, won by forfeit.
Hansen leapt for joy after pinning his Lutheran counterpart with 24 seconds left in the second period at 99 pounds, after which Duong won by forfeit and Abe Perez won by pin midway through the third period at 113 after having trailed 6-4.
Lucas Escobar, who likes to shoot single-leg takedowns and finish his opponents off with cradle pin holds, had trouble at 120, losing 7-2 to a crafty foe who limited his movement with a front headlock, and who, after having built up a 6-2 lead going into the third, held on for the win. Escobar tried to turn his man — who, on his stomach, was eyeing the clock — in the final minute, but could not.