The high school wrestling career of Lucas Escobar, East Hampton’s senior 120-pounder, as well as Richie Browne, who competes at 285 pounds, though he weighs much less, were cited by their coach, Steve Tseperkas, following Jan. 22’s match with Mount Sinai at the East Hampton Middle School.
There is a third senior on the squad, Gabe Vargas, though an early-season injury has kept him sidelined throughout the campaign.
Escobar, whose record as of that day was 25-1, and Browne, a two-year competitor who hopes to attend Alfred University in the fall, where he plans to major in sports management, are the team’s captains.
Earlier, Escobar had, in his words, segued from “a rainbow off a Russian tie to a tight waist half nelson” to pin his Mount Sinai opponent midway through the first period, and Browne had won by forfeit.
East Hampton lost the match 51-25. It was 24-0 in the visitors’ favor before Luciano Escobar, Lucas’s younger brother, came through to win 8-1 at 160 pounds, and, two losses later, Axel Alanis walked away with a convincing 11-1 decision at 195.
“The only other kid of ours who should have won that day was George Calderon,” Tseperkas said during a conversation Monday. “He was winning 6-4 going into the third period. He chose the bottom position. All he needed was not to get turned and not to get pinned and he would have won. Unfortunately, the kid turned him, for 3 back points, and George lost 7-6.”
Back to Escobar, Tseperkas was happy to announce that he had received a countywide ranking (sixth) that afternoon, for the first time this season — making him the first East Hampton wrestler to be ranked countywide in a long time.
The confident, quiet-spoken senior said, when questioned, that he wants to major in biomedical engineering at either Johns Hopkins or Brown University come the fall. “Eventually,” he said, “I’d like to become an orthopedist.” He’s ranked fourth in his class, with a weighted average that is higher than 4.0.
Tseperkas said further that had Escobar not missed the entire league dual meet season last year, because of a broken collarbone, he would have in all likelihood wound up with more career wins than the 102 Eric Kaufman, an East Hampton High School Hall of Famer, amassed during his career here. As of Monday, Escobar had 88 wins, with one league meet, the league championships, and the county tournament, presumably, yet to go.
His 89th win had as of Monday yet to come given the fact that his Shoreham-Wading River opponent, James Symanski, the county’s second-ranked wrestler at 120, edged him 8-6 in Friday’s match at Shoreham-Wading River. The Wildcats, “the league’s second-best team,” according to Tseperkas, won that match 80-0.
Asked for an account of the Escobar-Symanski bout, East Hampton’s coach said, “Lucas was down 2-1 at the end of the first period. He chose the bottom position in the second and got out for 2-2. Symanski then took Lucas down, for 4-2, Lucas got 1 point back for an escape, and then got a point deducted by the ref for stalling. . . . Lucas was backing up, trying to figure out how to counter the kid, who was wrestling from one knee, looking for high crotch single-leg and fireman’s carry takedowns. When the kid lunged, Lucas would take a step back.”
“Anyway, they went into the third with Symanski ahead 5-3. Symanski took bottom and a got a reversal for 2 more points. Lucas then escaped for 7-4 and got a takedown of his own for 7-6. When they got back on the mat again, Lucas let the kid up, giving up 1 point so that he could go for 2 with a takedown, but the match ended there, at 8-6.”
Asked if Escobar were disappointed, Tsperkas said, “No, he was okay. They’ll meet again — that was a preview of the league finals.”
Asked what Escobar would have to do to avenge himself, the coach said, “I’m going to work on changing his stance — he’ll probably have to wrestle on one knee too. I want him to go for the first takedown, or, if he can’t get it, not to allow any points. If they go into the second period at 0-0, it will be good for Lucas because he’s better on the mat. That probably will be our strategy.”
The league championships are to be contested at Shoreham-Wading River on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Meanwhile, East Hampton is to end the regular season with league-leading Elwood-John Glenn here this evening. “We’ll match up better with them, though, than we did with Shoreham,” said Tseperkas.