Trial by Fire at Sprig Gardner Wrestling Tournament

Weight losses by some wrestlers may lead to wins
Santi Maya, foreground, an East Hampton freshman who lost to a county champion in the quarterfinal round of the Sprig Gardner tournament here Saturday, “has a very, very bright future.” Craig Macnaughton

Anthony Piscitello’s wrestlers, several of them new to the sport, were thrown into the fire at East Hampton’s Frank (Sprig) Gardner invitational tournament Saturday, and while the team finished last, the third-year coach said his charges (he’s got 16 on the squad) “did pretty well.”

The tourney was held a week earlier than in the past, which effectively prevented some of the Bonackers from wrestling at the lighter weights they would settle into in the near future, he said.

Three, for instance — Marco Rabanal, Brian Barrera, and Carson Tompkins — were bunched in the 160-pound division; two — Danny Suculanda and Alejandro Pantosian — were at 152; two — Brahian Usma and David Alvarez — were at 145; two — Ben Barris and Caleb Peralta — were at 132, while East Hampton had no entries in the 99, 113, 120, 126, 138, 195, or 220-pound divisions.

During the season, Piscitello, who is subbing at the high school now and is free therefore to promote wrestling in the halls, expects to have three holes — at 99, 113, and 195. 

The main thing, he said, was to give his charges as many chances to wrestle this winter as he can, which meant giving preference to dual-meet tournaments over individual ones, “where you might go one-and-out and have to sit in the stands for the rest of the day.”

East Hampton had three fourth-place finishers in Saturday’s tourney, named after “the father of New York State wrestling,” who coached briefly at East Hampton High School in the early 1930s before leading Mepham to storied heights, after which he retired here.

The fourth-place finishers were Santi Maya, at 106, David Peralta, at 182, and Aniello Facendola, at 285. 

Maya lost 11-5 to the defending Division II county champion, Bayport-Blue Point’s Joe Sparacio, in a quarterfinal-round match, just missing a pin in the third period — a result that left him shaking his head afterward. “There was no shame in the loss,” Piscitello said. “He had the kid on his back and the kid rolled through. Santi went 2-2 in the wrestlebacks. He’s only a freshman — he’s got a very, very bright future.”

Peralta, a first-year senior, one of several such on the team, “is raw, but strong, like Danny Villa, who wrestled for me last year. He’ll be good. I wish he’d come out two years ago. . . . He’s very coachable — he’ll get better.”

Caleb Peralta, a freshman, placed fifth at 132, avenging himself in the wrestlebacks on a Hampton Bays wrestler, River Orlando, who had defeated him in the first round of the main draw. “There were only 11 kids in Caleb’s bracket, but he got to wrestle five matches — that’s what I’m looking for,” said Piscitello.

Ben Barris, a sophomore, also wrestled at 132. “He’s a tough kid — he’ll do better at 126,” East Hampton’s coach said.

Usma, who was “one match shy of all-league last year,” went 0-2 at 145. “He was in the same boat as Santi — he had the other kid on his back, but the kid rolled through.” Bonac’s other 145 entry, David Alvarez, was “a first-year wrestler, but he’s learning quickly.”

Suculanda, a first-year senior, had the misfortune, said the coach, of wrestling the 152-pound division’s top seed, Danny Horton of Bayport-Blue Point, in the first round.

At 160, Rabanal, a senior who’s been helping Piscitello with recruiting this year, and Barrera wrestled each other for fifth place, with Rabanal prevailing 4-3. Tompkins, a freshman, the other East Hampton entry in that division, went 0-2, but “has a bright future if he sticks with it.”

Sebastian Cruceta, a first-year senior who wrestled at 170 Saturday, “will 

become more confident when he wrestles at 160.”

Ward Melville won the tournament, followed by Westhampton Beach, Longwood, Bayport-Blue Point, Hampton Bays, and East Hampton.

East Hampton’s first league meet will be here on Wednesday with West Babylon, a team it defeated last season.