WEST BABYLON — Now the Riverhead High School wrestling team knows how the other side felt.
A year ago, West Babylon ventured east, optimistic of a win and big push toward the Suffolk County League IV title before losing to the Blue Waves in a key match.
On Friday night, defending league champion Riverhead traveled west with the similar aspirations. However, the Blue Waves tasted defeat, 56-22.
“This is almost like the same thing we did to them last year when they came to our house,” Riverhead Coach Wade “Rocky” Davey said. “They were better tonight.
“We got beat by a better team, that’s for sure. We didn’t wrestle well. We have too many holes.”
The Eagles won 11 out of 15 bouts, including seven by pins.
“I thought that was pretty unexpected,” West Babylon Coach Harry Coffin said.
West Babylon improved to 3-3, 2-0 in League IV, while Riverhead dropped to 1-2, 1-1.
Coffin admitted he thought the encounter would be “much closer, much closer. We have a young team. We had some kids step up and wrestle really well tonight.”
So did some of the Blues Waves, although it was not enough. Kevin Thomas (112 pounds), Christian Krumbiegel (130), Pat Thomas (135) and Mario Carrera (171) recorded wins.
“They wrestled well,” Davey said of the Thomas brothers. “They did what I expected them to do. Krumbiegel had a good match and Mario Carrera had a nice match.”
Still, those wins could not erase the sting of the team loss.
“It was a very deflated feeling on the bus ride home,” Pat Thomas said. “It was a disappointment. We were going for the league championship.”
Davey was forced to shuffle several wrestlers around to fill some holes. Carrera moved from 160 to 171 pounds. Tim Bartlett switched from 152 to 160 and lost the opening match to C. J. Doherty, 5-4.
“If those guys were in where they normally would be in, they would win,” Davey said. “Bartlett would have won at 152 easy. Those are the things you go to do to win. I knew the team was better so we had do what we could do.
“We know we’re probably better individually than we are as a team. I had to bump most of my kids up weight classes to try to get wins in places where I didn’t get wins tonight. I probably could have gotten a few more wins wrestling kids in their own weight classes, but it would have changed the outcome of the match. We had to go to try to beat kids in different spots.”
Carrera posted a 9-1 triumph over John O’Keefe at 171 pounds as the Blue Waves had a short-lived 4-3 lead. Then the Eagles pulled off five consecutive pins to grab a 33-4 advantage with eight bouts remaining.
“We started in a spot in the lineup where I knew we were going to get a couple of wins,” Coffin said. “It helped because we got momentum. … They’re a well-coached team and have tough kids. They can pin you from anywhere.”
Two Riverhead wrestlers did just that.
Sophomore Kevin Thomas pinned Brendan Rodriguez at 5 minutes 3 seconds of their 112-pound bout.
“My brother wrestled very well,” Pat Thomas said. “He went up a couple of weight classes. He had a quality opponent.”
At 130, Krumbiegel pinned Dameek Hall in 2:25.
“Christian’s a real good wrestler,” Pat Thomas said. “He went out there and knew what he had to do. He worked for a pin and got it.”
Pat Thomas, a senior, defeated Paul Gernavage at 135 due to an injury default. The match was stopped after the first period with Thomas leading, 7-0, because of Gernavage’s left arm injury.
It was important for Thomas to wrestle because he never got an opportunity during Riverhead’s 54-24 victory at Copiague on Jan. 10. There was no opponent for him.
“It was a perfect example of totally getting tricked,” he said. “I got worked up and was ready to wrestle. I was hungry to get a win.”
Despite the loss, the Blue Waves can redeem themselves in the league tournament at Comsewogue High School on Feb. 5.
“We still definitely can be tournament champions,” Thomas said. “We have plenty of time to make improvement. We can definitely surprise people and win the league.”