12/11/14 2:00pm
12/11/2014 2:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River junior Jack Taddeo bumps up to wrestle 145 this year, where enters seeded second in the preseason rankings. (Credit: Bill Landon, file)

Shoreham-Wading River junior Jack Taddeo bumps up to wrestle 145 this year, where enters seeded second in the preseason rankings. (Credit: Bill Landon, file)

Had James Szymanski competed in nearly any other county last year, his season would have ended in Albany, competing at the state championships at Times Union Center. He likely would have stood on the podium, an all-state wrestler.

But even for a superb wrestler like Szymanski, a Shoreham-Wading River High School senior who recently signed with the University of North Carolina, navigating through the Section XI Tournament can prove hazardous. Szymanski’s third-place finish in the county tournament last year left him at the mercy of an at-large bid to the state tournament. And even with a 47-3 record, that bid never came.  (more…)

02/16/14 6:04pm
02/16/2014 6:04 PM

Shoreham-Wading River senior Dominic Pirraglia placed third in the county tournament at 182 pounds. (Joe Werkmeister photo)

SECTION XI CHAMPIONSHIPS

The final seconds ticked away in the third period and Shoreham-Wading River senior Mike Neidhart assumed his season and wrestling career were over. He was trailing 1-0 in his consolation final at 170 pounds, desperately trying to make a move on his opponent. (more…)

12/18/13 6:00pm
12/18/2013 6:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Jack Taddeo enters the season ranked sixth in the county at 126 pounds.

For good reason, most of the headlines for the Shoreham-Wading River wrestling program last year centered around T.J. Fabian. As one of the top wrestlers to ever come through the program, Fabian closed out a remarkable senior season by winning a state championship in dominant fashion.

He became the fourth Shoreham wrestler to win a state title.

While losing a wrestler of Fabian’s caliber hurts, the Wildcats return nearly their entire roster this season aside from him, giving the team reason to believe big things are still ahead.

“The top returners have put a lot of work in the offseason,” said Shoreham coach Joe Condon. “They’ve wrestled a lot of highly competitive tournaments, they’ve weight-trained, they’ve run, they’ve done everything they can.”

The Wildcats hope to be in the running for the top team in the league if everything falls into place this year. To get there, they’ll rely on their top returning wrestlers to lead the charge. Shoreham opens the season with three wrestlers ranked in the top six in Suffolk County in their weight classes.

“We have a lot of guys with experience,” Condon said.

The Wildcats have two wrestlers ranked second in the county, led by junior James Szymanski and senior Dom Pirraglia. Both wrestled in the county tournament last year. Pirraglia was a league champion who will wrestle at 182 this year. He finished fourth in the county last year.

Szymanski was a league runner-up last year who placed fifth in the county. He’ll wrestle 120 this year, which will be one of the more competitive weights in the county.

Leading the pack at 120 is Ward Melville sensation Nick Piccininni, who is already a two-time state champion. At the state championship last year, Piccininni was honored as the Most Outstanding Wrestler.

The goal for Szymanski coming into the season is to try to get to the county finals, where he knows in all likelihood, Piccininni will be waiting.

Shoreham also returns a talented wrestler in sophomore Jack Taddeo, who was a league champion last year. Taddeo will move up to wrestle 132 this year.

One challenge coming into the year lineup-wise will be getting Szymanski and Chris Meloni into separate weights. Condon said they hoped to have Meloni certified for 113, but he ended up at 120.

Condon said several kids in the county, Meloni included, were scheduled to appeal, but never got the chance after the appeals were canceled because of weather last week. They were never rescheduled, he said.

“He’s going to be bumped up a little,” Condon said. “We’ll juggle our lineup and do the best we can. We have some quality starters at almost every weight. We have very few holes in the lineup.”

Shoreham returns a two-time all-league wrestler in Max Goldfarb, who placed third in the league tournament the past two years at 195. He’ll return at the same weight this season.

Other returnees include Ray Lopez at 145, David Keith at 152, Troy Miller at 160 and Mike Neidhart at 170.

“We have a lot of individual goals, they vary with each kid,” Condon said. “Many kids want to place in the league tournament, county tournament, state tournament. I tell the kids, set the bar high. Rise to the challenge.”

The Wildcats opened the season Saturday with a tournament at Walt Whitman. Shoreham sent five wrestlers into the finals and Szymanski emerged the lone winner at 126. He pinned Brian Barry of Sachem North in the finals in 19 seconds.

Meloni, Miller, Pirraglia and Goldfarb all fell in the finals. Szymanski finished with the most pins in the least time, four in 4:56.

The dual-meet season was scheduled to begin Wednesday with a non-league match at Bellport. The league season begins Thursday at Mount Sinai.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead’s Brandon Elroumy, top, returns as one of the Blue Waves’ top wrestlers this year.

The Riverhead wrestling team faced its share of adversity last season. A young team without much experience, the Blue Waves faced a rough road in the competitive League IV. At the league tournament, the Blue Waves finished in last place and did not have a wrestler reach the finals.

A year later, things are already looking up for the Blue Waves.

Riverhead opened the season Saturday with a tournament at East Hampton that featured some tough competition in the form of Hauppauge, Ward Melville and Westhampton. The Blue Waves sent four wrestlers into the finals, all in the lower weight classes and two were champions. The Blue Waves finished fourth as a team.

Ed Matyka (113) and Cody Weiss (120) both won their weight classes. Kerry Thomas (106) and Brandon Elroumy (120) finished second.

In total, the Blue Waves had 10 wrestlers finish in the top four. Chris Flood was third at 106 and Christian Williams was third at 285.

Matyka was an all-league wrestler two years ago at 99 as an eighth-grader. Entering the season, he’s the top-ranked Blue Waves wrestler. He’s currently ranked sixth in the county at 106.

Weiss is also a former all-league finisher. He was second at the league tournament two years ago at 106.

Riverhead will wrestle at an invitational at North Babylon Dec. 21. The league dual-meet season begins Jan. 3 against one of the top teams in the county in Hauppauge.

joew@timesreview.com

02/13/13 12:00pm
02/13/2013 12:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | A League VI champion at 126 pounds after pinning Westhampton Beach’s Nick Strand, Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian lost Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the county tournament for his first defeat of the season.

Inevitably, every season, at least one weight class in the Section XI wrestling championship is so brutally competitive that to emerge on top is practically akin to placing at the state tournament.

Consider that weight this year the 126-pound class.

When Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian began his quarterfinal match Tuesday night at Hofstra University, he found himself pitted against a defending county champion in Corey Jamison of Huntington.

No, there was no easy route to the finals.

Undefeated and the top-ranked wrestler in the weight, Fabian suffered a disappointing 4-3 loss to Jamison, ending his bid to win his first county championship.

“Setbacks don’t define what he does,” said Shoreham coach Joe Condon.

The loss dropped Fabian (45-1) into the wrestlebacks, where he bounced back to win two matches Tuesday, guaranteeing himself an all-county finish. He’ll return to the mat Wednesday afternoon at Walt Whitman High School needing to win two matches to take third place.

If he does, the odds are in his favor to earn a wild card spot to the state championship for the second straight year. He was fourth in New York last year as a wild card.

“T.J. knew what he had to do,” Condon said. “He prepared well. He’s determined to come back and wrestle his best.”

Condon said the good news is that Fabian still controls his own destiny.

“His attitude is good,” Condon said. “He wants to do the best he can. He doesn’t give up.”

In a testament to how tough the weight class is, Jamison lost in the semifinals after beating Fabian. He lost 3-1 to Jimmy Leach of Eastport-South Manor. In the other semifinal, former state champion Mark West of Hauppauge won 10-0 against Brad Wade of Islip.

Fabian could end up wrestling Jamison again in the consolation final.

Two other Wildcat wrestlers guarantee themselves spots on the podium. Sophomore James Szymanski reached the semifinals at 106 before falling 8-4 to Steven Lee of West Babylon. Lee was second in the county last year and also beat Szymanski en route to the finals.

Szymanski recorded his 100th win Tuesday. He opened the tournament win a win over Brendan Elroumy of Riverhead.

Szymanski will need to win one match to wrestle for third place Wednesday.

“He’s had a great tournament so far,” Condon said.

At 182, Dom Pirraglia lost in the semifinals to Dan Fiorvanti of Commack by fall in 4 minutes 9 seconds.

Condon said he thought Pirraglia had a great chance of reaching the podium, even if he wasn’t on a lot of people’s radars.

“A lot of wrestling people don’t know who he is,” Condon said. “He peaked at the right time. He’s a very strong wrestler, very dedicated.”

Jack Taddeo lost his opening match at 120. At 195, Max Goldfarb fought through a sprained ankle to wrestle in the tournament. He lost his opening match in overtime.

“The experience is going to help those two guys,” Condon said.

The snowstorm that blanketed Long Island Friday into Saturday forced the tournament to be pushed back. The first three rounds were all contested on the same day. Normally, the semifinals start in the morning of the second day.

“They did the best they could,” Condon said.

joew@timesreview.com

02/02/13 9:23pm
02/02/2013 9:23 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's T. J. Fabian has Westhampton Beach's Nick Strand in an awkward position before pinning him 26 seconds into the 126-pound final. Fabian became the fifth Shoreham-Wading River wrestler to win four league titles, according to Wildcats coach Joe Condon.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s T. J. Fabian has Westhampton Beach’s Nick Strand in an awkward position before pinning him 26 seconds into the 126-pound final. Fabian became the fifth Shoreham-Wading River wrestler to win four league titles, according to Wildcats coach Joe Condon.

LEAGUE VI CHAMPIONSHIPS

For many, it’s the culmination of months, if not years, of hard work. All the extra workouts, all the year-round training, all the commitment, all the dedication leads to a league tournament. And a league tournament is not exactly a walk in the park, either. It’s full of potential pratfalls along the way. It is the uncommon wrestler who survives navigating that minefield to emerge as a champion.

To do it once is special. To do it four times, well, that’s four times as special.

T. J. Fabian is among the few who know what that feels like.

Fabian won a fourth league title in the Suffolk County League VI Championships on Saturday night, becoming the fifth wrestler in the history of Shoreham-Wading River’s program to do so, according to Wildcats coach Joe Condon.

“I’m so happy,” said Fabian, Shoreham-Wading River’s only senior.

Fabian blew through the opposition. After winning his first two bouts in the tournament at Westhampton Beach High School on pins that totaled 2 minutes 2 seconds, Fabian didn’t waste any time in the 126-pound final, pinning Westhampton Beach senior Nick Strand in 26 seconds.

“I was hoping for a first-period pin to get this over with,” said Fabian, whose fastest pin this year came in 10 seconds.

The victory brought Fabian’s record to 42-0 for the season and 187-23 for his career. Strand is 31-11 this season.

Condon knows how rare an achievement it is for a wrestler to win four league titles.

“You have to stay injury-free,” he said. “You have to have a little luck with that, and you have to constantly be improving because everybody else is always trying to improve as well. He truly loves the sport. He loves to wrestle. He’s not afraid to work hard every single day. He deserves this.”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Dom Pirraglia of Shoreham-Wading River exulted after his 8-7 triumph over Rocky Point's Zeki Yazak in the 182-pound final.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Dom Pirraglia of Shoreham-Wading River exulted after his 8-7 triumph over Rocky Point’s Zeki Yazak in the 182-pound final.

Fabian, who hasn’t selected the college he will wrestle for next season, is the top-ranked wrestler for his weight class in the state. “A lot of schools have been calling,” Condon said. “He hasn’t decided yet. It’s a big decision.”

Fabian was among four Wildcats who advanced to the league finals. Two others, freshman Jack Taddeo and junior Dom Pirraglia, picked up their first league titles.

With fans chanting his name, Taddeo (34-6) was in control of his final at 120 pounds, registering a 7-0 decision over Mount Sinai freshman Lionel Paul (19-1). Afterward, Taddeo received hugs and congratulations from coaches and teammates.

“This was my goal this year, and I achieved it,” Taddeo said. “I feel like I executed all my moves and everything I wanted to do.”

Pirraglia (31-4), who was a league runner-up last year, took the 182-pound title by virtue of an 8-7 victory over Rocky Point senior Zeki Yazak (30-5). It was the first tournament title of any kind that Pirraglia has ever won.

“I walked into the [wrestling] room this year not wanting anything less than the league championship,” Pirraglia said. “I walked out there on the mat just wanting to win.  I was expecting nothing less than first place.”

Condon said that immediately after the match, Pirraglia was so exhausted that “he couldn’t even talk because he put everything he had into it. That’s exactly what we want.”

The first Shoreham-Wading River wrestler to compete in Saturday night’s finals, sophomore James Szymanski, was leading his opponent at 106 pounds, Westhampton Beach senior Alex Tanzman, for most of the contest. But Tanzman executed a pivotal reversal and pinned Szymanski at 5:29. Tanzman (28-1) was selected the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Szymanski (28-4) had also lost in last year’s league final to Tanzman, who holds a 6-0 career record against the Shoreham-Wading River wrestler.

“It’s tough,” said Szymanski, who lost on Long Island for only the second time this season. “I was hoping to get the championship here today.”

Rocky Point blew out the competition in the team scoring, collecting 463 1/2 points. Westhampton Beach was far behind in second place with 282. Shoreham-Wading River finished fourth with 182 1/2.

Shoreham-Wading River’s four league finalists will join teammate Max Goldfarb, who finished third at 195 pounds, in the Section XI Championships next week.

“These kids really trained hard,” Condon said. “I don’t know of a group of kids anywhere that works harder than the kids on our team. They don’t leave anything on the mat.”

So, what does it take to be a league champion?

Now that he has achieved it, Taddeo could provide an answer to that question.

“Hard work and dedication,” he said. “You have to wrestle all year long if you want to be successful in this sport. It’s just that competitive.”

bliepa@timesreview.com