12/30/13 10:00am
12/30/2013 10:00 AM
ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO  |  A League VI champion at 126 pounds, Shoreham-Wading River junior T.J. Fabian lost Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the county tournament for his first loss of the season.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior T.J. Fabian.

The grueling New York State Wrestling Championship is a tournament even the top wrestlers struggle to survive at times.

Rarely does a wrestler make it look easy. But that’s just what Shoreham-Wading River’s T.J. Fabian did en route to winning the 126-pound title and becoming just the fourth wrestler in Shoreham history to win a state title.

Fabian pinned his opponent in the finals with nine seconds left as he closed in on a technical fall.

Fabian finished the season with an astounding 51-1 record. His only loss came in the county tournament. But he bounced back to place third and an earn an at-large bid to the state tournament.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.

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

03/12/13 10:00pm
03/12/2013 10:00 PM

HARVARD ATHLETICS PHOTO | Steven Keith celebrates a win after a match for Harvard last season.

A two-time state champion at Shoreham-Wading River, Steven Keith (’09) earned his fourth straight trip to the Division I NCAA Wrestling Championships for Harvard University. Keith finished fourth Friday at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships while wrestling at 141 pounds to clinch a spot in the NCAAs.

The NCAA Championships are March 21-23 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Keith opened the EIWA Championship as the second seed in his bracket. He won a 6-0 decision over Columbia’s Alec Mooradian and a 9-3 decision over No. 7 Anthony Salupo of Lehigh to advance to the semifinals. He lost 6-3 in the semis to the No. 3 seed, CJ Cobb of Penn.

Keith wrestled twice more in the wrestlebacks, beating fourth-seeded Trevor Melde of Rutgers, 6-0, before falling in the consolation finals to top-seeded Michael Nevinger of Cornell, 3-0, to settle for fourth.

Keith was one of three wrestlers for Harvard to qualify for the NCAAs. Harvard finished seventh as a team in the EIWA Championships.

Keith has the most wins this season of any Harvard wrestler with a 28-8 record. He recently surpassed 100 career wins and is now 105-51 in his four-year collegiate career.

Last season Keith earned All-America honors with an eighth-place finish at the NCAAs. Keith has recorded more than 20 wins in each of his four seasons at Harvard. Keith is currently ranked 10th in the nation at his weight by InterMat Wrestle.

The 105 career wins puts Keith seventh all-time on the Harvard career win list. He’s two behind sixth place. Former Shoreham wrestler Jesse Jantzen, a 2004 Harvard grad, is tied for the school record for career wins with 132.

joew@timesreview.com

02/23/13 8:00pm
02/23/2013 8:00 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | T.J. Fabian of Shoreham-Wading River has his hand raised as a state champion Saturday night at Times Union Center in Albany.

Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian dominated through four rounds of the Division I New York State Wrestling Championships, clinching the 126-pound state title with an emphatic pin of Keanu Thompson in the finals Saturday night at Times Union Center in Albany.

Fabian, closing in on a technical fall, pinned Thompson with nine seconds left in the match.

Fabian became the fourth state champion in school history, joining a prestigious list headlined by four-time champion Jesse Jantzen.

“It’s the best feeling in my life,” Fabian said.

After a disappointing third-place finish in the county tournament, Fabian responded with a near flawless tournament at the state championships. He gave up only one point in his four victories.

“Getting the first seed in states helped me so much,” he said. “I got a great spot in my bracket. I was just excited for every match.”

Fabian came out firing in each match, scoring quick takedowns and constantly beging the aggressor on the mat.

A four-time league champion, his hard work paid off with the ultimate prize. And he’ll leave Shoreham with the all-time record for career pins (132), according to coach Joe Condon.

In the semifinals Saturday morning Fabian pinned Fredrick Dunau of St. Anthony’s in 3 minutes 32 seconds.

Fabian won his first two matches Friday by a combined score of 17-0.

Fabian, a two-time state placewinner, finishes the season 51-1. His career record is 185-24.

To follow along from the finals, click on the live blog below.

Scroll to the bottom to see updated brackets heading into the finals. A live blog from the semifinals and consolations is below that.

Division I New York State Wrestling Championships by

02/22/13 3:30pm
02/22/2013 3:30 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian won 7-0 in the 126-pound quarterfinals against Nick Toutant of Indian River Friday at the New York State Championships in Albany.

Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian’s quest for a state championship began with a pair of dominant wins Friday afternoon at Times Union Center in Albany.

After a bevy of upsets, his road to a state title will take an unexpected route.

Fabian, the top seed at 126, opened his tournament with a 10-0 major decision over John McHugh, a junior from Columbia (Section II). Fabian followed that with a 7-0 win over Nick Toutant, a sophomore from Indian River (Section III).

He’s yet to surrender a point.

When the bracket came out, it looked like Fabian would be in line to face former state champion Mark West of Hauppauge in the semifinals. But West, the No. 4 seed, went down in the first round, 7-3, against Fredrick Dunau of St. Anthony’s.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed and defending state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers (Section I) lost in the quarterfinals when he was pinned in 3 minutes 27 seconds by Keanu Thompson of Grand Street Campus. Realbuto was second in the state two years ago.

In another quarterfinal, No. 3 seed Chris Arraoz of Wantagh lost his quarterfinal match against Antonio Deluco of Rome Free Academy (Section III).

The semifinals begin 10 a.m. Saturday.

Click below for a live blog from Day 1 of the New York State Wrestling Championships.

02/21/13 8:00pm
02/21/2013 8:00 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian placed third at 126 pounds in the county tournament.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian placed third at 126 pounds in the county tournament.

The match may have been a consolation final, a battle for third place, but the stakes couldn’t have been any higher.

Shoreham-Wading River senior T. J. Fabian knew what was on the line when he squared off against Huntington’s Corey Jamison last Wednesday at Walt Whitman High School. His goal of a county title had been cut short earlier in the tournament by Jamison, but a larger goal remained on the horizon.

A third-place finish would lock Fabian into the at-large bid to the New York State Championship beginning Friday in Albany. A loss likely meant the end of the season.

“I think the entire fan base there were all watching that one match,” said Shoreham coach Joe Condon. “There was a lot of noise. It was so loud you could barely hear the referees.”

After losing to Jamison in the quarterfinals, Fabian returned the favor with a 2-0 victory that not only earned him a spot in the state championships, but propelled him to the No. 1 seed in the 126-pound bracket.

[The News-Review will be providing live updates from Albany Friday and Saturday].

Two days after the win, Fabian (47-1) officially got word that he would be headed to Albany as a wild card for the second straight season as he looks to improve on his fourth-place finish last year.

Against Jamison, who lost in the semifinals to fall into the wrestlebacks, Fabian scored on a second-period reversal for the only points of the match. “When he lost in the quarters, he made the decision that he had no options,” Condon said. “He had to take third place. He has a lot of resolve and he was determined.”

[Scroll below for the complete Division I brackets].

A four-time league champion, Fabian will open the state tournament against John McHugh, a junior from Columbia (Section II). Condon said they are familiar with McHugh from many of the other tournaments Fabian has competed in. A quarterfinal matchup would pit Fabian against either Nick Toutant of Indian River (Section III) or Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield (Section V) if he can advance.

“[Fabian’s] going to be ready,” Condon said. “I think he’s going to have a good chance to get that state title. And we’re really hoping, because he’s deserved it.”

Fabian will be aiming to become the fourth wrestler in Shoreham history to win a state championship. Wildcats have crowned state champions eight times, led by Jesse Jantzen’s four titles from 1997-2000. Corey Jantzen won in 2006 and ’07 and Steven Keith won in ’07 and ’09.

To prepare for the state tournament, Fabian has trained this week with other Section XI wrestlers at Sachem East High School. The county championship team serves as the host gym for all the wrestlers in the week leading up to the states.

“A lot of these guys have trained together for years,” Condon said. “Some of the guys were T. J.’s opponents in other years. He’s wrestling with kids who have different styles, different body types and strengths and weaknesses. He’s getting good prep time.”

Before wrestling Jamison in the consolation final, Fabian got a forfeit victory over Brad Wade of Islip, who couldn’t wrestle due to injury. Condon said Fabian came out aggressive in his match against Jamison, who is a defensive-style wrestler.

“He was attacking the entire time,” Condon said. “There was never a threat of him losing. He controlled the match from start to finish. He was in shooting on him and attacking.”

It shows just how tough the 126-pound weight class is this season in Suffolk County that Jamison, the only wrestler to beat Fabian, was left out of the state tournament.

Mark West of Hauppauge, the county champion at 126, would be in line to wrestle Fabian in the semifinals if both wrestlers win their first two matches. Jimmy Leach of Eastport/South Manor finished second in the county but did not receive a wild-card spot.

“It’s probably the deepest weight in the state,” Condon said.

Waiting on the other side of the bracket as the No. 2 seed is the defending state champion, Dylan Realbuto of Somers (Section I).

“Winning New York State is so difficult,” Condon said. “Very few kids even come close.”

joew@timesreview.com

Division I New York State Wrestling Championships by

02/14/13 12:16am
02/14/2013 12:16 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior T.J. Fabian placed third at 126 pounds in the county tournament Wednesday.

T.J. Fabian’s hopes for a state title remain alive.

After losing in the quarterfinals of the Section XI county tournament, the Shoreham-Wading River senior rallied to place third at 126 pounds to give himself a chance at earning a wild card bid to the state championship in Albany.

To earn a third-place finish, Fabian needed to defeat the wrestler who knocked him off earlier in the tournament for his first and only loss of the season. Huntington junior Corey Jamison narrowly defeated Fabian in the quarterfinals Tuesday before losing in the semifinals. That sent him on a collision course to meet Fabian again in the consolation round Wednesday.

Fabian wasn’t about to lose twice.

Fabian edged Jamison 2-0 in the consolation final, a huge victory that all but assures him a return trip to states. Last year Fabian was fourth in New York after earning a wild card bid.

The wild card bids won’t be determined until all the section tournaments are completed.

Fabian needed to win one match Wednesday at Walt Whitman High School to advance to the consolation final against Jamison. As it turned out, he earned a forfeit win, leaving only one match to wrestle. He was supposed to wrestle Brad Wade of Islip in his first match but Wade suffered an ankle injury that ended his tournament.

Two other Shoreham wrestlers competed Wednesday in the second day of the county tournament. Dom Pirraglia at 182 won his first consolation match, 8-2, before losing via pin in the consolation final for fourth place.

James Szymanski at 106 lost his first match, 6-4, to drop to the fifth/sixth match. He won via forfeit for fifth place.

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