PORT JEFFERSON STATION — In the recently completed high school wrestling dual-meet season, Christian Krumbiegel of Riverhead was beaten by Half Hollow Hills West’s Ryan Carter. So, when those two were paired up again Saturday in the Suffolk County League IV Tournament final at 130 pounds, it would have been understandable if Riverhead Coach Wade “Rocky” Davey had some concerns.
As for Krumbiegel, though, he didn’t seem to have any. Davey said Krumbiegel tried to ease his mind by telling the coach: “Don’t worry. I didn’t wrestle [the last time]. You’ll see a different person.”
True to his word, Krumbiegel walked onto the mat full of determination and energy. He made fast work of Carter and, after only 24 seconds of wrestling, the senior walked off the mat as a champion — once again.
Krumbiegel (28-3) needed only 24 seconds to pin Carter (28-4), a junior, for his second straight league championship at Comsewogue High School’s Frank Romeo Gymnasium.
“You don’t want to win [one year] and then lose it,” Krumbiegel said. “I felt pretty good. I probably wrestled the best that I have all year.”
Riverhead sent six Blue Waves into the finals. Two of them, Krumbiegel and Ethan Zaweski, reached the top of the podium for the awards ceremony. Zaweski (21-3), a sophomore wrestling at 103 pounds, scored an 11-3 major decision against West Babylon junior Miguelangel Almonte in their title match.
Riverhead’s other finalists — Ryan Gevinski (96 pounds), Pat Thomas (135), Gabe Rice (140) and Mario Carrera (160) — had to settle for runner-up finishes. Two other Riverheaders, Dan Normoyle (125) and Evan Primm (119), finished fourth.
Riverhead, which won last year’s league tournament, placed fourth among the seven schools in the team scoring with 154 points. West Babylon was first with 228 1/2.
Krumbiegel’s match was only 19 seconds old when he took Carter down to the mat. “He shot in on me and I just pancaked him,” Krumbiegel said. “I was not letting it go at all.”
Krumbiegel said he surprised himself with the early ending to a bout he expected to go three periods.
“He was ready to go,” Davey said. “He went out there fired [up], and that’s what you got to do.”
In the previous bout on the card, Zaweski (21-3) decisioned the older Almonte (21-13), making for one of Riverhead’s greatest success stories this season.
“That was awesome,” Davey said. “Ethan is without a doubt the most improved kid on our team.”
Zaweski was pinned by Almonte earlier in the season. “That kid beat him up in the dual meet, beat him up, destroyed him,” Davey said. “It wasn’t even a match.”
This time it was different. Zaweski made sure it was different.
“I told myself that I could do it and I did it,” he said. “I gave it my all.”
The league tournament served a reminder that it offers no guarantees. Just because a wrestler was a league champion last year, like Rice was, doesn’t mean a repeat is in the bag. In the final, the Riverhead senior faced a taller opponent with a longer reach in West Babylon junior Michael Richardson. Richardson (31-4) scored a 10-6 victory.
“It’s sort of like the finals of any other tournament,” Rice (25-5) said. “You just got to go out there and wrestle. Whatever happens happens. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Gevinski was the first Riverheader to wrestle in the finals and he had a rough time against a fellow freshman, Steven Lee of West Babylon. Lee (35-2) held an 8-0 lead by the time he pinned Gevinski (21-8) at 3:56.
Thomas (26-4), a senior, lost on a technical fall to Copiague junior Justin Boone in their final. The bout was stopped with 52 seconds left in the third period when Boone (29-3) took a 19-4 lead. Boone earned the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler award and Thomas was left with his second runner-up finish in three years.
“I wrestled really good in the semifinals, and then I wrestled terrible in the finals,” Thomas said. “It’s disappointing.”
But perhaps the most painful loss of the day by a Riverheader was suffered by Carrera. The senior held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 after the first two periods, only to see his opponent in the final, Hills West sophomore Joe Piccolo, win a 5-3 decision with a takedown 38 seconds into overtime.
“It might have been the worst match I saw him wrestle all year,” Davey said of Carrera. “He did not wrestle a good match. That’s a kid I would think he could beat nine out of 10 times.”