Shoreham-Wading River coach Joe Condon viewed the two-day John Davidson Duals earlier this week as a measuring stick for his team. The Wildcats wrestled eight teams, all large schools, and faced some stiff competition before the upcoming sprint to the league tournament.
“It’s a good test,” Condon said. “It’s sort of a midseason test to see where we are, to see what we need to improve on and see what some of our strengths are.”
The Wildcats more than held their own, winning five of the dual meets at Sachem North High School Monday and Tuesday. Two of the losses were tight matches, a 39-32 loss to Farmingdale and 39-33 loss to Sachem North.
The Wildcats picked up wins over Deer Park (48-26), Eastport-South Manor (47-26), Syosset (49-21), West Babylon (46-24) and William Floyd (50-33).
The Wildcats had two wrestlers go unbeaten over the tournament: Jack Taddeo went 8-0 wrestling at 145 and Chris Meloni went 7-0 at 120. Along with James Szymanski, Kevin Meloni and Jack Del Duca, the top five Shoreham wrestlers went 35-3.
“It’s a grind,” Condon said. “Eight matches in two days and we specifically don’t get soft or weak tournaments. These are all competitive teams and big schools we’re wrestling.”
The Wildcats hope the experience will pay off in the upcoming weeks. The rest of the month is a flurry of tournaments and league dual meets leading into the league tournament, which is when it’s win or go home for wrestlers.
The Wildcats’ early season success should bode well for the future.
Taddeo recorded three pins during his tournament. His most impressive win came against Farmingdale when he defeated Naquan Warren, 8-1. Warren is the top-ranked wrestler in Nassau County at his weight.
Taddeo received the Wildcats’ most outstanding wrestler award for the tournament.
“He dominated the match,” Condon said. “He was really ready and motivated to wrestle well. He wanted to send a statement that he could wrestle with anyone.”
Taddeo is 14-0 so far this season and is ranked second in the county at 145 behind Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point.
James Szymanski went 7-1 wrestling at 132. His lone loss came against a defending state champion, Vito Arujau of Syosset. Arujau won 7-1, but Condon said the match was closer than that.
Szymanski trailed 2-1 in the waning seconds of the match. A referee on an adjacent match stumbled into the area where Szymanski and Arujau were wrestling. As the referee blew the whistle while officiating another match, Szymanski inadvertently thought the whistle was for his match, Condon said. The brief pause allowed Arujau a chance for a takedown and a five-point move that made for a 7-1 final, Condon said.
“It was a very close match and James actually could have won that match,” Condon said.
Szymanski had two chances late to take down Arujau and couldn’t finish his shots, Condon said.
The two could very well meet again more than once this season. Both wrestlers will compete at the Eastern States Classic next week and they could face off at the state meet. Arujau, a sophomore, was the state champion at 113 last season and the state runner-up at 99 the year before.
“We saw a lot of things that are really good positives that’s he worked all offseason to improve on and we saw some things we won’t do again,” Condon said.
Szymanski had five pins, a major decision and a forfeit win. Four of his pins came in the first period.
Kevin Meloni had an impressive tournament at 99, losing only to Adam Busiello of Eastport-South Manor, the top ranked wrestler in the county. Busiello won 16-3. In his other matches, Meloni had three pins, a technical fall, 9-3 decision and a forfeit win.
Del Duca won a tough overtime match over Bob Fazio of Sachem East, 4-2. Del Duca’s loss came against Frank Galante of Sachem North.
The Wildcats are scheduled to wrestle Saturday in a tournament at Copiague High School. The Wildcats’ next league dual meet is Wednesday at Miller Place. The Wildcats are currently 2-0 in league.