THUNDERBIRDS 36, BLUE WAVES 29
The strength of the Riverhead wrestling team undoubtedly lies in the lower weights. But as Friday’s dual meet against Half Hollow Hills East wound down, and the Thunderbirds beginning to pull away, the Blue Waves needed their big guys in a big way.
And they got a jolt of an unlikely source.
With the Blue Waves trailing 33-20 and just three matches remaining, Riverhead’s Jaiden Blom picked up a 4-0 win at 195 pounds to give the Blue Waves some life.
Riverhead coach Wade Davey needed to come up with two more wins, and was running out of wrestlers. So he turned to freshman Carlos Perez to wrestle 220, his first varsity match.
He trailed 3-1 in the second period, when in a stunning reversal, he brought Hills East’s Jacob Kaufman to his back. At 3:28 into the match, the referee slammed his hand on the mat to signal a pin. And just like that, the six points brought the Blue Waves within four with one match to go.
It the set the stage for a potential dramatic come-from-behind victory. But it ultimately wasn’t meant to be.
In the final match, Cameron Byrne was able to defeat Justin Hansel, 8-5, to seal the Hills East victory, 36-29, and keep the Thunderbirds in the running for a league dual meet title.
With the Blue Waves trailing by four going into the final match at Riverhead High School, Hansel would have needed a major decision for the team to win. As the match began and it appeared neither wrestler wasn’t on pace to accumulate many points, the reality was Hansel would need to pin Byrne. In the first period, he nearly had a chance to turn to Byrne to his back, but nothing came of it. And he never got close again.
It was a tough break for Hansel, who typically would wrestle in the 220 slot. But the Blue Waves needed to roll the dice, have Perez wrestle 220 and hope for the best for Hansel, who was at a significant size disadvantage in the 285 match.
The Blue Waves recorded wins earlier in the match from the familiar sources. The trio of Ed Matyka (120), Cody Weiss (126) and Kerry Thomas (106) all won their matches. Matyka won a 6-2 decision, Weiss 9-1 major decision and Thomas a 12-0 major decision.
The only pin for Riverhead came from Brandon Krumbiege at 113. He took down Fisher Filipazzo in 2:15.
At 170, Raheem Brown won 3-1.
The loss dropped Riverhead to 1-2 in league. The Blue Waves will travel to Comsewogue Saturday for a dual meet tournament.