Jack Taddeo’s legacy in the Shoreham-Wading River High School wrestling team’s history is secure. The senior still has more wrestling ahead of him for the Wildcats, but when the book on his high school career is written, these words will be highlighted: four-time league champion.
Taddeo pulled off a rarity Saturday night, capturing his fourth straight league crown in the League VI Tournament at Elwood/John Glenn High School.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Shoreham coach Joe Condon said. “Only two or three kids have ever done it at Shoreham. He’s done fabulous. If we had a Mount Rushmore of the best of wrestling, he’d be one of the top 10 guys in the history of Shoreham-Wading River.”
High praise for a wrestler known for his work ethic.
Taddeo (34-2), who is ranked first among Suffolk County Division I wrestlers in the 145-pound weight class by longislandwrestling.org, was all business on Saturday. He pinned his first three opponents before winning the final by technical fall over Mount Sinai senior Leon Paul (30-4) just 4.5 seconds before the third period was to end.
Taddeo’s strength is scoring points, and he scored a lot of them in the final. “I’m concerned about scoring points, hitting and winning, that’s it,” he said.
Taddeo was in thorough control from start to finish, leading by 7-0 after one period, 12-0 after two and 16-1 when the bout was stopped.
What’s Taddeo’s secret to winning league tournaments?
“Just being confident in any wrestling tournament when I go out,” he said. “I never feel like I’m going to lose. I always go out with the attitude just to dominate and to put as many points up on the scoreboard as possible.”
It has led to a 184-18 career record for Taddeo.
Condon said Taddeo’s latest title is well-deserved. “If people knew how hard he worked, all the preparation, all the time he spends,” the coach said. “He’s pretty much a perfectionist. He expects to win.”
Taddeo said he was fired up watching the bout before his final. That was teammate John Carl Petretti’s thrilling triumph over Mount Sinai’s Lionel Paul at 138 pounds. Petretti (28-4), a sophomore, was trailing by 3-2 in the third period, but managed to turn the match around in the final seconds with the aid of a reversal and a spladle, a creative, high-risk counter move. It brought him a 7-5 victory over Paul (30-4), a senior who was a league champion last year.
One of the officials conferred with coaches and the scorer’s table before raising Petretti’s arm.
Is that the best way to win?
“It’s not best for the coaches and his parents,” said Condon, whose team will send nine wrestlers to the Section XI Division I Championships on Feb. 12 and 14 at Hofstra University.
Later, Petretti was announced as the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
“This is pretty great,” he said.
Another Shoreham wrestler, senior Kevin Meloni, picked up his third league title by virtue of a 7-3 defeat of Islip sophomore Chris Delisle at 106.
“I was happy,” said Meloni (32-3), who brought his career record to 129-15. “I was really happy. I was like, yes, I can hang this up in my room,” referring to the bracket sheet he was holding.
The Wildcats sent two others into the finals, seniors Jack DelDuca and Brendan Frances. DelDuca (25-8) lost, 7-1, to a returning league champion, John Glenn senior Sean Wieck (31-6), at 120. DelDuca’s career mark is 100-24. Frances (28-6) fell, 12-3, to undefeated John Glenn senior Edwin Rubio at 285. It was the third straight league championship for Rubio (33-0).
John Glenn delighted its home fans by winning the team title with 234 points. Shoreham was fourth among the eight teams with 175 1/2.
Two Wildcats (Dylan Meloni at 113 and Ryan Condon at 170) came in third place and another two (Eddie Troyano at 99 and Conor Reagan at 113) were fourth.
Joe Condon said, “That’s a good day.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River senior Kevin Meloni, in the 106-pound final versus Islip sophomore Chris Delisle, grabbed his third league championship. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)