Going from hunter to hunted is a big change. Connor Pearce likes it.
That metamorphosis in Pearce’s wrestling career took place last season when the Shoreham-Wading River High School wrestler won the Suffolk County Division II championship at 113 pounds and went on to compete in his first state tournament. It was an experience to remember.
As Pearce put it, he went “from being a nobody to somebody that people want to hunt down. It’s a pretty good feeling.”
Pearce said he feels comfortable and confident wrestling in a new weight class, 120 pounds, this season.
He looked both comfortable and confident Wednesday, dominating the action before pinning Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Gabe Gamboa in 1 minute, 3 seconds. Mattituck won the Suffolk County League VII match in Shoreham, 42-34.
Not surprisingly, expectations are high for Pearce, who was ranked No. 1 in the Long Island Wrestling Association’s Suffolk Division II preseason rankings at 120 pounds. Among other Wildcats ranked were senior Eddie Troyan (first at 126 pounds), senior Chris Vedder (second at 106), sophomore Jake Jablonski (third at 113) and sophomore Tom Sciarrone (fourth at 285).
Pearce, in his third year on the team, would like another county championship medal. He remembers full well what it was like to win one last season.
How did becoming a county champion measure up to what he thought it might be like?
“I think it was a little bit better,” he said. “I wrestled out there expecting it to be a battle, and it was. The feeling that I got was overwhelming.”
“Being number one, people want to hunt you down and take what you have, but I’d rather be number one,” he continued. “I want to fight to be the best.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Connor Pearce gets the better of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Gabe Gamboa. (Credit: Garret Meade)