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Wrestling: Freshman rises to challenge as SWR advances to semifinals

Joe Condon did the math. The Shoreham-Wading River High School wrestling coach calculated that his team’s biggest dual meet of the season to date would likely rest on the shoulders of a freshman. Perhaps that would have been a cause for concern in some instances, but this freshman is not just any freshman.

No, Chris Colon wrestles beyond his years. Big moments aren’t too big for him. When the biggest moment of his young wrestling career arrived Friday, he met the challenge with a flourish.

With the team score knotted at 27-27, the Suffolk County dual-meet tournament first-round match against Bellport came down to the final bout of the day. It was Colon’s time to shine.

Looking purposeful and confident, Colon efficiently went about his business, pinning senior Andy Barbecho 42 seconds into their match at 114 pounds for a 33-27 SWR triumph at Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham.

Was there pressure? Sure there was, not that it showed in how Colon wrestled.

“There was a lot of pressure,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling for five years now so I’ve kind of gotten used to it. All I had to do was wrestle my match.”

Colon went 39-6 last season as an eighth-grader and was a county Division II runner-up at 99 pounds. Friday’s win brought his season record to 7-0, mirroring that of SWR, the Suffolk Division II and League VII champion.

The third-seeded Wildcats are bidding for a rare triple. They will face No. 7 Elwood/John Glenn in a semifinal Saturday morning at Comsewogue High School, where the champion will be crowned later in the day. The other semifinal will pit No. 5 Connetquot against No. 1 Brentwood.

“This is an opportunity we’ll never have again, so it means a lot,” said Colon.

“Chris came through big and beat a senior who’s a solid wrestler,” said Condon. Condon said Colon “expects to win. He’s not arrogant, but he’s confident because he pays his dues. He puts the work in. He’s a seasoned veteran at his age.”

Teammate Tristan Petretti said Colon is “one of the best technicians on our team and he knows what he’s doing.”

It was a tremendous contest that saw SWR build a 21-6 lead before League IV champion Bellport (5-2) recovered, winning six straight bouts for a 27-21 lead. A forfeit awarded to SWR’s Tyler Paris at 106 pounds evened things at 27-27.

Craig Jablonski tries to get his Bellport opponent over on his back. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

“That’s what it’s about,” Condon said. “It comes down to two teams and both guys think they’re going to win. That’s the best kind of wrestling there is.

“That team comes out hard. They won three straight league titles. They have great coaches. They’re a very skilled, very athletic, very aggressive team, and our kids just stuck it out and had a little bit more in the tank, and it was great watch. It was stressful, but that’s the way it is.”

Discounting Colon’s win, Petretti turned in the most rousing victory of the day. The junior overcame a 4-1 deficit, took down his opponent at 142 pounds, Bob John, who looked to be made solely of muscle and bone, with 17 seconds left in the third period to force overtime. Another Petretti takedown 32 seconds into OT won it, 6-4. Petretti’s endurance and patience were critical.

“I felt good the whole time,” he said. “I knew he was getting gassed and I knew eventually I was going to end up being able to outgas him and keep going when he started shutting down.”

SWR’s Chris Colon gets a finger in his eye. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

SWR also picked up wins by Connor Pearce (forfeit at 130 pounds), Craig Jablonski (10-7 over Tony Gentzel at 136), Joe Steimel (9-8 over Brandon Diaz at 149) and Jake Jablonski (pinning Andrew Beadle in 3:45 at 156).

Bellport’s winners were Wyatt Gentzel (pinning Tommy Palumbo in 0:42 at 122), Jonah Pouriet (5-0 over Sean Miller at 164), Phil Trowbridge (pinning Anthony Giordano in 3:28 at 176), Sean Bolton (pinning Jack LaValle in 2:45 at 193), Jaden Green (7-3 over Jake Ekert at 219) and David Hartman (5-2 over Dylan Blanco at 289).

“This is a special team, a special group of kids and they could have easily given up and just folded up, but they didn’t,” Condon said of his wrestlers. “Every time they came back strong, and that’s the mark of someone who wants to be a champion.”