For the third time in four years, the Shoreham-Wading River wrestling team are League VII champions, following a 47-24 victory over Mt. Sinai on Wednesday.
With almost every seat taken in the SWR gymnasium, the Wildcats squad — including many new faces after graduating most of the last year’s starting lineup — put on a show, closing out the league season in style.
“Our small-school division has some of the top schools in the state when it comes to wrestling,” SWR head coach Joe Condon said. “John Glenn and Mt. Sinai is always good, Bayport is always tough, Port Jeff is always good. For a young group, the guys really stepped up and I was really proud of the effort this season.”
Coming into the season, Condon didn’t know what he had. There were a lot of newcomers to the varsity squad with minimal experience. To retool a lineup from top to bottom doesn’t always go to plan.
“I didn’t think we would be in this position today before the season started,” Condon said. “I’m not pessimistic. I was optimistic we would improve but they’ve improved every week and battled harder and harder. Frankly I feel like we’ve overachieved.”
Part of that winning formula was having all but guaranteed wins in Chris Colon and Gavin Mangano. The duo, through all the tournaments, league and non-league duals this season, have only lost once between them.
Colon, who’s in his senior season as a Wildcat, is the most decorated wrestler on the team and cemented himself as one of the school’s all-time greats. Coming in with more than 130 wins for the program, Colon added another Wednesday with a 30-second pin of Quintin Bausenwein.
But even with all those victories, Colon said, there’s one last goal he’d like to accomplish.
“Winning a state title. This program has given me everything else I have ever wanted, and I’m eternally grateful for my time here,” Conlon said. “But if I could get that state title, I can leave knowing I reached the pinnacle.”
Colon took the Suffolk County crown last year in the 118-pound weight class and then went on to finish 5th in the state tourney. He moved up to 124 pounds this year and can’t wait for another opportunity under the bright lights.
“It was my first time wrestling in that environment and I think it got to me,” Colon said of last years state championships. “The guy I lost to in the first round I ended up beating pretty easily in the wrestlebacks. So I think it was more nerve-racking than anything else. I’ll know what to expect this time around.”
Mangano — as an 8th grader last year — finished second in the state in the 110-pound weight division. He’s bulked up and grown into his frame this year. The freshman now wrestles at 131 pounds and has his sights set on getting to the state title. Mangano also pinned his Mt. Sinai opponent pretty handily on Wednesday.
Wes Hodun (285) has also been a plus for the Wildcats. The senior pinned Devin Champaine with just 17 seconds left in the first period and has climbed to the No. 1 spot in the 285-pound rankings for Section XI, according to longislandwrestling.org.
Other notable results in the league-clinching win included:
170 – Nate Spuhler (SWR) dec. Nick Reily (MtS) 6-3
215 – Zack Wilson (SWR) pinned John Bracken (MtS) 1:07
101 – Thomas Mattias (SWR) pinned Anthony Aiello (MtS) 4:59
108 – Shane Cowan (SWR) dec. Parker Menechino (MtS) 9-4
138 – Shane Hall (SWR) pinned Colton Bausenwein (MtS) 2:40
152 – Jacob Conti (SWR) TF John Westcott (MtS) 16-0
With the league season finished, the Wildcats will set their sites on the conference playoffs as a team with the individual tournaments to follow.
“Our five seniors have stepped up and led this team to this point,” Condon said. “Our young guys bought into the system and are now reaping the rewards. We have some very talented wrestlers on the squad and I’m looking forward to seeing how they fare with all the tournaments coming up.”