Wrestling returns with power at recent tournaments

Caroline Williams, Staff Writer

“Success is not always about ‘Greatness’, it is about consistency. Consistent hard work gains success. Greatness will come.”
This quote by Dwayne Johnson encapsulates the hard work the Port Washington boys wrestling team is planning to achieve this season.
Last year, the boys finished their season 4-7 and 1-4 in their conference. The team started their season well, with nine boys placing at the Hank Paris Tournament in Plainedge. However, the team had a rough end to their regular season, losing their last three dual meets.
Losses came from major competitor Oceanside followed by the team falling just short of a win against Farmingdale. Finally, during their senior night, the boys lost 41-34 against Westbury, finishing off their dual meets for the season.
In the boys’ final tournament last year in Mineola, the wrestling team had some success, putting 13 of their 26 competitors into spots for the county tournament at LIU Post. Of those 13, junior Dan Gibson placed 3rd at 138 lbs. He defeated John Duff of Mineola, 9-5, in a back-and-forth quarterfinal.
This was not the first time Gibson and Duff met that season, but the third, in which the first match Gibson won, and the second, Duff won by a point at the Nassau qualifier. During the third match, Gibson took a 4-2 lead late in the second period with two back points before Duff secured a quick reversal. Gibson then escaped to go up 5-4 before the end of the period and led from there.
This year, the team has very high hopes as the boys are off to a great start. The team competed at the Hank Paris Tournament, where six wrestlers competed in the finals and four made it to top five. These wrestlers include, sophomore Christo Freitas in fourth, sophomore Freddy Rios and junior Declan Neville placing third, Matt Castillo in second and Gibson coming out in first.
Gibson highlighted the tournament with four first period pins. Along with Gibson, fellow junior RJ Holt performed well. Holt placed 1st in his weight class with a total of two pins.
“When it comes to goals, our team is always working to make playoffs. The last few years we had a lot of underclassman wrestling in our varsity lineup but now those freshman and sophomores are juniors and seniors, so we should have a good season,” said junior Tommy Mascia.
The boys are also hoping to achieve their individual goals for the season, including “to place in a tournament and go to counties,” said junior Aaron Waxman.
Gibson, who appeared at Eastern States last year and won three matches against top competition, said he hopes “to place in Eastern States this year and become an All-State Wrestler.”
With these goals, it is not surprising that the boys have very intense practices. Waxman explains that he has never done anything remotely as difficult as these practices in his lifetime.
“Practices for wrestling are very different from any other sport. I play other sports as well, but there’s no practice that works you as hard as wrestling,” said Mascia.
During these rigorous practices, the boys warm up and stretch, and then move straight to drilling where they practice new moves learned during the previous weeks at a remarkably fast pace and a sweltering room.
“It’s a lot for some people, but those who work through the tough practices end up doing very well,” said Mascia.
To conclude practices the boys wrestle live, meaning they go man against man putting everything they learned to the test. Finally, the team wraps up with about ten minutes of conditioning, which manages to strip the boys of any energy they had left. Their coaches work hard to make sure the team is in the best shape, which is very useful in such a fast-paced, extreme sport. While exhausting, these intense practices have proven to pay off, and the results are displayed when the team wins matches.
“My favorite thing about wrestling is that it’s all up to you. If you lose it’s on you and if you win it’s because of you. This sort of independence allows each of us to improve on our own skills and work on our own goals,” said Holt.