This could be a historic week for the Hampton Bays wrestling team.
The Baymen hosted Port Jefferson on Wednesday, and whichever team won the match to remain undefeated will be crowned League VIII champion. It would be the Baymen’s first league title, if they won, since 2005 when current head coach Mike Lloyd was a freshman on the team.
It would be more than just winning a league title, though. It would signal that the Baymen, after some lean years, have regained their stride on the mats once again, and with just five seniors on the team this season, it could be the beginning of a successful run.
“Being a part of Hampton Bays’ last undefeated league championship team as a student, I can tell you it was a fantastic experience,” Lloyd said. “In the last 14 years of my involvement as a student and a coach it’s great to see people make it through counties; however the satisfaction of team wins and the camaraderie it builds between teammates is something that is unique and special. What we’ve been lacking for a while now is consistent numbers spread across all weight classes and a core group of kids dedicated to the sport. I feel that this has been a long time coming for Hampton Bays wrestling and only hope that it translates to greater success, and in turn, the ability to raise the bar even higher in the future.”
Regardless of whether Hampton Bays defeated Port Jeff or not, it has qualified for the Suffolk County Division II Team Tournament for the first time in team history. The team tournament was started by Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics, about three years ago. The top two teams in each league (League VII/League VIII) qualify, while a pair of wild cards can be selected from each league. Teams are seeded based on record and strength of schedule. Hampton Bays and Port Jeff will be the League VIII representatives for the tournament that is scheduled to begin Wednesday, January 16. Elwood/John Glenn and Mount Sinai will represent League VII. Center Moriches, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold and Shoreham/Wading River are all in the mix as the wild card teams.
Hampton Bays won, 57-28, at Southampton on January 2. It won eight of the first nine bouts that were contested, including a couple of key victories in the middle weights. Nick Corredor gained key team points when he pinned Luis Tlapanco in 5:37 at 145 pounds, then Alex Velasquez upset Billy Bockhaus at 152, pinning him in 5:39, which essentially clinched the match for the Baymen. Michael Blanco (182 pounds) also picked up a big win, pinning Moises Molina in 2:55, and Kevin Eras (285) pinned Brad Bockhaus in 1:45.
Hampton Bays competed at the Cory Hubbard Duals at neighboring Westhampton Beach on Saturday. It was a tough go against larger schools, including eventual champion Patchogue/Medford, Bellport and Sayville. The Baymen’s closest match of the tournament was against Holy Trinity, which they lost, 40-23. While the Baymen have seen their share of success this season, they have also competed in some tough dual-meet tournaments on the weekends.
“The plan from the beginning of the season was to diversify the level of competition and try to get the team to step up and take the challenge,” he said. “While it is important to be humble and know that there are tough opponents out there, it’s also great to see different teams as well.”
After its match with Port Jeff, the Baymen will take nearly a week off before their annual non-league match at Riverhead on Tuesday, January 15, at 5:30 p.m.