The Southampton wrestling team has shown flashes of its overall athletic ability this season, but at times it has shown that it’s still a team of young, mostly first-year wrestlers. Case in point are last week’s dual meets against the top two teams in League VIII in Hampton Bays and Port Jefferson.
The Mariners had some nice victories in both matches, but still wound up taking losses, the first a 57-28 loss to Hampton Bays at home on January 2, then, most recently, a 54-30 loss at Port Jeff on Friday. Southampton head coach Lester Ware gave credit to a Hampton Bays team that has quickly morphed itself into one of the top teams in the league this season, pointing out the team’s relative maturity in comparison to his team.
“I’ll give Hampton Bays their kudos. Their kids cared about each other a little more than our kids, and by that I mean they didn’t get pinned as much to keep the match close for the team score, and a couple of our kids didn’t do that,” he explained. “That’s a lesson you learn through team maturity, and we are a young team.”
Hampton Bays won eight of the first nine matches that were contested, but the “back breakers,” as Ware put it, came midway through the match at 145 and 152 pounds. Luis Tlapanco may not have been expected to beat his opponent, Nick Corredor, at 145, but he did a good job of avoiding getting pinned for most of the match, until 23 seconds remaining in the match. Then, at 152, Alex Velasquez pinned Billy Bockhaus with just 21 seconds remaining in their match, pretty much clinching the match for the Baymen. Not only was Bockhaus expected to win that match, but Ware was expecting him to win by pin and score six points and start a nice comeback for the Mariners in the upper weights, where Ware thought his team had the edge. Ben Brown (170), Anthony Medina (195) and Zayden Michel (220) all won their matches for Southampton, but the Baymen lead was already out of reach for the Mariners. Brad Bockhaus, wrestling up a weight class and giving up a considerable amount of weight to his opponent Kevin Eras, pushed the action at their 285-pound bout, but Eras caught Bockhaus in an awkward position and eventually pinned him in 1:42.
Alex Boyd (120), who Ware said had his best week of the season last week, scored a big pin early over Anthony D’Elia that helped keep the Mariners in contention at Port Jeff last week. Billy Bockhaus and Tlapanco came back with wins via pin at Port Jeff, as did Brad Bockhaus, wrestling at his usual 220 pounds, but Molina was pinned by Harry Cona, last year’s county runner-up, and Medina lost by major decision to Jack Niederberger.
Southampton also competed at Herricks New Year’s Tournament out in Nassau County on Saturday. Ware said it’s a much more competitive tournament than the one the team starts with in the beginning of the season, with large schools such as East Meadow, Great Neck North, Massapequa, Ward Melville, Hempstead and Huntington being the majority of the schools that make up the tournament. Medina, Boyd and Brown each placed third in their weight classes and Billy Bockhaus placed fourth. Eduardo Clemente also had a strong tournament, Ware said, and is one of the many first-year wrestlers who are starting to put it all together.
“As they acquire skills,” Ware said of his first-year wrestlers, “and match them with their athletic ability, only good things are to come. They start to wrestle better, which leads to a few wins, and wins lead to more confidence.”
Southampton hosted Babylon on Wednesday evening in a match that will determine which will finish with a winless league season with both teams coming into the meet 0-3. The Mariners will then host Westhampton Beach in a non-league match on Friday at 4:30 p.m. which is to get both teams some extra matches as the postseason quickly approaches.