There is the pressure to win, and then there is the pressure to pin. For wrestlers, the difference between them can be intense. But Westhampton Beach sophomores Grant Skala and Jack Santora rose to the latter challenge in their team’s match with Newfield—the 13th ranked team in Suffolk County—at the Cory Hubbard Duals in Westhampton on Saturday.
Skala (99 pounds) and Jack Santora (106) were the last two Hurricanes to take the mats in their team’s bout with Newfield, ranked three places ahead of the Hurricanes in the county team standings. Facing a 35-24 deficit going into those matches, they knew the only way their team could win is if they both pinned their opponents (a pin in worth six points, a technical fall five points, a major decision four points, and a decision three points). Both Santora and Skala were favored to win their matches, according to Westhampton Beach head coach Paul Bass, but he said the strategy for pinning an opponent is often different, and requires both skill and savvy on the part of the wrestler.
The young wrestlers delivered. Skala pinned Nick Roethel in 1:55, while Santora delivered the match-clinching mat slap over Andrew Gabb with just seconds left in the second period.
The Hurricanes finished as the runner-up in their host tournament, losing, 42-39, to Patchogue/Medford, ranked 10th in Suffolk County. In addition to the win over Newfield, the Hurricanes also beat Holy Trinity, 67-18.
Bass said that while he always wants to win, he was about as happy as he could have been with a loss after facing Patchogue/Medford.
“At the end of that match, I was the first one to cheer,” he said. “That’s what high school sports is supposed to be. You had two sets of fans going crazy the whole time, kids laying it on the line, and it was back and forth, and it came down to [Will Zaffuto] wrestling really tough against an All-League kid and losing, 7-4, but they just battled the whole time.”
Over the course of the tournament, Skala was 3-0 with a pin; Santora was 2-0 with two pins; Jay Montagna (126 pounds) was 3-0 with two pins; and Jackson Hulse (160 pounds) was 3-0 with two pins, beating Newfield’s Frank Micari, ranked fourth in the county in his weight class, in a 7-0 decision. For that effort, Montagna was chosen as his team’s Most Outstanding Wrestler for the day. Larry Citarelli (170/182 pounds) was 3-0 with a pin; Hunter Burling (182/195) was 2-1, suffering his first loss of the season, an OT defeat at the hands of Newfield. Liam McIntyre, ranked first in the county at 195 pounds, was 3-0 with two pins, wrestling both at 195 and 220.
Before the dual meet tournament, the Hurricanes suffered a 44-33 home loss on Friday to Rocky Point, the top ranked team in the county. Bass said that his team lost two close matches—Ryan Darbyshire at 138 and Grant Skala at 99—that, if they had gone the other way, could have potentially set up his team for the upset win, but he acknowledged that his team still put forth a very respectable effort against the number one team in the county.
“We’re banging with the best of them,” he said, pointing out that his team has also stuck with or defeated several other teams ranked in the top 20 in the county.
The Hurricanes (4-1 in League V, 12-3 overall) were set to take on another strong squad in 11th-ranked Miller Place (4-1 in league) on January 9 at 5 p.m. in Miller Place. The match would decide second place in League V, a key distinction because the top two teams from each league automatically advance to the Suffolk County Team Tournament. Even if the Hurricanes lost to Miller Place and finish third, they could still potentially grab one of the wildcard entries into the team tournament. The first round of the tournament is set for January 16, and after that, the Hurricanes are scheduled to compete in the Kujan individual tournament at William Floyd High School on January 19.