Eastport South Manor wrestler Nick Garone showed some grit and determination at the Smithtown Tournament on Saturday.
Having lost to Longwood senior Anthony D’Onofrio twice before, Garone turned the tables and defeated D’Onofrio in a 3-2 decision to win the tournament’s 113-pound weight class at Smithtown East High School on Saturday. Garone, a freshman who is ranked sixth at 106 pounds, had lost a 4-2 decision to D’Onofrio at the same tournament last season, and was eliminated from the Suffolk County tournament two years ago by D’Onofrio.
“He wrestled a perfectly tailored match,” ESM head coach Nick Garone said of his nephew, who went 3-0 throughout the tournament. “[D’Onofrio] is a very good wrestler, a two-time All-County kid.
“I’m very proud of Nicky,” he continued. “I think it allowed him to realize he can beat guys if he wrestles well and aggressive enough. I’m really excited about it because he may have broke through with this win.”
Freshman John Busiello won the 99-pound weight class at Smithtown, while junior Travis Passaro won the 120-pound weight class. Junior Jimmy Leach (126 pounds) and senior Niko Bedell (285) both placed second, while junior Joe Zarcone (220) placed third, and senior Paul Lopiparo (145) placed sixth.
Busiello went 4-0 throughout the tournament and pinned each one of his opponents to become a champion. Coach Garone said Busiello has been working hard throughout the season. “I have to give him credit—he’s been working like he’s possessed lately,” he said. Busiello has only lost one match so far this season.
Passaro, who was ranked second in the county at 120 pounds as of the latest rankings at the end of December, faced off in the finals against Connetquot senior Steven Bulzomi, who is ranked just behind him. While he won the match only by a 3-0 score, Coach Garone said Passaro could have easily won 10-0. “At the end of the match, Bulzomi was trying to get Travis with some tilts, but he was never in any danger,” he said. “He looked great the whole tournament, and if he can wrestle aggressive the way he did, I really think he can wrestle in the county finals.”
Leach ran through his bracket and reached the finals to face Keanu Thompson of Grand Street Campus of Brooklyn. Leach got off to a good start in the first period and held a lead, but Thompson worked himself back into the match and made it just a two-point match in favor of Leach heading into the third and final period. Thompson eventually took the lead and wound up winning, 7-6.
“It was a real heartbreaker for Jimmy, but the bright side for him is that he’s going to be able to learn from this loss and tweak a couple of things,” Coach Garone said. “He can just about beat anyone around, any big name in the county, at 126 pounds.”
Bedell lost to Smithtown West senior Michael Hughes in the finals. Hughes placed second at the New York State Championships last season and is the top-ranked wrestler in Suffolk County Division I at 285 pounds this season. Coach Garone has been very pleased with the emergence of Zarcone. He said the junior got off to a slow start this season because he didn’t put in much work during the offseason. But with a couple of matches under his belt, Zarcone appears to be a viable option now for the Sharks at 220 pounds.
ESM also had its first League V dual meet of the season at Kings Park on Friday. The Kingsmen won the match, 39-33, over the Sharks, who forfeited five of the 15 matches, which gave Kings Park 30 points.
Busiello and Garone both won their matches by major decision, while Passaro and Leach both won by technical fall. Lopiparo, Mark Zaharis (132) and Corey Cogen (152) all won their matches by decision, and 285-pounder Sal Castellano pinned his opponent.
“Out of the 10 matches that were actually wrestled, we won eight,” Coach Garone said. “Everybody wrestled really well. I can’t help that we can’t put people out there. There are some weight classes we don’t even have anyone—it’s not even a matter of holding guys out.”ON THE SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 1/9, vs. Comsewogue, 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1/12, Eastern States Classic at Sullivan County Community College, 9 a.m.