The East Hampton wrestling team fell just short of getting a League VI win in its second-to-last dual meet of the season on January 23, losing, 40-34, at home to Miller Place.
The loss—combined with a 76-0 defeat at the hands of Rocky Point, the third-ranked team in the state—to close out the season left the Bonackers with an 0-7 mark in League VI.
While ending the season without a league win was a disappointment, the team can take solace in the fact that it still has both the League VI and Suffolk County Division I tournament to look forward to. Individual wrestlers who can finish in the top four in their respective weight classes at the league tournament—slated for this Saturday, February 2, at Westhampton Beach High School—will earn a spot in the county tournament, set for Sunday and Monday, February 10 and 11, at Hofstra University.
In the loss to Miller Place, the Bonackers gave head coach Steve Tseperkas reason to be optimistic that he could send a few kids to counties. The Bonackers were forced to forfeit two weight classes to the Panthers, which ultimately made the difference in the meet. East Hampton has also been without the services of arguably its best wrestler, Lucas Escobar, since January 4, when he suffered a separated shoulder and broken clavicle that have kept him out of the lineup. It’s likely that the Bonackers could have pulled off a win over Miller Place with a healthy Escobar.
Tseperkas said on Sunday that Escobar should be back on the mat for the league tournament, where he will try to earn his second straight trip to counties.
East Hampton won eight of the 13 matches against Miller Place that were contested, but Tseperkas said he was frustrated with the officiating in the meet, saying that in a handful of matches his wrestlers seemed to have had a pin but the referee never slapped the mat. Getting one or two extra pins could have given the Bonackers crucial bonus points, which might have made the difference in the match.
The Bonackers dominated in the upper weights that day, while Miller Place had the edge in the lighter weights. At 152 pounds, Dallas Foglia won a 10-2 major decision over Jon Kraus; Dana Harvey (170) beat Kyle Vetrano in a 13-1 major decision; Luciano Escobar (182) beat Cole Walter, 11-8; Alfredo Perez (195) won a 14-3 major decision over Kevin Lopez; Kevin Heine (220) pinned Robert Leen in 2:33; Richie Browne (285) beat Charles Leo, 14-5, in a major decision; Matt Smudzinski (132) beat Christian Stalter, 5-0; and Colton Kalbacher (145) pinned Justin Simon in 5:39.
East Hampton forfeited four weight classes to Rocky Point (6-1) and was pinned in several others, leading to the wide margin of victory. Tseperkas said his team could have avoided the shutout if he chose to put Heine at his usual spot at 220 pounds, but he wrestled him at 195 instead, where he lost, 3-1, to Joe Zabbara.
Tseperkas wanted to keep Heine away from Sean Ferguson, Rocky Point’s top wrestler at 220 pounds. Heine beat Ferguson two weeks ago at the North Fork Invitational, but he didn’t want Heine to face him again right before the league tournament. Tseperkas explained that a loss to Ferguson could have negatively affected Heine’s seeding for the league tournament, while a win would have meant that Heine would potentially have to beat Ferguson for a third time, in the postseason, and he said it’s always tough to beat someone three times.
Mike Knab, a Pierson student, was competitive in a 3-1 loss to Ferguson at 220. At 145, Kalbacher lost, 7-2, to Nick Accardi in another close match, and at 132, Smudzinski lost, 9-2, to Frank Sciulla. The rest were pins or major decisions.
Four Place At Tournament
The Bonackers rebounded from the losses with a nice showing at the Bob Armstrong Cup Tournament at Port Jefferson on Saturday, with four wrestlers placing in the top four. Heine won the 220-pound weight class, while Kalbacher (145) and Browne (285) were third, and Luciano Escobar (182) was fourth.
In order for wrestlers to place at this tournament, they needed to advance to the semfinals—there were no wrestlebacks like in most traditional tournaments.