Bonac wrestler Kevin Heine will be his team’s lone representative at the Division I Suffolk County Wrestling Tournament at Hofstra University on Sunday and Monday, February 10 and 11.
The senior finished third in the 220-pound weight class at the League VI tournament at Westhampton Beach High School on Saturday to earn his spot. This year, the top four wrestlers in each weight class in each league earn a trip to counties—in previous years, only the top three wrestlers advanced.
Heine took third by pinning Joseph Torres of Amityville in 3:14 in the consolation final. Heine began the tournament with a first-round bye, and then pinned Gene Lyashenko of Rocky Point in 3:10 to get to the semifinals.
In the semis, Heine took on Sean Ferguson of Rocky Point, a talented wrestler who has been ranked in the top six in the county for most of the season. Heine had beaten Ferguson earlier in the year, but this time Ferguson got his revenge, pinning Heine in 5:52. Heine was beating Ferguson, 7-5, before getting stuck in a headlock and getting pinned. Ferguson went on to lose 3-1 to Westhampton Beach’s Jake Martin in the final.
It’s the first appearance in the county tournament for Heine, and East Hampton head coach Steve Tseperkas said he’s glad that Heine was able to make a trip to the big meet in his final season. “We’re excited for him,” he said. “It would’ve been nice if he could have made it to the finals, but he should still be in a decent spot in the bracket.”
Heine said he had hoped to make it to the finals, but said he’s still happy he finished the league tournament on a strong note. “I was a little disappointed, because I lost a close one in the semifinals,” he said. “So in the last match, I just wrestled as hard as I could. I wanted to get another win to keep the momentum going for counties.”
Essentially, Heine will be representing two schools at the county tournament, as he is a Pierson student. Heine joined the Bonac wrestling program as a seventh-grader at the urging of a fellow Pierson student who had joined the East Hampton middle school team. That friend quit soon after, but Heine stuck with it—and he’s glad he did.
Other Pierson students are still part of the program, including Dana Harvey, and Heine said that because he developed a friendship with Harvey and eventually the other wrestlers on the team, he kept at it despite the sacrifices involved. “Nothing is ever [a home meet] for me,” he said. “Everything is away.”
In a few days, he’ll be hoping to make both schools proud and end his wrestling career on a big stage.
“It’s definitely nice to say that we have someone from East Hampton at counties,” he said. “I never had a specific goal of making it to counties until the end of last year, when I was one match away from making it. So I just pushed and really tried harder this year.”