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Feb 12, 2018 1:56 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Liam McIntyre Of Westhampton Beach Wins Suffolk County Division I Wrestling Title At 182 Pounds

Liam McIntyre takes down Glenn's Joe Franzese and is able to stay in the circle. Initially McIntyre wasn't awarded the two points for the takedown but, after the two officials conferred, they gave him the points. DREW BUDD
Feb 13, 2018 11:44 AM

There isn’t a much more motivating factor than losing—just ask Westhampton Beach junior wrestler Liam McIntyre.

After suffering a 2-0 defeat to Elwood/John Glenn senior Joe Franzese in the waning seconds of their 182-pound title match at the League VI Championships on February 3, McIntyre returned the favor, this time on an even bigger stage, defeating Franzese in a 5-0 decision at the Suffolk County Division I Championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Sunday night.

The initial loss to Franzese—which was McIntyre’s first and, so far, only loss of the season—was, he said, tough to deal with at first. McIntyre said he tried to hang out with friends the rest of that weekend but couldn’t shake the disappointment for another day or two. Finally, he came to a conclusion.

“I told my dad and Coach Bass on Monday, I hate to lose but I’m glad I lost that match because if I won it, I’d be happy and complacent and think, ‘I beat him, I’ll beat him again,’ and not work for it,” he explained. “So losing to him gave me that motor to work all week long. It gave me that extra push to come back and get him now.”

McIntyre said that he has been attending the county tournament since he was a child with his father, Robert, who used to be a wrestling coach and is now the athletic director at South Country School District. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was like 5 years old,” he said of winning the county title. “Growing up watching this, I’ve seen so much of it, and finally it was my time.

“It’s just the greatest feeling in the world.”

McIntyre and Franzese’s match on Sunday night—one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament being that they are two of the best wrestlers in the state at their weight—started much like the league title match did a few weeks ago. It went scoreless through the first two periods even though McIntyre was pushing much of the action from the opening whistle.

With both wrestlers neutral to start the third period, McIntyre went in for a double-leg takedown, which he seemed to have but initially wasn’t awarded the two points by the head official. After a quick conference with the secondary official—and with a little help from the capacity crowd on hand in Brentwood—McIntyre was awarded the two points.

“He’s a great wrestler. He was All-State last year and county champ, so that was probably the first time he’s been scored on all year,” McIntyre said of Franzese.

McIntyre also said that those two points helped him open things up a bit. Not too long after scoring them, he was able to score three near-fall points and went on to hand Franzese his first loss of the season. McIntyre is the first county champ for Westhampton Beach since Dan McClure in 2016, also at 182 pounds, and the seventh county champ for the Hurricanes in the last 45 years. Westhampton Beach has qualified at least one of its wrestlers for states 11 of the past 13 years.

“The kind of wrestler he is, he’s more relaxed, likes everything slow-paced, so I learned that at the league finals last week and I just had a game plan for him to push him ... and shooting on him until he breaks and use my athleticism—out-quick ’em, out-tough ’em—and that’s what I did,” McIntyre said. “I got my opportunities, I scored points and at the end he just broke.”

Westhampton Beach head coach Paul Bass said his wrestler’s big win is all the more impressive being that it came at 182 pounds and not 195, where many thought McIntyre would compete since it presented an easier route to the county title. Taking the easy route wasn’t an option for Bass or McIntyre.

“No disrespect to the kid who won the county title at 195 in [Sayville’s] Nate Bauland, but Liam tech’ed him, so we could have won it easily, but we were looking beyond that, we were looking to win it upstate,” he explained. “Part of it is personality, most of it is, back upstate, 195 is very, very big, it’s a very deep weight class. [McIntyre’s] natural weight is 182, so we really felt like we can win it upstate.

“We were not running from anybody, we knew we just have to wrestle better,” Bass added. “I’m very proud of him.”

That being said, McIntyre didn’t necessarily wrestle his best throughout the tournament. He just happened to turn it on at the right time for the finals.

“He has not wrestled well all tournament. Thing is, he comes back from that and that’s what champions do,” Bass said. “Nobody has perfect seasons with no adversity in them, whether it’s in a six minute match or outside of that. He’s had injuries, he had a long football season, he started basically in the middle of the year because he was exhausted. Then he got sick, then he got hurt. So he’s overcome a lot of adversity.”

Out of the five wrestlers Westhampton Beach had at counties, McIntyre was the only one to place to become All-County. That doesn’t mean it was a bad tournament by any stretch, Bass said. Tyler Skala (113 pounds) and Jason Montagna (120) were in arguably the two toughest weight classes in the county, which is always the most competitive in New York State. Still, Skala, Montagna, Gavin McIntyre (99) and Lucas Villareale (220) each had at least two wins—Villareale had three—and all four won a match by pin. They were all a win away from reaching the all important “blood round,” where if they won there they would have been All-County.

Westhampton Beach, with McIntyre as county champion which accounts for about 24 points, scored 54 points and placed 20th out of 41 teams in the county. Bass said that’s a testament to the amount of wins all five wrestlers together were able to come up with.

“Our guys wrestled really hard. I was really proud of them,” he said.

Skala, whom Bass said is one of the hardest working wrestlers he’s ever had, will graduate this spring, along with Villareale, Jack Ciolino, Thatcher Cord and Brandon White.

Now Bass and his coaching staff will turn their attention to McIntyre as he prepares for the state tournament, which will begin in two weeks on Friday, February 23, at the Times Union Center in Albany. Bass likes McIntyre’s chances upstate but did note that it won’t be easy. It’s been a long year for McIntyre, who had a long football season after winning county and Long Island titles with that team, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Sports are kind of what I live for, I dedicate everything to it, so I’m happy to keep it going,” he said.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said of going upstate. “Again, I’ve been going up to states since I was little. The Section XI singlet—the blue singlet with the XI on the back—is feared upstate. It’s just been a dream of mine since I was little, having that singlet, being able to wrestle in that singlet, so I’m just excited.”

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Behind every championship caliber athlete stands a championship “ support system”..
To you, Mr and Mrs Mac and family, the honor and pride you share is well deserved.
Commmitment, sacrifice, and home values accompanied with training, conditioning and coaching have delivered the athlete we have witnessed this year.
Looking forward to a senior year with on going challenges to be conquered.
By kahuna (66), Tampa on Feb 13, 18 11:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
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