The East Meadow Jets’ wrestling team had impressive showings at the Battle of the Beach and Sprig Gardner tournaments in December and are hoping to use it as a springboard to a successful 2017-18.
The Jets finished third out of 16 teams in the Battle of the Beach tournament at Long Beach on Dec. 4 despite starting around 13 wrestlers. The following weekend, the team scored a sixth-place finish at the Sprig Gardner competition at Bellmore-JFK and Mepham High Schools.
Only Wantagh and Long Beach had stronger showings at the Battle of the Beach and East Meadow will visit the latter on Jan. 10 after the Jets moved to Conference 2A prior to this season.
“We have a handful of very strong individuals,” Jets coach Lou Lago said. “The problem is that we don’t have the numbers like some of these other teams. Our numbers are down. That goes to show that the guys that we got are pretty tough and do a good job.”
Freshman Antony Gentile followed up his successful 2016-17 season that earned him a spot in the county tournament by claiming the top spot in both tournaments in the 99-pound class. He lost his first match by decision during the Jets’ 70-7 loss to Minisink Valley on Dec. 16, but still remains a wrestler to watch this winter.
“Overall, he’s wrestled pretty well, so we’re pretty happy with him,” Lago said.
Senior Shawn Regan, who is wrestling in the 152-pound class, has so far lived up to his No. 1 Nassau County preseason ranking by also taking first place in the Sprig Gardner and advancing to the semifinals at the Battle of the Beach. He was also one of the few bright spots against Minisink Valley by earning a major decision in his match.
“We’re expecting him to have a really good season,” Lago said.
Another wrestler taking the top spots in both tournaments was senior Mike Antuofermo in the 160-pound class. He had a combined three pinfalls and three major-decision wins over those eight matches.
“[He’s been] a nice surprise,” Lago said.
Lago also noted the strong start of senior Liam Laskowski (285), who won his class at the Sprig Gardner after losing in the finals at the Battle of the Beach. Laskowski, who like Regan played on the Jets’ football team, missed half of last season due to injuries, but is completely healthy now.
“He’s been pretty solid at that heavyweight class the last couple of years,” Lago said. “Last year, he dealt with injuries, but we’re expecting really good things out of him.”
Senior Matt Mustakis was ranked fourth in the preseason poll among 113-pound Nassau wrestlers. He was undefeated at 106 during the 2016-17 regular season before earning Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at qualifier. He took third at this year’s Battle of the Beach.
Lago is also hoping for strong seasons by Steven Rodriguez (195) and junior Stephen Calderaro (160), who’s made two straight appearances in the county tournament.