With not a senior to be found on its rather large roster of 47, Hewlett’s wrestling team will look to develop some leaders in the room while taking a step up from last season’s finish with an even younger squad.
“We were loaded with sophomores and freshmen last season and we’re looking to keep building as they gain more and more experience,” coach Stephen Jones said. “I think we’re going to be solid come February and really tough to deal with next year.”
The Bulldogs saw plenty of major competition out of the gate, including Suffolk County powers Eastport-South Manor and Hauppauge in their First Annual King of the Mat Tournament on Dec. 9. Eleven teams participated in an event that’s been in the works for years, Jones noted.
“We’ve had the idea of hosting a tournament floating around since our program improved and became a contender,” Jones said. “We hosted the county qualifiers and few years ago and it was great. Hosting is a lot of work, but it’s worth it. We had some big-time teams and some big-time individuals. Now we’ll look to do it every year.”
Junior captains Sam Warshall and Mike Gordon came close to earning All-County honors last season and are on a mission to rise into the top six in Nassau in their respective weight classes. They’re also being counted on to provide leadership for the large, youthful squad.
Warshall followed up a first-place finish in the Uniondale Tournament by winning the 113-pound King of the Mat championship. He defeated Long Beach’s Luke Mantia in the final, 11-6. “Sam has been around the program a long time and came one win away from All-County,” Jones explained. “I think he’s ready to break out. He’s tough on the mat and works really hard. His confidence is high and growing.”
Gordon also took first in the Uniondale Tournament and was runner-up in the Hewlett event at 182 pounds. He was also stopped just short of reaching All-County criteria last winter. “Mike’s very aggressive and strong,” Jones said. “All of his losses so far are to top-ranked opponents. He’s looking good.”
Junior Khamar Narcisse (220 pounds) is trying to get back to 2015-16 form when he earned All-Conference honors as a freshman. He earned a huge win against Manhasset in a dual meet and then picked up fourth place in the King of the Mat. Junior heavyweight Zach Mariano is a returning starter who took fifth place in the Hewlett event.
Competing at 195 is difficult for a sophomore, Jones explained, but Matt Rubinoff is off to a solid start with a fourth-place finish in the Battle at the Beach Tournament and third at Hewlett. Sophomores Tyler James (152) and Naim Lynch (106) are fast learners and getting stronger every day, Jones said, and freshman Joey Iannacci (99) and eighth-grader Jake Mariano (138) both have a huge upside.
Jones said he expects Kennedy and Garden City to be the toughest hurdles for the Bulldogs in Conference 3A, which also includes Glen Cove, Jericho and Great Neck North.