Entering the 2018-19 season, it was expected that the Sewanhaka East wrestling program would undergo some growing pains. While the team had some senior leadership and a few key returnees who could challenge for county supremacy, it was relatively young and inexperienced overall.
Things didn’t get off to a great start as the team lost Devin Hartz and Nick Kubler, a pair of senior captains, to season-ending injuries back in December. Hartz was expected to be in the mix for All-County honors at 170 pounds, while Kubler, a four-year varsity performer, was set to compete at 120.
The bumps in the road certainly affected Sewanhaka East in dual meets, but the team fared well in the Nassau Division 1 Qualifier and followed it up with an impressive showing at last weekend’s county championships at LIU Post.
Senior Enzo Milione, a first-year wrestler, advanced to the semifinal round at 285 before losing a narrow decision to Uniondale’s Obrien Dorceus, the eventual county champion. Milione won five matches including a 5-0 decision over Hewlett’s Zachary Maiorano in the battle for third place.
“Enzo was impressive, and he caught the eye of all the county’s coaches,” Sewanhaka East coach Ian McConnell said. “To do this in his first year of wrestling is a testament to his athleticism and his mental fortitude. The wrestler who beat him had over 100 matches under his belt.”
Senior Bairo Flores had the toughest of draws at 285, a first match with Dorceus, but he battled back and won four straight matches before losing to Maiorano. Flores then rebounded to defeat Valley Stream North’s Jonathan Sofield to take fifth place.
In the 152-pound class, junior C.J. Riccobono had an outstanding season, falling just shy of a shot at the county title. Riccobono beat North Shore’s Mike Bianchi in triple overtime before falling in the semifinal round. He finished in fourth place.
McConnell believes Riccobono’s best wrestling is ahead of him. “C.J. was great all season long and only lost to top-ranked wrestlers,” McConnell said. “He’s a kid that everyone on the team looks up to. I think he has what it takes to be a county champion.”
Freshman Tyler Lanci (99 pounds) is another competitor with a big upside. Lanci beat Uniondale’s Edual Reyes in the qualifier and had a good showing in the county meet. McConnell expects Lanci to rise to All-County status and compete for a county title in the near future.
After recovering from an early-season injury, senior Chris DiCanio had a superb year at 182 pounds. DiCanio, who went 18-3 for the year, advanced to the blood round at the counties only to lose a heartbreaking 14-13 decision to Mepham’s John Koenig.
“Things are looking real good for us,” McConnell said. “We have key guys coming back next year and the talent at the junior high level at Carey and New Hyde Park is as strong as we’ve ever seen. I’m very excited about the future of the program.”