Will this finally be the year?
That’s the question facing the South Side/East Rockaway wrestling team on multiple fronts as the Cyclones embark on a pivotal season under coach Mike Robinson. The early returns so far are pointing to a potentially historic year for the program.
All eyes will be on senior Kyle Mosher as he pursues that elusive state championship in what should be his sixth and final try as a high school competitor. The two-time All American placed fifth in last year’s tournament in the 145-pound class and has placed among the top five in each of his last four trips to the competition.
Robinson is confident that Mosher can climb to the top of the mountain this time around. “This is the year he’s going to do it,” he proclaimed. “It’s not really that much pressure. The things that he’s done already qualifies him as one of the best in New York State. If he doesn’t win the title, it’s something he can live with because he’s done so many other things.”
Mosher’s year is off to another stellar start by advancing to the semifinals of the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio against some of the top-ranked grapplers in the country. Competing in the 160-pound bracket, he lost to top-seeded Conor Brady of Ohio, but rebounded to finish third with a fall over New Jersey’s Domonic Mata, the fourth-ranked national wrestler.
“He had a great weekend,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to get him to face the best competition as possible. He’s on fire right now.”
Robinson is also hoping to end an eight-year playoff drought with a solid mix of veteran wrestlers and young up-and-comers. Senior Nick Shimkin won the 120-pound title at the Sprig Gardner Tournament in Bellmore with an 8-4 decision win over Port Washington’s Matthew Castillo and bested Oceanside’s Vincent Ferrato with an 18-2 technical fall four days later.
“He’s always been an impact player on our team,” Robinson said. “I think he’s going to be right there in the end, battling for a county title.”
Robinson is also excited about freshman Thomas Wagner, a longtime youth wrestler who is turning heads in the 99-pound class. His sixth-place finish at Sprig Gardner 59-second fall against Oceanside’s Allen Cuba earned him some lofty comparisons from his coach.
“He’s the next Mosher,” Robinson said. “When I watch kids wrestle, they have to know positions, where they’re at in every situation, how to escape and counter and then score. Thomas has all of that.”
He’s been a He’s an all-year round wrestler. He has good position.
Seven wrestlers qualified for the county championships last winter and Robinson believes that number can be surpassed. In addition to Mosher, Shimkin and Wagner, Robinson is confident that Ryan and Connor Alfano, Andrew Shulov, Aidan Kelly and Greg Lethbridge can qualify with Will Abrams and East Rockaway natives Daniel Del Valle and Andrew Cancel also showing the potential to earn berths.