Freeport’s wrestling team had an impressive showing at the county qualifying tournament at Uniondale last Saturday as 16 grapplers advanced to this weekend’s county championships, including six that won their weight classes outright.
Junior Max Finch (99 pounds), freshman Jerry Ellis (106), sophomore Lee Mauras (132) and seniors Frankie Paulino (152), Ikce Quiles (182) and Donovan Watson (220) were all victorious at the qualifier. Seniors Chad Elder (113), Sebastian Mauras (120), Rony Lopez (170) and John Meyveci (220) and sophomores Neo Ferron (132), Troy Saraldi (195) and Myles Norris (285) placed second.
Seniors Daniel Lyons (220) and Baldwin Cepeda (126) and junior Willie Rivera (160) round out the list that will head to Hofstra this Saturday for a chance to compete at the state tournament.
“We did very well,” said coach Joe Chetti. “Winning the class, the number was about right, but I wanted at least 20 [overall qualifiers]. There were some guys who lost some close matches to get into the third and fourth position. But overall, I’m very happy.”
Quiles, who placed sixth at the highly-competitive Eastern State Classic in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., last month, had one of the more impressive performances last Saturday by recording four pinfalls in a combined 3 minutes, 37 seconds, including Roosevelt’s Eric Rizo in the final.
“He went out and took care of business,” Chetti said. “It wasn’t close.”
Paulino, the defending qualifying champion who finished fifth at the county championships last year, avenged a major decision loss to Uniondale’s Carlos Hernandez earlier this season with a 13-5 major decision of his own in that final.
“He took a tough loss during the dual meet and I think it really motivated him,” Chetti said. “He came back and really got all over the kid.”
Ellis has had an up-and-down regular season, but turned it on at Uniondale with two pinfall victories and a major decision win (17-4) over Jericho’s Kevin Cang in the final.
“He’s really limited with experience, but he has gotten better every week,” Chetti said. “He manhandled everyone. I was really happy for the kid. For his confidence level, it’s a major boost.”
Finch, who posted a 24-6 record in his return to the team, pinned two of his opponents on Saturday, including Uniondale’s Ajmal Oyewumi in the first-place match.
Red Devil wrestlers finished 1-2 in a pair of weights. Lee Mauras was awarded first place after Ferron defaulted with an injured nose suffered during his previous match and Watson decisioned Meyveci, who won last year’s qualifier, by a 5-0 score.
Watson also bested Lyons by a 2-1 decision in the semifinals. The 220 category was the only one that featured three Freeport wrestlers in the top four positions.
Norris held tough against Roosevelt’s Deaquan Stuart in his first-place match before eventually falling 2-1 in the ultimate tiebreaker. Stuart, who Norris beat during the Ted Petersen Tournament in early January, had a late escape to win the match.