With seven wrestlers placing within the top four for their weight class at last Saturday’s county qualifiers, and three finishing fifth, Glen Cove will have seven guaranteed contenders at this year’s county championships with three alternates all receiving All-Conference honors.
With just a week separating the qualifier and the county championships held at Hofstra University beginning this Saturday at 10 a.m., Glen Cove coach Chris MacDonald is taking an active approach with his team to stay prepared and competitive.
“I booked some good, hard scrimmages for this week,” MacDonald said. “I just want us to have that feeling of competition in between the two meets.”
That competition will bode well for his talented All-Conference wrestlers, including two qualifier champions: Isaiah Jackson (99 pounds), and Sal Guastella (160.)
Jackson finished the qualifiers last Saturday with three pins and a 13-8 victory in the 99-pound finals. Impressive enough to take home the No. 5 seed for his division going into Hofstra, MacDonald is hoping he finishes as a top-four All-County recipient.
“He’s very big and physically strong for his weight class and usually when he makes the match a physical test of strength and will, he does well,” MacDonald said.
Guastella had a similar Saturday on the mats, as he pinned two on his way to winning his meet and becoming the No. 5-ranked 160-pounder going into the county championships. Glen Cove did have a brief, and scary, moment in the finals where Guastella seemed to be unceremoniously injured by a rogue slam. Yet he was cleared by doctors who immediately followed up with an evaluation.
As for his goals at Hofstra, MacDonald believes Guastella wants to take the whole 160-pound division by storm. “He has goals of winning it all,” MacDonald said. “But he’s still taking it one match at a time, not looking past anybody.”
The Big Red’s Liam Young (145) and Eder Leiva (170) both finished second. Leiva, en route to the finals, took home a very impressive point victory in the semifinals. “He wrestled very smart in his semifinal match,” MacDonald said. “He built an early lead, and he kept it.”
Edson Murillo (106) was the lone third-place recipient for the Big Red. Murillo lost a 3-0 match to eventual qualifying champ Kyle Schneider where his opponent won on an early lead with good control, but Murillo looks towards Hofstra as the ultimate opportunity. “He’s excited to go to Hofstra and make his name be heard in the counties,” MacDonald said.
Anderson Velasquez (152) and Phil Aguilar (220) both finished fourth, securing All-Conference honors with a guaranteed spot in this weekend’s county meet. Aguilar, a freshman with a trying record, had a day on the mats that resembled his hard-fought season. “He’s had so many close matches this year, and he’s such a tough competitor,” MacDonald said. Aguilar’s qualifying match ended up as a double overtime win, showing his perseverance through adversity.
RJ Almas (182), Eamon Doyle (113), and Brandon Rivera (285) all are young wrestlers who achieved All-Conference honors and will be alternates at Hofstra. “They’re all young guys that will have this great experience coming back next year,” MacDonald said.