Once again, Long Beach’s depth proved the key to the Marines taking home top accolades in last Saturday’s Nassau wrestling qualifying tournament title held in their own backyard.
Senior Jacori Teemer, who could make New York State history later this month in Albany, was one of four qualifier champs for the Marines, who totaled 375.5 points and will send 15 grapplers to Hofstra for this weekend’s Division I county championships.
The Arizona State University-bound Teemer steamrolled to the 152-pound title with three pins and earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. He’s looking to become the first Long Islander to win five straight state crowns, and he’s also captured four Nassau titles in a row.
“Jacori’s been slightly banged up so we’ve been selective with his matches most of the season,” Marines coach Ray Adams said of Teemer, who defeated Division’s Kevin Ayers in the finals of the qualifier with a pin in 62 seconds to up his record to 24-0 this season. “I think he’s full steam ahead at this point,” he added.
In addition to Teemer, seniors Elijah Rodriguez (220 pounds) and Alex Michelman (145), and sophomore Amir Hodge (120) finished first in the qualifier. Michelman and Hodge both defeated teammates in the finals, while Rodriguez, a defending county champion, knocked off top contender Boaz Smart of Bellmore-JFK.
Rodriguez, who won it all at 195 last winter, could face Smart again this Sunday night with the county title on the line. Last Saturday was their first-ever meeting and Rodriguez prevailed, 4-3, for his 36th victory in 40 matches this season. “It was a possible preview of the county finals,” Adams explained. “Elijah had a takedown and two escapes. If they do meet again, hopefully he can widen the gap. Smart’s a talented and strong opponent.”
Michelman nipped senior Joel Vega, 1-0, to continue an impressive return after an ankle injury derailed the start of his season. “Both kids are really improved and capable of getting on the All-County podium,” Adams said. “They’re tough.”
Hodge worked past fellow sophomore Wally Sofield, who happens to be his workout partner, 9-6. It’s the second straight qualifying tournament title for Hodge, who’s primed to take the next step in his career and earn All-County (top six) honors this weekend. “Wally came out strong and opened up a nice lead on Amir,” Adams said. “Then Amir came back quick. I like what they both bring to the table.”
Senior Michael McCabe (170), junior Dylan Martinsen (138), sophomore Max Maquet (132) and freshman Jeremiah Echeverria (99) also placed second in the qualifier, giving Long Beach 10 finalists among the 15 weight classes.
The Marines had five others place third or fourth to punch their tickets to Hofstra: Senior Daniel Malul (fourth at 152), juniors Evan Denardo (third at 182) and Jacob Miller (third at 170), and freshmen Kevin Lopez (third at 99) and Luke Mantia (fourth at 113.)
“I’m very happy to see 15 kids qualify,” Adams said.