Freeport relishes premier tournament


With Nassau County championship matches looming, Freeport embraced the challenge of competing against the state’s top wrestlers last week.

Four Red Devils took to the mats in the program’s first ever appearance at the prestigious Eastern State Classic in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. Twenty-first year head coach Joe Chetti said the experienced gained grinding it out on the big stage at Sullivan County Community College last Friday and Saturday should bode well for the upcoming county dual meet and individual finals.

“It was beyond expectations,” Chetti said of the competition his top wrestlers were exposed to upstate. “The depth of the weight classes is what is so impressive.”

Senior Ikce-Wicasa Quiles shined at the Eastern State’s with a sixth-place finish at 182 pounds. Quiles advanced to the placing round with a 5-0 win against Massapequa’s Angelo Petrakis, who is among the favorites to win a county title. Chetti hopes the successful showing upstate fuels Quiles for a big run in the individual county championships at Hofstra next month.

“He put together a heck of a tournament,” said Chetti of Quiles, who in last year’s county championships dropped a narrow 3-2 decision to Wantagh’s Nick Coppola in the consolation finals. “He really worked his butt off.”

Also getting a taste of the Eastern State’s for the first time were Franklie Paulino (152), Lee Mauras (132) and Myles Norris (285). Mauras and Norris both made it to the second day of the tournament and were within one match of reaching the top eight placing round.

“Our guys really fought hard even in losing efforts,” said Chetti, who led Freeport to its first county crown in 2000.  “It shows them that they can compete at a high level and aren’t that far away.”

Chetti said the experience of taking part in the Eastern State’s more than lived up to the hype between the competitive environment on the mats along with old wrestling acquaintances he reconnected with. Freeport, which didn’t arrive back home until close to midnight Saturday, has already received an invite to take part in next year’s Eastern State Classic and Chetti hopes the event will become an annual part of the program’s schedule.

“I really wanted them to be exposed to a higher difficulty level,” he said. “It was just what the doctor ordered.”

Freeport headed to the Eastern State’s with momentum at its back with the Red Devils capturing seven of 10 dual matches to open the season. In a commanding 57-24 win against Syosset on Jan. 3, the Red Devils captured 10 of 15 bouts

The Red Devils will next compete in the Nassau County dual meet championships at Clarke High School this weekend with Chetti eyeing a top four finish. The county individual championships are on tap for Feb. 10-11 at Hofstra’s Mack Sports Complex where Freeport will look to earn spots in the New York State Championships at the Times-Union Center in Albany on Feb. 23-24. 

“We’re wrestling well as a team now,” Chetti said. “It’s exciting.”