Numbers a plus for Sewanhaka East


In 17 years at the helm of Sewanhaka East’s wrestling program, Ian McConnell has never coached a roster as large as this season’s contingency.

“We have about 25 kids from both Carey and New Hyde Park,” he said. “We moved our practices to New Hyde Park full time and I think that helped boost the numbers a bit. It’s a young team so most of the varsity spots are filled. We won’t forfeit any weights unless we have a young kid matched against an All-County opponent.”

Sewanhaka East returned one All-County grappler of its own. Senior Jake Rodgers of New Hyde Park also picked up a second All-County football award this past fall. The 285-pounder and fourth-year member of the varsity is in the mix to contend for a county title, McConnell said.

“Jake is big, strong and athletic,” the coach noted. “He’s quick for his size and hit the weight room over the summer. If he’s on, he can beat anyone.”

Rodgers opened the season in impressive fashion by finishing runner-up in the prestigious King of the Mat Tournament hosted by Hewlett on Dec. 10. His workout partner, New Hyde Park junior Adam Maarouf, is a returning county tournament qualifier with potential to finish on the All-County podium (top six) as well, McConnell said.

Joshua Aviles, a sophomore at Carey, is looking for a deep run in the county tournament after winning two matches on the big stage last winter. He’s at 110 pounds and placed third in the King of the Mat. “Josh is a very tough kid and has more experience than most kids his age,” McConnell said. “He’s never intimidated and has great technique that he relies on.”

New Hyde Park seniors Ahmed Salehim and Stan Young are both in their fourth varsity campaigns and with All-County aspirations. McConnell said Salehim has “something to prove” and has been working extremely hard since last season ended. “Ahmed is very strong on his feet and one of the better kids at 118 in the county,” the coach said.

Young is someone McConnell is not only expecting to qualify for the county tournament but make a push for the top six at 132. “He’s one of those kids who improves so much from week to week,” McConnell said. “I think this is the season he can put it all together.”

Michael Sullivan, a Carey senior, brings county tournament experience to the table and tasted success at that level last season. The 215-pounder is an important team leader, McConnell said, and is another potential All-County finisher.

Among the talented youngsters in the program is eighth-grader Justin DePietro, who earned his first varsity win at 160 pounds in the early going and has tremendous upside. “He’ll be facing all older kids but he’s mentally and physically tough,” McConnell said. “He wanted to challenge himself and take the varsity road instead of JV.”

Sewanhaka East once again competes in one of the toughest conferences in Nassau, with Massapequa, Freeport, Uniondale and Syosset on the docket.