The Nassau County Division 1 wrestling championships kicked off a few hours before Super Bowl LVII on Sunday and the first of 13 weight classes featured a rematch of one of last season’s most exciting title bouts.
Only this time, the result was different.
Hewlett senior Ariel Waldman turned the tide on Wantagh’s Ryan Arbeit in the 132-pound final, taking a 9-5 decision to earn his first county championship before a crowd of 2,000 at Hofstra University. Waldman, one of the Bulldogs’ six qualifier tournament champs eight days earlier, fell to Arbeit 6-4 in overtime in the 126-pound final a year ago.
“It feels even better than I thought it would,” said Waldman, who’ll take a record of 46-5 to the state tournament Feb. 24-25 at Albany’s MVP Arena. “I knew I had to work hard and grind,” he added. “He’s a tough opponent. It’s always a great match when we go at it.”
Waldman, the No. 2 seed who squeezed past Plainedge’s Luke Nieto, 3-2, in a hard-fought semifinal Sunday morning, had a huge opening period against Arbeit and built a 6-3 cushion.
“The strategy was for Ariel to open up and wrestle to the best of his ability,” Hewlett coach Stephen Jones said. “I wanted him to attack from the start and not hesitate. He came out strong and controlled the match from the beginning. Winning a county title was something he really wanted to accomplish and it’s something he’ll always remember.”
Waldman, who as a freshman in February of 2020 was the county runner-up at 106, will be joined by a pair of teammates upstate.
Eighth-grader Carlos Salazar won four matches last weekend and reached the 110-pound final where he was defeated by Long Beach phenom Dunia Sibomana via major decision, 14-2. And senior Ryan Goodman (172) made quite a run in the consolation bracket Sunday after falling in the quarterfinals on Saturday to capture third place.
“Carlos was All-County last year as a seventh-grader and was banged up earlier this season,” Jones explained. “He had a great tournament and just happened to go up against the best kid in the state in the finals. It’s going to be a valuable experience for him upstate. He’s just starting to peak.”
Goodman, who won his two matches before falling to eventual champion Justin Soriano of Clarke, responded to the setback with four straight victories including a 7-5 OT win over Oceanside’s Jared Marine with a trip upstate on the line. “Ryan’s a D1 lacrosse player and the way he dug down and bounced back to get to states says a lot about his personality.”
Hewlett, which placed fifth in the team standings, had two other All-County (top six) finishers. Junior Eric Gendlin reached the 118-pound semifinals, losing to eventual champion Anthony Clem of Wantagh, and placed fifth. Junior Oleg Daniloff also advanced to the semis and eventually finished sixth at 160.
“I was happy with our performance,” Jones said.