North Shore’s wresting team won’t have as gaudy a campaign as last season when it captured the Conference 4 championship. It will take a step back to rebuild and gear up for a winning future.
Last season, the Vikings grapplers posted an unbeaten conference record to win the crown, but lost 12 contributors from that squad to graduation. As importantly, their superstar returnee, Reece Ramos still hasn’t wrestled in 2022-23.
The 285-pound senior who won the county tournament last season is also a star offensive lineman for the championship-winning football team. But Ramos tore his ACL and MCL last June during an offseason football practice on turf. He missed the 2022 football season but there’s some hope he’ll be cleared in late January.
But wrestling coach Anthony Facchini said there’s no guarantee, calling January "a big maybe.'' “I’m hoping back he's back for at least the county tournament,’’ Faccini said. “It’s all contingent on what the doctors say.’’ Ramos is still hoping to play college football.
North Shore is also hurting from the departure of a dozen seniors who were led by Matt O’Donnell, who posted 15-4 record at 110, Andrew Noak (13-3) and Mark Russo (9-2).
In addition to Ramos' absence, senior Kristos Vlahopoulos, at 172, hurt his knee and hasn’t wrestled. The Vikings could get him back after the holiday break. “If he’s in the mix, he’ll be a stud,’’ Facchini said.
In the meantime, it has given plenty of opportunity for a group of young wrestlers, led by promising sophomore Evan Giakoumas.
“I thought we’d be in a different position this year but injuries and Ramos not in picture has been really tough for us,’’ Facchini said. “We have a lot of juniors, good amount of freshman and sophomores and some first-year seniors just started wrestling this year. It’s a lot of new guys starting wrestling.
“This year it’s more of a build year - get these kids a bunch of matches, get them better and hope for the best when it comes to the county tournament,'' Facchini added.
Giakoumas looks to be a star-in-the-making. He’s 5-0 in dual meets at 152 pounds, and 6-2 overall. “He’s raw but he’ll do well at the end of the year,’’ Faccini said. “And we’ll have our hands on him for another two years.’’
The top senior is 285 pounder,. Andrew Fabiilli, who is coming into his own. At Seaford earlier in December, Fabiilli pinned the Division II county finalist, Neriel Colon. “It was a big moment,’’ Facchini said. “He realizes now he can be county champ. You’ll see some good things from him.’’
Also showing potential is 160-pounder, junior Luke Potapov, and senior 125-pounder Nolan Ford, who missed the second half of last season with an injury. Neither of their records are impressive but they are making strides.
North Shore’s dual meet record so far is 1-4. "It's not a great start,'' Facchini said. "But we're younger as a team.''