Four Champions Lift Huntington to
Suffolk Wrestling Title
Huntington wrestling team has a long tradition of peaking at just the
right time of year. While other dynasties have long since fallen, the
Blue Devils continue to march right along. Not even dropping their first
dual meet in nine years or losing the league tournament for the second
straight season could keep them down.
Huntington’s best Section XI Tournament performance in 24 years produced
four more Suffolk champions and the team crown – their fourth since
1998. It marked the first time since 1978 that a team won the county
title after failing to win either the league dual meet or tournament
Throughout much of the two day competition at the Indoor Sports Complex
at SUNY Stony Brook, Huntington found itself locked in a tight battle
with Islip, as more than 40 other teams trailed far behind in the
standings. Boosted by an unusually large cheering section in the
southeast section of the arena, the Blue Devils methodically gained
control of the tournament, match-by-match.
Devils ultimately claimed victory on the performances of champions Shawn
Riley (130 lbs.), Shaheim Bradshaw (145), Jack Sullivan (189) and Pierre
Delva (215) and all-county finishers Frank Sangiovanni (5th,
135), Chris Holland (5th, 152), Charlie Paar (2nd,
160) and Jeremy Pellot (2nd, 275).
a small lead entering the finals, the team title hung on two
head-to-head match-ups between the League V foes that clearly favored
Riley and Bradshaw, who only a week earlier had defeated the Buccaneers’
Mike Rudden and Dan Petroro in the league finals. This time the score
was closer, but the results were the same.
out strong on Friday and continued wrestling well right through the
finals,” assistant coach Travis Smith said. “Everyone was ready. We
didn’t talk about the team title. We knew if the kids wrestled well
individually, everything else would fall into place.” Smith had it
title was his second in as many years. The senior picked up a pair of
early round pins and then topped Commack’s Steve Oliveri in the
semifinals, 20-8 before taking down Rudden three times in the finals to
lock up a 6-3 decision and remain perfect this year with a 31-0 mark.
didn’t want to take risks out there,” Riley said. “He’s tough and I
didn’t want to make a mistake. I’m going to pick up a notch this week
for the states.” He will be seeking to improve upon last year’s 3rd
place showing when he competes with the other champions Friday and
Saturday in the New York State Intersectional Tournament at SUNY
and Sullivan each waited a year for the redemption they found in the
finals. Both lost last year in the finals, with Sullivan melting down
in the final seconds after coasting through most of the match with a
Bradshaw the climb up to the top step of the victory platform wasn’t
without a few chills and thrills. He was in full control in winning 7-1
and 9-0 decisions the first day, before having a wild semifinal match
that had him on the verge of pinning Ted Garelick of Half Hollow Hills
East one minute and nearly getting pinned just a few seconds later. He
eventually won that match, 17-7, which set up a rematch with Petroro,
whom he vanquished a week earlier, 7-3.
time around Petroro focused almost exclusively on defense, frustrating
Bradshaw’s relentless attack. After a scoreless first period that saw
the Huntington senior nearly gain a pair of takedowns near the out of
bounds line, Bradshaw escape in the second frame to go up 1-0. It was
the only point that would be scored, as Petroro was ridden out the
entire third period.
very happy,” Bradshaw said. “He wasn’t opening up and it was hard to
found redemption a year after suffering a devastating loss. With a year
to prepare, he started out strong, pinning Smithtown’s Peter Jordan in
the first round in 3:22, before earning a major decision over
Centereach’s Ryan Avitabile, 8-0.
to the title continued for Sullivan in the semifinals with another major
decision, this time over Miller Place’s Ed Caraher, 11-2. The
championship match with West Babylon’s Jovan Belcher was a one-sided
affair, with Sullivan gaining control in the first ten seconds and never
wanted to have tight control the whole match, especially after what
happened last year,” the Huntington junior said. “After getting that
first takedown, I felt really good. I knew I was in charge.”
path to his first Suffolk crown wasn’t nearly as easy. He first needed
to rally to eke out a 5-4 decision over Smithtown’s Ben Reiter in the
first round. A roller coaster battle with Hills East’s James Pellegrino
followed, as Delva grabbed a 15-8 decision to advance to the semifinals
where the Huntington senior squared off against top seeded Nick Parker
wrestled a great match against Parker,” Smith said. “He stuck to the
game plan and fought off some tough attacks. He mixed an effective
offense into his defensive moves.” A 5-2 victory pushed Delva into the
Saturday night finals where he had to wrestle Chris DiGiovanna of East
Islip, a familiar foe.
takedown proved decisive for Delva, who added four more points to glide
through to a 6-4 victory, the third time he has beaten DiGiovanna.
thought everyone did a great job for us,” head coach Lou Giani said. “We
won some really tough matches in this tournament. I was impressed with
how none of our kids got intimidated against higher seeded opponents and
how we didn’t let down in any matches.”
county team title was the ninth of Giani’s long career, more than any
other Suffolk coach. The crowns won by Riley, Bradshaw, Sullivan and
Delva also allowed the Hall of Famer to move past Bay Shore’s Cliff
Clark as the coach with the most individual county champions with 57.