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Third Place Finish Ends Blue Devils Windsor Tournament Streak

Huntington’s phenomenal success over the years has spoiled the wrestling world.  The Blue Devils’ third place finish in last week’s Windsor Christmas Tournament turned more than a few heads since the program had won six of the last seven team titles at what is billed as New York’s oldest high school tournament.  Not many can remember that December 1996 was the last time Huntington ended up as low as third. 

With Huntington’s success have come high expectations that at times are simply unrealistic.  Even the Blue Devils have to rebuild once in a while.  This is one of those years.  Gone are last year’s stars, Shawn Riley, Shaheim Bradshaw and Pierre Delva.  Oh yes, the team still has its share of stars like state runner-up Jack Sullivan and county finalists Charlie Paar and Jeremy Pellot, but there’s also plenty of inexperience and unproven talent.

The Windsor Christmas Tournament isn’t very forgiving to teams with anything less than a stacked lineup.  The 17-team “meat grinder” showed how far Huntington, which finished behind Waverly (213 points) and Canandaigua (157.5) in the team standings with 122.5 points, needs to go if the Blue Devils are to be a player in Suffolk this season.  

Despite a lineup that has more than the usual amount of holes in it, Huntington pushed four wrestlers into the finals and placed four others in the consolations, but couldn’t overcome rugged Waverly.  “They’re a super tough team,” head coach Lou Giani said.  “We’re not there yet as a team.  It’s going to take us some time.”

Shawn Riley might be gone, but he left behind younger brother Stephan who grabbed the 96 lb. crown with a 10-5 decision over Brian Sewalt of Waverly.  “Stephan had a great tournament,” assistant coach Travis Smith said.  “If he works hard, he can do something in the league and county tournaments.”  With the Windsor title under his belt, Riley becomes an instant contender in Section XI.

Huntington’s other finalists didn’t fare as well.  Waverly’s Logan Walker upended Lifson at 103 lbs., 9-6, Paar (171) fell to Eric Decker of BGA, 7-1 and Sullivan (189) lost to Jon Jones of Union-Endicott, 5-4 in overtime. 

Justin Giani (119) and Jeremy Pellot (275) each placed fourth while Henry Hendrickson (160) and Kelcy Perry (215) were fifth.  Giani and Pellot both lost close semifinal matches.  Giani fell to Windsor’s John Yarosh, 1-0 and Pellot lost Matt Thompson of Norwich, 3-1.

Huntington opens the dual meet season this Friday (Jan. 7) when it squares off against league foe Kings Park in Blue Devil Gymnasium at 5 p.m.  The team travels to the tough Kohl Tournament at Suffern High School the following day (Sat. Jan. 8).

Mat Notes: Canandaigua is coached by Huntington alumnus Richard Romeo (‘79) . . .The Blue Devils were second at the Kohl Tournament last year with 201.5 points . . .Huntington’s Windsor performance lowest Blue Devil point total there since the team started competing in the Binghamton area tournament in December 1989 . . .In 16 trips to Windsor, Huntington has never finished lower than third and has won the team title eight times . . .Lifson, Paar, Sullivan, Pellot and Perry won’t be getting another shot in the Windsor Tournament since all five are seniors . . .