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
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 . . .