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Win Over C.I. Helps Blue Devil Wrestling Program Near 500 Wins

It won’t happen this season, but it’s only a matter of time before the Huntington wrestling program wins its 500th dual meet.  This year’s Blue Devil mat team inched the program closer last week with a 44-9 rout at Central Islip behind pins by Charlie Paar (171 lbs.) and heavyweight Kelcy Perry.

The outcome of the meet was never really in any doubt even though Huntington has struggled at times this season with many new and relatively inexperienced wrestlers. In addition to the pins by Paar and Perry, Brian Lifson and Justin Giani earned technical falls and Francisco Pereira, Jon Dolan, Henry Hendrickson, Ira Gooden and Matthew Vickers each won by decision.  Central Islip sent another six points Huntington’s way by forfeiting the 125 lb. weight class.

The non-league match gave many Huntington wrestlers what they needed the most: Experience.  “A lot of the guys just need more time on the mat,” assistant coach Travis T. Smith said.  “They’re young and need to compete in order to get better.  Everyone is working hard in practice and getting in much better shape.  We’re coming along.”

This year’s squad is a lot different than last year’s, to be sure.  Gone are some of the best wrestlers in New York, including state champion Shawn Riley, state runner-up Shaheim Bradshaw and Suffolk champ Pierre Delva.  While the current team features seven wrestlers who are ranked among the best in Suffolk, it also includes many who have never before been on the varsity.

“We are looking to have a real good showing in the rest of our dual meets and then try and peak for the league, county and state tournaments,” Smith said.  If the Blue Devils can keep wrestling like they did against Central Islip, the program will come within a whisker of reaching the 500 win plateau and set the stage for history to happen early next winter.

Huntington, coached by William Class, earned its first wrestling dual meet victory Tuesday, February 23, 1937, edging Garden City, 25-21.  The program was discontinued due to a lack of interest after the 1938 season.  It made a comeback in 1951 under coach Frank Kubisa and the program has achieved almost mythical status in the years since.

The win over Central Islip gave the program an all-time mark of 493-140-7 over 56 seasons.  Giani has been head coach for 389 of those victories (he has 20 other wins as coach of Eastern Military Academy for career total of 409). 

The Blue Devils travel to Hauppauge this Friday (Jan. 28) for a 6 p.m. match.  Last winter Huntington defeated the Eagles, 48-9.  After the match, the wrestlers will board a bus for Albany where they will compete in the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday (Jan. 29). 

Next Wednesday (Feb. 2) Islip invades Blue Devil Gymnasium in the biggest match of the season.  The New York State Sportswriters’ Association ranks the Buccaneers first in the state.  Huntington is ranked 16th in the same poll.  Islip defeated the Blue Devils last year, 36-21 to snap the team’s winning streak at 81 straight dual meets, the longest in Suffolk wrestling history.