By Jim & Tony Nordland

     At the
Nassau County Championships defending champion Long Beach is the slight tournament favorite but will be challenged by Nassau dual meet winner Massapequa and a strong Wantagh squad. Other top teams appear to be Plainedge and MacArthur.

Long Beach will be led by state place-winners Mark Raghunandan (34-1) at 103 and unbeaten junior Dylan Palacio (35-0) at 145 pounds. The Marines have an outstanding lightweight corps with county finalist Krishna Sewkumar (103) and brother Steven at 96, along with Qualifying champion and Most Pins winner Oral Allen at 119. Coach Ray Adams also points to Edisson Tigre-Borja (135), Nick Khoury (140) and Adam DeJesus at 152 pounds.

Massapequa has county bronze medalist Conor Wetzel (28-3) at 189 and all-county Chris Sarro (30-2) at 145.The Chiefs also crowned six other champions at their qualifier: Pat Nash (96), county placer Joe Doria (103), Justin Paradiso (125), Rudy Lanzillotta (130), Andrew Chicoine (140) and Endri Jaupai at 285 pounds. Coach Joe Catalanotto has a balanced lineup and enough firepower to win the team title.

Wantagh finished as runners-up at the 2010 county meet and are paced by two returning state finalists Joe Barbato (30-5) at 119 and unbeaten Joe Kavanagh (32-0, 154-14 career) at 189 pounds. Other top Warriors are Jay Rodriguez (96), Ken Albert (119), county bronze medalist Dan McDevitt (125), sophomore James Corbett (160), junior Chris Loew (171) and all-county Tom Hall at 215 pounds.

Plainedge has returning state bronze medalist David Ng (27-0), he is currently top-ranked in his weight class and the prohibitive favorite at 285. If  other top teams falter, look to the Red Devils to pose a strong challenge. They had seven tournament champions and send 21 wrestlers to the county meet. Coaches Rob Shaver and Peter Marques have potential finalists with Mike Nigro (24-4) at 140, 2010 county runner-up Dan Spurgeon (28-2) at 152 and tough Andrew Jones (14-2) at 171. Other top matmen are Steve Scuttelaro (18-6) at 96, Russ LaScala (28-4) at 130 and Dan Coder (20-5) at 160 pounds.

MacArthur has reigning Nassau champion Chris Perez (26-2) at 130 and county place-winner Angelo Rella (135). The Generals also have tournament champions Justin Cooksey, a freshman at 96, Anthony Boccasini (103), Bryan Conrad (140) and Frank Medeiros at 152. Other possible placers are Thomas Manning (125) and Joe Cataldo at 160 pounds.

     Other top individuals to watch are Robert Person (96) of BJFK, John Lanzillotti (112) of Roslyn, former Nassau champion Will Montgomery of Seaford, Mike Lofrese (Garden City), both at 119, John Pellegrino (LevDiv) and Mike Leonard (Clarke), both will compete in the 125-pound class. Also contending for Nassau crowns will be Bobby Krug (135), of BJFK, Mike Paccione (140) of Mepham, Jesse Bader (152) of Calhoun, Jermaine John (31-1) of Bethpage at 160, Levittown Division teammates Juan Carlos-Diaz (171) and Rob McNamara (189), along with unbeaten Andrew Danzinger (26-0) of East Meadow at 215 pounds.
      The Nassau Championships are slated to start on Saturday, February 12th at 10:00 AM @ the Mack Sports Arena, Hofstra University.
    The Suffolk County Championships look to be a two-team race between defending two-time team champion John Glenn and Longwood. Other top squads are Brentwood, League II champion Connetquot, Hauppauge, Sachem East, Kings Park, Sachem North, Huntington,Westhampton Beach, Rocky Point and East Islip.
John Glenn crowned four champions at the League VI Tournament and had three highly-regarded grapplers finish as runners-up. Winning titles for the Eagles were county placers James Dekrone (29-1) at 130 and Ken Massa (21-1) at 160, along with Luke Prohaske (171) and Mike Pinto (18-4) at 285.  Suffolk finalist Joe Giaramita (27-3, 112-23) dropped a close decision at 189 and could face rival and top-seeded Frank Abbondanza (Mt. Sinai) in the finals. Coach TJ Brocking also has All-County selection Vin Punzone (27-3) at 119 and Ken Meinsen (25-3) at 135, both will be in the mix at the county meet.

Longwood will be paced by state place-winners Corey Rasheed (31-1) at 112 and brother Malik (28-4) at 130. The Lions garnered four League I champions including the aforementioned Rasheed along with Casey Brice (130), and the Jennings brothers Ed (140) and top-seeded Pat (30-1) at 160 pounds. Coach Mike Picozzi's other potential placers are county medalists Anthony Donofrio (96) and Nick Hall (145), along with Ricky Renck at 152.

Brentwood has state medalist Alex Gomez (32-0, 184-12), a five-time sectional place-winner and top-ranked at 125 pounds. Coach Ralph Napolitano and the Indians also point to tough Alexis Blanco (31-1) at 135 and county placer Eric Orellana (26-3) at 112. Other standouts are league champion Jared Hudson (22-4) at 189 and David Chaverra (26-4) at 130 pounds.

Connetquot has Suffolk bronze medalist Sean McCabe (128-9 career)  at 112 and county placer Nick LoBue (160). Both won League II crowns and are potential finalists. Coach Bill Santoro and the T-Birds also have a trio of league titlists: Stephen Drew (125), Shaun Gillen (152) and John Zullo at 171 pounds.

Hauppauge has defending state champion Mark West (39-4) at 112 and county third-place finisher Chanse Menendez (34-3) at 171. Coach Chris Messina also has three League V champions that should propel the Eagles near the top in the team standings. That trio include OSW winner Chris Mauriello (32-7), a 7th-grader at 96, Mike Ehlinger (140) and second seeded Adam Lepkowsky (35-1) at 140 pounds.

Huntington will be led by reigning state champion Nigel McNeil (32-0, 155-15) at 119 and state finalist Lou Puca (30-0, 139-31) at 171 pounds. The Blue Devils also had four league finalists, including highly-touted Nick Lupi (215) and freshman Anthony Puca (24-5) at 285 pounds.

Sachem East has county finalist Conor O'Hara (27-3) at 112 and  bronze medalist Sean O'Malley (28-2), the top seed at 145. They also have three league champions Tyler Monsees (119), Rob Seder (152) and fifth-seeded Frank Merante at 171. Westhampton Beach has the Bass brothers, Conner (over 150 career wins) who drew the top seed at 135 and Zach (145), along with Matt Mazarakis (152). East Islip won the League III title and had three individual winners: Dave Dellavecchia (31-5) at 119, Tyler Conway (25-4, 102 career wins) at 171 and Chris Chambers at 189. League V champion Kings Park has returning county runner-up Greg Martin (285) and Warren Bosch (215), both are top rated in their weight classes. Sachem North has league champions Sean O'Hagan (103) and Mike McCarthy (215). Also to watch is Frank Napoli (119) and Anthony Confessore (27-5) at 285. Rocky Point has county placer Thomas Dutton (28-8), an 8th-grader at 119 and NYS medalist Matt Ross (38-3, 204 wins), the second seed at 145.

     In the
Division II Tournament look for defending team champion Bayport-Blue Point (20-2) to have a strong showing. Coach Rich Reilly and the Phantoms have three returning county champions: Ryan Hake (22-5) at 125, Kyle Underwood (31-1, 102 wins) at 130 and Jeff Purdy (28-4) at 135, along with top-seeded Brandin Thomas (30-2) at 140 pounds.
    The Suffolk Championships are scheduled to begin on Sunday, February 13th at 10:00 AM @ Stony Brook University.

Mat Notes...
Returning state finalist Kyle Wade (35-0) of Islip is the solid favorite at 152 pounds. Other top seeded wrestlers include Nick Piccininni (28-1) of Ward Melville at 96, Travis Passaro (36-1) of ESManor at 103 and Eric Kogel (140) of Mt. Sinai.The 112-pound class is loaded, possible semifinal match-up could be Mark West vs Corey Rasheed. In the bottom bracket are tough Sean McCabe, county placer Matt Leshinger (33-4) of Sayville and a possible first round bout could see third-seeded TJ Fabian (SWR) vs Conor O'Hara. Most likely the OSWAward will come from this class. Another strong weight is the 119-pound class. One of the elite wrestlers in the state Nigel McNeil is here and could face Vin Punzone in a quarterfinal bout. Possible finalists could be second seeded Giovanni Sanchez (32-3) of Central Islip, Thomas Dutton, or Sayville teammates Chris Siracusa (30-9) and Nick Pesko (31-5). Longwood finished the season with a perfect 11-0 mark and won all six tournaments. The Lions also hold a 58-match win streak and are number one-ranked in the Empire State. Best of Luck to all the competitors this weekend, enjoy your County Championships...
Dylan Palacio - Long Beach switches
Chris Sarro - Massapequa
Andrew Chicoine - Massapequa controls Edisson Tigre-Borja- Long Beach
Conor Wetzel - Massapequa
Joe Kavanagh & Joe Barbato
Mike Nigro - Plainedge
Chris Perez - MacArthur
Will Montgomery - Seaford
Jermaine John - Bethpage
Nigel McNeil - Huntington rides
Nick Pesko - Sayville
James Dekrone - John Glenn
Corey Rasheed - Longwood
Pat Jennings - Longwood
Alex Gomez - Brentwood
Sean McCabe - Connetquot
Mark West - Hauppauge
Conor O'Hara - Sachem East
Tyler Conway - East Islip
Jeff Purdy, Ryan Hake &
Kyle Underwood - Bayport/Blue Point
Kyle Wade - Islip
Giovanni Sanchez - Central Islip
Chris Siracusa - Sayville
Hofstra's Mack Arena
Stony Brook Field House
Sean O'Hagan - Sachem North