Wrestling programs from throughout New York City, Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey converged on Monsignor Farrell for the Dave Ironman Invitational.
But it became clear that it was a two-team race for the title heading into the finals. And what a race it was with Rocky Point clinging to a 1.5-point lead on Sachem North.
“That was the buzz around the whole venue that it was as close as a varsity tournament could be,” Rocky Point coach Darren Goldstein said.
His wrestlers responded to the challenge, winning the title by 3.5 points Saturday night on Staten Island.
“We beat a really good team. Sachem North is outstanding,” junior Brennan Strovink said. “It’s great a little school like us can hang out with the big dogs.”
With the slimmest of leads heading into the final, it was evident the title would hinge on three head-to-head matchups between the schools, the first of which was for the 99-pound title.
Freshman C.J. Archer won his second straight Ironman title, beating Sachem North’s Matt Stallone, 7-1.
“That kind of got us on our way,” Goldstein said.
On the adjacent mat a few feet away, Strovink was taking on Mazen Hassan from Monsignor Farrell for the 285-pound title.
“When Brennan was wrestling, I was trying to look over and cheer him on when I was still wrestling,” Archer said. “I looked over and he was off the mat so I didn’t know if he won or not.”
Strovink not only won, but he picked up a pin in 1:14, really setting the tone for the rest of his teammates.
“A pin and we won two matches in a row, that definitely got our team ready to go,” Strovink said. “Everyone got excited and it pumped us up.”
Sachem North rallied to win at 126 pounds, with Anthony Nunziatta defeating Rocky Point’s Frank Schuilla, 4-2, and at 195 pounds with Anthony DiMatteo knocking off Rocky Point’s Joseph Zabbara, 10-8.
Sachem North’s Giovanni Santiago also won by pin at 52 seconds against Monsignor Farrell’s Matt Roberts in the 182-pound final.
The decisive match, though, came at 138 pounds when Rocky Point sophomore Tom Dutton pinned Monsignor Farrell’s Karl Weisner in 1:09. It was his fourth straight Ironman title. His first came as a seventh grader.
“I think what makes him a good wrestler is that wrestling is not the only thing that he’s about,” Goldstein said. “He’s a well-rounded kid, which allows him to step onto the mat and do his job and walk away from the mat.”
Dutton said he didn’t know the team title hinged on his match, but he appreciated his squad edged a perennial Section XI powerhouse in Sachem North.
“It’s big because last year if we would have wrestled them, they would have beat us up,” Dutton said. “But we have the same kids as last year and it just shows how we put in more work in the offseason.”
It’s a win in a prestigious tournament that further validates Rocky Point, ranked No. 2 among large schools in New York State by the New York Sportswriters Association.
But Goldstein knows there’s more work to do.
“Winning the tournament means a lot for the program because it means we’re heading in the right direction,” Goldstein said. “This gives us a little bit of so-called bragging rights…This moment, we’re very proud and happy with the way things went. Monday it starts all over again.”
DAVE IRONMAN INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONS
99: C.J. Archer, Rocky Point
106: Noah Malamut, Poly Prep
113: Santo Curatolo, Tottenville
120: Mike Seligson, Clarkstown North
126: Anthony Nunziatta, Sachem North
132: Blaise Rufo, Monsignor Farrell
138: Tom Dutton, Rocky Point
145: Colby Kash, Clarkstown North
152: Konstantin Parfiryev, James Madison
160: Andrew Psomas, Monsignor Farrell
170: Terrell Forbes, St. Benedict’s Prep
182: Giovanni Santiago, Sachem North
195: Anthony DiMatteo, Sachem North
220: Roman Accetta, Poly Prep
285: Brennan Strovink, Rocky Point