Two of the top-ranked dual- meet teams on Long Island squared off for the Suffolk League II wrestling title Friday night before a packed house in Lake Ronkonkoma.
This was the dual meet that both teams circled on the schedule early in the season. And on Sachem North's senior night, it was the heavier weights who brought home the league crown. Buoyed by four seniors, Sachem North reeled off seven wins in eight bouts and came away with a 39-23 win over Connetquot to capture the crown.
Major decisions from Mike Falcon at 160 and James Schreck at 170 gave Sachem North the lead for good at 14-11. Defending county champion Gio Santiago turned in a first- period pin at 182 pounds and county runner-up Steven Mills added a second-period pin at 220 to make it 26-14.
"I thought I had him pinned in the first period," said Mills, who wants a shot at the state title in Albany. "But I got him in the second and that helped the team."
Sachem North (19-1) trailed early but had a huge win at 132 pounds. Sean O'Hagan erased a 4-1 deficit and used a third-period reversal with 11 seconds remaining for a stunning 5-4 victory over highly regarded Gino Titone in what should be a preview of the league tournament finals.
"I knew it was a pivotal match and I just had to stay with him," said O'Hagan, who had a large ice pack on his left knee after the bout. "He went hard for the escape to try and force overtime and I rode him out. It was a good win for me to stay undefeated in the league and more important for the team to win the dual meet."
Sachem's Matt Marino used a neat ankle pick for a four-point lead on his way to a 5-3 win over Greg Cherry at 138 pounds before Connetquot's top-ranked and undefeated Brendan Dent (145) won by technical fall over Matt Gerondel.
"It was a disappointing night," Dent said. "We win as a team and we lose as a team. We'll have to wrestle better to win the league tournament."
In a bout that had the crowd on its feet, Connetquot's Steve Schmitt (152) used an escape as time expired to force overtime and then recorded a double-leg takedown at 26 seconds for a 6-4 win over Jimmy Sanzone as the Thunderbirds (9-1) took their final lead at 11-6.
Sanzone gained a third-period takedown for a 4-3 lead and the two went to the referee's position with three seconds left. With the Sachem faithful roaring its approval of Sanzone's late takedown, Schmitt used a burst from the bottom position for the one-point escape and a 4-4 tie.
"We knew the dual would be like that all night," Sachem North coach Ray Pickersgill said. "Two very good teams with a lot at stake giving it everything they had. I thought we wrestled very well."