BRENTWOOD, N.Y. -- Longwood heavyweight wrestler Omari Palmer ambled to the mat with his team facing a 9-0 deficit inside Brentwood's gym. The momentum, two matches into a Suffolk League I dual meet, belonged to the hosts.
Then, Palmer decided to flip things around.
His pin of Brentwood's Josue Iglesias at 3:13 narrowed the deficit to three, and by match's end, the Lions had rolled to a 46-18 win Friday night.
"It was a great adrenaline rush," Palmer said.
A two-way lineman on the football team, the junior has been wrestling for only a month, slimming down from upward of 320 pounds to make the 285 limit. "I talked to my assistant principal [Adam DeWitt], and he said it would be great for football," Palmer said. "I then talked to coach [Mike] Picozzi, and he said we can always use extra guys."
After lifting with the wrestling team during the offseason to cut some weight, he gave it a try.
To no one's surprise, the big guy with a knack for tackling in the backfield picked up this wrestling thing like a natural.
"He moves very well," Picozzi said. "We knew that he wanted to learn. He has been learning new things every day."
With Palmer's pin an ideal jumping-off point, Longwood took a 10-9 lead in the 96-pound bout, when Anthony D'onofrio took a 10-9 decision from Danny Murray. Corey Rasheed's 59-second pin of Eric Orellana, 14-2 entering the match, at 112, extended the lead to 22-9.
With Longwood leading 31-9, two of the Island's top grapplers, the Lions' Malik Rasheed and Brentwood's Alex Gomez, matched up at 130. After a scoreless first period, Gomez, a natural 125-pounder, broke the deadlock on a two-point takedown in the second.
Tied at 2, Gomez took the lead on a stalling penalty with a minute remaining in the third and held on for the win.
"My motto is: to beat the best, you have to wrestle the best," Gomez said.
Gomez's win did not blunt the Lions' momentum, which began with Palmer's out-of-nowhere tour de force.
After his pin, with his teammates yelling and backslapping, the wrestling newbie walked back to the sideline with the slightest of grins.
"Inside, I was pretty much screaming and jumping up and down," Palmer said. "But sportsmanship . . . you gotta have it."