Blanco improves to 36-0 at Islip Cup
Alexis Blanco's dream season hung precariously close to the ledge. In the second period of the 138-pound final against Deer Park's Zach Lugo, the Brentwood senior dove forward on a reshot and banged his right hand against the mat.
Injury time was immediately called, and following a short reprieve, the match resumed with the score tied. Blanco regrouped, blocked out the pain and bumped his season record to 36-0 with a 9-7 win at the Kris McDonald Islip Cup Saturday.
"My coaches are always there to help me get through, and I always have that voice in the back of my mind telling me, 'if anything happens, I'm still going to win,' " Blanco said, resting a bag of ice on his hand.
Blanco's prognosis is not yet known, although he showed some slight swelling. He did not seem too worried, chalking up the injury to the sport's inevitable bumps and bruises.
In beating Lugo (35-2), he took down arguably his best opponent of the season. Blanco is riding a sublime wave of success and has the confidence of a young man near the top of his sport.
"Nobody is unbeatable. Anybody can lose on any day, and that includes myself or anybody in the state," Blanco said. "But I would love to wrestle the elite guys and show everybody how far I've come in my training."
Don't be mistaken, however: Blanco has not come out of nowhere. A third-place finisher at last year's county championship (at 135 pounds), Blanco says good old-fashioned hard work has elevated him: "I know how much I've sacrificed to attain what I have."
Plainedge's Dan Spurgeon improved to 33-0 with an arm bar-caused pin of Islip's Joe Sabbatino in 3:01 at 170. Spurgeon scored three pins and a 15-0 technical fall victory and won the tournament's most outstanding wrestler award.
"It's something to shoot for," Spurgeon said of maintaining his undefeated record. "But as long as you win the matches you're supposed to and qualify for counties and states, that's all you really need."
Islip's Zach Conner rode a second-period escape to defeat Sachem North's Anthony Confessore, 1-0, at 195. A fourth-place finisher at 189 at last year's Suffolk championship, Conner (23-0) says he is rounding into form.
"I made a statement today," Conner said. "Obviously, I would have liked to win that match by a little more. I need to get my offense off more, but it was a tough match."
Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West (160 pounds) moved to 34-1 with an 11-1 major decision against Brentwood's Carlos Toribio, who is now 31-4.
Brentwood had six individual champions and won the team title with 239 points. Islip took second with 224.5 and had three champions.