Grand Street Campus wins PSAL wrestling title
Deuly Espinal has struggled to make weight all season and Wednesday night’s PSAL dual championship was no exception.
But the Grand Street Campus senior had no problem making the most of a big situation, pinning Jonathan Negron 3:40 into his match at 138 pounds to clinch the city title for the Wolves, who edged Brooklyn Tech, 46-27, at John Bowne HS in Queens.
It was the second PSAL title in five years for a program that was only established in 2005.
“I can’t even explain it,” Espinal said. “It hasn’t even sunk in yet. I know it’s something special, but I can’t even express the emotions right now.”
Espinal knew what was on the line when he walked onto the mat for the second to last match of the night. A big win clinches the crown. Anything else opens the door for Brooklyn Tech to possibly win a second straight title.
He made sure the Wolves would prevail in emphatic fashion, sending his teammates and the team’s fans into hysterics. It was Grand Street’s first win against Brooklyn Tech since Espinal’s freshman year.
The Engineers defeated the Wolves in last year’s PSAL title match, but Grand Street coach John Zarcone wasn’t thinking about avenging last year’s defeat.
“Last year was behind us,” he said. “It was about avenging this year’s dual meet loss to them and about winning a championship.”’
Zarcone did some major juggling of his lineup for Wednesday’s showdown. He moved Yeury Tavarez from 106 to 113, Espinal up to 138, Josh Thomas up to 160, Clifford Cruz down to 170, Anatoliy Anchakov up to 183 and Julio Medina from 220 to 285.
Virtually every move worked perfectly.
His first one, though, set the tone, moving Jorje Jimenez down to 152, which was the first match of the finals.
Jimenez earned a major decision over Cristian Masaya, 19-5.
“It was more of a shock value more than anything else,” Zarcone said. “To take out a tough Cristian Masaya with that first match was important to do.”
Thomas edged Patrick Alcantara, 5-4, at 160, Cruz pinned Olaleye Ojo at 170 and Anchakov won a 6-2 decision over Kevin Tynes at 182. Right out of the gate, Grand Street (12-1), ranked No. 3 in New York City by MSG Varsity, had a 16-0 lead.
“That was very important,” Espinal said. “That set the tone for the rest of the lineup. We knew what we had to do.”
The Wolves needed every one of those points because No. 2 Brooklyn Tech (11-2) came storming back. Andreas Kokkoros took a 6-0 decision from Enmanuel Perez at 195, Patryk Kopcznski pinned Ismael Cuerto 1:47 into their match at 220 and Shaquille Williams pinned Medina 3:47 into their 285-pound battle, pulling the Engineers to within 16-14.
Momentum started to shift back to the defending PSAL champions and Josh Antoine knew he had to do something to change that.
“I said I have to erase those two losses, put big points and then we have to start from here and work our way up,” Antoine said.
The 5-foot-1 junior provided that spark, pinning Yaneev Hirsh 58 seconds into their 99-pound bout.
“The school rallies around him,” Zarcone said. “A lot of people who don’t understand wrestling get excited to see such a small kid who is so confident.”
After Brooklyn Tech’s Zin Htoo beat Elijah Vasquez, 14-5 for a major decision at 106, Tavarez and Keanu Thompson had back-to-back pins at 113 and 120 to extend Grand Street’s lead to 34-18.
Nicolas Rappo took a 10-3 decision against Isaiah Segarra at 126 and Ryan Pong pinned Duran at 138 to cut the Engineers deficit to 34-27.
But Espinal clinched the Wolves title at 138 and Justin Vazquez pinned Mariusz Andrzejewski at 6:24 of their 145-pound tilt just for good measure.
According to Zarcone, his program has the perfect formula to breed success.
“I have a supporting athletic director, a supporting principal and an incredibly supportive wife at home,” Zarcone said. “You can’t do anything big and wonderful without a supportive wife at home.”
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler