ALBANY, NY - Nick Mauriello of Hauppauge made his first trip to the state wrestling tournament memorable as well as inspirational, winning his first match late Friday morning to advance to the quarterfinals, where he lost to the No. 2 seed in the 132-pound weight class.
Mauriello was unable to qualify for last year's states because he contracted MRSA, a serious bacterial infection spread by blood-to-blood contact, as well as Lemierre's syndrome, a rare disease that when combined with MRSA, was potentially life-threatening until correctly diagnosed and treated.
But Mauriello recovered, went 39-2 this season and won the Suffolk County title at 132 to qualify for the state tournament. On Friday morning, he scored all of his points in the first period to defeat Brendan Morgan of Columbia, 4-3. In the afternoon, he lost to Iowa-bound and undefeated Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa, 5-0, in a tough match that was halted briefly in the third period because Kelley was bleeding with a cut over his right eye. Kelley had also beaten Mauriello, 10-4, during the season at the Eastern States tournament.
In the wrestle-back round on Friday night, Mauriello bounced back to easily defeat Curtis Barney of Canton by technical fall. He has a chance to finish as high as third in Saturday's final day of competition if he wins three matches. One victory Saturday assures him of sixth place and All-State status.
"I was just happy he was alive. That's the reality of all this," Hauppauge coach Chris Messina said.
Mauriello's father, Nick Sr., watched his matches from right near the mats. His mother, Sheila, and brothers Dan, Chris and Matt watched from the stands. "We're all so proud of him," Sheila Mauriello said.