Longwood sends four to NYS semis
ALBANY, NY -- Longwood's Dylen Seybolt felt the metaphorical weight that had been placed upon his 170-pound shoulders.
The senior had just watched three of his teammates -- senior Malik Rasheed (138), sophomore Corey Rasheed (145) and junior Nicky Hall (152) -- advance to the semifinals of the state Division I tournament at Times Union Center.
Then it was his turn to make things right, to ensure all four Lions moved on to the Final Four. With an 11-4 quarterfinal win over Farrell's Rrok Ndokaj, Seybolt completed his team's first-day mission.
Longwood became only the third Suffolk team, and first since 1976, to have four wrestlers qualify for the state semis.
"If I didn't make it, that would have kind of messed things up," Seybolt (33-3) said.
The road to four semifinalists began when Malik Rasheed (31-6), a 2010 state runner-up, scored a 5-3 decision over Warwick Valley's Shane Connolly. Minutes later, his brother, Corey Rasheed (34-2), dominated Warwick Valley's Kyle Wierzbicki, 11-2, in a major decision.
"It motivates me, especially when my brother won right before me," Corey Rasheed said. "I just know how special it would be if both brothers won states."
Hall (34-3) earned his second straight state semifinal berth with a 5-2 decision over St. Anthony's Matt Szilagyi.
For Longwood, their Day 1 state tournament success helped alleviate the disappointment of last year's tournament, when they finished ninth as a team and had only three place-winners.
"We all took the losses hard last year, so ever since last year's season ended, that was the beginning of this season," Seybolt said. "And we've worked hard ever since."
Malik Rasheed will meet Brentwood's Alexis Blanco, whom he bested in the Suffolk final. Hall will take on SWR's John Keck (46-2), who beat him, 4-2, last month.
Corey Rasheed will see North Rockland's Mike Caputo, with whom he split a pair of decisions last month.
As for Seybolt, he will wrestle Carthage's Shayne Brady for the first time.
If the script follows Day 1, Seybolt will find himself following three state finalists. And after playing the closer's role once, he would like nothing more than to try it again.
"This was pretty great," Seybolt said. "All four of us were county champs, and hopefully, we could all win states."
Bellmore JFK's Robert Person (113) made the semis with a 4-2 overtime decision over Kenmore West's Ron Duguay, who knocked out top seed Mark Raghunandan of Long Beach in the first round, 5-3.
"I had my game plan on how I was going to beat Mark, but things changed a little bit," Person said.Instead of wrestling Raghunandan, who he considers a close friend, Person instead used him to scout Duguay. Raghunandan's advice served Person well.
"Mark said that he's strong and rolls legs, and in the third period the kid threw a leg in, and I knew what was happening. He threw it in, I scrambled to the top and got two points."Locust Valley's Nick Casella had two pins at 99 pounds and became the first L.I. wrestler to qualify for the Division II semis since 2009.