Wantagh’s wrestling team became the first athletic team in school history to be ranked No. 1, among all the No 1’s in all winter sports, in Newsday’s weekly Big 10, January 9-13. The grapplers have held that spot for three more weeks. Newsday considers the Warriors the very best winter sports team on Long Island.
The Warriors finished off their season at 22-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 33 in the nation. The team is led by head coach, and national wrestling hall of famer, Paul Gillespie, assistant coaches Pat Daddino, Ray Hanley Jr., a Wantagh grad, and Reggie Jones Jr. For years Gillespie and Jones teamed up to make Long Beach a wrestling power.
At the Nassau County Dual Championship, Wantagh beat Long Beach 42-18 at Clarke High School, January 28. Sean Tomlinson (220) pinned Zamar Allen (Long Beach) which gave Wantagh an impressive lead. Wantagh was anxiously waiting to wrestle Massapequa after a disapointing loss last year in the final of this event but Long Beach defeated the the Chiefs before Wantagh could get ahold of them; Wantagh hopes to do so next year.
In a season where nearly every starter has a gaudy record and terrific ranking, one of the best is junior Dan McDevitt (138) who recently won his 100th career match.
The senior captains include Alex Wedel, who is also salutatorian of the Class of 2012, Chris Loew, Kyle Foglietta, Doug Rogers, and Steven English.
Last year, Wantagh took second place at the Patchogue- Medford Raider Invitational missing three starters, but this year won the tournament.
In the finals of the Patchogue-Medford Tournament, McDevitt defeated the defending New York state finalist, James Dekrone (John Glenn) 2-1 in an exhilarating match. Undefeated Freshman Jose Rodriguez (99) pinned Zack Ancewicz of John Glenn at 1:04. Junior James Corbett (162) won 6-2 over Nick Princiotta of John Glenn who was ranked third in the Suffolk County rankings. Senior Chris Loew (172), who also won his 100th career match, won all three matches by pin, defeating Sean Ferguson of Rocky Point in the finals by fall at 43 seconds.
Wantagh defeated Shenendehowa HS, 38-37, after two very close losses the past two years. The dual between Wantagh and Shenendehowa, north of Albany, has featured two of the best teams in New York State and has been fraught with tension and controversy. “This is the best team we brought up there; if any team was finally going to beat them, it was this one,” says McDevitt.
Wantagh crushed their competition at the Ted Peterson Tournament on January 7, collecting a whopping 374 points. Chris Araoz, Gary Sidotti, who hadn’t wrestled for several weeks due to a concussion, Vinny Turano, McDevitt, Corbett and Rodriguez all placed first.
This past January 13-14, Wantagh competed in the Easter States in Sullivan County Community College (see accompanying boxed article). On Saturday, February 4, Wantagh High School hosted the Nassau County Qualifier. The weekend of the February 11-12 is the county individual tournament.
“Everyone is working really hard to carry on the traditions, and it really shows. In comparison to the state-championship team of 2009, this team is a lot better, because there are no superstars, everyone works just as hard,”says Wedel. Wantagh has won the Nassau County individual tournament two out of the past three years and is a favorite to win another this season.
Much of the credit for this team’s success has to go to former coach Jim Murphy, who stepped down as the head coach last year after helping to turn the Wantagh program into a perennial power. Murphy is now the head coach at Baldwin High School. Wantagh also has a number of former wrestlers competing at the D 1 level, probably the most among Wantagh sports with the possible exception of girls’ or boys’ lacrosse. Former Warriors are competing for Harvard, Hofstra and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
After all the grueling weigh-ins, workouts and weight cutting, the starting lineup of this incredible team and their most recent rankings are:
99- Jay Rodriguez(ranked No. 1 in Nassau and No. 3 in the state)
106-Gary Sidoti (No. 6 in Nassau) and Kyle Quinn (No. 3 in Nassau)
113- Kyle Foglietta
120-Chris Araoz(No. 1 in Nassau, No. 2 in the state)
126-Vinny Turano (No. 2 in Nassau)
132-Nick Vines(No. 6 in Nassau)
138-Dan McDevitt(No. 1 in Nassau, No. 4 in the state)
152-Doug Rogers (No. 5 in Nassau)
160-James Corbett(No. 4 in Nassau)
170-Chris Loew(No. 2 in Nassau, No. 4 in the state)
182-Alex Wedel(No. 2 in Nassau)
195-Sean Tomlinson(No. 3 in Nassau)
285-Steven English(No. 3 in Nassau)