One of the first things I that I did when I walked into the gym at Scarsdale on Tuesday was check the lineups for each team. It immediately stood out to me that Clarkstown South was the only one of the four that had a name penciled in for all 15 weight classes.
But what began to stand out as the afternoon progressed was that a good portion of those weight classes are occupied by quality wrestlers.
“Coming in, I knew they were very tough up top, but actually they’re tough all over this year,” Suffern coach Chris Matteotti said after his team’s 61-26 loss to the Vikings. “They have a very good team.”
There aren’t any state qualifiers or big names on the Clarkstown South roster, but what the Vikings do have is unquestionable depth and toughness. Paul Okeke placed at sectionals last season and Brian McLiverty is one win away from 100 for his career, but this is generally a workmen-like group with a lot of improving pieces. The result is the first Section 1 duals quarterfinals appearance in coach Brenden Rogers’ tenure, and the first dual meet win over Suffern in recent memory.
“This is my fifth year as head coach, and this is my first time winning in a dual meet against Suffern,” Rogers said. “The kids are working hard. The sport is becoming important to them at Clarkstown. They enjoy what they’re doing, they’ve worked hard in the offseason and people are doing more outside of our room. It’s hopefully going to stay that way. That’s our goal.”
• South beat both Suffern and Scarsdale by at least 35 points in what was truly a complete team effort. The final dual against Suffern was back and forth at first, with James DeSimone’s pin at 152 pounds giving the Mounties a 26-23 lead, but that would be the last point that they would score. The Vikings won the final six matches to run away with it, showing the type of depth from 160-285 that not many teams can match. “Today opened my eyes, and it definitely opened the coaches’ eyes,” South’s 170-pound junior Hassan Auwarter said. “We have some serious kids that know what to do, know where they want to be, and they have goals for this season. That’s helping us a lot right now.”
• McLiverty went 2-0 on the day to give himself 99 varsity wins, and looks like he should be a force this year at 113 pounds. I got his first match, a 9-0 major decision over Scarsdale’s Robbie Keltz, on video. “I’m feeling very good,” McLiverty said. “I’m on the hunt right now. I came in here with the mindset that it’s time to win.”
• Suffern handled Mount Vernon in its opening dual before falling to South. The Mounties have an extremely young team this season, but Alex Oliveto is one of the few seniors with high hopes. He majored South’s Chris Hiep in their 126-pound bout.
• DeSimone is another senior who could make some noise after winning a Rockland county title last season. He went 2-0, with his second match against South’s Sean Maloney probably being the best match I saw all day. It was tied at 1-1 in the third period when Maloney looked like he was on his way to taking DeSimone down. But DeSimone pulled a nasty move to slip out and ended up putting Maloney on his back for the late pin. “I lost to him sophomore year,” DeSimone said. “It was close, so I’ve been wanting to wrestle him since. I finally got to see him, and I’ll see him again. It’s going to be a tough match every time. It could have gone either way.”
• Elsewhere around the section, give Mahopac a ton of credit of pulling off two upset wins in the same day to make the quarterfinals. First the Indians knocked off Brewster, the defending Section 1 dual meet champs, and then they narrowly eliminated Yorktown. I said I thought this was the toughest quad meet, and it showed as Mahopac won both of its duals by a combined 10 points.
• Other than Mahopac, there weren’t any huge surprises in D1. I correctly picked six of the eight teams that advanced, with my only other whiff besides Yorktown being Hen Hud, which lost to Tappan Zee in a close one. Along with North Rockland and both Clarkstowns, TZ makes it four Rockland county teams in the final eight.
• We’ve got two D2 quads going on today, and I’ll be heading to Nanuet to see one of them. I’ll be back a bit later with more info on the D2 tourney.
Photos by Seth Harrison/The Journal News