After my dual meet rankings came out just before Christmas, a hot topic on the blog became which team would be ranked No. 2 in a set of mixed rankings that included both D1 and D2 schools. North Rockland has established itself as the best dual meet team in Section 1 with no losses to an in-section opponent, but Nanuet (the D2 dual meet champs) and Clarkstown South (the D1 runner-up) each could make a case as the next best dual meet team in the area.
On Wednesday, the two teams had the chance to settle it on the mat, and it was the Golden Knights who staked their claim with a 38-34 win.
“For us to be able to have a team like this, we wanted to show everybody else that we could be the best and hang up there with North Rockland,” Nanuet senior and county champ Dan Breit said. “That’s what we did this season.”
Each team had a couple of starters out, so things may have played out differently had each been at full strength, but Nanuet was poised in the late matches and did exactly what it needed to do in order to comeback from an early deficit. It was appropriate that on Senior Night, three seniors – Anthony Calvano (126), Billy Thompson (132) and Jon Spiegel (138) – were able to finish the Vikings off with consecutive wins in the final three matches.
“Next year when you look around the room, that’s when you’ll feel it more,” Nanuet coach Carmine Serra said of his stellar group of seniors. “These 10 guys will not be there, and really, it was an easy year of coaching in terms of telling them what to do, and them telling some of the younger guys. Hopefully, the younger guys will be able to pick that up, but this is a great group. I’m definitely going to miss them.”
• With the dual starting at 145 pounds and his usual 182-pounder Jason Fortugno missing from the lineup, Clarkstown South coach Brenden Rogers made the decision to bump up his all of his wrestlers from 145 to 170 pounds. Nanuet senior Matt Dillon (pictured above) started off the dual with a technical fall at 145, but Rogers’ decision paid off as the Vikings won the next five matches. Austin Fox was involved in the most exciting match – a 4-3 decision over Jazz Saraguro at 152 in which Fox was able to secure a takedown in the final 30 seconds for the win – but there were a handful of close matches. “Austin Fox gritted out a tough match at 152 being up from 145 today, and Sean Maloney (160) is really coming around,” Rogers said. “Drew Breyfogle (170) had a great win out here today. He wrestled the smartest match that he’s wrestled all year.”
• Another guy who has been really impressive of late for South is Austin Maurer (pictured to the right). He was back at 195, where he’ll be for sectionals, after winning a county title at 182 pounds over the weekend. He wasn’t even in the varsity lineup last year, but continues to show improvement and is working his way into the rankings this season. He was able to beat D2 section title favorite Kevin Brundage with a 7-4 decision to extend the Vikings’ lead to 18-5. “Austin Maurer was a JV wrestler last year,” Rogers said. “He’s worked hard in the offseason, and he’s got great practice partners in the room. He pays attention, he works hard and he does a lot of things right.”
• The run stopper for the Golden Knights was none other than Breit. He was matched up against one of the top wrestlers at 220 in D1, and once again showed that he’s on another level compared to any other wrestler from his weight class in the section. Breit pinned Paul Okeke in the second period to get Nanuet back on track. “I’ve seen him wrestle before, and I just wanted to prove myself. I know he’s one of the top 220-pounders in D1, so if I could prove myself here, I could pretty much prove that I’m the top in the section,” Breit said. “We knew that Michael Buhlmann (182) and Jason Levine (285) were both out today, so we knew that it could end up being very close. If I could get the pin, it would help our team out a lot.”
• The two teams traded wins at 99 and 106 before Nanuet’s forfeit at 113 put South up 34-17. It was becoming clear that the Golden Knights didn’t have much wiggle room with only four matches left, but they had a quartet of experienced wrestlers in the hole. Rogers made the pretty obvious decision to bump up Brian McLiverty to 120 pounds to face two-time state qualifier Joe Dillon, but Dillon rendered the move meaningless with a third period pin. “We kind of expected that move, and Joe was looking forward to it,” Serra said. “We want to wrestle tough guys, like we’ve always said, and McLiverty is a tough kid, but Joe raised his game a little bit today. It worked out pretty well for us.”
• Calvano and Thompson followed up Dillon’s pin with a couple of pins of their own to give Nanuet a 35-34 lead, which meant that the winner of the final match would claim the dual for his respective team. Spiegel took an early lead, but Nick Russo tied it at 3-3 and the South side started going crazy. Spiegel dug deep and didn’t allow Russo to score again, holding on for the 6-3 decision. “I felt a lot of pressure, but all of my friends, we’re all seniors, and it’s our last year,” Spiegel said. “That really pushed me in the third period.”
Photos from Seth Harrison/The Journal News