ORANGEBURG —Revenge is always sweet, but the bigger the stage, the better the taste.
Aside from the Section 1 and state tournaments, the stage doesn’t get much bigger than the Rockland County Championships for local wrestlers. And when North Rockland’s Anthony Sulla and Alex D’Angelo ran into opponents whom they had lost to earlier this season, they each reversed their fortunes.
“I didn’t want to let that bother me during this match, so I just brought my ‘A’ game and pushed through it,” D’Angelo said after beating Suffern’s Peter Oliveto with a 9-4 decision in the 106-pound final. “I know that he’s always on the attack, and I just had to outwrestle him today.”
Oliveto had defeated D’Angelo during the Section 1 Dual Meet Tournament, while Sulla had lost to Pearl River’s Sean McGarvey just last week. But Sulla avenged his loss with a 10-6 decision in the 99-pound final on Saturday, and then D’Angelo followed with a win over Oliveto.
Those two set the tone for the Red Raiders, who claimed their sixth straight Rockland county title. Seniors Matt Caputo (138 pounds) and Nick Didio (160) and junior Blaise Benderoth (152) also took first for North Rockland, with Caputo – who is Rockland’s all-time wins leader with 209 – notching his 100th career pin en route to his fourth county title.
Dillon had beaten DiMarsico earlier this season, but was trailing by two points late in the match. He tied it with a takedown with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation, and then finished off the win in OT.
“That was like the fourth time that we’ve wrestled in our careers, and all of the matches have been pretty close. That was definitely the closest,” said Dillon, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. “I knew it was my last chance to win a county title, so I had to win. I couldn’t accept losing.”
While North Rockland was heavily favored to win the team title, Suffern edged out Pearl River and Clarkstown South in a closely contested race for second place.
Juniors Daiton Powell (126) and Peter Pjetri (182) each won titles for the Mounties, with Pjetri running into a familiar opponent in the finals.
“You have to change your strategy up a little bit,” Pjetri said after his 3-2 decision over Clarkstown South’s Hassan Auwarter. “I knew he figured me out on my feet a little bit. He tried to tie up my hands, so I had to just work different things.”
Junior James Kelly (113) and seniors John Muldoon (132) and Rob Gullo (170) each won titles for Pearl River, with Kelly claiming his second and Muldoon winning his third.
“Winning it three times is great,” said Muldoon, who pinned East Ramapo’s Romello Bradley in the finals. “I don’t take the first two for granted. This one, I’m proud of it, but I kind of wanted to try the whole team (title) thing. I wanted to get pins for the team.”
Manni, who won his third county championship, was competing in a weight class that featured the top four ranked 285-pounders in the LoHud Weight Class Rankings.
“They are the best guys in the section, and I have seen all of them before,” said Manni after pinning Clarkstown South’s Nick Holahan in the finals. “I have tremendous respect for every one of them. Wrestling them is challenging, but I learned to overcome some of the challenges last year when I (wrestled) them. It’s a good look, because now I know where certain guys in the section are – who I can beat, and who I have to look out for.”
Nyack senior James Giraldez (145) and Clarkstown South senior Austin Maurer (195) also won county titles.
Photos by Peter Carr/The Journal News