The Bethpage Dad’s Club Holiday Wrestling Tournament featured 16 teams and treated spectators to some exciting early season action (and a good excuse to avoid holiday shopping).
Three Highlander grapplers won place awards. Corey Iuculano (sr-126) continued to show solid improvement. He finished the day 4-1 with two pin victories to his credit losing (in the semifinals) only to the eventual champion Jim Kaishian from Yorktown High School. Kaishian was New York State All-Section I last year. Iuculano came back through the wrestleback rounds to finish in third place.
Senior Mike “BA” Lopez went 2-2 for a fourth place finish at 285. Lopez missed last year’s playoffs due to illness, and so he has come into this season with no seeding criteria. Yet he has emerged from “drawn-out-of-the-hat” starting positions to place in both of the tournaments that he has entered so far this year.
The match of the day may well have been Mike Vespe’s semifinal match at 152 against Locust Valley’s Mike Dusold. Dusold, the eventual tournament champion was last year’s Nassau County’s Division II runner-up. Vespe and Dusold were tied after a knock-down-drag-out regulation time. They were still tied after battling through three overtime periods. The fourth overtime period (30 seconds) found Vespe in bottom position needing an escape to win. Dusold, in top position, needed only to prevent that to earn a “ride out” victory. Dusold prevailed this time (because there could be a rematch at the Locust Valley Tournament Jan. 5), and he went on to win the tournament championship in the finals. Vespe fought his way back through the wrestlebacks to seize third place by going 4-1 with two pin victories to his credit.
The Bethpage Second-Man Tournament had been held the night before. Krish “Doc” Shethia (so-120) working up a weight class finished in second place. Doc had two pins on the day. Anthony Polo was 3rd at 113 having dropped an 8-9 decision to the eventual champion in the semifinals. He also had two pin victories. Andrew Chu (113) and Matt Esposito (120) also won matches, but fell short of placing.
Today the team hosts its annual TriFesta featuring Valley Stream North, Great Neck North, Wheatley and Hempstead. Action is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Center Muller Arena. Over the holidays the team will venture out to Patchogue-Medford to take part in the Red Raider Tournament on Dec. 28.
The Highlanders then host their Auld Lang Syne Second-Man Festival on the 29th beginning at 10:30 a.m.
This wrestling business isn’t easy. Watching these young fellows going out into one-on-one physical confrontation in front of a gymnasium filled with spectators is pretty amazing. Wrestling is definitely not for the faint of heart.
“We welcome everyone who wants to join us,” Coach Cliff Forziat said. “Physical ability, strength, and skill add up to about ten percent of what you need. The other 90 percent is courage and desire. The weak-willed and the lazy are quickly gone.”