Herricks wrestlers grab tourney awards

Hyram Landers

The Patchogue-Medford High School Raiders hosted their annual wrestling tournament over the holidays, and once again Herricks wrestlers made the trip out East to take part.

The challenging field included teams from Copiague, Rocky Point, Smithtown East, Islip, John Glenn, Wantagh and their hosts.

Herricks fans were thrilled by an exciting day of mat competition during which their Highlanders won 26 bouts and brought home eight place awards.

Senior Will Rodriguez was terrific all day. He won both of his first two bouts by 14-0 major decisions, squeaked by teammate Andrew Farrell 1-0 in the semifinals, and then dazzled the crowd with an action-packed 8-1 finals decision win over the top-seeded Raider favorite and Suffolk County all-conference Corey Ashe for the championship at 120.

“This was a six-minute non-stop free-for-all between two fine competitors,” Herricks coach Cliff Forziat commented. “Will was smart, slick, quick, and relentless … the best of what wrestling can be.”

Rodriguez finished the day 4-0, outscoring his opponents 37-1 in the process. He now has 12 career major decision wins, which has him tied in third place on Herricks’ career record charts in that category.

Bill Rynne, a senior 220 pounder, joined Rodriguez in the winners’ circle with two pins on his way to his gold medal. This was Rynne’s third finals appearance so far this season, and his second tournament championship.

“He has made big strides this year,” Forziat noted, “and his influence among our upper weights in the room is transforming them into tough competitors.”

Two such are Mike Lopez (jr-285) and Solomon “F.S.” Aziz (so-285) who finished the day third and fourth respectively in their weight class. They possess uncommon quickness for men their size, and they are rapidly becoming a factor of strength for this squad.

Farrell went 3-1 with three pin victories on his way to third place at 120. He leads the varsity so far this year with 15 wins and 12 pins, and he is rapidly climbing up a highly respected Herricks career leader board list in both categories.

Mike Vespe (jr-145), Will Dowd (sr-195), and Chris Woska (so-132) also won place awards for the Highlanders.

Vespe ran into Glenn’s all-state top-seeded James DeKrone in the quarterfinals, but Vespe finished the day 3-1 with a pin. Dowd had a pin victory, and Woska had two pins.

“Chris is doing a fine job taking over a high traffic and very tough varsity spot for us at 132 as a sophomore. He went 2-2 in this tough tournament, and right now is 6-3 (varsity) and 17-7 overall.” Forziat said.

Several other Highlander wrestlers won matches on the day. All-in-all 26 Highlanders arms were raised in victory.

John Temperino (jr-145), Brandon Temperino (so-145), and John Vouzonis (fr-138) had two victories apiece. Corey Iuculano (jr-113) and Matt Grandelli (so-113) added a victory each to the team’s total.

The day before the holidays Herricks hosted its annual TriFesta featuring wrestlers from Wheatley, Great Neck North, and Valley Stream North in what has become a traditional pre-holiday send-off.

The Highlanders were 14-8 on the varsity mats with sophomores Grandelli (3-0), Joe DeVito (1-1), Mark Holuka (2-0), Woska (1-0), Jason Liarikos (1-0), Brandon Temperino (1-0), and John Dunn (1-1) carrying the main load and accounting for 10 wins (six pins and a major decision). Iuculano, Farrell, Vespe and Rynne added key wins.

Grandelli picked a quality win over V.S. North’s Kyle Miller, who is last year’s Division 2 county runner-up.

Rynne knocked off Jason Chang (also from V.S. North), who was third in last year’s Division 2 county championships. Vespe defeated all-conference Brandon Kahen from Great Neck North.

Meanwhile, on the second-man front, Holuka, Krish Shethia (fr-113), and Liarikos had pin victories.

DeVito and Dunn both had technical falls (a win by a 15-match point differential, sort of a TKO) victory, and Brandon Temperino picked up a decision win.

So far the varsity is 5-2, and team members have won 21 varsity and 12 second-man tournament places.

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Hyram Landers

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