The scene that took place in the 160-pound weight class in the championship match at the Westhampton Beach Dual Meet Tournament on Saturday more closely resembled what one would see in a boxing ring than on a wrestling mat.
After a head-to-head collision with his opponent, Westhampton Beach junior Matt Mazarakis was left with a gaping, bloody wound above his eye, one that looked like it would knock him out of the match for good. But with first place in his team’s home tournament on the line and his team in a tight battle against Central Islip, Mazarakis wasn’t about to concede a forfeit that would result in six points for the other team.
Instead, he turned to Westhampton Beach trainer Scott Leogrande, who patched up the determined wrestler as best as he could, wrapping gauze and a bandage around Mazarakis’s head so he could finish the match. Facing a 2-0 deficit with his vision partially obscured by the bandage, Mazarakis not only finished the match but came from behind to take a 3-2 victory in double overtime.
The gritty effort gave the Hurricanes a 27-14 lead and all but sealed the championship as well.
“It was the match of the night,” Westhampton Beach head coach Paul Bass said. “They crashed heads together and Matt got the worst of it. When he blinked, it looked like a fillet of meat. It was a gutsy performance.”
As soon as Mazarakis finished his match, he was taken to the hospital by his parents, where he received 13 stitches. Bass said that the image of Mazarakis overcoming the injury to earn a big win for his team is not one he or the team will soon forget.
“My son said after that it should be on our end-of-the-year video,” Bass said. “Seeing him getting his hand raised with that thing over his eye, it was a gladiator type thing. It was kind of neat.”
Mazarakis said that coming through for his team was the motivating factor in getting back on the mat. Knowing that a loss by injury default would give six points to Central Islip as opposed to the three points the Buccaneers would receive if he simply lost by decision only added to his determination.
“I knew it was really important for my team,” he said. “My adrenalin was pumping and I wanted to win really bad.”
Mazarakis tied the match in the third period by turning his opponent to score two back points. Neither wrestler could score a takedown in the first overtime and in the second overtime, Mazarakis scored the winning point on an escape. He then was able to ride out his opponent to preserve the win.
“It was hard to see because the bandage was covering my eye and when I turned him, I couldn’t see at all,” Mazarakis said of his match-tying move. “He got loose and I grabbed anywhere because I couldn’t really see.”
The Canes rode the momentum of Mazarakis’s effort to win two of the final three matches in what was ultimately a 35-20 win. Brian Kobus (171 pounds) earned a 16-5 decision while Bobby Garone (189) won 12-0. At 215 pounds, Brian Moore was pinned to finish the match.
Both Westhampton Beach and Central Islip are stacked in the lower and middle weight classes, which made for an exciting match. At 103 pounds, Conner Bass—currently ranked fourth in the county—lost to third-ranked Allan Gomez 4-1. The Canes took the next match as Pete DeTore (112) pinned his opponent in 3:07. At 119 pounds, Zach Bass earned a 5-1 win before Cory Hubbard (125) suffered a tough 8-7 loss. At one point, Hubbard was down 6-2 before coming back to tie the match at 7-7, but his opponent managed an escape and then staved off Hubbard’s attempt to gain back points at the end of the match.
At 130 pounds, Danny Maddock lost 13-8 to Edgar Gomez in a back-and-forth match before Brian Lagoumis (135) came up with a big win, pinning his opponent in 3:37. Bass said that Lagoumis’s win was a “turning point” in the match.
“I thought they would be a lot closer than they were,” Bass said. “Brian dominated.”
At 140 pounds, Brian Higgins earned a 9-3 win and at 145 pounds, Scott Carey pinned his opponent in 1:10.
Westhampton Beach took a loss it expected at 152 pounds, where Central Islip standout Andy Rodriguez—one of the best wrestlers in the state—was on the mat. But Hurricane Marco Pizzo did an admirable job, suffering a technical fall instead of a pin which saved a point for his team.
“It was a high tension match and it was fun to be a part of,” Bass said of the final. “There was a lot of fan involvement. It was intense.”
Westhampton Beach’s other two matches in pool play weren’t as exciting, as the Canes recovered from a slow start to beat Bay Shore 51-21 in the first match of the day before dominating Bellport 57-7 in the second match. Central Islip had wins over both Newfield and Deer Park in Pool B to advance to the final against Westhampton Beach.
Bay Shore had the lead early against Westhampton Beach with the match starting at the 160-pound weight class, where the Marauders are stronger. But the Canes rallied and took control of the match at the lower and middle weights. Conner Bass (103), Hubbard (125), Lagoumis (135), Higgins (140), Carey (145) and Mazarakis (152) all won by pins, while Andrew Capuano (96), Zach Bass (119) and Brian Moore (215) all won decisions.
Against Bellport, Westhampton Beach took an early lead thanks to a few forfeits and then won the next five matches, three of which were by pins. DeTore, Zach Bass, Hubbard, Maddock and Carey all won easily while Kobus also picked up a win by pin.
For the tournament, DeTore, Zach Bass, Lagoumis, Higgins and Carey were undefeated, each with three wins on the day. Each team in the tournament named an outstanding wrestler and that honor went to Lagoumis for Westhampton Beach, as he won all of his matches by pins.
Coach Bass—who will readily admit that his standards are sky high—said he was very pleased with his team’s overall performance in the tournament.
“I was really proud of them,” he said. “Even in the matches we lost, we were the aggressors. All day long, we were the more physical team. We start league action this week, so we’ve got to keep it up.”
Hills East Tournament
Before hosting their own tournament, the Canes took on some of the best competition in the state during a two-day tournament at Half Hollow Hills East High School on December 29 and 30. A total of 10 teams attended the event, with an average of more than 20 wrestlers in each weight class. A total of 324 matches were wrestled at the event, more than double the number of matches at a typical tournament.
Westhampton Beach crowned three champions at the tournament, with Conner Bass placing first in the 103-pound division, DeTore winning at 112 pounds and Kobus taking top honors at 160 pounds.
Carey (145) finished second while Hubbard (119) placed third. Zach Bass (119) and Vinny Garafola (112) both placed fourth while five Canes finished fifth—Maddock (130), Lagoumis (135), Higgins (140), Mazarakis (152) and Garone (189). Russell Skinder (130) took sixth place.
“I was really, really happy,” Coach Bass said. “We had a great first day and a so-so start to the second day. But we finished strong. It seemed like other guys were wearing down and we weren’t.”
On December 23, the Canes picked up a 43-22 win over Smithtown West in a match that was originally supposed to be part of a dual meet but had to be rescheduled.
The Canes are now 4-1 in dual meets and were scheduled to begin the League VI season at home against Amityville on Wednesday. Westhampton Beach will host Hampton Bays (League VII) in a non-league meet on Friday and will compete in a dual meet tournament at West Islip on Saturday, January 10.