Despite being a young squad last year, the Hampton Bays wrestling team still sent seven wrestlers to the county tournament and eventually had a Division II champ in senior Mike Lloyd in the 162-pound weight class.
This season, the Baymen are even younger with nine freshmen and five sophomores making up the majority of the roster, with six of those nine freshmen being first-year varsity wrestlers.
“If we were young last season we’re even younger this season,” Hampton Bays head coach Rafael Lievano said. “There are so many young guys it’s going to be a hard season. We’re wrestling a Division II schedule, which is not normally as good as a Division I schedule, but they’ll definitely see some tough teams.”
Lievano, in his seventh year coaching at Hampton Bays, said that Babylon, Port Jefferson, and Center Moriches, the first, second and third-place teams in League VII last season, respectively, will be tough again.
Hampton Bays will have five of the seven wrestlers who were at the county tournament back on the mat this season. Seniors Tim Jordan (fourth place at counties last season at 119) and Billy Altman (third at counties at 135) will be returning along with juniors Ben Tarpey (second at counties at 189) and Oskar Ramirez (third at counties at 130). Freshman Juan Ramirez (third in counties at 103) will return as well, with fellow freshman Josiah Hoshyla and junior Andre Fialho. Hoshyla, just two years removed from a third-place finish at counties, and Fialho both missed the county tournament last year because of injuries, and Lievano is looking for both of them to come back strong. Oskar Ramirez, Fialho and Tarpey will lead the Baymen this season as captains.
“All three set a great example in the room and in school itself,” Lievano said. “They have established themselves as leaders on the team by pushing themselves to be the best they can.”
Lievano is expecting all of the wrestlers who placed at counties last season to do even better this season and with good reason. Oskar Ramirez lost to eventual county champion Andrew Leone of Center Moriches in the semifinals last season. It was the fourth time Ramirez lost to Leone that season, but he won’t have to face the tough Center Moriches wrestler anymore because he has graduated.
“Oskar is a determined kid,” Lievano said. “He would always come off the mat after those losses last season with his chin up. That’s the type of attitude he has and why he’s one of our leaders.”
Tarpey lost in the finals of the county tournament to John Lauro of Mercy whom he had beaten earlier in the season.
“That match left a sour taste in his mouth and it’s what’s pushing him to go upstate this season and win,” Lievano said.
The main thing Lievano is currently unsure about are the weight classes his team is going to be able to fill. Lievano said the majority of the wrestlers fall between 130 and 150 pounds with the first-year wrestlers scattered around those weight classes. While some coaches may take the forfeit in some classes, Lievano said he might send a younger wrestler out on the mat to gain some experience. But he doesn’t want to sacrifice an athlete’s experience for humility.
“It really depends on the guy and who he’s wrestling,” he said. “I’m more concerned about building for the future. In some Division II matches I really believe that some of these new kids can actually do fairly well. If you forfeit a weight class or two you’re down six to 12 points already, but I’d rather see kids go through the program instead of seeing kids getting discouraged.”
The Baymen will try to improve on their 3-3 League VII finish from last season which placed them fourth. To prepare for the season, Lievano has the team lined up to take part in several invitational tournaments. The first invitational will be at Harborfields High School on December 13 at 10 a.m. A week later the Baymen will host their own invitational, the Doc Fallot Tournament, which will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 20.
Hampton Bays will host Centereach in its first non-league match of the season on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The first league match of the season will be January 13 when the Baymen visit Port Jefferson with a start time of 6 p.m.