In recent years, the East Hampton wrestling team has struggled to achieve the depth and roster numbers it takes to be a formidable dual meet team. Nevertheless, the Bonackers typically have a collection of individuals with the talent to perform well and make a run at the Division I county tournament.
The same is true again this year. The Bonackers have just 20 athletes on their roster and a bevy of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores, which will cause the team to forfeit a number of weight classes in each meet. But head coach Steve Tseperkas is excited about what a handful of strong wrestlers have the potential to accomplish this season.
First on that list is senior Lucas Escobar, who will compete at either 120 or 126 pounds. Escobar made it to counties as a sophomore, but an injury derailed his hopes last year. In his final season, Escobar should be one of the top wrestlers in his weight class in League VI and challenge for a spot at counties.
Escobar is one of three seniors, along with Richie Browne and Dave Vargas. Browne, who wrestled for the first time last year, was at 285 but will drop down to 220 this season. Vargas, who will compete at 170 pounds, didn’t wrestle last year but is back for his senior season.
East Hampton has four juniors who got experience last year and should play significant roles this season. Colton Kalbacher (152 pounds) will be competitive in his weight class and had some nice wins last year, while Luciano Escobar will compete at 160 pounds. Tseperkas hopes both wrestlers can place in the top four at the League VI meet and possibly earn a spot at counties.
Haiau Duong is another returnee with varsity experience who will compete at either 120 or 113, while George Calderone, who wrestled last year as well, will compete at 182 pounds.
The rest of the team is made up of five sophomores and six freshmen, many of whom are inexperienced and likely will wrestle only in JV matches. Three of the sophomores—Kevin Boles, Malachy Mitchnick and Axel Alanis—have varsity experience and will see time on the mat. Boles will likely be at 113, while Mitchnick will be at 138 or 145, and Alanis will be at 195 or 220.
Sophomores Josh King and Burke Gonzalez will be in their first year of wrestling but were members of the Bonac football team.
While none of the freshmen has varsity experience, five of the six wrestled at the junior high level last year. Finn Hallissey (99 pounds) will be in his first season of wrestling and could possibly see time in a varsity match, Tseperkas said, depending on the match-up. David Chavez (120 pounds), Quinn Gleason (145), Ivan Guazhambo (106), Luis Idrovo (220) and Michael Perez (138) round out the roster.
Tseperkas said his team will forfeit at 99, 106, 132 and 138 pounds in most matches, which will make it tough for them to win dual meets. But he said his team does have its strengths and is hoping for good showings from certain individuals when the postseason rolls around. East Hampton sent one wrestler to counties last year, 220-pounder Kevin Heine, a Pierson student, who graduated along with Dana Harvey, another Pierson student, Alfredo Perez, Juan Verone and Dallas Foglia.
“We’re going to be decent [in the heavier weights],” Tseperkas said. “But it seems like the same thing every year. With the exception of Lucas, we’re really hurting in the middle weights, and we haven’t had a really good lightweight since Lucas was a freshman. But we will be good from 145 to 285.”
East Hampton will compete in League VI along with powerhouses like Elwood/John Glenn, Sayville, Shoreham/Wading River and Mount Sinai, as well as Westhampton Beach, Amityville and Miller Place.
The Bonackers will kick off the season by hosting the annual Sprig Gardner Tournament on Saturday, December 14, starting at 9 a.m. They will host William Floyd for a non-league meet on December 18 at 5 p.m. and will compete in a tournament at Hampton Bays on December 21. After a two-day tournament at Half Hollow Hills East on December 27 and 28, the Bonackers will open the league season at Amityville on January 8 at 6 p.m.