If the Hampton Bays wrestling team needs any type of motivation this season, it could look to last season’s county tournament, where the Baymen placed eighth out of nine teams.
It was a disappointing finish to the season for head coach Rafael Lievano, who is hoping that some of his younger wrestlers returning from last season have matured during the offseason and will step up this winter.
A bright spot on last year’s squad was Cody Nolan, who wound up reaching the New York State Division II Championships in Albany as an alternate. Nolan placed second at counties last season, but since Babylon’s Brian Loskamp was deemed ineligible for states, Nolan got a last-minute call that he would be the county representative. Nolan put forth a commendable effort upstate: He won two matches and was one win away from reaching the placement rounds.
Now that he has the experience, Nolan is aiming to return to states this year—and place.
“Cody is our senior captain,” Lievano said. “His goal is to place at states. He was up there last year, so he knows what it’s like now. He just wants to go up there and place.”
Also returning for their senior seasons are Victor Alamo and Eric Ramirez. Alamo placed fourth at counties last season to become a two-time county place-winner, and Lievano expects more out of him this season. Ramirez had an up-and-down season a year ago, jumping between the 195-, 220- and 285-pound weight classes. He’s currently still working on which weight he’ll settle at this season.
Ralph Oswald, a junior, is also returning this season, along with sophomore Travis Flynn and freshman Johnny Nolan, Cody’s younger brother. Oswald was a win away from placing at counties last year and had a good offseason, according to Lievano. Flynn, the younger brother of Dylan Flynn, who was a county champion a few years ago, is expected to take a step forward this season, along with Johnny Nolan.
“Hopefully, we’re a little deeper this year than we have been in the past,” Lievano said. “It’s hard to fill those spots when you don’t have the guys to fill those weight classes.”
League VII, or Division II in Suffolk County, was led by Mattituck and Bayport/Blue Point last season. Those two teams are the favorites early on to win a county title, while Babylon, Center Moriches and Port Jefferson also should field competitive teams. Southampton has an up-and-coming team this season, while Stony Brook and Smithtown Christian round out the rest of the division.
Lievano isn’t quite sure where his team lies in the division, although it should, at the very least, be in the middle of the pack, he said. He’s looking forward to seeing his younger wrestlers at the upcoming Sprig Gardner Tournament in East Hampton on Saturday, December 14, and he should get more of an idea of what his team will look like going forward.
Hampton Bays will host its annual Doc Fallot Memorial Tournament on December 21. East Hampton, Centereach and West Babylon will be competing, along with “B” squads from Westhampton Beach, Rocky Point and Miller Place. Long Island Lutheran will also be bringing a team.
The Baymen will be hosting their first league match on Friday, January 3, against Bayport/Blue Point at 11 a.m.