Depth has been an issue for the East Hampton wrestling team in recent years, but the Bonackers have succeeded in having some representation at the Division I county tournament—particularly in the heavier weights—and head coach Steve Tseperkas expects that trend to continue this year.
East Hampton lost four starting seniors to graduation, but brings back its best wrestler in senior Axel Alanis. Alanis finished sixth in the county at 195 pounds last year, becoming the program’s first All-County grappler since 2003.
This season, Alanis won’t be satisfied by simply making his way onto the podium—according to Tseperkas, Alanis wants to end his career with a county title.
“He wants to win counties,” Tseperkas said. “That’s a big goal. It’s all going to depend on who else is at that weight.”
If Alanis stays at 195 pounds for the postseason, he will likely need to go through returning state champion Christian Araneo, who was ranked first in the preseason. Alanis was ranked second to start the season.
Alanis proved he is serious about his county title aspirations, attending the prestigious J. Robinson intensive wrestling camp over the summer, spending 28 days in Minnesota honing his skills.
East Hampton also brings back All-League wrestler Josh King, who was third in the league last season at 285 pounds, which earned him a trip to counties. King lost, 1-0, in the first round at counties last year, and is hoping for an All-County finish this season. King is not ranked in the top six in the preseason rankings, which includes returning state runner-up Edwin Rubio of Elwood/John Glenn as the top wrestler at the weight.
At 220 pounds, East Hampton brings back another talented wrestler in Burke Gonzalez, who fell just short of making it to counties last season. Tseperkas said that the 220-pound weight class will be a tough one in League VI this season, but didn’t rule out moving Gonzalez up to the 285-pound class for the postseason if that gives him a better chance of getting to counties.
While the heavyweights will be East Hampton’s strength once again, Tseperkas has some young wrestlers at lower weights who he hopes can step up and prove themselves at the varsity level, and help the team put points on the board in dual meets. Sophomore Michael Pulido (120 pounds) is a returning wrestler who took his lumps at the varsity level last season but should be more polished this year. Sophomore Charlie DiTullio (138 pounds) is another returnee who is poised to have a better year with some experience under his belt. Pulido’s twin bother, Tommy Pulido, did not wrestle last season but has returned to the team this year and will compete at 126 pounds. Junior David Chavez also did not compete last season after wrestling as a freshman, and will be at 132 pounds this year.
Junior Finn Hallissey should help the Bonackers anywhere from 126 to 132 pounds, and is much improved after attending J. Robb camp with Alanis over the summer.
Tseperakas admits he will have his work cut out for him, as the team is only 18 deep this year and includes six freshmen, five of whom have no wrestling experience.
Tseperkas said he expects Elwood/John Glenn to be the top team in League VI, and added that Mount Sinai, Sayville, Miller Place, Islip, and Shoreham will all be strong as usual. Sayville moved into League VI from League V this year, while Westhampton Beach and Bayport/Blue Point moved out, with Westhampton Beach going up to League V, and Bayport down to League VII/Division II. Tseperkas said he expects his team to match up well with Amityville, but said his squad will have a tough time competing with the rest of the teams in the league.
East Hampton will start the season by hosting its annual Sprig Gardner Tournament on December 12, an all-day affair. The Bonackers will host Amityville in their first dual meet on December 16 at 4:30 p.m.