Hampton Bays is fielding one of its smallest wrestling teams in recent memory this winter, so it came to no surprise that the Baymen finished last at the Sprig Gardner Tournament at East Hampton High School on Saturday.
A few wrestlers were able to place individually at the tournament, though, including Cody Nolan and Lucas Kraus. Nolan placed third in the 170-pound bracket, while Kraus placed fifth at 106 pounds. Plenty of others competed as hard as they could—such as Travis Flynn (138) and Ralph Oswald (145)—but Baymen head coach Rafael Lievano explained that the tournament has gotten so competitive that it’s hard for his wrestlers to make any type of noise.
Hauppauge—one of the top Division I teams in Suffolk County—had 11 finalists out of the 15 weight classes, and of those 11, eight of them were champions. Needless to say, the Eagles easily won the tournament, with 299 overall points, followed by Ward Melville (227.5 points) and Westhampton Beach (191.5). Bayport/Blue Point was the top Division II team in the tourney with 110 points. Southampton finished with 58 points.
“It’s really basically us and Southampton that are the smallest schools in the tournament,” Lievano said. “Some of our wrestlers are young and not ready for that type of competition this early in the season. Some are new to the sport. So I gave a bunch of them exhibition matches. It was good experience for them, and this way they’re still wrestling, just not against the best kids in the tournament.”
Nolan looked good for the Baymen, cruising to the quarterfinals before losing to Happauge’s Vincent Drago, who wound up taking the title at 170 pounds. Nolan came back to defeat Raheem Brown of Riverhead, 4-2, to take third place.
“Cody wrestled well during the tournament,” Lievano said. “Just like everyone else, he’s shaking the rust off. He finished with three wins, though. He’s going from football right into wrestling, and it’s a real tough tournament to jump right into. Probably one of the toughest tournaments we go to all season. So we were able to see where we have to get to.”
Kraus was doing well until he met up with Riverhead’s Chris Flood, who wound up placing third. Kraus defeated Riverhead’s Darrell Spruill, 4-3, to grab fifth place. “Lucas did some offseason wrestling and I really like the way he’s wrestling so far this season,” Lievano said.
Some of the other Baymen competed in some tough brackets. Flynn, for instance, faced Hauppauge’s Chris Mauriello—the top-ranked wrestler in the county at 132 pounds—in one of the first rounds and quickly went to wrestle-backs. Also, some of the Baymen’s more veteran wrestlers, such as Victor Alamo and Erik Ramirez, were sick leading up to the tournament and couldn’t make it.
Hampton Bays will be hosting its own tournament, the Doc Fallot Memorial Tournament, this Saturday at 9 a.m. East Hampton, West Babylon, Centereach and Long Island Lutheran will be bringing varsity teams, while Rocky Point, Westhampton Beach and Miller Place will all be bringing “B” teams.