The Westhampton Beach wrestling team and head coach Paul Bass hosted Shoreham/Wading River for a League VI dual meet on Friday night with heavy hearts.
Just a few hours before taking to the mat, the coach and team learned about the death of Cory Hubbard, a 2010 graduate of Westhampton Beach High School and a former captain of the wrestling team. Hubbard, 22, died when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street early Friday morning in Maryland, where he was a senior in college.
The Hurricanes were defeated, 59-12, by Shoreham, and Bass said he and his wrestlers simply weren’t their usual selves, given the circumstances.
“I blame myself for Friday night’s performance,” Bass said on Sunday. “I was a mess, and it rubbed off on the kids. It was hard, really hard.”
Not only did Bass coach Hubbard—who became the first wrestler in Hurricane history to achieve 100 career wins—but he also coached his older brother, Kyle Hubbard, and Bass’s own sons, Conner and Zach Bass, who graduated in 2011, were close friends with Hubbard. Hubbard’s mother, Holly Hubbard, is a colleague of Bass’s as well, as both work in the Westhampton Beach school district.
Bass said that preparing his team to beat Shoreham was the furthest thing from his mind on Friday afternoon, and it showed in the final score.
“It wasn’t the kids’ fault, it was my fault,” he said. “They weren’t mentally ready to wrestle, and maybe they shouldn’t have been. So that one’s on me. There are a couple of guys [on the team] who knew Cory, but even if they didn’t, they had a coach whose head wasn’t in the match.”
The Hurricanes won just three matches, with Ryan Osborne pinning Ray Lopez in 1:34 at 145 pounds, Chris Chomicki beating Brendan Frances in a 4-2 decision at 220, and Liam McIntyre beating Jack Del Duca, 4-0, at 106 pounds. It was only the second league loss for Del Duca, and Bass said it was an impressive win for McIntyre, who has been coming on strong lately.
The following day, the Hurricanes traveled to William Floyd High School to compete in the Kujan Tournament. They finished sixth out of eight teams, with 149 points, in what was a competitive tournament. Plainedge won with 263 points, followed by Smithtown East (195), Floyd (188.5), Bellport (186.5) and Eastport South Manor (159.5). Hills West (133) was seventh followed by Glen Cove (78).
Westhampton Beach had a total of 12 place-winners, with 10 in the semifinals, but only two in the finals and no champions. Hunter Hulse (140) and Osborne (145) took second, while McIntyre (106) and Chomicki (195) took third. Casey Hughes (106), Esteban Garcia (120), Kyle Maddock (126), Trevor Booth (152), Alex Kravitz (160) and Aiden Kravitz (170) took fourth, while Dane Mendoza (99) and Matt Tobin (160) were fifth.
Earlier in the week, Westhampton Beach earned a 53-20 win at Sayville on January 15. Bass was happy with the win, explaining that his team won several “toss-up” matches, battles he figured, on paper, could easily go either way. He added that his team also scored a few wins that he considered upsets. At 99 pounds, Connor Glynn pinned Gage Gomez in 5:55; at 113, Danny Strebel won a 3-0 decision over Cory Levy; and at 160, Alex Kravitz beat Dan Murphy, 12-8, avenging a loss to Murphy from earlier in the year, when he was pinned. All three of those matches were ones Bass said he initially thought Sayville might win, so he was happy with the results. Unfortunately, Strebel broke his hand in Friday night’s match and is out for the remainder of the season.
Bass added that Garcia got the match off to a good start with a pin of Mike Perko in 1:30 at 120 pounds, and he said that Osborne won a toss-up match at 145, pinning Owen Klopp in 1:40. Kyle Maddock won by technical fall over Angelo Annarumma at 126, while Jake Martin pinned Matt Oskey in 1:42 at 220 pounds. Aiden Kravitz (170), Chomicki (195) and McIntyre (106) all won by forfeits.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 1/22, at Amityville, 6 p.m.; Friday, 1/24, vs. Miller Place, 6 p.m.; Friday, 1/31, at Patchogue/Medford (non-league), 6 p.m.