The East Hampton wrestling team will send three athletes to the Suffolk County Division I Tournament, based on their strong finishes at the League VI meet at Shoreham/Wading River High School on Saturday.
Senior 120-pounder Lucas Escobar led the Bonackers, finishing second in his weight class after losing, 6-2, to James Szymanski of Shoreham/Wading River. It was the second time this season that Escobar, ranked sixth in the county, lost to second-ranked Szymanski.
Lucas Escobar will be joined at counties by his brother, Luciano Escobar, who finished fourth at 160 pounds to earn his spot. Richie Browne (285 pounds) took third in his weight class to stamp his ticket. The top four finishers in each weight class in each league advance to counties, which will kick off at Hofstra University on Friday and conclude at Hofstra on Sunday.
Lucas Escobar was dominant before facing Szymanski. He opened the tournament by pinning David Cable of Westhampton Beach in just 27 seconds, then pinned Jordan Nancoo of Elwood/John Glenn in 59 seconds. In the semifinals, Escobar pinned Westhampton Beach’s Esteban Garcia in 1:22. Escobar’s tilt with Szymanski was closer than the final score indicated. The wrestlers were knotted at a scoreless tie until Szymanski scored a takedown with just 10 seconds left in the first period to go up 2-0. Escobar chose the bottom position to start the second and got out right away, cutting the lead to 2-1. But once again, Szymanski managed to get a takedown with just 10 seconds left in the period, going up 4-1. Szymanski chose the bottom position to start the third and Escobar stayed on top until 25 seconds remained, and Szymanski reversed Escobar to go up 6-1. Escobar got out to make it 6-2, but didn’t have enough time to cut the deficit further.
East Hampton head coach Steve Tseperkas said he was happy with Escobar’s effort and saw improvement from the last time the two faced each other. Tseperkas pointed out that Escobar adjusted his neutral stance in the most recent match, going down to one knee whenever Szymanski did, in keeping with Szymanski’s style, thus making it more difficult for Szymanski to score takedowns.
“I thought he did a really good job,” Tseperkas said of Escobar.
The two will not face each other again at counties unless it’s in the county final or the later rounds of wrestlebacks, as they will be on opposite ends of the bracket. Szymanski earned the third seed, while Escobar was unseeded. Unfortunately for Escobar, he will likely face two-time defending county and state champion Nick Piccinnini of Ward Melville in the second round (provided Escobar wins his first round matchup). Escobar likely won’t be knocked out with a loss to Piccinnini, however. Wrestlers who lose in the second round get to move on to the wrestleback rounds as long as the opponent who beat them also advances in his next match, and it’s a safe bet that Piccinnini will do that. If he goes into the wrestlebacks, Tseperkas believes that Escobar will have a good chance to earn a spot on the podium and All-County status by placing in the top six. The last time East Hampton had a county place-winner was in 2003, when Jarrell Walker took fifth at 275 pounds.
Luciano Escobar, a junior, started the league tournament by pinning Alex Kravitz of Westhampton Beach in 4:54, before getting pinned by eventual champion Matt Porrello of Glenn in 1:27. Escobar lost a 9-6 decision to Jerome Brigham of Glenn in the consolation final. Escobar was on the verge of scoring a takedown three times in the match, but each time, Brigham was able to scoot out of bounds to avoid it.
Browne started the tournament in thrilling fashion, beating Robert Cantelmo of Amityville, 2-1, in overtime. After that, he was pinned by Edwin Rubio of Glenn, the eventual champion, in 1:41, but he rallied to take third by pinning Tyler Anderson of Shoreham/Wading River in 4:04. Browne lost to Anderson, 5-1, in a dual meet earlier in the year, so Tseperkas said he was happy with Browne’s effort. The coach also added that he was happy to see Browne advance to counties, particularly because Browne had lost 2-1 in overtime in the first round of leagues last year. Tseperakas was struggling to decide where to enter Browne—at 220 or 285—but was ultimately happy with his choice to bump Browne up to 285. He pointed out that Cantelmo had a 40-pound weight advantage on Browne.