Written by Hyram Landers Friday, 14 January 2011 00:00
Last week Herricks matmen opened the New Year with a league dual match on Wednesday against the Plainview Old Bethpage Hawks. Highlander Second-Men warmed up the audience by plucking the Hawks 34-0. John Dunn (fr-125), Samir Licul (fr-130), Paul “P.J.” Tantillo (so-140), and Jason Liarikos ((fr-145) all won by pins. Justin Hwang won by major decision at 152. The Varsity contest followed with Plainview forfeiting five of the required fifteen weight classes. Coach Cliff Forziat wanted to go after them without the benefit of the free points, but that meant putting the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the younger and least experienced team members. Tom Gonzalez (sr) started things off at 152 and was manhandling his Hawk 8-4 when his opponent surrendered at 1:06 of the first period. Kevin Ryersen (sr) bumped up from 160 to 171 and pinned his man in 49 seconds. Anthony “Lurch” Rosa (jr) followed up at 189 with a 31 second pin.
By Forziat’s standards of the day Herricks was up 18-16 when Ryan Singh (sr), innovator of the wheat thin diet, defeated All-Conference Andrew Haft 8-1 in Singh’s first match down at 112 (from 125). Freshman Joe Tadros added a 13-3 major decision win at 125, and sophomore Mike Vespe iced the cake with a pin at 130.
Herricks had four freshmen and two sophomores in the lineup. “We like to find ways to get rookies into our lineup in meaningful situations whenever we can,” Coach Forziat said. “We’re always on the lookout for tough reliable young fellows. If they are working hard everyday in practice, we like to give them opportunities on the varsity level.”
On Thursday the Highlanders went to Merrick to take on the Calhoun Colts. The Colts are … were … ranked higher than the Highlanders in the league, and Calhoun’s loyal fan base always has a kind of blue collar vocal intensity in their own house. Herricks 112 pounder Mark Holuka (fr) won a 10-3 exhibition decision at 119. Then the varsity took over. Herricks won ten of the fifteen bouts taking the first eight in a row, all hard-fought contests.
Corey Iuculano (so-96) led off and took a narrow 4-0 lead into the third period before blowing it open to win a 10-0 major decision. Sophomore Andrew Farrell won 8-1 at 112. He may be physically small at the weight, but he has great heart. Senior Ryan Singh bumped up from 112 to 119 to go after All-Conference Brandon Drexler, and won by decision 8-6. Will Rodriguez (jr) bumped up from 119 to 125 and came from behind in the third period to win 7-5. Vespe scored the opening takedown and hung on to win by a 6-4 decision at 130. Carlos Rodriguez (sr-135) won by decision 8-2.
With Herricks holding a 31-7 lead and 30 points remaining to be contested, Ryersen clinched the team victory by scoring a 14-1 major decision over All-Conference Joe Marcantonio at 160. Rosa came through again, this time bumping up from 189 to cover 215. He defeated All-Conference Jenard Rosemond 6-2, and the Highlanders had a 38-25 team victory.
Over the years Herricks has invariably been the underdogs against Calhoun, but the Highlanders have developed a habit of unshoeing the Colts in their own paddock. “This made my day,” Kevin Rynne (father of current wrestler Bill and wrestling alumnus Tom) said while Calhoun was putting away the mats. The Highlanders had taken over the Colts’ showers. As coach Jake Phillips commented at the end of the day, “Sure beats losing.”
Herricks Varsity Wrestlers are currently 9-0 (3-0 in league competition). They have outscored their opponents 531-173 up to this point. There are some very tough matches ahead, but the coaches see these dual matches more as stepping-stones than as goals in themselves. The Qualifying Tournament (Conference Championships) on February 5th, and the County Championships the following weekend are what these young fellows are aiming for, and there is always the possibility that diligent preparation and self-discipline will meet opportunity and a trip to the States could be in the offing.
On Saturday January 15th Herricks will host its 18th Annual New Year’s Wrestling Tournament featuring teams from Nassau, Suffolk and Up-State in the Community Center’s Alwin Muller Arena. On Monday the 17th they will host their 20th Annual Rev. Martin Luther King, jr. Memorial Wrestling Festival in the Muller Arena. Sandwiched in between will be their 6th Annual Herricks Wrestling Alumni Reunion featuring team members from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 21st century. Festivities will take place at the Davenport Press Restaurant on Main Street in Mineola from noon to 4:00 PM. The price will be $40.00 cash at the door. As usual great food will be served and the anecdotes from yesteryear (liberally seasoned with balderdash we suspect) will flow freely.