MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Without six of its starters on the mats for the sixth-annual Peter Caruso Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 28, Mahopac finished a respectable eighth out of 18 teams.

Senior leaders Mike Muldoon and Garrett Semenetz each ran into formidable opponents in the championship rounds to settle for silver.

Muldoon lost an 8-1 decision to Center Moriches’ Donald Wood in the 120-pound finals after dominating Roy C. Ketcham’s Joe Censullo in the semifinal, 9-1. He also pinned Carmel’s Joe Ciallela in four minutes during the opening round.

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“[Wrestling at Mahopac] was something I’ll never forget,” Muldoon said. “Being here so long and wrestling so many times in that gym, it was a lot of fun and something that will always stick with me.”

Although he fell to Center Moriches’ Jordan Titus by a 14-3 decision in the 99-pound finals, Semenetz managed to pin his first two opponents, each in less than a minute. 

The 220-pound class is where the Indians shined, as sophomore Mike Rivera took second place while Mike Nathenson placed third. Nathenson finished with two pins. 

Rivera, a JV wrestler for most of the season, has now placed second in two-straight varsity tournaments. He beat out Somers’ Sean Freebern, 6-3, in the semifinals before surrendering a pin to champion Horace Duke of Middletown.

“Mike (Rivera) has shown much growth and progress throughout the season,” Mahopac coach Dennis DiSanto said. “I am looking forward to big things from him in the future.”

Jack McDonald took fourth at 182 pounds and Frankie Scauzillo placed fifth at 99 pounds.

Mahopac fell short of rival Carmel by just a point in the team standings while Middletown (255 points) easily won the first place crown over second place Smithtown East (163.5 points). Since its inception in January of 2012, the scholarship raising tourney has nearly doubled in size.

“Before we switched to the tournament format, we had maybe eight teams,” said John Caruso, Peter’s father. “It’s now grown dramatically and we actually had eight teams this year on our waiting list. If we opened up the junior high school, we could have had 25 teams.”

John Caruso reflected on what his son Peter was all about.

“Peter was a competitor,” John said. “He was a no nonsense person when on the mat and very aggressive. But between the time that he was getting ready and getting off the mat, he was everybody’s best friend.”

Sophomore wrestler Frank Casagrande certainly has that feeling with this year’s bunch.

“Wrestling is like a family,” Casagrande said. “Everyone is good to each other and we all love each other. The season was a real good season.”

Fellow sophomore Enzo Angelino only won one of his three matches, but can re-call how much he has grown with the sport since eighth grade.

“I started out my first ever match by getting whooped by a senior,” Angelino said. “Ever since I fell in love with the sport and grew with the coaches and team. To me, wrestling is more about making friendships and knowing people.”  

Mahopac will return four starters in time for divisionals at John Jay-Cross River on Saturday as the Indians believe they can make a splash in the postseason.

“I feel really good and confident going into the postseason,” Muldoon said. “I’m looking to have a big one.”