MAHOPAC, N.Y.-It was a season mired by injuries for Mahopac’s wrestling team, but the Indians endured and still had two wrestlers earn all-section honors by placing in the top six at the Section 1 Division 1 meet.
Junior Mike Rivera (220 pounds) and senior Tom Mahoney (170) were the grapplers who earned that honor, with Rivera taking third and Mahoney placing fourth.
Rivera, who was seeded fifth, bested Somers’ Sean Freebern 5-4 in the third-place match, on Sunday, Feb. 11, at Clarkstown South High School.
“He learned two valuable lessons: you can never take anyone for granted and he can be a contender for the section title next season,” Mahopac coach Dennis DiSanto said.
After falling in his first match of the tournament a day earlier at Sleepy Hollow, Rivera had to win three straight matches just to qualify for day two. Rivera went 30-10 on the season.
The fifth-seeded Mahoney defeated Somers’ Antonio Vieira 3-2 in the wrestlebacks on Sunday to reach the third-place match. He then fell to John Jay-East Fishkill’s Derek White, 2-1. Mahoney, who finished the season with a 33-7 record, also lost to White in the quarterfinals, 3-1.
“Tom struggled with a shoulder injury in mid-January and hasn’t wrestled much live in practice since then,” DiSanto said. “I wasn’t even sure he would make it to the postseason. He not only made it, he finished strong, winning the divisionals and placing fourth at sectionals. He had a great tournament.”
DiSanto described the season as a “wild ride.”
“On the first day of practice we lost our captain and 29-match winner from last year, Jack McDonald, due to a concussion,” DiSanto said. “A few days later, we lost another starter from the previous season, Nick Saeta, due to knee injury. On the first dual meet of the season we lost another captain, Christian Brito, for six weeks and then in mid-December we lost two section qualifiers from last year for the rest of the season, Londrim Hasanramaj and Joe Harney.”
Frankie Scauzillo, who finished the season with 17 wins at 113 pounds, and Andi Berisha (27-10 at 126) also missed considerable time over the season.
“The hardest part was for the wrestlers who missed time to try to come back,” DiSanto said. “It proved very difficult because conditioning falls behind.”
The Indians had their hand forced and other wrestlers needed to step up. Kevin Bunyea was one of them, finishing the season with 25 wins at 132 pounds. Larry Nardecchia had 19 wins at 132 pounds. Aidan Muldoon won a divisional title, netted 19 wins and just missed placing in the section at 106 pounds.
With 13 starters returning and a total of 32 wrestlers, DiSanto is already looking forward to next season. “We could be very competitive next year,” he said.