MONTROSE, N.Y.— It was a busy day on the mats as 27 teams from around the tri-state area came to Hendrick Hudson High School for the second annual Sailor Classic Wrestling Tournament on Jan. 14.
Somers was one of them as the Tuskers took to the mat and turned in an impressive sixth-place finish overall as a team.
“We finished sixth out of 27 teams,” Somers coach Ron DiSanto said. “We are getting into a rhythm and hitting our stride as a solid tournament team. Each individual was able to get at least two matches, which is good experience because everyone needs the mat time. Everyone won at least one match, which helped with their confidence.”
Some Tuskers had busier days than others as Billy DiBenedetto, who was able to score four victories on the day to win the crown as 126-pound champion.
DiBenedetto had a bye in the first round, and he then cruised through his next three matches, winning them all by pin. He pinned Merlin Gonzales of Port Chester in the semifinals, and that set up a finals round bout against Firas Zoha of Arlington. DiBenedetto pulled away for a 7-3 victory to claim the title.
“Billy (DiBenedetto) was relentless,” DiSanto said. “He never gave his opponents a chance to think, so his aggressiveness was to his advantage.”
He was joined in the finals by Tusker teammates Graham Roediger and Matt Kelly as they both advanced to the title bout and finished second in their respective weight classes.
Roediger advanced to the finals at 138 pounds as he pinned two opponents and then pulled out a 4-3 win over Anthony Ocello of Mahopac in the semis.
In the finals, Roediger suffered an 8-2 setback as he finished second.
Kelly advanced to the finals at 152 pounds. He had a bye in the first round and then pinned Horace Greeley’s Ryan Welch and Pleasantville’s Greg May to earn a shot at the title. In the finals, Kelly suffered a 10-7 setback to Nathaniel Garcia of Middletown.
“Graham and Matt looked really good all day and lost close matches to very good wrestlers in the finals,” DiSanto said. “Our other place winners were Nick Davison, taking sixth at 160. Matt Russo was ninth at 99, and Peter Bentivegna was 11th at 160. Jon Barakat, brand new to wrestling, had an impressive win in the first round, by pinning an opponent from Port Chester, who pinned him earlier in the season. That shows how much he is improving. He’s a very hard worker and fast learner.”
It all added up to a good day of learning on the mats for a young Somers lineup as the Tuskers get ready to close out the regular season on a high note.
“Our technique in practice has been good all year, but we’ve been picking up the intensity in our drilling so that the technique transfers better to matches, and it’s working,” DiSanto said. “As we get closer to the postseason, we will work a lot on the mental aspects of wrestling, like mental toughness, optimism and visualization.”
Somers was set to face host Rye at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19, and will take part in the Westchester County Championships on Jan. 21 at Yonkers High School.