By Brady Baylis ’19
Coming to the end of a long and challenging season, Chaminade’s JV and Varsity wrestling teams entered their first championship meet, the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA League Tournament, tried and tested. The 29 grapplers who attended had trained for weeks, made weight, and mentally prepared themselves to face this new challenge. They rose to the occasion, crowning three league champions, resulting in a strong second place finish.
After a morning Mass with the other schools, the wrestlers took to the mats and began to get to work. As the tournament proceeded, a few elite wrestlers distanced themselves from the pack.
Ted Flaherty ’17 impressed all in the 160 lb. weight class; as the first seed, he beat out the competition early in the tournament, and was rewarded with a bye. Flaherty earned a pin in 53 seconds, propelling him to the semifinal match against a competitive Friar foe. Ready to wrestle, the Flyer routed with a major decision of 15-2 and booked a ticket to the finals. “We’ve been in the room since day one, working hard,” Flaherty remarked. “The coaches have all been with us, helping us get better, and now it comes down to this. We had a great day. Now we’re focusing on next week and the Catholic State tournament.”
TJ Toles ’17 also turned some heads to kick off the tournament. Because of his status as the second seed in the 182 lb. weight class, he, too, was given a bye. In his first match, Toles pinned his foe in 18 seconds, which put him in contention for the fastest pin award. Toles bested his semifinal opponent with a 9-4 decision and then prepared for his final. “It was an awesome feeling to win, especially since I was out for a good chunk of the season,” the senior grappler said. “Being able to get out on the mat when it mattered most, to grind it out and put 100% effort in each match made me a true champion.”
Dave Mollon ’19 brought up the rear in the 220 lb. weight class. Mollon won his quarterfinal round with a pin only 1:00 into the period to begin his campaign. In the semifinals, the heavyweight defeated the first seed and earned his spot in the finals against the second seed. “I was unsure of what to expect,” the sophomore wrestler commented. “It’s great being on a team with great support, and I feel like I’ve made loads of progress. This is a high point and I’m glad to see us do well and go to Catholic states. I couldn’t have done this without team.”
The three wrestlers were joined by 99 lb. Anthony Scicutella ’19, Connor Llewellyn ’18 in the 120 lb. weight class, and Josh Can ’17, who weighed in at 195 lb. These six fought for their respective league crowns.
Scicutella, Llewellyn, and Can fought in tough matches in the finals, and managed to capture strong second place finishes. As the weight classes were called, Ted Flaherty faced off against St. Anthony’s for the league crown. In a tough match, he defeated his opponent for the title in a 4-0 decision. Two weight classes later, TJ Toles fought his own battle. After an indecisive match during regulation time, the 1-1 match went to overtime. Toles won with takedown to earn a 3-1 decision. Dave Mollon continued his winning ways via victory with a pin in 3:44 to finish the day.
Other Flyers fought their way up through the consolation brackets to earn podium spots and spots in the CHSAA Catholic State Qualifier Tournament. John Boccardo ’19, Sal Ballone ’18, Patrick Schnell ’19, and Aidan Kates ’17, took third place in their various brackets. Davis Luckner ’20 and John Grasso ’19 finished with a fourth place spot. Christian Nolan ’20, Matt Larre ’20, Anthony Zisa ’19, Eddie Wagner ’17, Jack Tiedemann ’18, and Charlie Tobin ’17 also earned spots in the tournament with a fifth place finish.
“The Flyers stepped up to the challenge and all wrestled hard, taking second to tough St. Anthony’s squad, which we knew going into the tournament. The young grapplers gained invaluable experience and knowledge from this opportunity,” Coach Cole said of the developing roster. All in all it was great day for the Flyers who earned a second place spot and strong base for future success.