Despite the school’s small size, it’s no secret that Glenn is one of the giants in Suffolk County. Even if the Knights had to surrender the team title at the Doc Fallot Section XI Championships at Stony Brook University, they nevertheless put their stamp on the meet, sending three wrestlers to the top step of the Division I podium for the first time in school's history.
After two days of wrestling in one of the most difficult county tournaments in the state, James Dekrone, Kenny Meinsen and Joe Giaramita all took home titles, and they’ll go upstate together in two weeks for the New York State championships.
It’s a culmination of countless hours in the wrestling room for the Knight seniors.
“I’ve been wrestling with these guys for 12 years, and it’s great to have this experience with them,” Meinsen said.
Dekrone, the top seed at 130 pounds, was the first one through, but he needed extra time to do so. Facing Longwood’s Casey Brice, Dekrone scored a takedown in overtime to win 3-1.
“I haven’t stopped wrestling since the end of last year because I ended up where I didn’t want to be,” Dekrone said. “I’ve worked real hard, but it’s not over yet.”
Meinsen was next on the mat, and he emphatically won the rubber match against Westhampton’s Conner Bass, 4-0. Just a week earlier, Bass scored four points late against Meinsen at the League VI tourney to win 6-4 and earn the 135-pound top seed.
Later in the night, it was Giaramita looking for the hat trick, and he got it in overtime, scoring a takedown against fellow 189-pounder Frank Abbondanza of Mount Sinai.
Despite the success, Longwood racked up 191 points to take first place overall. Glenn was second with 134, and the Knights were followed by Huntington (110), Connetquot (109.5) and Sachem East (85.5).
Other than Longwood and Glenn, Hauppauge was the only squad with multiple champs – 140-pounder Adam Lepkowsky and 171-pounder Chanse Menendez. Both did it in grand style. Lepkowsky turned Islip’s Mike Dimartino on his back in the final seconds of the third period to win his match, 4-2, and Menendez escaped with a 3-2 victory over Sachem East’s Frank Merante.
Eagles coach Chris Messina was quick to credit all those who’ve built the foundation for both wrestlers.
“Meinsen, Lepkowsky, Mark West, Menendez, they were all in the youth program when they were little,” he said. “They’ve grown together. They’re all connected, and they’ve all worked very hard.”
Huntington’s Nigel McNeil entered the second day without having lost since his sophomore year. He kept that streak intact by registering a 5-1 win over Central Islip’s Giovanni Sanchez. McNeil now goes upstate to try to bring home a second state title, after having won the 112 crown as a junior.
“It was another good tournament for him,” said Huntington coach Kieran Mock. “We’ve said it’s not important to go undefeated, but now that we’re here, if you don’t win four more, you don’t win states, and that’s been our goal from the beginning.”
At 96 pounds, Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni continued his outstanding tournament, recording a 13-0 major decision over Kings Park’s Andrew Roden. With the win, Piccininni became the Patriots’ first county champion since Colin Ferraro at 285 pounds in 2000.
“He’s like most county champions – he does the extra,” Ward Melville coach Bill DeSario said. “He’s an exceptional kid who works extra hard in practice and works out with the best kids in the county.”
Roden had an impressive run himself, upending both the No. 3 seed, Steven Lee of West Babylon, and one of the draw’s favorites, Anthony D’Onofrio of Longwood.
Anthony Abidin navigated a difficult 125-pound bracket to reach the final, but he certainly proved to be the class’ elite wrestler. In the final, he dismantled Maverick Passaro of Eastport-South Manor by a 10-0 count. Abidin suffered no letdown after he stunned the top seed, Brentwood’s Alex Gomez, in the semifinals, 3-2.
Abidin was award the tournament’s Champion of Champions award, which is voted on by all first-place finishers in the tourney.
“I feel like a million bucks,” Abidin said. “I got through the toughest part of the bracket, and I wanted to show that I’ve worked harder than anybody in the county.”
Kings Park 215-pounder Warren Bosch felt the same way. Bosch won his match over Huntington’s Nick Lupi, 6-1, with more gas in the tank throughout.
“All the hard work paid off,” Bosch said. “I just kept on [Lupi] the whole time because I knew he was out of shape and my work ethic would be the difference.”
SECTION XI CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
At Stony Brook University
96: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) maj. dec. Andrew Roden (Kings Park), 13-0
103: C.J. Labate (Commack) pinned Chris Powers (Mt. Sinai), 1:22
112: Sean McCabe (Connetquot) dec. Cory Rasheed (Longwood), 5-3 (OT)
119: Nigel McNeil (Huntington) dec. Giovanni Sanchez (Central Islip), 5-1
125: Anthony Abidin (Half Hollow Hills East) maj. dec. Maverick Passaro (Eastport-South Manor), 10-0
130: James Dekrone (John Glenn) dec. Casey Brice (Longwood), 3-1 (OT)
135: Kenny Meinsen (John Glenn) dec. Conner Bass (Westhampton), 4-0
140: Adam Lepkowsky (Hauppauge) dec. Mike Dimartino (Islip), 4-2
145: Nicky Hall (Longwood) dec. Sean O’Malley (Sachem East), 12-6
152: Kyle Wade (Islip) maj. dec. John Keck (Shoreham-Wading River), 16-3
160: Patrick Jennings (Longwood) dec. Nick LoBue (Connetquot), 8-2
171: Chanse Menendez (Hauppauge) dec. Frank Merante (Sachem East), 3-2
189: Joe Giaramita (John Glenn) dec. Frank Abbondanza (Mount Sinai), 5-3 (OT)
215: Warren Bosch (Kings Park) dec. Nick Lupi (Huntington), 6-1
285: Reggie Robinson (West Babylon) dec. Greg Martin (Kings Park), 4-2 (2 OT)
Champion of Champions: Anthony Abidin, Hills East
Most Outstanding Wrestler: Sean McCabe, Connetquot
Most Pins, Least Time: Duncan Murchison, Huntington (3 pins, 5:47)