In search of a third consecutive appearance on the All-County wrestling podium, Lawrence’s Pankil Chander got his senior campaign off to quite a start with titles in both the Sprig Gardner and Ralph Jansson Tournaments in December.
Chander, up four weight classes from last February when he placed fifth in Nassau Division I at 113 pounds to help the Golden Tornadoes finish 10th in the team standings, has potential for bigger things this season. “Pankil hit a growth spurt and has been lifting all year,” coach Dom DelVecchio said. “I think a fresh batch of opponents will benefit him. He’s going to be at 132 at the end of the year, and the goal is for him to make the finals and see if he can get a county championship.”
Chander, who was also fifth in the county as a sophomore, dominated both early season tournaments. He pinned Daniel Arkow, of Bellmore-JFK, in 1:17 in the 138-pound final of the Sprig, and defeated Julian Arroyo of Calhoun, 6-4, in the final of the Jansson.
Senior John Vinas got out of the gate quickly as well, finishing second in both tournaments at 160 pounds. A four-year performer who qualified for the county tournament last season, Vinas added some strength and muscle, DelVecchio said, and has a chance to reach All-County (top six) status. “He’s coming along, and if he keeps improving he’s got a real shot,” DelVecchio said.
Senior Fred Thomas, a two-time county qualifier who was injured before last season’s big event but came within a victory of All-County status as a sophomore, had third-place showings in the Sprig and Jansson tournaments at 152 pounds.
The coach described junior Mike Skillings as “tough as nails,” and thinks he’ll build off a runner-up finish at the Sprig and third-place showing at the Jansson at 182 pounds. By season’s end, he could compete at 170. “He’s lost only close matches so far,” DelVecchio said.
Three-time county qualifier Akil Mavruk had a late start to the wrestling season after Lawrence’s football team went all the way to a Long Island championship, but he picked up third in the Jansson at 220. “He’s got experience and strength,” DelVecchio said. “If he puts it all together and gets hot, he can go far.”
Senior Mark Rosen, who was second in the qualifier tournament last season, will also contribute at 220. At 285, sophomore Dimitri Samuels is ready to make a splash after finishing third in each of the two tournaments.
Others DelVecchio is counting on include sophomore Jesse Nacht (120), senior James Schneider (126) and sophomore Oscar Puk (138.)
Though seeded fifth out of six teams in Conference 3B, DelVecchio is optimistic the Golden Tornadoes can challenge Bethpage, Garden City and Lynbrook for the top spot. “We can compete with everyone in the conference,” he said. “It always comes down to who’s hot on a particular day.”