Clarke took a road trip to Oneonta for the Dan Wickham Classic at Unatego, and it was well worth the 220-mile bus ride. The Rams, who have a roster of just 18 wrestlers, entered the 19-team tournament featuring some of the top programs in New York State’s Division II classification and walked away with second place in their best performance of the season. Fourteen members hit the mats in all, and every one earned at least one victory, a major reason for the strong showing on the scoreboard.
“The guys are working hard and doing what they have to do,” coach Mike Leonard said. “We didn’t know what to expect because we had never been to the tournament. But it shows that when you [just] go out and wrestle you can beat guys you might not think you can beat when you see the names [beforehand].”
Three Rams wrestled their way to the championship round of their weight classes and earned second-place finishes. Junior Tyler Constantine, an All-County returnee, has wrestled anywhere from 132 pounds up to 145 pounds, settling in at 138 for last Saturday’s tournament. He won his first three matches, including a pin in just 45 seconds of the semifinals before losing 12-1 in the championship round.
Senior 170-pounder Joseph Truono also took home second place, winning three of his four matches, while senior Mike Urso (182 pounds) had each of his four bouts decided by a single point. He finished with three wins. Returning All-County champion Tom Strobe, a senior, was Clarke’s lone third-place representative, and finished with a 4-1 mark at 120 pounds, winning once in wrestlebacks to battle his way back into the placing round. Strobe capped his tournament with a 15-0 technical fall in the consolation finals with the bout stopped at the 2:31 mark. Sophomore 132-pounder Marcos Mejia was 4-1 with fourth-place honors under his belt. Senior Phil Liotta (126 pounds) and sophomore Brandon Marhon (99) also scored points as placewinners, taking sixth place in their respective weight classes. Each split his four matches with a 2-2 mark.
If anyone was looking for inspiration, perhaps it came from Dillon Abbatello, a 145-pounder who found himself in a seven-point whole in his first round matchup. The sophomore hung tough and took advantage of a late opportunity to score a pin with less than 10 seconds left in the match. “He’s a goer and starting to believe that he can wrestle at this level, “ Leonard said. “There were only 10 seconds left and he ended up sticking him.”
With new assistant coach and former Clarke All-County wrestler Jordan Spirou helping out on the mats, the Rams have run out to a 3-0 mark in Nassau County Division II matches.