East Meadow senior Matt Power brought home the Nassau Division I 138-pound wrestling championship Feb. 12, beating Calhoun’s Julian Arroyo, 6-0, in the finals at Hofstra.
Power, who had one pin and two major decision victories to reach the title bout, will represent the Jets at the New York State championships this Friday and Saturday at Albany’s Times Union Center. His record stands at 37-3.
“Matt got through the toughest part of the bracket, and we knew he was up against a strong kid in the finals,” East Meadow coach Chris Critchley said. “Arroyo beat the top seed in the quarterfinals. The goal was to out-slick him. It was important to get the first takedown and ride him out after that.”
Power was on a mission to close his high school career on a championship note, Critchley said. “Matt fell just short of being All-County the past two years,” he said. “This year he improved his endurance, and that’s what made the difference for him.”
Critchley said Power had an early wakeup call. It came Dec. 8 when he was pinned by Baldwin’s Quinn Knauer in the Bruins Cup Tournament. “As talented as Matt is, I think that’s when he realized he couldn’t get by on talent alone,” Critchley said. “That loss to Knauer helped him focus on what he needed to do to get to the next level. I’m really proud of him. He worked hard and deserved it.”
On Feb. 2, Power finished first in the Nassau Qualifier Tournament hosted by Plainedge. He also earned the Most Pins Least Time award with three pins in a combined 3-minutes, 17-seconds. He won a 6-1 decision over Roslyn’s Gabe Gallardo in the qualifier final.
Power was one of three Jets to wrestle for a county championship. Senior Mike Tropiano, also a qualifying champ, was Nassau runner-up to Mepham’s Louis Hernandez at 145 pounds, while junior Adam Smith lost a tough 6-5 decision to Long Beach’s Steven Sewkumar at 113.
Tropiano finished the season with a record of 27-2. He had strung together more than 20 wins before the loss to Hernandez. “Mike’s season was interrupted several times,” Critchley said. “He had an ankle injury, a patella injury, and bronchitis that forced him to miss the dual meet team playoffs. But he finished strong, winning the qualifier and getting to the county finals. Hernandez is one of the best kids in the entire county. The only way to beat him is to catch him with a big move.”
Smith, who led the Jets on the season with 38 wins, upset No. 1 seed Nick Rondino of Syosset in convincing fashion in the quarterfinals, 8-1. He then knocked off Baldwin’s Sal Trigona, 4-0, in the semis, and led Sewkumar by a point with less than a minute to go. “Adam had a great tournament,” Critchley said. “He lost a heartbreaker that could’ve gone either way. He’ll be back.”