Long Beach flexes its muscle


With six individual champions and four runners-up, Long Beach dominated the wrestling mats in last Saturday’s Nassau qualifying tournament at Syosset and will have 15 competitors at this weekend’s Division I county championships at Hosftra.

Seniors Mark Raghunandan and Dylan Palacio remained undefeated on the season with four impressive wins and were joined in the winner’s circle by Oral Allen, Fred Medina, Liam Fitzpatrick and Steven Sewkumar. According to Marines coach Ray Adams, it was the fourth qualifying tournament title for both Palacio and Allen.

“The whole team wrestled well,” Adams said. “The kids competed at their best to this point and that’s always the goal. Fifteen is the number I had in mind for the county tournament and we’ll look to make a run at the title.”

Wantagh, which topped Long Beach in the finals of the county dual meet playoffs, is the team to beat this weekend, Adams said, but the Marines, MacArthur, Massapequa and Plainedge will be in the mix.

Raghunandan, who came within seconds of a state title as a junior, has won all 42 of his bouts this season and is Nassau’s top seed in the 113-pound weight class. He recorded three quick pins to reach the qualifying tournament final and rolled to a 16-4 major decision over Syosset’s Eric Faimon to cap a perfect day. “I thought Mark looked great again,” Adams said. “He’s used the way last season finished as motivation and he’s one of a bunch of our kids in the discussion to win it all.”

Palacio, who missed two weeks of action early in the season, had two pins and two technical fall victories at the qualifier to improve to 33-0. He decided to compete at 160 instead of 152, Adams said, but his goal of winning a state title hasn’t changed. “Dylan’s been as dominant as anyone,” Adams said. “He’s very focused and will be very difficult to beat.”

The coach has high hopes for Allen, a senior who pinned Baldwin’s Austin Valenti in 56 seconds to win the qualifier at 120 pounds. “Oral’s primed and ready to roll,” Adams said.

Medina’s 23rd win of the season was an 11-5 decision over Baldwin’s Enriquez DeJesus in the 126-pound qualifier final, and Adams believes the athletic senior can finish in the top six at Hofstra to earn All-County status. “Fred is one of our most athletic guys, and he’s slick,” Adams explained.

Fitzpatrick, also a senior, will be a handful for the competition at 152 after pinning three opponents in the qualifier including Jericho’s Jason Adefuye in the final. Sewkumar (99) topped South Side’s Ryan Holzgruber, 8-5, to win, and senior Krishna Sewkumar (106), a defending county champion, was second to Syosset’s Nick Rondino.

Long Beach seniors Josh Lopez (182) and Pete Amabile (285), and junior Zamarr Allen (220) also reached the finals, while seniors Rich Tagliagambe (138), Matt Gray (113), Anthony Posada (132), and Joe Basco (195), and sophomore Jaemon Connelly (99) placed third.