South Side prepares for qualifier


After splitting its final two dual meet wrestling matches of the season to finish 3-3 in a challenging Conference 3A, South Side is preparing for the Nassau County Qualifying Tournament on Feb. 2.

“We’re done until the qualifier,” coach Mike Robinson said after the Cyclones defeated Great Neck North, 54-28, last Friday. “We may take a breather here and there, but you don’t want to get stale. We’ll be going hard in practice to get ready.”

South Side has two wrestlers ranked among the top six in Nassau Division I. Junior Paul Holzgruber is fourth at 106 pounds, and senior Mike Petrone is sixth at 113. They will take identical 25-6 records into the qualifier. “They’re both doing a great job,” Robinson said. “They’re definitely All-County candidates, but it’s not going to come easy. They have the ability, and they have to go out and do it.”

Holzgruber and Petrone capped their regular seasons with pins against Great Neck North. Holzgruber pinned Sean Campbell in 1:46, while Petrone put Adam Bakhshi to the mat in 1:42. “They’re two tough, technical guys and tremendous workout partners,” Robinson noted.

Holzgruber, who was one win away from All-County honors last winter, lost an exciting 10-6 decision to Hewlett’s Lucas Pincus on Jan. 16. A late two-point reversal won it for Pincus. “You learn from the losses and move on,” Robinson said.

South Side’s biggest surprise this season according to the coach is junior Frank Alaimo at 152 pounds. He was one of three Cyclones to win a bout against Hewlett, and he also made quick work of his opponent last Friday when he pinned Mitch Bokhour in 1:15. “Frank put in a lot of offseason work, went to clinics, and really sharpened his skills,” Robinson said of Alaimo. “It’s been great seeing how much he’s improved.”

Junior Lucas Derkatch is enjoying a solid season at 145. He also closed the regular season with a pin, taking care of Great Neck North’s Brian Kahen in 3:45. “He’s been right there with just about everyone he’s wrestled,” Robinson said. “I’m looking for him to do well in the qualifier.”

Another candidate to push through to the county tournament Feb. 9-10 at Hofstra is senior Paul Wolfrom, who has battled through a nagging knee injury to have success at 132 pounds. His last two matches were decisions. Wolfrom rebounded from a 5-4 defeat to Hewlett’s Oran Revivo to edge Great Neck North’s Benjamin Rismany, 4-2.

Junior Kevin Rafferty finished the regular season with 10 wins while competing at 182 and 195, while senior Harry Dantona (285 pounds) takes a 15-8 mark into the qualifier. 

“We had six county qualifiers last season,” Robinson said. “I want to see us improve on that number.”