A young, talented Hewlett wrestling team has taken its share of lumps in the early going of the 2019-20 season, but come tournament time, there is no doubt the Bulldogs will be battle-hardened.
To prep his team to be performing its best when it matters most, coach Stephen Jones has taken on all comers. The Bulldogs recently competed with 27 other high schools at the 54th annual Mid-Hudson Invitational at Arlington High School in Dutchess County. Hewlett finished with 103.5 points good enough for an eighth-place finish.
“We’ve had somewhat of a slow start, but we’ve been much better of late,” Jones said. “We’re facing some of the toughest teams around. We’re progressing. The idea is to be wrestling at our best in January and February.”
The Bulldogs have a chance to make some noise this winter, and with a roster that is laden with underclassmen, they appear to have a very bright future. The team currently stands at 2-0 in dual meets with victories over Roosevelt and Bellmore JFK.
“The goal is to get as many All-County kids as possible, and we expect to compete for a league championship,” Jones said. “Last year, it came down to us and Manhasset. We expect that to be the case again.”
In the 99-pound class, eighth-grader Kirk Smith has been terrific. Smith, who is currently ranked sixth in Nassau, has finished second or third in nearly all tournaments, and has the potential to be a county champion before all is said and done.
Freshman Ariel Waldman is the fifth-ranked wrestler in the 113-pound class. Waldman has faced some of the county’s top wrestlers and, like Smith, has been tough to beat. Naim Lynch is one of just a handful of seniors on the team. Lynch is ranked sixth in the county at 120 pounds. He’s hoping to lock down the All-County slot that has eluded him over the past three seasons.
Senior Tyler James is the only returning All-County honoree. James is currently the county’s fourth-ranked wrestler in the 160-pound class. He finished in third place at the annual King of the Mat Tournament hosted by Hewlett on Dec. 14.
Freshman Ryan Goodman came up as an eighth-grader and made his presence felt at 138 pounds. Jones believes the ceiling is high for Goodman. Sophomore Jacob Maiorano is another wrestler with a big upside. Despite facing some of the county’s best grapplers at 220, Maiorano has been among the top finishers each time he has taken the mat.
“We don’t have that one dominant wrestler, but we have lots of talented boys,” Jones said. “Last season was kind of a down year for us. We sent one to the states and had three All-County wrestlers. We’re young, but I definitely think we have the potential to be better than that. We want to be among the top 10 teams in the county. We should be there come February.”