Hewlett's Salazar earns county title


Carlos Salazar is heading back to the New York State wrestling tournament, while Eric Gendlin made it in his last try as a varsity grappler.

The pair punched their tickets to this week’s event in Albany after their impressive performances for Hewlett at the Nassau Division 1 Championships at Hofstra from Feb. 10-11. Freshman phenom Salazar captured his first county championship in the 116-pound weight class to add to his already impressive resume and senior Gendlin was runner-up at 138.

Senior Kirk Smith also earned his third all-county honor after placing sixth in the 124-pound class.

“It wasn’t our best tourney to be honest with you, but the end result in getting two to states is definitely good,” Bulldogs coach Stephan Jones said.

After a first-round bye, Salazar beat Manhasset’s Luca Pescatore 14-4 in a major decision before another major decision victory over Calhoun’s Dan Fauci. An 8-2 triumph over Jahari Lloyd of Freeport sent him to the final against Long Beach’s Gregory Walpole, who pinned Salazar during their last meeting on Jan. 18.

Walpole scored the first three points of the final, but Salazar rallied in the second half of the match to eek out a hard-fought 5-4 victory for the title.

“I stayed calm,” Salazar said. “I didn’t get worried. I just stuck to the plan and listened to my coaches.”

Salazar, who went 36-6 this year, earned all-county honors as a seventh-grader and advanced to the championship finals of last year’s D1 championships to earn a spot in Albany. He lost his first match upstate, but did have a win in the consolation round and believes that that experience will help him this weekend.

“I feel like I can do really good,” he said. “I’m just going out there, work my butt off, not being worried about my opponent, [and] just going in there to have fun,” he said.

Gendlin’s road to the final featured a 16-4 major decision win over Long Beach’s Jordan Andreula and a pinfall victory against Domenic DiRico of Calhoun. He then faced Kennedy’s JJ Pizzirusso in the semifinals, where he picked up an early point and held on for the 1-0 win.

“It was always my goal in high school to make the state tournament, and I’m just really glad to accomplish it,” Gendlin said. “I’m excited for the atmosphere. I’ve never been there before.”

Gendlin went 44-7 this winter while having to adjust to bigger opponents after competing at the 118-pound level last year.

“It was a pretty big adjustment,” he said. “People are a lot stronger, but over the offseason I wrestled in some tournaments at the higher weight classes and that helped me get adjusted to it.”

Salazar is already one of the favorites at states, but Jones is also confident that Gendlin could turn some heads in Albany as well.

“He has beat some of the best kids in the bracket, so I think he has a very good chance to be all-state,” Jones said.