Long Beach’s Jeremiah Echeverria knocked on the door of a Nassau D1 wrestling title last season, finishing county runner-up and earning a wild-card to the state tournament.
Last Sunday night, he broke through to take the crown in a weight class the Marines dominated all season. Echeverria, a junior, beat MacArthur sophomore Killian Foy, an All-State finisher last winter, 7-2, in the 113-pound county final at Farmingdale State University. Long Beach junior Kevin Lopez placed third and sophomore Jafet Velasquez, who fell 9-5 to Echeverria in the semis, finished fourth.
“We’ve never had three semifinalists in the same weight class before and I’m not sure any team has ever done it,” Long Beach coach Ray Adams said. “All of those guys were All-County last season too. They work extremely hard. I’m really happy for Jeremiah. He’s been wrestling great.”
Echeverria will head back to the big stage at Albany Feb. 28-29 and hopes to get on the All-State (top six) podium. He has 38 wins against four losses, with two of those coming to an opponent from Connecticut at the Eastern States Tournament.
“It’s a surreal experience,” Echeverria said after winning the county championship. “It’s a dream come true and I’d like to thank all my teammates and coaches,” he added. “I couldn’t have done this without any of them.”
Echeverria was locked in a 2-2 draw with Foy after the first period before scoring the only two points of the second and three insurance points in the third.
“Jeremiah was very focused,” Adams said. “He’s kept a photo in his locker from last year’s finals when he lost to [Chase] Liardi of Massapequa. He used that as motivation.”
Lopez went 5-1 in the tournament, losing only to Foy in the semifinals. Velasquez went 3-2. “The competition in the room all season pushed all three of those guys to another level,” Adams said. “When they’re on the mat it’s all business, but they’re good friends.”
The Marines came painfully close to crowning two county champs. Senior Amir Hodge was runner-up at 132 pounds and also took home the Most Pins in Least Time award (four pins in just over 8 minutes.) Unfortunately, Hodge was pinned by MacArthur’s Jake Schneider with 15 seconds remaining in the finals. Schneider trailed by as many as five points.
“Amir wrestled a great tournament and wasn’t far away from winning it,” Adams said.
Hodge reached the finals with an impressive pin of East Meadow’s Anthony Gentile in the semis. He also pinned Josh Gendlin of Hewlett, Jake Farinacci of Roslyn, Daniel Dominguez of Division.