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Glen Cove's Jackson still top dog

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Long Beach High School played host to one of the Nassau County Section VIII Wrestling Qualifiers this past weekend. There, Glen Cove had six wrestlers qualify outright for an opportunity to wrestle at the county championships this weekend at State University of New York Farmingdale. The Big Red also had one possible wildcard wrestler qualify, which would bring its total representative total to seven.

While Glen Cove had multiple wrestlers finish as county qualifiers, it’s most successful grappler — Isaiah Jackson — stood above the pack and earned the meet’s coveted Most Outstanding Wrestler award. The 106-pound dynamo has been a mainstay in the county championship meet throughout his high school career. This year, though, he has accomplished something brand new.

According to longislandwrestling.org, Jackson has been ranked first overall for the county in every updated release published throughout the season. He has been ranked ahead of names such as MacArthur’s Matthew Huggard, Manhasset’s Jason Pilla and Wantagh’s Ryan Arbeit. According to his coach, this success is a culmination of all of his hard work over the years.

“He has really progressed since he first came into the program years ago,” Glen Cove coach Chris McDonald said. “He’s always been a good wrestler, but he’s worked extremely hard to get better each year.”

Jackson sliced through the competition with precision at the Long Beach qualifier, according to McDonald. He finished his weekend with three pins and an eventual 16-1 technical fall victory in the finals. He was given the Most Outstanding Wrestler award, beating out champions from 14 other weight classes.

“He was very dominant,” McDonald said. “He brought attitude and focus (to the qualifying tournament).”

Jackson will now most likely be the top seed at 106 pounds in the county championship meet this weekend. McDonald is looking for his team to finish with as many points as possible, and having a champion at any weight class would not hurt.

“We’re hoping to get a couple guys to be All-County, which would help our team score a lot,” McDonald said before admitting: “And having a champion in any weight class definitely helps.”

Jackson was not the only one who finished first at the qualifiers, though. 182-pound Eder Leiva nabbed two pins and secured a 24-12 victory in the finals. “He is a pinning machine,” McDonald said of Leiva.

R.J. Alma finished second at the qualifiers, losing in the finals at 195. He will be seeded heading into the county championships.

Glen Cove’s largest wrestler, 285-pound Brandon Varela-Rivera, was just one match shy of the finals, before winning his third place match to secure a seeding heading into the county championships. Varela-Rivera has looked very strong as of late, according to his coach who believes he is peaking at the right time.

Edson Murillo (113) finished fourth to qualify for this weekend. Murillo had three All-County wrestlers in his weight class, including Long Beach’s own Jeremiah Echeverria and Kevin Lopez. “He is right there,” McDonald said of his skill level.

David Portillo finished fifth at 120 pounds, while Jordan Kalberer finished sixth at 220 pounds and will hope to receive a wildcard spot to compete at the county championships.