Kennedy continues massive season


Kennedy is looking to put the finishing touches on a dynamic wrestling season described by longtime coach Brian DeGaetano as “ridiculous.”

The Cougars, who won 18 of 19 dual meets, five tournaments and a conference title during the regular season, will be largely represented at the Nassau County Division 1 championships this weekend at Hofstra.

“It’s definitely our best regular season since 2001,” said DeGaetano, who’s wrapping up his 29th season leading the program. “We’ve got a great group of kids and they’ve been all-in,” he added. “We had a disappointing county tournament last year and that gave everyone extra motivation during the offseason.”

Kennedy hosted one of Nassau’s five qualifiers last Saturday and finished runner-up to MacArthur in the eight-team event. Though junior Brandon Goldstein (285 pounds) was the Cougars’ lone qualifying champion, a dozen teammates will join him on the big stage.

Goldstein pinned all three of his opponents in the qualifier and heads into the county tournament undefeated at 28-0. “Brandon had an incredible sophomore season and beat a lot of the top guys,” DeGaetano said. “He’s improved his mental approach a thousand percent and is very focused. He’s certainly capable of winning it all and getting to the state tournament.”

Senior Joshua Amiel (215) was undefeated heading into the qualifier but was topped by Baldwin’s Rodney Mills in the semifinals. Amiel is 32-1 and expected to challenge for a spot upstate as well as reach the All-County podium. “You hate to see a kid lose, but Josh might benefit from the learning experience,” DeGaetano said. “He’s had an awesome season.”

In a campaign filled with positive results, the apple cart was upset in the qualifier a bit when the No. 1 and 2 seeds at 138, both Cougars, were knocked off in the semifinals. Top-seeded senior Brian Shindel fell to MacArthur’s James Jennison, and senior Nicholas Jaramillo lost a tight decision to eventual champion Edwar Palomino, also from MacArthur. “That was the toughest weight class and there’s no doubt in my mind our guys can bounce back,” DeGaetano said. “They both can beat anyone when they’re on.” Shindel is 35-5; Jaramillo is 25-8.

A group of middle schoolers were elevated to varsity and bolstered Kennedy’s dual meet lineup, led by seventh-grader Peter Mikedis, who has 35 wins and placed third in the qualifier at 126. Eighth-graders Jared Eisenberg (110) and Hendrick Copo (118) are also headed to the county tournament.

Another newcomer, sophomore Vasilios Katranis, a transfer from Queens, was Kennedy’s lone runner-up at the qualifier reaching the 118-pound final. Senior Joe Vaccaro (160) has racked up 28 wins this winter, and junior JJ Pizzirusso has recorded 23. Goldstein’s workout partner, senior Leo Gerunda, advanced to his first county tournament.

Kennedy’s Schechtman fifth in state
Sophomore Gabriella Schechtman placed fifth in the inaugural New York State girls’ wrestling tournament held in Syracuse Jan.27, winning four matches at 132. “Gabby trains year-round and is extremely dedicated to the sport,” DeGaetano said. “We’ve had many girls in the program over the years and she’s the most talented. From a technical standpoint, she’s one of the best on the whole team.”