Myles Norris’s long determination to stand at the top of the podium was on full display at the Nassau County Division I wrestling championships last Sunday.
The Freeport senior, who was a runner-up at 285 pounds in the counties and state’s last winter, captured the heavyweight title with a 3-2 win against Massapequa’s Sam Khodaparast. The Long Island University commit powered through for the championship victory Farmingdale State College’s Lynch Sports Center after re-aggravating a knee injury during the match and holding on the for the win following a first period takedown.
“He is one of the toughest kids I have ever met,” said Freeport assistant coach Matt Cellan of Norris, who will now take part in the New York State Championships for a second straight February after earning a wild-card entry as a junior. “You could cut off his arm and he would still want to go out there and wrestle.”
While the championship match was tight, Norris was in control for most of the three periods. Norris entered the finals in dominating fashion through technical fall wins against Plainedge’s Logan Camp, Mepham’s Miguel Rivera and Oceanside’s Jared Gonzales. The match against Khodaparast went much different than a previous defeat Norris suffered to the Massapequa heavyweight standout in January during the Eastern State Duals at Sullivan County Community College.
“He beat me earlier this season at the Eastern States, but I couldn’t get any takedowns like I did tonight,” said Norris moments after capturing the county title. “It just feels great. I felt the whole Freeport community behind me in the stands. We’re one big family.”
Norris will now strive to become a state champion a year removed from dropping a narrow 4-2 decision on the finals stage to Commack’s Joey Slackman, who is now wrestling on the collegiate level at the University of Pennsylvania. The state championships are set for Feb. 28-29 at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Freeport senior Neo Fearon also reached the finals at 145 before falling 12-4 to Hempstead’s Lee Mauras, a former Freeport teammate who won a county crown for the Red Devils last year. Fearon reached the championship match with a pin of Port Washington’s Dan Gibson, a reigning All-State wrestler.
Freeport had seven All-County placements and finished sixth in the team standings with 135.5 points. Terry Ellis capped off a strong sophomore season with a fourth place finish at 126. Sophomore Jason Figueroa and senior Troy Saraldi earned All-County honors with fifth place showings in the 160 and 285 divisions, respectively.
Senior Giancarlos Solano (182) and sophomore Elijah Lapalmer (145) both reached the podium for the first time by placing sixth. Lapalmer, who has battled late season injuries, fought through early adversity at counties to reach the placement stage with three straight wins.
“I was very pleased with our performance,” Cellan said. “It was a very focused team that put blinders on and didn’t worry about seeding.”