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Conference crown for Long Beach

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On the heels of capturing the Nassau Conference 2A wrestling title with a winner-take-all victory over Baldwin in the regular-season finale, Long Beach came up just short of making a run to the county’s Division I dual meet finals last Saturday.

The Marines dropped a heartbreaking see-saw semifinal battle on criteria (34-34 tie) against Wantagh, which won the last two bouts (182 and 195 pounds) to advance to the championship where it fell to top-seeded Massapequa. The Warriors had eight wins to Long Beach’s seven.

Long Beach lost six of the first eight weights before rallying to rip off five consecutive wins, including three huge pins, to take a 34-27 lead before Matthew Rogers and Matthew Soethout rallied Wantagh.

“The kids were really upset, but they gave their all,” Long Beach coach Ray Adams said. “One of our goals was to get to the dual meet finals and make a run at the championship. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but we still have big things in front of us.”

Wantagh led 27-9 before the Marines rolled in the 138 to 170 range. Junior Max Maquet won a decision at 138, sophomore Dylan Sofield scored a pin at 145, senior captain Dylan Martinsen pinned his opponent at 152, senior Luis Garcia took a major decision at 160, and sophomore Thomas Rooney had a pin at 170.

“One of the things we’ve been focusing on is getting bonus points and not allowing any,” Adams said. “We scored 25 points in those five matches and the last pin by Rooney gave us hope and a real chance to win it.”

The Marines advanced to the semis with convincing wins over Kennedy (71-12) and Westbury (57-24.) Against Westbury, Long Beach was 15 points down out of the gate before winning 10 of the last 12 bouts, with all but one of those coming by pin.

Pin was the magic word Jan. 9 when Baldwin, Adams’ alma mater, came to town with the conference title on the line. The visiting Bruins faced white-out conditions at Long Beach Middle School as the first 250 spectators in the door received a free T-shirt.

The Marines didn’t disappoint the large crowd, earning pins in each of the first four weights on the way to a 51-30 victory. Sophomores Kevin Lopez (99 pounds), Jeremian Echeverria (106) and Andres Castro (113) and junior Wally Sofield (120) staked the hosts to a quick 24-0 lead.

“The crowd went nuts,” Adams said of the early fireworks, which were solidified later in the match when seniors Scott Defex (170), Jacob Miller (195) and Elvis Alvarez (285) added to the pin total. Defex and Martinsen are both one win shy of 30 for the season. Maquet has 28 wins.

Long Beach is one of five schools hosting a county qualifier tournament Feb. 1-2. Making the trek will be Baldwin, East Meadow, Helwett, Lawrence, Roosevelt, South Side/East Rockaway and Valley Stream North.