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Storybook ending for VSN


Tom Maddock couldn’t have written a better script to his final home match as Valley Stream North’ wrestling coach.

Maddock, who took over the Spartans’ program in 1985 and announced in November this would be his last season coaching, saw more than 35 alumni attend the conference finale Jan. 15 against Lynbrook.

Trailing late, North secured pins in the last two bouts — junior Noah Gonzalez and senior Lucas Grillo — to earn a 45-36 come-from-behind victory and a spot in the Nassau dual meet team playoffs.

“It was a fabulous night,” said Maddock, who coached Nassau High School wrestlers for 45 years and along with his wife, Laura, is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We posted it was going to be my last home match on social media only a day before and the turnout was incredible,” he added. “It was an intense match against a quality opponent and the kids just battled. It was a night to remember.”

The Spartans went 12-6 in dual meets, including an impressive victory over Mineola, and sent seven participants to the county championships last weekend at Farmingdale State. Gonzalez (220 pounds) and Grillo (285) both took home titles from the qualifier hosted by Long Beach Feb. 8 and went on to earn All-County honors along with senior 106-pounder Anthony Balack. North placed ninth in the team standings.

Gonzalez advanced all the way to the county finals. Grillo reached the semis and placed fourth, while Balack also captured fourth.

“I’m thrilled with the season,” Maddock said. “We never had our strongest lineup because of injuries, but that always seems to be the case. It was a great finish.”

It’s hard to find two teammates as familiar with each other than Grillo and fellow senior Jonathan Sofield. After splitting a pair of regular-season matchups, they met in the finals of the qualifier with Grillo pulling out a 3-2 overtime win. Last winter, Sofield nipped Grillo at the Nassau Division I tournament to earn sixth place and a spot on the All-County podium.

“They’re both great kids and they’re very close friends,” Maddock said of Grillo and Sofield. “They pushed each other in practice every day and that really helped them improve and reach the next level.”

Grillo battled the flu early in the season and took a record of 17-2 into the county meet. Sofield recorded 25 wins.

Gonzalez pinned Mepham’s Ryan Hegi in the finals of the qualifier to raise his record to 32-5 and kept his momentum going last weekend. “Noah had a great season and it was his second time qualifying for the county tournament,” Maddock said. “For him to reach the finals was an incredible run.”

Balack became a two-time qualifier finalist and benefitted from offseason dedication, Maddock said. He surpassed 30 wins with his performance last weekend.

Junior Peter Mura (170) missed about half the season due to injury, Maddock said, but had a solid qualifier and placed fourth to punch his ticket to the big county stage. Sophomore Michael Munson (113), who brings solid technique and leadership qualities, was in a stacked weight class and finished fifth while upping his record to 27-8. Freshman Adel Waly (99) had 20 wins and also placed fifth in the qualifier.