After an up-and-down season, Glen Cove High School’s varsity wrestling team had eight athletes qualify for the county wrestling tournament at Hofstra University, where they fell just short of the state tournament.
The strongest performer of the group was junior Sal Guastella. After losing in the second round and falling out of contention for the top of his weight class (160), he won three in a row in the consolation bracket before falling just shy of at least a berth in the 5th-place match. Isaiah Jackson (99) came close in the consolation bracket with two wins in a row before falling a few rounds before the final six. Edson Murillo (106), Liam Young (145), and Anderson Velasquez (152) were the only ones who won a match while still in the main ladder, but they all fell in the second round as well. Murillo won two matches in the consolation bracket.
Coach Chris MacDonald was thrilled that the students got the experience in the playoffs so they know what to expect when it comes around again for them next year.
“These really tough matches help you,” MacDonald said. “Hopefully next year they’ll all be hungry and excited. Seven of the eight that got into this tournament will return next year.”
While the Knights had many individual achievements this season, it was a difficult season for the team as a whole. The team went 1-5 in conference play and failed to qualify for the dual-meet playoffs.
“We definitely had a goal of making the playoffs [this year],” MacDonald said. “We definitely had a couple of tough losses. Some really close matches and we wish we could’ve pulled them out but we made the playoffs six out of eight years since I’ve been coaching and we missed them the last two seasons. We’re excited to have a nice core to build on, so next year we want to be in those playoffs.”
The season was difficult, but there were plenty of highlights. On top of making it to the county tournaments, The Knights participated in six tournaments. One of them was the Cove Cup, an annual tournament that the high school hosts. For the first time since the 2014-15 season, they won the tournament and got to keep the trophy in their building.
For MacDonald, all eyes are now on a crucial offseason for his returning players to get themselves ready to contend next year.
“We want them to come in with 15-30 matches,” MacDonald said. “That’s the goal. We want them to go to a bunch of tournaments. Don’t worry about what you weigh, just go wrestle. Hopefully they can get that experience in.”
MacDonald had a few of his players in mind that he has high expectations for. That includes Guastella, who recorded his 102nd career win at the county tournament.
“Heading into his senior year, the Glen Cove school record is 109 wins,” MacDonald said. “So next year, its looking like he’s going to break that record as long as everything goes right. Then there’s Isaiah Jackson and Edson Murillo, who have now played in the county tournament in consecutive seasons in their first two years, ninth grade and 10th grade. So in their 11th grade season, I expect them to try to place in the tournament.”
Beyond just those three players, however, MacDonald thinks his team as a whole can make a big leap for the 2018-19 season.
“I think, with hard work, there’s so much potential for a big year at the county tournament,” MacDonald said.
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