By MIKE SMITH
On Feb. 8, Harrison High School played host to one leg of the sectional wrestling qualifiers with grapplers from nine area high schools looking to earn their ticket to Arlington High School for next week’s tournament.
When the dust had settled, four wrestlers from the hosting Huskies advanced to next weekend’s tournament to take on the best of the rest in Section I.
Jay Martins (99 pounds), Frankie Barchella (106), Max Lukaswitz (132) and Max McMullen (285) all kept their seasons alive with strong qualifying rounds and will head up to Arlington for sectionals.
Harrison coach Vin Nicita was hoping for a few more qualifiers, but that’s just the way the divisional rounds break out sometimes, he said.
“Coming in, we were hoping for anywhere from six to eight wrestlers to qualify,” Nicita said. “But you never know who you’re going to go up against, what weight classes will be stacked.”
The Huskies started the day off on a high note and sent eight wrestlers to the semifinals, but had trouble pushing forward as only McMullen and Lukaswitz made it to the finals. McMullen was pinned by Tappan Zee’s Michael Manni in the finals, while Lukaswitz won his bracket with a pinfall win over White Plains’ Julio Cruz. Martins and Barchella both fought back in wrestlebacks to take third, which was enough to send them to sectionals.
“It was looking pretty good for us early, but I think we ran out of gas,” Nicita said. “We just didn’t perform well in wrestlebacks.”
McMullen, Barchella and Lukaswitz have all been to the dance before but, for Martins, a freshman, next Saturday will be his first time competing at sectionals. According to Nicita, the freshman has shown steady improvement throughout the season and will be poised to handle himself against some of the top 99-pounders around.
“He keeps getting better and better,” Nicita said of Martins. “This is going to be great for him, he now knows he’s one of the top 16 kids in the section and he’s going to be there not just to show up, but to hopefully place and become an all-section wrestler.”
Over the course of this week, Harrison’s wrestlers will be practicing with some other local sectional hopefuls as the Huskies will team up with other programs, including Scarsdale and Rye, to get some last minute work in.
“We’re going to be figuring that out,” Nicita said. “We’ll be seeing who other teams are sending and doing our best to figure out what weights work for practices.”
Sectionals kick off at Arlington High School on Feb. 15 and will conclude the following day at Clarkstown South High School.”