By MIKE SMITH
For Section I wrestling squads, the winter schedule always ramps up in January as area wrestlers ready themselves for the postseason.
Over the last week or so, New Rochelle’s grapplers have been testing themselves on the mat, competing at tough tournaments—including their own—to prepare for what lies ahead.
On Jan. 4, the Huguenots hosted the annual Shoreline Classic, a wrestling event that assembled 25 teams in from Section I and beyond. The Huguenots finished seventh overall; no small feat considering they were the second-best placing section team in the field behind Fox Lane.
“I thought that was a really good job by us with how many tough teams were at the tournament,” Huguenot coach Eddie Ortiz said. “The tournament is always huge for us, that’s why we do it.”
Wrestling at 170 pounds, Demetrius Rodriguez went the furthest of any Huguenot wrestler, reaching the finals where he was bested by Terhon Legros from Walt Whitman High School. Rodriguez has been one of the brightest stars for the Huguenots this year and made the trip to the prestigious Eastern States Tournament this past weekend along with five teammates: Jake Shore, 99 pounds, Jordan Wallace, 106, Moises Terra, 113 and Lamont Wallace, 120. After losing all-state wrestler Nick Barbaria early in the year, Ortiz has relied upon this quintet of stars to lead the Huguenot squad.
“These guys are the nucleus,” Ortiz said. “In these better tournaments, [like the Shoreline and Eastern States] it’s a lot tougher competition than they’ll see in the section and they’ve got to learn from that.”
Aside from senior Lamont Wallace, all of the wrestlers New Rochelle took to Eastern States should be forces within the section for years to come.
“Despite being young, these guys work so hard,” Ortiz said. “They work all year round.”
The Huguenots proved how dominant they can be within the section on Jan. 9 when they demolished an up-and-coming White Plains squad 59-3 in a dual meet.
“We wrestled well, we just didn’t have as many pins as I would have liked,” Ortiz said. “[White Plains] wrestled hard, but I think we were just too experienced for them.”
The Huguenots will take on another strong Section I team in Mamaroneck on Jan. 14, after press time, before making a trip to a tournament in Nassau County over the weekend to take on some perennially tough Long Island foes to prepare for divisional qualifiers.