Monroe-Woodbury’s wrestlers gave coach Steve Fischbein quite a retirement gift on Sunday at the Union-Endicott Duals.
The Crusaders rolled to their first U-E Duals title since 2000, winning seven straight individual bouts late on their way to a 46-24 victory against Shenendehowa in the title match at U-E High School.
After surviving a nail-biter in the semifinals, a 39-32 victory over Rocky Point, Monroe-Woodbury had an easier go of it in the finals after erasing an early deficit.
“To go out with a victory at U-E, it’s the most special thing in the world,” said Fischbein, who is retiring after 18 seasons as coach of the Section 9 program located in Orange County, about 50 miles north of New York City. “This is a great group of kids and a great group of coaches I work with it. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Section 5’s Hilton won the third-place match, defeating Section 11’s Rocky Point, 41-25.
Sunday’s championship match featured the second-ranked team (M-W) and the fourth-ranked team (Shenendehowa) in the state according to the New York State Sports Writers Association.
M-W certainly stated its case for the top spot. After Shenendehowa opened with four victories to build a 15-0 lead, it was pretty much all M-W after that.
Things turned around for the Crusaders in the fifth bout of the match at 170 pounds, where Andrew Tully pinned Nick Joseph with nine seconds left. Tully had erased a large deficit to tie the score at 10 before locking Joseph in a cradle for the pin to bring M-W within 15-6.
“That was a key win for us, that catapulted us,” Fischbein said.
M-W took the lead for good at 25-21 when Marco Vespa pinned Mike Dimonda in 1:17 of their 99 bout, and clinched the victory three matches later when Evan Barczak won by a 13-6 decision against Kevin Guardino at 120 to put M-W ahead 40-21 with two matches left.
Though the current state large-school rankings have Section 11’s Sachem East manning the top spot, Fischbein knows who he thinks should be there when next week’s rankings come out.
“We are the No. 1 team in the state,” Fischbein said. “Sachem East was No. 1 and they decided to pull out of this tournament. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re the No. 1 team in the state.”
Shenendehowa, a Section 2 program located near Albany, narrowly made it into the final after a 37-36 semifinal victory against Hilton. That match ended in a 36-all tie after Guardino pulled out a 13-9 decision over Hilton’s Kyle Anderson in the final bout at 120. The Plainsmen earned the victory by tiebreaker criteria with more individual match victories, 8-7.
Shenendehowa could not keep the magic going in the final against M-W. However, considering the fact that 17 seniors, including numerous starters, graduated from last year’s squad, Shenendehowa coach Rob Weeks considered the weekend a success.
“We lost to a better team, on paper and physically on the mat.” Weeks said. “They’re the team to beat, they did a nice job, hats off to them.”
Host Union-Endicott salvaged a 2-2 weekend after winning a pair of matches on Sunday. The Tigers defeated Brockport, 37-28, followed by a 45-27 victory over North Rockland. Johnson City, the other Section 4 team that competed, lost its lone match on Sunday to Burnt Hills, 46-33, to finish 0-3 in the tournament.