Fox Lane got a good look at defending Division 1 section champ North Rockland a week and a half ago, so coach Anthony Rodrigues knew what the Foxes were up against when they visited the Red Raiders for the Section 1 Dual Meet Championship on Wednesday.
“It was almost like today there was a rain storm, and there were three holes in the roof, and we had one bucket,” Rodrigues said. “We can’t do everything with one bucket. They have a really solid team.”
North Rockland handled the Foxes in their first meeting at the Wallkill Dual Meet Tournament on Jan. 18, and there would be no letdown the second time around.
The Red Raiders proved their dominance once again with a convincing 50-24 win over Fox Lane to capture their second consecutive dual meet title. They haven’t lost to a Section 1 opponent in over two years.
“We just wanted to prove a point,” sophomore Anthony Sulla said. “We wanted to send a message to them for next year — and for years to come.”
After North Rockland’s Chris Bonnano (132 pounds) and Fox Lane’s Scott Rodrigues (138) traded pins to start the championship dual, the Red Raiders went on their run.
The Foxes forfeited to North Rockland’s all-time wins leader Matt Caputo (145), who picked up his 200th career win last week, and then junior Blaise Benderoth won a critical swing match at 152 pounds with a 5-0 decision over Ben Ettlinger.
“I was sick all week, but I had to come back for the team (dual meet) section finals,” Benderoth said. “I knew I had to wrestle smart, and if that was just sitting there on bottom and getting ridden out, that’s what I had to do.”
Austin Paul (160), Alex Schelmety (170) and Nick Didio (182) continued the winning streak to build a 28-6 lead for the Red Raiders, but Fox Lane showed some fight with pins from Arben Gecaj (195) and Jon Clune (220) to cut it to 28-18.
Just when it looked like the Foxes could make things interesting, Conner Reigottie (285) and Ethan Hollenbaugh (99) notched a couple of crucial pins for North Rockland, and then Sulla (106) won a 9-0 major decision over Ben Singer, despite giving up six pounds and about four inches to his opponent.
“The strategy was just to stay low on him. I knew he couldn’t block all of my shots,” Sulla said. “I figured out how he was wrestling, and I knew what to do against his style. I just changed my style to fit his.”
Sulla’s win sealed the title, but Fox Lane did pick up a couple of nice wins in the final few matches.
Brandon Fay won a 2-1 decision over Alex D’Angelo in a matchup of 106-pound section title contenders, and then Matt Grippi won a 5-0 decision over Derek DiMarsico. Grippi is currently ranked No. 1 at 120 pounds in the LoHud Weight Class Rankings, while DiMarsico is No. 3.
“Honestly, it means nothing,” Anthony Rodrigues said. “Every day we have to get better, and hopefully when the fun begins for sectionals, we’re ready to roll. Those matches are nice to win, but they don’t really mean anything.”