For many years, the East Ramapo wrestling program has served as a punching bag of sorts for the rest of Rockland County.
Some of the strongest teams in Section 1 reside in Rockland and the Titans have been forced to take their medicine while simultaneously trying to build confidence. And while they may still be a notch or two below the likes of North Rockland and Suffern, Tuesday’s 38-33 win over county rival Tappan Zee served as evidence East Ramapo is on the right track.
“There’s been a lot more interest in the program and everybody has been sticking with it,” senior Luke Francois said. “In past years, we’ve had people come out but they always quit. Now we have a group that likes the sport — loves it, actually — and wants to stick with it.”
The Titans began their Senior Night dual meet in dominant fashion, winning each of the first eight wrestled matches, with the Dutchmen’s only points coming via forfeits.
Francois and fellow senior Nahum Dorme set the tone with back-to-back technical falls in the first two bouts of the afternoon.
“I actually lost to my TZ kid last year, so I kind of had something to prove,” Dorme said. “I teched my kid today, so I was pretty excited.”
East Ramapo’s run continued, as Romello Bradley (132 pounds), Yvharry Belange (138) and Marcus Stroud (170) each won via pin, while Shatir Henry (152), Sheeler Lubin (160) and Sherman Spence (182) won by decision.
Prior to TZ’s Edwin Rodriguez’s 5-4 decision at 195 pounds, the Titans built up a 38-12 lead.
“This is not just separate (individuals) — we worked together to improve,” Lubin said. “Everyone does their job and we push until the very end. That’s what we look for in our teammates and our coaches.”
The Dutchmen won the final four matches of the dual, with defending section champs John Hartnett (220) and Mike Manni (285) each notching a pin in 35 or fewer seconds. But the damage had already been done.
The win was East Ramapo’s third of the season over a Rockland opponent. The Titans also defeated Clarkstown North and Nyack. And according to the outgoing seniors, the best may be yet to come.
“I truly do,” Francois said when asked if he feels his team is moving in the right direction. “We have a really, really good sophomore class that’s coming up, so our program is just going to continue to grow and get stronger.”