For the first time in four years, Liam McIntyre was walking off the mat with a different feeling. Having his hand raised at the end was something he’d been waiting a long time for.
The Westhampton Beach senior pinned Miller Place’s Colin Power in one minute, 40 seconds for his first league championship title in his six-year varsity wrestling career. The 195-pounder had made it to the finals from his freshman to senior years, and after his victory, all he felt was relief.
“I was just so happy to finally get it done,” McIntyre said. “I was just glad to break the curse.”
The senior’s road to the League VI finals at Sayville High School on Saturday, February 2, was an unusual one. His opponent forfeited the first round, and he pinned Amityville’s Jeremiah Grant in 35 seconds before reaching the finals on another forfeit. McIntyre’s semifinal competitor, Harborfields’ Ian McGullam, bowed out after a shoulder injury. But besides taking the tournament, it was a big week in other ways for McIntyre — he had committed to play football at Brown University just a day prior.
“Brown had shown me a lot of love — I did my official visit there and it was great,” McIntyre said. “I knew a bunch of the new coaches . . . and it all just felt right. And aside from all that, an Ivy League education will hopefully set me up for a good future.”
McIntyre was also named Most Outstanding Wrestler, and became the first Hurricane grappler to grab six All-League nods.
“It feels really, really good,” he said. “I’ve worked extremely hard for the past six years, so just knowing that all my hard work is paying off and that my name is going to be remembered for a long time is a great feeling.”
And he wasn’t the only one riding a high. Sophomore 160-pounder Jackson Hulse also placed first for the Hurricanes, and junior Jay Montagna finished second at 126 pounds. In total, Westhampton is sending 10 wrestlers to the Suffolk County tournament.
“I loved seeing Jackson on top of the podium,” McIntyre said. “I grew up with him — he’s like a little brother to me — and we work out together all the time, so to get to watch him grow as a wrestler and have success really makes me happy.”
Hulse started the day with a first-round bye to the quarterfinals, where he pinned Harborfields’ Will Goetinger in 33 seconds.
“It was a nice warmup to get the nerves out,” Hulse said.
He took his semifinal win with a pin too, taking out Rocky Point’s Ted Accardi at 2:37. Hulse started his finals match against Rocky Point’s Brian Whitman with a quick takedown, and went on to win 7-2.
“That takedown basically decided the tempo of the match,” he said. “It felt really good knowing that the start of my postseason has been successful. And it helps me mentally prepare for counties next week.”
A sophomore, he said he’s looking forward to his future.
“It helps to know that even after my accomplishments, I have so much more time to improve,” Hulse said. “I’m working harder every year to grow.”
After a first-round bye, Montagna’s journey to the finals started with a major achievement. With a pin 20 seconds in over Harborfields’ Mac Brettschneider, the junior earned his 100th win.
“It has always been a goal of mine, and didn’t realize I was actually so close to achieving it until a few weeks ago,” he said. “It felt really good to finally get it, and I’m happy that my name will be up on the wall alongside the best wrestlers in Westhampton history.”
Pinning proved to be the Hurricanes’ way Saturday. Montagna ended his semifinal match over Miller Place’s Travis Grebe in 2:45 before falling in a 12-6 decision to Islip’s Francis Whitehouse.
“I’m excited for this coming week, and although this is a big accomplishment, I still need to continue to improve to get on the podium at counties,” Montagna said. “I realize this is an awesome opportunity to prove myself, and I plan to take advantage of the situation, because it’s not something everyone gets to experience.”
He and the other nine Westhampton grapplers that grabbed a spot to compete will take to the mats at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood February 9-10. The first matches of the Division I brackets are slated to start at 10 AM.
Westhampton’s consolation results: Joe D’Agostino was pinned by Sayville’s Mack Murtha in 1:19 at 99 pounds for fourth place; Grant Skala took a 6-0 decision over Islip’s Zach Miller at 106 pounds for third; Will Zaffuto pinned Harborfields’ Gavin Henrikson in 2:01 at 113 pounds; Suraj Patel dropped a 7-2 decision to Miller Place’s Ryan Hucke at 132 pounds; Christian Specht was pinned by Islip’s William Martin in 2:11 at 152 pounds; Lawrence Citarelli lost in a close 8-7 decision to Miller Place’s Noah Bila at 170 pounds; and Hunter Burling dropped a 4-3 decision to Miller Place’s Christopher Bold at 182 pounds.