Willy Kraus wasn’t going to let bumping up a few weight classes deter him from reclaiming his spot at the top of the podium.
With a 9-0 major decision over Mt. Sinai’s Ryan Shanian Friday, the 145-pound senior secured his spot in the state tournament once more.
Last year’s 126-pound Division II champion and state tournament competitor started the February 14 tournament with two 15-0 technical fouls before a 6-2 decision over Center Moriches’ Danny Hromada, who pinned both of his opponents on his home mat before the semifinal loss. In the finals, Kraus earned two points on a takedown with 33 seconds left in the first period, and picked up another two more on a reversal at 1:13 in the second. With almost as much time left in the third period, he racked up back points on another takedown, and three more on a near pin as time expired. Kraus is the first individual for Hampton Bays to win back-to-back county titles since Robert Hoshyla did at 189 pounds in 2006 and 2007.
“Willy has continued to hone his abilities in the off season, but the methodology of his wrestling has remained the same,” head coach Mike Lloyd said. “Once he gets some points on the board he’s able to maintain control through the rest of the match.”
Hampton Bays finished fifth in the team standings out of 10 schools. Four wrestlers, compared to last year’s three, earned All-County honors by placing.
River Orlando made it the finals at 138 pounds, where Kraus started off this season. Orlando was initially looking to wrestle at 132. He came out on the losing side of a 15-4 major decision to Mt. Sinai’s Mike O’Brien, with all his points coming off escapes late in the second and third period, but it was his first time even winning a single match in the tournament, which the junior competed in since his freshman year.
“It was very surprising,” Orlando said of his finish. “The night before coach told me I was the second seed and I was shocked, so I was honestly just happy making it to the finals. That has been my goal for weeks, and I was just trying not to get pinned or teched because I knew O’Brien is a hammer.”
Mt. Sinai has seen much success in the individual and dual meet tournaments the last few years, so Lloyd spoke to each of the finalists about how to treat their matches.
“We tried not to make them too nervous, and left it pretty simple. The expectation was for them to wrestle their best and not let any opportunities in the match pass them by,” Lloyd said. “We encourage the team to both visualize their victories and go out and wrestle the same regardless of the opponent, because when it comes down to it, if they give their all anyone can be beaten.”
Prior to his loss Orlando pinned Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Anderson in the semifinals in three minutes, and earned a major decision of his own, a 16-5 win over Elwood-John Glenn’s Kevin Vides. He had a takedown and near fall in the first period, a reversal and two near-pins in the second, and another reversal and near fall in the third.
“I like to be as aggressive as possible,” Orlando said. “This definitely fuels me. Going into next year ranked I’ll be the one people are scared to wrestle.”
The coach is also hoping to see his grappler back in the finals next season.
“This year was a challenging one for River,” Lloyd said. “He had to make the adjustment to wrestling at 138. He had some great in-season matches, which gave him the criteria to be well-seeded in the tournament, and for his first time in the spotlight, he wrestled well.”
William Krivickas came in third at 182 pounds with his 8-6 sudden victory consolation win over Center Moriches’ Marcos Arriola, and Dakota Thompson, who had been battling an illness, placed fourth with his 4-0 loss to Shoreham-Wading River’s Dan Dacos at 152 pounds.
Kraus is the only team member officially taking the trip to the Times Union Center in Albany for the state championships February 28 and 29, but there are several wildcards issued. Lloyd said that number has yet to be determined.
Jackson Hulse places third
Westhampton Beach junior 170-pounder Jackson Hulse battled back from a semifinal loss at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood Sunday to take the third-place spot on the Division I podium.
Hulse started February 16 with a 9-3 loss to Ward Melville’s James Araneo, who had beaten his previous two opponents with technical falls (22-7 and 20-4). All three of the junior’s points were from escapes. In his consolation match, Hulse, who had also moved up a weight class, competing at 160 last season, edged Longwood’s Zach Soriano, 3-1.
“There’s a very noticeable difference in the size and strength between 160 last year and 170 this year,” Hulse said. “Yes, I’m a little disappointed with the turnout, but I wrestled hard and I had some really tough top kids at my weight. I think some of my matches could have gone either way, so I’m happy with how I performed. Just wait until next year.”