A large crowd filled the J. Taylor Finley Middle School cafeteria on Tuesday night for the Blue Devil wrestling program’s annual awards dinner.
The gathering honored wrestlers competing on the middle school, junior varsity and varsity levels. Parents and family members turned out to recognize each of the squads. Coaches presented the top wrestlers with individual awards.
Dinner included a wide array of hot dishes, salads and rolls. There were dessert items, too. The two-hour long affair even drew 2002 Huntington state champion Steve Palacios and Huntington School Board member Xavier Palacios, a former Blue Devil wrestler himself.
Huntington varsity head coach Travis Smith and assistant coaches Kieran Mock and Peter Fusco took turns speaking about the high school wrestlers and the season. Each of the coaches presented a series of awards, calling the wrestlers to the front of the crowd by name.
Blue Devil seniors Charlie Gadson, Khari McNeil, Robert Simon, Ryan Stieve and Ryan Mock all addressed the crowd, sharing their experiences and feelings about what the program has meant to them and thanking coaches and family members for their support and assistance.
Huntington wrestlers Charles Forte, Aedan McDonald
and Sean Flick hold their awards.
Ryan Mock captured the Most Outstanding Wrestler. Aedan McDonald and Ryan Stieve shared the Hardest Worker Award. Charlie Gadson and Khari McNeil were both recipients of the Coaches Award. Robert Simon was this season’s Most Improved Award honoree. Charles Forte was the junior varsity team’s Most Outstanding Wrestler Award winner.
Mock was also presented with trophies for having the most pins, the fastest pin and for compiling the most team points. He received still another trophy for being the senior with the highest academic average.
Sean Flick was given trophies for accumulating the most reversals and the most near falls. Aidan McCooey claimed the award for most takedowns.
Finley head coach Mike Marinello spoke excitedly about his team’s 8-1 season. “This is a very special group of wrestlers,” he said. “If they stick together and continue working hard they are going to put Huntington wrestling back on top. I see in them what I saw in the 2002 county and state championship team when those wrestlers were in middle school.”
Finley assistant coach Omar Santiago said he sees the making of a very solid high school team. “We have some really talented kids coming up,” he said. “We need to keep working with them and they have to keep training and improving.”
Finley seventh grade honorees included Lucas Cirlincione (Most Improved), Chris Tittman (Hardest Worker) and Robbie Smith (Most Valuable Wrestler). Eighth grade award recipients included Ethan Franciscovich (Most Improved), Nick Tudisco (Most Improved), Ethan Mcguinness (Hardest Worker), Jack Giamo (Hardest Worker), Joe Nicatora (Most Valuable Wrestler), Jack Krisch (Most Valuable Wrestler) and Coaches Award winners Justin D’Ambrisi, AJ Avarello and Joseph Petrone.
The Huntington wrestling program is one of the most celebrated in the state boasting a record 27 New York champions. The Blue Devils have crowned 84 individual Section XI champs and have claimed All-State honors 58 separate times.
Huntington has won 31 league dual meet team championships and 20 league tournament team titles. The Blue Devils have captured nine Section XI team crowns and five state tournament team championships.