By Vince Mercoglia
NANUET – The rovarlry between neighboring Pearl River and Nanuet was elevated on Tuesday.
The two schools are adversaries in every sport, but with the Pirates dropping down to Division 2 this season – where Nanuet has been the premier wrestling program for the past five years – there was extra buzz when they met Tuesday in the semifinals of the Season 1 Dual Meet Championships.
“It adds a ton to the rivalry,” Pearl Rover sophomore Sean McGarvey said. “We’ve been competing forever – for as long as I can remember – and it was a big match.”
Pearl River showed it might be the team to beat now in Division 2, advancing to next Tuesday’s championship dual meet against Putnam Valley with a 39-32 win over the Golden Knights.
Nanuet had won each of the past three Dual Meet Championships, but the key for the Pirates was their lightweights, as they won seven of the eight matches from 99 pounds to 145 pounds.
“I knew that we had very good lightweights,” McGarvey said. “They do, too, but we came out here and beat them. That’s all that matters.”
With the dual meet starting at 170 pounds, Nanuet had a 15-12 lead after Dennis Van Dunk’s pin at 220. But wins from Dante Simeti (99), Dylan Urban (106), McGarvey (113), James Kelly (126), Jake Kurzhaqls (132), Jake Kurzhals (132), Jack Chesman (138), and Anthony Malfitano (145) locked up the victory for Pearl River.
Chesman and Malfitano both upset returning sectional finalist, with Malfitano sealing the win with a 9-8 decision over Eric Boyle thanks to an escape and a take down in the final seconds of the match.
“I just had to think about shooting and winning – not really look at the persona and be intimidated by them,” Malfitano said. “I just had to go out and wrestle.”
In the quarterfinals, Pearl River beat Pawling, 64-16, and Nanuet eliminated Woodlands with a 54-24 win.
The most impressive wrestler for the Golden Knights was sophomore Connor Breit, who notched pins in under a minute in both of his matches. He lost in overtime to Ardsley’s Evan Shlom in last season’s 195-pound final after a late decision to move up from 182.
“I want to roll through everybody,” Breit said. “This year, I’m actually 195. So this year, it’s going to be different.”