LOCH SHELDRAKE – C.J. McMonegal felt like somewhat of a forgotten wrestler heading into Friday’s Eastern States Classic at Sullivan Community College.
The North Rockland sophomore took an unexpected loss at the Shoreline tournament last week before dropping down from 106 pounds to 99 for the premier high school tournament in the region.
He entered as the No. 13 seed and made his way into the round of 16, where he was pitted against fourth-seeded Dennis Robin of Arlington. It was his chance to prove that one loss wouldn’t define his season.
“I couldn’t wait,” McMonegal said after winning a 3-0 decision. “That was on my mind all day. Even after my first match, I just wanted to wrestle Denny and show everybody in the section what’s up. That’s what I did.”
McMonegal was one of three local wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals at 99 pounds, which was more than any other weight class. He’ll be joined by Port Chester freshman Ivan Garcia and Yorktown eighth-grader Chris Perry.
“I’m going back to 106 (after this weekend),” McMonegal said. “I didn’t get enough weigh-ins in (at 99) and I had a tough time dropping down for this. But 99 is loaded in Section 1 with Ivan, Denny, Garrett (Semenetz) and (Matthew) Schreiber.”
In total, 18 wrestlers from Section 1 punched their tickets to the quarterfinals on Saturday morning.
Two of them will meet head-to-head when top-seeded Grant Cuomo of Brewster wrestles New Rochelle sophomore Jake Logan at 160 pounds.
“It’s what I came here for,” Logan said of seeking quality competition. “We did wrestle over the summer and he beat me pretty good, but I’ve gotten a lot better since then. So has he, but I know what he’s going to do this time. I feel like I have a pretty good shot.”
No local team had as many breakthrough into the quarters as John Jay, which spent the day near the top of the team standings. The Indians will send Conor Melbourne (152 pounds), Evan Frank (182), Halil Gecaj (220) and Bim Gecaj (285) into the next round.
Bim Gecaj got a shot to see one of his top competitors from Section 1, East Ramapo senior Jahkem Collins-Martinez, in the round of 16. He sent a message that’s the section title favorite with a third-period pin.
“I got to feel him out before sectionals at one of the biggest tournaments of the year,” Gecaj said. “There’s a good opportunity for me here. I’m going to have a tough match tomorrow against the guy from Amityville (Deonte Wilson). He’s no joke. He’s athletic and shoots a lot.”
One of the lowest seeds from Section 1 to make it into the quarterfinals was Putnam Valley senior Satoshi Abe, who entered at No. 15 at 126 pounds. He pulled out a 4-3 decision over Danbury’s Kyle Fields in the round of 16 and is embracing the underdog role.
“I wasn’t worried about my seed coming in because I have had close matches and some wins over a few of the top seeds in my bracket,” Abe said. “I knew I would be right up with the top seeds. But yes, I’m definitely feeling excited to continue busting my bracket.”
Pearl River senior Anthony Malfitano also survived a one-point match to reach the quarters at 170 pounds, a 6-5 decision over North Adirondack’s Austin Trombley. Next up, he’ll take his shot at top-seeded Tyler Barnes of Ballston Spa.
“I try not to look at my competition too much – just go out there and wrestle,” Malfitano said. “We’ll see what I can do.”
Other Section 1 wrestlers who will compete in the quarterfinals include John Jay-East Fishkill senior Randy Earl (126), Fox Lane junior Matt Grippi (145), Ketcham senior Isaac Matthews (160), New Rochelle senior Jordan Wallace (170), Edgemont senior Cliffton Wang (182), Nanuet senior Connor Breit (195) and Beacon senior Kyle Davis (195).
Earl will be going for career win No. 200 in the quarters, which are scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m.