- Success Breeds Interest – CSH, the returning D2 Nassau County Tournament Champions, and 9th overall in last year’s D2 State Team Tournament, have 3 returning state place-winners – Junior, Gaven Bell (4th), Sophomore Jackson Polo (5th) and Senior Kolten Gagnon (5th). I counted over 40 wrestlers on the CSH bench. CSH has an enrollment of approximately 330 males from 9-12th grade. It looks like 40+ out of 330 males wrestle at CSH. That is a great ratio. To put it in comparison it is like Brentwood, who has outstanding numbers, having 287 wrestlers on their team. There is nothing that increases numbers to a program than the success of the program. In wrestling, the initial success of the individual creates the numbers to build a team.
- There is nothing like a gymnasium that has detailed athletic banners hanging in their gym. High achievement should be honored. Hauppauge, Center Moriches and William Floyd are some of my favorite gyms for this reason
- Mind Games? – When I coached baseball the East Cobb Astros (Ga.) had one of the most intimidating infield pregame warm-ups I have ever seen. Every team watched them warm-up before the game and were beat before the game even started. Hauppauge warmed up to an empty CSH bench. CSH casually walked back into the gym when Hauppauge was done warming up.
- Preparation. Just as the captains were called to the center of the circle, coach Chris Messina asks his wrestlers, “Anyone need tape?” then reaffirms, “Everyone’s shoes are taped?” not so much asking a question but giving a command in a different way. A few things here. One, if he is that prepared to ask every wrestler if their shoes are taped right before the match, imagine how well he has prepared his wrestlers for battle, and two, Hauppauge is going to fight for every point. And they sure as heck are not going to just give one away. Hauppauge won the Section XI Team Tournament by 1/2 of a point last year.
- One Voice – Hauppauge’s coaching staff is one of the most harmonious coaching staffs I’ve ever witnessed. Coach Chris Messina, Mike Messina, Nick Mauriello, and Dave Smith never once talked over one another, there was always one voice.
- If You Want To Be Heard Speak Less – I have never seen a team immediately listen and act on their coach’s direction like Hauppauge. “Get out of bounds,” “Start over,” “Cut him,” “Get a dump,” “Don’t waste time,” “Stay in the Middle.” Every instruction carried out to precision. Coach Messina and the Hauppauge coaching staff do not incessantly call out one command after another, they use silence to allow their wrestler to wrestle instinctively and then at the right moment one coach gives clear and concise instruction. “Left hand across, keep the wrist.” “Walk the leg toward the head.”
- Wrestling is a Family Affair – There is nothing more pleasurable than to experience the ride in your child’s corner. Look at that photo above. Coach Messina coached his son Mike to two State Championships, Nick coached his sons Nick, Chris and now Danny and has a few State Championships in his family and Dave gets to be there for Luke’s journey to a State Championship. The best part about this is Coach Messina’s willingness to allow each father to be the one voice from the corner when their son is wrestling. Priceless.
- I Love This – If you notice, in certain situations, when a Hauppauge wrestler has earned the right they indicate to the coaching staff what they would like to choose when they have choice, the coach takes the wrestler’s input into consideration and makes the final decision. It didn’t happen often and it was certainly not overused but when the wrestler felt something they were able to communicate their intuition to their coach. No one has more of a feel for the match then the wrestler, I love when his input is taken into consideration when choice is being made.
- For the Love of Coaching – Coach Messina, even after all these years still gets excited during every match, at times jumping out of his seat to the edge of the mat adding additional powers for his wrestler through body language in key situations.
- Execution – Every opportunity Hauppauge had to get an extra team point, they did. They fought for every point in every situation. There is no wonder why they won the Section XI Tournament Title last year by 1/2 of a point. They fought for every point in every situation. At 106, Luke Clacket up 7-0 hears, “We need a takedown.” Final score 9-0. At 182 Michael Tyrell, up 7-0 with ten seconds left in the match pushes the pace to get a stall call for 1 to get the major. In football, 3rd down conversions win football games. In wrestling being on the cusp of bonus points and getting them, win team titles.
- Focus – Andrew Maiorini has had a nice high school career at Hauppauge. He has placed 4th in the Section XI Tournament two years in a row. He has done this virtually as the 2nd man in the weight from Hauppauge both years. This is a very difficult thing to do, to keep your focus, your confidence, your drive until the post-season. I give him a lot of credit. Most people couldn’t deal with the intangibles of being the 2nd man at the weight and then placing in the post-season. It is very difficult, he has done it with grace. This year he is not the 2nd man at the weight, but he finds himself in a situation of 3 wrestlers for 2 weights (Luke Smith and Anthony DiBartolo @ 126 and he at 132) so during duals, the dynamic still exists for him and Hauppauge. I give Hauppauge a lot of credit, it is not easy to handle situations like this and still get peak performance out of all the wrestlers involved, yet Hauppauge does a great job at doing so. Today, Luke Smith wrestled 138.
- With the score 38-4 in Hauppauge’s favor heading into the 152 Lb match Coach Messina gets up and starts to rally his bench, “C’mon guys get into this match.” He knew precisely where the pinnacle of the team score and lead would be for his team. The final team score was 48-34. Every coach runs the match in their head. I have a feeling Coach Messina does it a little more than most.
- CSH, who took 9th last year in NYSPHSAA D2 tournament will be a top 4 team in the state this year, with Jackson Polo, Christian Hansen, Gaven Bell, and Kolton Gagnon leading the way. Jackson Polo, with his lefty swing single and chain wrestling style, looked good on his feet and seemed like a relentless point scorer through two periods but his 3rd period wasn’t of the same pace – scored 6 in the first, 5 in the 2nd and only 2 in the 3rd, That may seem trivial to point that out but relentless point scorers score more in the 3rd period than any other periods. I have no doubt one day he will score more in the 3rd period than in the first two periods combined, as a Sophomore, he is well on his way to becoming a dominant wrestler and I believe he will significantly better his 5th place finish from last years D2 States. Christian Hansen has a nice dump and is also a quality wrestler.
- At 195, Zafir Benjamin (Haup) and Reed Cooper were locked in the upright double underhook position for a few seconds, Zafir Benjamins throw for a fall from that position proved very valuable.
Hauppauge (Haup) 48, Cold Spring Harbor (CSH) 34
January 3, 2020
99 – Mikey Manta (Haup) pinned Raymond McNulty (CSH) 0:34
106 – Luke Clackett (Haup) md. Greyson Meak (CSH) 9-0
113 – Jackson Polo (CSH) md. Frankie Volpe (Haup) 16-5
120 – Thomas Volpe (Haup) pinned Michael Centrella (CSH) 0:26
126 – Anthony Dibartolo (Haup) pinned Beau Hodgson (CSH) 1:32
132 – Andrew Maiorini (Haup) md. Sean Mcauley (CSH) 10-0
138 – Luke Smith (Haup) pinned Ben Bruno (CSH) 5:22
145 – Chris Boudreau (Haup) pinned Matthew Mannino (CSH) 1:36
152 – Christian Hansen (CSH) pinned Anthony Lonigro (Haup) 2:40
160 – Gaven Bell (CSH) pinned Nico Gatien (Haup) 2:27
170 – Jacob Bruno (CSH) pinned Phoenix Walker (Haup) 2:58
182 – Michael Tyrrell (Haup) md. Rj Schupler (CSH) 8-0
195 – Zafir Benjamin (Haup) pinned Reed Cooper (CSH) 0:56
220 – Kolton Gagnon (CSH) pinned Brandon Ress (Haup) 1:16
285 – Ethan Burdo (CSH) by FFT