SCARSDALE - Despite postponements plaguing Westchester County wrestling tournaments in recent weeks, Edgemont coach Pete Jacobson remained optimistic after seeing how Arlington High School's Mid-Hudson tournament was successfully completed over the holiday break.
"It made me feel a lot better that we could," Jacobson said. "Having as many wrestlers and coaches keeping their masks on and follow all the rules, I really have to credit each individual team's coach for doing a really good job understanding the sensitivity and the precariousness of tournaments being canceled and doing a really good job keeping everyone in compliance with the protocols."
There were some limitations, like shortening the field by one-third of the participants seen in past years, or closing the doors to any spectators and fans. However, with logistics squared away, Jacobson and his Panthers were able to focus on competition.
Long Island-based Shoreham-Wading River topped the 14-team field, but the host team led all Section 1 squads in Saturday's tournament at Edgemont High School.
"We got a lot of great teams here, but we've been practicing really hard lately and I think it's shown off with our results today," Edgemont senior Noah Bernstein said. "We came in here with just one idea in mind — to just scrap as hard as we can, and I truly think everyone on our team did that."
Bernstein led the pack and took Most Outstanding Wrestler honors of the tournament, after recording first-period pins in each of his matches en route to the 152-pound crown.
Teammates Sander Miller (145 pounds) and Aaron Freedland (160) also finished on top. In addition to that, Dhilan Patel (126) and Henry Yuan (215) finished as runner-ups, and six other Panthers placed on the podium.
"The biggest thing for us and the biggest takeaway for us was pages of notes of what our 102-pounder or what does our 118-pounder, 126-pounder need," Jacobson said. "Honestly, I think that was huge, getting all that insight with the number of matches we're able to get was probably the thing I was most excited about."
After Edgemont, Port Chester finished third overall in team scoring and second to Edgemont in Section 1. The Rams had three runner-ups in Nicholas Bolanos (110), Felix Medina (132) and Bryant Sanchez (285), but had 10 wrestlers place in the top five overall.
"We've lost a few starters in recent weeks in recent weeks due to COVID exposures," Rams coach Joe Facciola said. "We had a bunch of young guys who don't have a lot of experience, but they stepped up and wrestled hard. We also had some kids that upset some higher seeds. I think as a team, especially early on, every win was by pin so it just showed how aggressive we were.
"I'm pretty proud, especially coming off of a year where we were the only sport in Port Chester that got canceled. For us, that was a big loss because a lot of our kids, at this point in their career, lost a big influential year. ... But it just shows that the kids are in it, and they're really buying into our philosophy in the program, and I can't wait to see what happens."
Byram Hills' Justin Fortugno claims another championship crown
The Byram Hills senior standout claimed his second tournament title in 12 days, after winning the Mid-Hudson Tournament title at Arlington High School on Dec. 28. He followed up with another impressive performance at Edgemont.
"It builds my confidence for the end of the season with sectionals and states," Fortugno said. "It really does boost your confidence and it makes you feel great. I feel that I'm improving every week with my training and everything."
Fortugno pinned his first two opponents and in the final, he met Edgemont's Dhilan Patel, one of the top wrestlers in Division II. Fortugno posted a 13-1 major decision win to stay unbeaten against Section 1 competition.
"I was just thinking win the match, you don't want to make any silly mistakes," Fortugno said. "You just want to stay in it, keep your head in it no matter what happens, and I just finished on top. ... You wrestle better when you're aggressive and on your offense."
Shoreham-Wading River, who led the team scoring, had the most individual champions: Gavin Mangano (102 pounds), Chris Colon (118), Tristan Petretti (132) and Craig Jablonski (138).
Edgemont and Ardsley each had three winners. For Edgemont, Miller (145), Bernstein (152) and Freedland (160) represented the home team well. Ardsley's James Donnelly (172), Christian Dash (215) and George Kostas (285) won their respective brackets.
Mahopac's Joe Ramirez (110), Byram Hills' Fortugno (126), and Harrison's Will Roggero (189) were the other title-winners.
The top 10 team scores are as follows: Shoreham-Wading River (278), Edgemont (221), Port Chester (188), Eastchester (155), Mahopac (152.5), Ardsley (93), White Plains (81), Harrison (68), FDR-Hyde Park (66), Rye (64)
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Wrestling: Edgemont, Port Chester lead Section 1 teams at invitational