The last time Pearl River’s John Muldoon wrestled Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano, Muldoon remembers gasping for air late in the match, which he lost.
Since the loss on Jan. 15, Muldoon worked on his conditioning and got his rematch Saturday in the 120-pound finals of the Rockland County Championships at Tappan Zee High School. Muldoon avenged his loss by winning his second straight county title.
The junior jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Calvano tied it up heading into the third round of the match. Muldoon’s conditioning work seemed to payoff, as he dominated the third period to win 10-5.
“I just wanted to keep pushing the pace,” Muldoon said. “I built up a pretty good lead, but he came back and tied it. I still felt fresh, felt good heading into the third.”
Calvano doesn’t always wrestle in the 120-pound weight class, but dropped down in the class for the tournament. Besides Muldoon, the top Rockland County competitor in the division is Blaise Benderoth from North Rockland. With Calvano as the top seed in the tournament, Muldoon, the second seed, faced off with Benderoth in the semifinals, winning via an 8-2 decision.
“Blaise is always a tough wrestler and someone you usually see in the finals, so that was different to face him in the semis,” Muldoon said. “He’s a great competitor. We always really go it when we wrestle.”
Muldoon (36-3) earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the tournament, which was voted on by the coaches of all nine competing teams. He was one of two Pirates to win a county title on Saturday, with sophomore James Kelly winning the 99-pound weight class. Kelly said he thought coming into the year a county title was a realistic goal. Muldoon wasn’t surprised either that Kelly won his division.
“James works really hard, especially in the room,” Muldoon said. “To see it pay off for him is awesome.”
With the win 10-1 win in the finals against North Rockland’s Anthony Sulla, Kelly is 34-1 on the year.
“My neutral work really improved this year,” Kelly said. “That helped me wrestle well all year.”
Kelly added he felt like his riding was strong Saturday in all his matches, which allowed him to win the county title.
Even with two wrestlers winning their classes, Pearl River finished fourth overall on Saturday. North Rockland won it second straight county title, finishing with 232 points thanks to five wrestlers finishing tops in their class. Nanuet finished second overall with 172 points, followed by Clarkstown South, which tallied 155 points.
“Being in it with Nanuet and North Rockland, two great programs, we’re happy to be right there,” said Clarkstown South Head Coach Brenden Rogers.
South’s strong showing came thanks partly to a trio of wrestlers in some of the later weight classes who won three straight titles. Junior Hassan Auwarter started off the run with a 6-3 decision in 170, followed by junior Austin Maurer winning via pinfall in 182 and senior Paul Okeke taking home the 195 crown thanks to a 3-1 decision.
“The three of us all practice together and work together,” Okeke said. “We know at the end of a meet or a tournament, the three of us are going to be there and we’re all going to be tough for other teams.”
- 99: James Kelly (Pearl River) beat Anthony Sulla (North Rockland) via a 10-1 major decision
- 106: Marlon Borge (North Rockland) beat Brian Hong (Clarkstown North) via a 10-4 decision
- 113: Derek DiMarsico (North Rockland) beat Justin Hong (Clarkstown North) via a 1-0 decision
- 120: John Muldoon (Pearl River) beat Anthony Calvano (Nanuet) via a 10-5 decision
- 126: Alex Oliveto (Suffern) beat Joe Dillon (Nanuet) via a 7-1 decision
- 132: Jake DiMarsico (North Rockland) beat James Giraldez (Nyack) via an 11-0 major decision
- 138: Matt Caputo (North Rockland) beat Colby Kash (Clarkstown North) via 9-2 decision
- 145: James Desimone (Suffern) beat Matt Dillon (Nanuet) via a 5-2 decision
- 152: Desmond Djekovic (Tappan Zee) beat Rob Gullo (Pearl River) via an 8-2 decision
- 160: Nick Didio (North Rockland) beat Jacob Lieberman (Nyack) via a 22-10 major decision
- 170: Hassan Auwarter (Clarkstown South) beat Peter Smith (Nanuet) via a 6-3 decision
- 182: Austin Maurer (Clarkstown South) beat Kurt Romano (Tappan Zee) via pinfall
- 195: Paul Okeke (Clarkstown South) beat Colton Charles (North Rockland) via a 3-1 decision
- 220: Dan Breit (Nanuet) beat John Hartnett (Tappan Zee) via pinfall
- 285: Mike Manni (Tappan Zee) beat Charles Francois (Nyack) via pinfall in triple overtime