The Huntington wrestling program is in the midst of a rebuilding period. The Blue Devils are trying to recapture their previous magic, which spanned decades and included a string of league, county and state titles.
New Huntington varsity head coach Louis R. Giani is striving to build interest in the program across the district, increase the number of athletes participating on the middle school and high school teams and become more competitive. All of that will take time.
In addition to Giani, this year’s staff included Kieran Mock, Omar Santiago and David Bergmann. The season concluded with 22 wrestlers on the roster. All but two of them will be returning next winter.
The Blue Devils compiled a 1-6 mark in league matches and went 4-9 overall. Freshman Joe Petrone, sophomores William Burton, Aedan McDonald and Tazadon Smith and senior Aidan McCooey all grappled to All-League honors and each of them earned berths in the Section XI tournament.
Petrone finished the year with a 21-8 mark. “Joe had a great season and was competitive throughout it,” Giani said. “He led the team in fall and he had the most team points.”
Burton about a month of the season after he was injured in the Huntington tournament three weeks into the campaign. The teenager compiled a 9-10 mark. “Billy had to play catch-up when he returned, but he went on to qualify for the sectional tournament,” Giani said.
McDonald enjoyed his best season yet, going 20-15. He, too, advanced to the Section XI tournament and won a preliminary round bout before getting knocked out of the competition.
Smith had an 18-11 record, reaching the county tournament along with four of his teammates before dropping a close, hard-fought decision.
McCooey completed his final high school season with a 19-6 mark. He won the Kohl tournament at Suffern and was undefeated at the Minisink Valley dual meet tournament.
“The team was young, comprised mainly of ninth and tenth graders,” Giani said. “If we work hard during the off-season, we should be able to be more competitive next year.”
Smith, Petrone, Burton, McDonald and current eighth grader Robbie Smith look to be the top wrestlers heading into next season. The will be bolstered by returning varsity team members, a handful of athletes from the junior varsity squad and some promising grapplers that will be moving up from J. Taylor Finley Middle School.