The tides have turned for crosstown wrestling rivals Great Neck North Blazers and Great Neck South Rebels. On Dec. 21, the Rebels wrestled their way to their second consecutive victory over the Blazers after losing six of their previous seven matches to them. The Rebels improved to a 3-0 record for the season with a decisive 48-22 point victory over the Blazers who dropped to 0-4.
South Senior Captain Nicholas Belitsis helped lead the team to victory after recording a win over North’s Ariel Arabian in the 152-pound weight-class match. Belitsis pinned his opponent to the ground within the first two-minute period, providing South with the momentum it needed until the last match ended.
“Belitsis, a two-time All-Conference Wrestler, has already won an individual varsity tournament this year and his leadership efforts on and off the mat helped us defeat North,” said Ryan Pingitore, head coach of South’s wrestling team.
South Junior Captain Matthew Solomon also had a commanding victory over North’s Judah Nouryiallan in the 145-pound weight-class match. Solomon built up his lead by aggressively and strategically earning takedown points to clinch the victory. Both senior Arafat Iminov in the 195-pound weight class and sophomore Jay Choi in the 126-pound weight class pinned down their opponents, leading South to its significant win.
“I think our team did a great job tonight,” Solomon said. “We came out with a lot of energy, we wrestled hard and we put all of our effort into scoring for our team.”
Although losing the match, the Blazers did record a few hard-fought victories. Senior Captain Jonathan Rismany defeated South’s All-Conference junior Brandon Lopez by a score of 3-2 in the highly competitive 152-pound weight-class match. Rismany used his agility and strength to deliver vigorous takedowns. North’s Ray Baron also used a robust attack to pin South’s Paul DePaulis to the mat in the 120-pound weight class.
“Rismany and Baron both came in first at the Hicksville wrestling tournament and they continue to inspire the team to keep a positive attitude and a strong work ethic,” said Ed Proctor, head coach of North’s wrestling team.
Though the Rebels came out victorious, both teams continue to develop their technique while building camaraderie. After the loss, the Blazers looked forward to challenging one another with more intense drills in future practices while developing a family of wrestlers with a common goal of learning and winning.
“While many of my teammates showed their potential tonight, I want to inspire all of my teammates to maintain a positive attitude and train to the best of their ability,” Rismany said. “With such a young team, I want them to learn that we can win any match with hard work.”
Similarly, the Rebels look to treat each win as a signal to train harder and stay focused for the rest of the season. With a team of 15 freshmen, Coach Pingitore and Assistant Coach Peter Marques look to push the most experienced wrestlers harder to set a precedent for the freshmen to follow.
While the rivalry match is a significant tournament for both teams, the Rebels and Blazers hope to use this match as a way to achieve further success for the upcoming tournaments.