Louis Hernandez has spent the summer trying to not only win matches, but to win those matches convincingly.
“I like to be dominant and be in the driver’s seat,” he said. “I try to go out there and break my opponent. I definitely don’t like to leave the match in the referee’s hands.”
This August, mission accomplished.
The Mepham junior won his second tournament in the past three weeks when he captured the 155-pound title at the Wantagh Summer event on Saturday after earning the championship at the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat earlier in the month. In those two tournaments five of his six wins were by bonus points and the other was a comfortable 8-2 decision.
“I’m really happy with the way I’ve been wrestling,” he said. “All my training is paying off.”
Hernandez has been motivated by the way his sophomore campaign ended. He compiled an impressive 26-4 record but missed a chunk of the season in January. When he returned to the lineup in February, he earned the Section 8 title and had high expectations for his first appearance in Albany.
“My goal before the season even started was to win counties and go All-State,” he said. “But I broke my rib the week before the state tournament. I still went and gave it everything I had. Even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, I thought it was a good experience to compete there to get ready for next year.”
At the Times Union Center, Hernandez dropped a one-point decision to John Northrup of Rush Henrietta in his opening bout before recording a 17-1 technical fall over Richie Lupo of Union Endicott in the wrestlebacks. In his next contest, eventual fifth place finisher Dale White came out on top, 8-5.
“He didn’t place but he wrestled well at states,” said Craig Vitagliano, who coaches Hernandez at Ascend Wrestling Club. “I think he put things in perspective and realized what he did despite being injured. He’s been wrestling the whole spring and summer.”
Hernandez said he has followed a simple regimen throughout the offseason.
“Lift, run, wrestle,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been doing. I work out in the gym in my basement, go out for a run and go to Ascend to practice. I am focused on learning and getting better.”
Vitagliano believes he’s on the right path.
“[Hernandez] is one of the most talented kids I’ve ever coached,” Vitagliano said. “He’s a natural who is physically mature for his age. He’s extremely strong and athletic and great on his feet. He also has that killer instinct.”
That killer instinct has served him well in his bonus wins in the past few weeks. He hopes to keep piling up the victories as he puts himself to the test several more times before his high school season begins at either 145 or 152 pounds.
“I definitely want to go to Super 32 [in North Carolina] this year and try to be an All-American there. I’ll also be going to Waterway Duals in Pennsylvania because there’s always some great wrestling in that state. I want to get as much good competition to prepare for this season as I can because I’m hungry for a state title. That was what I was thinking after my last loss at states – I’ve experienced states now and next year, I plan to win the whole thing.”
Hernandez wasn’t the only wrestler to win the title at Wantagh after finishing on top at the Summer Heat earlier in August. The same could be said for a pair of East Islip grapplers, Jesse Dellavecchia (109) and Chris Chambers (198) as well as returning state placers Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman (123) and TJ Fabian of Shoreham Wading River (141). All were dominant. Fabian and Calderone both had two pins while Chambers had a pin and a major and Dellavecchia outscored his opponents 26-1.
About 180 wrestlers took the mat at the tournament in four divisions – Youth, Middle School, High School and Open. One of the organizers, Ray Handley Sr., was pleased with the event overall.
“We had wrestlers from a lot of different places – Albany, New Jersey and of course Suffolk and Nassau,” he said. “We lost the football players because of the timing, but the crowd was great and we got a lot of help to make it run well and end on time. All the money we raised goes back into the program to help with the travel during the season. Our goal with the tournament is to get the wrestlers sharp in the summer and I think we saw some quality wrestling throughout the day, at all levels, from Youth to Open.”
Championship Results – High School
102 CJ Archer (Rocky Point) over Jordan Richter (Longwood), 6-0
109 Jesse Dellavecchia (631 Elite) over Ryan Holzgruber (Ascend), 5-0
116 Gary Sidoti (Wantagh) over Paul Capobianco (VHW), 8-2
123 Joe Calderone (Walt Whitman) over Kevin Parker (Journeymen), Pin
129 Tyler Walsh (West Islip) Fft Travis Passaro (631 Elite)
135 Vinny Turano (Wantagh) over Chris Cataldo (5 Star), 18-2
141 TJ Fabian (X-Cel) over Brandon Aviles (Huntington), Pin
148 Ken Gallagher (VHW) over Brandon Mendez (Huntington), 5-4
155 Louis Hernandez (Ascend) over Chris Morrissey (Albany Titans), 18-3
163 Dennis Ferro (East Islip) over Matthew Russo (Apex), 7-2
173 Steve Schneider (Levittown) over Andrew Psomas (Lions), 5-0
185 James Corbett (Wantagh) over Kevin Rodriguez (Pat-Med), 3-2
198 Chris Chambers (East Islip) over Christian Araneo (Ward Melville), 14-0
223 Joe Marcantonio (Calhoun) over Larry Baker (Wantagh), Pin
Championship Results – Middle School
Dylan Rider (631 Elite) over James Langan (Wantagh)
John DeRidder (Wantagh) over Kyle Mosher (Gladiators)
Thomas Rohan (Wantagh) over Joe Conklin (Wantagh)
Johnny Devine (Albany Titans) over Albert Hernandez (Grand Avenue)
Elijah Rodriguez (Gladiators) over Tyrese Byron (Gladiators)
Harley Lopes (VHW) over Daniel Finkelstein (Jericho)
Caleb Wilson (Kensington) over John Hayes (Wantagh)
Championship Results – Open
Jamel Hudson (Quiet Storm) over Kevin O’Hagan (Sachem North)
Evan Wallace (Albany Titans) over Nick Miceli (X-Cel)
Elton Gonzalez (Fallout) over Chirs Dolon (Unattached)
Anthony Bonaventura (Warzone) over Brian Adriance (Albany Titans)
Steven Hromada (Rocky Point) over Carlos Torres (Fallout)
Christian Psomas (Lions) over Steven Vidal (Fallout)
Championship Results – Youth
Marco Codignotto (Wantagh) over Aidan Araoz (Wantagh)
Josiah Encarnacion (Wantagh) over Nico Berlingeri (Olympic)
Christian Encarnacion (Wantagh) over Bobby Moore (Wantagh)
Joe Moore (Wantagh) over Nicholas Killard (Wantagh)
CJ Andres (N Haledon) over Joe Russo (Wantagh)
Kyle Mosher (Gladiators) over Kerik Pollock (SEQKWA)
Stefan Major (631 Elite) over Jacob Tutuska (Brentwood)