The team returns six wrestlers who placed at the league championships last season, including team captain Steven Leshinger. Leshinger, who recently committed to Princeton, was the runner-up at 140 after going 38-10 on the season.
Joining Leshinger for his senior season is fellow captain Michael Payne. Payne, who is currently being recruited by Johns Hopkins University, went 29-12 last year. In addition to the two captains, the Golden Flashes return Jerry Czachor (4th at 135 lbs.), Steven's brother, Matt Leshinger (3rd at 96 lbs.), Justin Bonamico (4th) and Nick Pesko, son of head coach Gary (3rd at 103 lbs.)
The Sayville Wrestling Club, which is also run by Pesko and assistant coach Mike Vetrano, has proven to be one of the more popular offseason training camps on Long Island. In addition to Leshinger, the club has seen two members outside of Sayville commit to Division-I programs.
The wrestlers traveled all across the country, including North Dakota and Oklahoma for a pair of national tournaments. In all, the club spanned across eight states, giving the wrestlers some valuable experience, as well as national exposure."We don't want to take credit for that; the kids do the work," Pesko said. However, the experience his wrestlers have gained will undoubtedly help them as they move forward into this season.
Record last year: 19-6
Head coach: Gary Pesko (14th year)
- Steven Leshinger, senior (captain)
- Michael Payne, senior (captain)
- Nick Pesko, sophomore
- Matt Leshinger, sophomore
- Rich Millwater, senior
- Jerry Czachor, senior
- Justin Bonamico, senior
- Chris Siracusa, junior
Key Losses: Losing two of the three wrestlers who finished second in their respective weight classes is tough on anyone, but Sayville looks poised to absorb the losses of Josef Haas (145 lbs.) and Christian Nelson (285 lbs.) and move forward with their core of seniors.
Expectations: After an offseason that saw their wrestlers learn and grow exponentially, Coach Pesko can't seem to find any reason why Sayville shouldn't finish near the top this season. "With what we've got, we should finish top five in the county. We've got some kids who have worked really hard," he said.
While challenging for the league title would be an honor, Vetrano has his sights set even higher. "We could finish in the top six or eight in duals at States."
Individually, the coaches see a huge opportunity for some of their wrestlers, after a grueling offseason. "We're looking for Steven to take it to another level. We're expecting big things out of him."
Nick Pesko, though just a sophomore, has earned All-League honors twice already. After getting more than 70 matches under his belt this summer, he's ready to challenge for the league championship.
Chris Siracusa, who finished second in the Northeast regionals this summer, wrestled more than 100 matches in the offseason. "Chris is a kid who's completely transformed into something we didn't expect," Pesko said.
From the wrestlers: Steven Leshinger on being a captain and the 2010 season: "It makes us raise the level in the room. It's a big responsibility. I'm going to do all I can to raise the level for this team."
Michael Payne: "[Being named captain] is a big commitment. Obviously Coach Pesko believes in me and Steven, and he thinks we're the right men for the job. We respect that."
Key Matches: December 7: Home-opener against Kellenberg. Though it's a non-league match, it'll be a good early season test for the Golden Flashes, as they rarely see Catholic league opponents.
December 16-19: Disney Duals in Orlando, Florida. This will be the fifth consecutive year the team will travel to Disney to compete in a national tournament.
December 23: Home against Macarthur. It will be interesting to see how Sayville competes with the team who has won six of the last seven Nassau County championships.
January 5: Home against Hauppauge. This is another date Coach Pesko and company have circled. Hauppauge finished second only to John Glenn last year.
News & Notes: Other committments from Sayville Wrestling Club: Mt Sinai's Frank Abbondanza (UNC) and St. Anthony's Paul Alessandrini (Franklin & Marshall)... Sayville added former NYS-champ Lance Banfi to the coaching staff for 2010-11 season. Banfi formerly coached at Central Connecticut State University after winning a state title for Sachem in his senior year in 1985.
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