Amidst stiff competition spanning the nation that gathered in Orlando, Florida, the Sayville wrestling team fought to a 5-1 record at the 2010 Disney Duals tournament.
Despite competing without captain Steve Leshinger, who is sidelined with an undisclosed injury, the Golden Flashes finished the tournament in second place, due in large part to four of their top wrestlers finishing with a 6-0 record.
Among the undefeated were Matt Leshinger, Nick Pesko, Justin Siracusa and Justin Bonamico.
Bonamico was recognized with tournament MVP honors after his undefeated weekend at 135 lbs.
Sayville began Thursday morning making quick work of a team from Miami, Florida, 52-22. Fellow senior captain Michael Payne had a crucial pin at 140 lbs. en route to the victory.
The Golden Flashes then took on a local team from Nassau County, Clarke High School. But again, Payne, Bonamico & Co. defeated them handily. Kevin Bethea pinned his opponent at 189 lbs., which assistant coach Mike Vetrano recognized as a key component in the team's victory.
"A trip like this really brings the team together in terms of bonding," Vetrano said. "It prepares us for the rest of the season. This type of experience is priceless."
Though their last opponent on Thursday was relatively local, their first challenger on Friday was anything but. Sayville faced a team from Omak, Washington, that is ranked second in the state of Washington.
They beat Omak 46-26 in the semifinals, but the final score doesn't quite indicate how tight the match was throughout.
Bonamico won a high-scoring match 17-15, which helped turn the momentum in Sayville's favor.
"He wrestled really well," Vetrano said. "His match against Omak was one of the deciding matches. It was a ridiculously high score, but he battled through it and he won. He had a breakout tournament for us."
The Golden Flashes eventually fell to Charters Houston, Pennsylvania in the tournament finals.
"We've got 21 kids here in total," said Vetrano, while standing outside The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride at MGM Studios. "We're having some fun."
Travelling across the country is nothing new for the Sayville wrestling staff. Head coach Gary Pesko and Vetrano run the Sayville Wrestling Club each summer, which invites some of the top wrestlers from Suffolk County, as well as a number of their own players, to continue to work on their technique.
Last summer, the coaches took a select number of qualified wrestlers on two tournaments, to Oklahoma and North Dakota. The wrestlers gained an immeasureable amount of experience and national exposure which allowed three of them, including Sayville's own Steven Leshinger, to be recruited by Division-I programs.
The teams made the most of their stay in Florida, visiting a number of the Disney theme parks, as well as Universal Studios, which was closed off to the public for four hours, allowing the wrestlers to take a step back from the mat and enjoy themselves.
"We had three days in the parks," Vetrano said. "It was pretty neat. The kids had a full day yesterday, so they were having some fun."
The team was all business upon landing back in New York around 6 p.m. on Sunday evening, focused on a big dual meet with MacArthur High School on Thursday.
"The kids really came together," Vetrano said. "Hopefully, we'll try to give MacArthur a go."