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Late Surge Lifts Sleepy Hollow to Wrestling Win

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Prior to this season, Sleepy Hollow held the upper hand in its annual wrestling match with friendly rival, Croton.

The Headless Horsemen and Tigers schedule a non-conference match each year based on the friendship of Sleepy Hollow coach Brian Tompkins and Croton head man Sam Occhipinti. Tompkins was Occhipinti’s wrestling coach at Sleepy Hollow and later Occhipinti became an assistant coach before going to Croton.

The teams met twice earlier in the season, with Croton winning both matches, including the Croton Tournament title match.

Going into the final three matches, Croton appeared to be on the verge of a hat trick, but Sleepy Hollow rallied to force a 36-36 tie. But, based on the tie-breaking rules, the first criteria being wins, Sleepy Hollow received the victory because it won nine of the 15 matches.

Juan Pablo-Loja (132 pounds), Edwin Jimenez (138) and Steven Bencosme (145) earned the win for Sleepy Hollow (14-6) by taking the last three matches, spoiling the final home for Croton’s six seniors.

“After losing to Croton twice before we wanted to bounce back and get the win,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez pointed to a pair of pivotal victories, by his teammates, as the difference. Jean-Paul Ospina opened the match with a 6-4 decision over Andrew Horan, who had beaten him twice this season. And Loja’s 9-3 victory over Dan Guido. Loja weighed in at 126, but Tompkins bumped Loja, Jimenez and Bencosme up a weight class.

“We worked with him on what Horan did to him in the first two matches,” said Jimenez of Ospina. “He made the adjustments. We told him he had to go out and wrestle his match and that’s what he did.”

Sleepy Hollow led 21-12 through seven weight classes, but Croton (23-9) responded with pins by Andrew Barsuch (99) and D.J. Frederich (120), a win for Tommy Schultz (106) by disqualification and a forfeit to David Occhipinti.

“I had wrestled Dan Guido and beaten him so instead of Juan Pablo going against David, we forfeited to him,” Jimenez explained. “Juan Pablo went out, wrestled smart and wrestled a great match.”

Loja defeated Guido, 9-3.

Sleepy Hollow will now prepare for the large-school divisional tournaments, Saturday. The top four finishers at each site -- Harrison, Horace Greeley, Mahopac and Arlington -- advance to the Section 1 Wrestling Championships, Feb. 11-12.

“This was a definitely a boost for us and we are going into divisionals on a positive note,” Jimenez said.

152 -- Jean-Paul Ospina (SH) dec. Andrew Horan, 6-4; 160 -- Gabe Palacios (SH) pin. Devin Lewis, 1:59; 170 -- Csaurel Clarke (SH) dec. Eli Greenstein, 7-6; 182 -- Gabe Gonzalez (SH) dec. Sam Goldsmith, 6-3; 195 -- Chris Kraft (Cr) pin. Chris Hutter, 2:46; 220 -- Alec Pavloff (Cr) pin. Nathaniel Christian, 4:52; 285 -- Frank Curanaj (SH) won by forfeit; 99 -- Andrew Barsuch (Cr) pin. Matt Dorazio, :42; 106 -- Tommy Schultz (Cr) won by disqualification over Raymond Gonzalez; 113 -- Edison Urgiles (SH) won by forfeit; 120 -- D.J. Frederich (Cr) pin. Chris lazo, 3:16; 126 -- David Occhipinti (Cr) won by forfeit; 132 -- Juan-Pablo Loja (SH) dec. Dan Guido, 9-3; 138 -- Edwin Jimenez (SH) dec. John Matin, 4-1; 145 -- Steven Bencosme (SH) dec. J.P. O’Malley, 6-0.

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