With a motto of “Adapt, Overcome,” Massapequa High School’s wrestling team had a successful season, navigating through the challenges of the pandemic and winning the 2021 Nassau County Dual championship following an undefeated season. And their work isn’t stopping for the summer.
Seniors Dominick Casamassina, Chase Liardi and Daniel O’Callaghan were All-County selections as well as scholar-athletes. Coach Ronnie Serrano said the three set the example for the rest of the team during a shortened season with many safety protocols in place designed to keep everyone healthy and safe. Each wrestler was assigned one partner to work out with for the duration of the season, reducing contact and minimizing the chance for COVID-19 to spread.
“The fact that we were able to wrestle this year was a true blessing,” O’Callaghan said. “In a time where we thought we would never get a chance to wrestle again for Massapequa, it was a complete change of mood when we found out we were having a season. Everyone on our team made sacrifices to ensure that our season would not get shut down for any COVID-19 related reasons. All my teammates came to practice every day and wrestled as hard as they could, even with masks on, to make the most out of our shortened season.”
Casamassina stated that the dedication of the entire team and coaching staff is why the Chiefs were again at the top of the list among Nassau County wrestling teams.
“Being able to wrestle this year was truly amazing and I’m so glad I got to go to battle with the Massapequa Chiefs one last season,” he said. “We all had a goal that we had been thinking about since the end of last year and the whole team was locked in.”
Liardi, whom Serrano described as “one of the best wrestlers I have seen come through the program,” committed to the wrestling team at Ohio State University. This summer, several coaches and wrestlers from Massapequa will visit Liardi and Ohio State’s program. They will receive a tour of the campus and athletic facilities, take part in a wrestling camp and do some sightseeing.
The trip was partially supported by Friends of Massapequa Wrestling, an alumni association that runs a wrestling youth program attended annually by about 200 local children and teenagers. Serrano said he wants his wrestlers to understand the value of a college education and get them thinking about their post-high school plans.
“Wrestling will go away, but your college degree and what you do for a living won’t,” he said.
Serrano and his assistants are in the running for the national coaching staff of the year award in wrestling from the National Federation of State High School Associations. As New York State’s winners, they advanced the national competition, with the winning coaching staff to be announced in September.
“Through the help and guidance of our entire coaching staff, we were able to make a season with a disappointing outlook into one of our best,” O’Callaghan said.
Going into the 2021-22 season, Serrano said the team has the ability to win another county championship. Stepping into senior leadership roles in the coming year will be Carlos Arango, Anthony Conetta, Tom DiGennaro and Jacob Menichini.
—Submitted by the Massapequa School District