The top two seeds at 220 pounds had grappled for four minutes and were stuck in a 2-2 stalemate. Matt Mott of Lynbrook had pinned his previous three opponents, but Tom Sinclair of Island Trees was not going down without a fight.
Sinclair did go down to start the third round, though, as Mott chose the top position and stayed in control for the majority of the final two minutes. But it was the frantic final seconds that changed everything and helped Sinclar avenge a championship loss in 2012.
“I did not know what to do,” Sinclair said when asked what he was thinking after he finally escaped with about 10 seconds remaining in the match. “I knew to stay away because he was a really good kid and he could have possibly taken me down.”
Sinclair was able to scramble and hold on to his lead, securing the 4-2 decision victory – Island Trees' first Nassau County championship since 1988 when a pair of Bulldogs took the crown.
Coach Lou Tourto said one of those county champions – Darin Simons – was on hand and handed Tourto a lucky quarter before Sinclair’s match. Tourto was more than pleased to pass the memento along to Sinclair – after he was able to stop leaping around in pure elation.
“That’s an honor to be the coaches’ first county champion,” Sinclair said. “Coach Tourto and Coach Garcia are amazing coaches and they deserve a county champion and I’m happy to give it to them.”
After the final buzzer, the Bulldog faithful who had been raucously rooting poured out of the stands, 25 people or so, and embraced Sinclair in a huge group hug. It was one of those moments that make high school sports so special.
“It was amazing,” Sinclair said. “When I got down I knew I had to get up. I heard my name being screamed and I knew I had to get up for them and I had to get up for my coaches.”
It was one year ago when Sinclair was on the bottom end of a 6-1 decision in the county finals, but on this night he was able to get up and find his way to the top of the 220-pound division in Nassau County.