Clarke High School will have strong representation at the New York State Division 2 Wrestling Tournament this weekend after two of its top grapplers qualified for the big event with impressive victories at the Nassau County qualifiers earlier this month.
Junior Karl-Osmond Bouyer (220 pounds) and senior Austin Carman (152) combined for five pins and a major decision in their respective weight classes at the Nassau Division 2 championships at Cold Spring Harbor on Feb. 8-9.
Bouyer, who lost just one bout all season, made a statement early by finishing off West Hempstead’s Anthony Gracia in just 46 seconds before recording his second pin of the day against Nick Vaccaro of Carle Place in just under six minutes. He then captured the title by pinning Cold Spring Harbor’s Ethan Burdo in 5 minutes, 31 seconds.
Carman, who now sits at 34-2, was even more dominant and earned himself the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. He needed just 13 seconds to pin Cold Spring Harbor’s Thomas Edgar and made quick work of teammate Matt Valverde by getting his shoulders to the mat in 24 seconds. He then recorded an 18-7 major decision win over another Cold Spring Harbor grappler, Jacob Bruno.
Carman will be tested right off the bat this weekend after drawing Zach Lawrence of Duanesburg in the opening round. Lawrence won all 46 of his matches this season and will have something to prove after placing third at last year’s state tournament.
“We’re very familiar with him,” said coach Mike Leonard. “We’ll be ready for him. If Austin wrestles his pace, his speed, and to his strength, he’ll do fine.”
Sophomore Maxwell DeLeon just fell short of making it a trio after losing in the 170-pound final, but still impressed with a pinfall victory over Locust Valley’s Matthew Jones in the semifinals. Joe Aguas (160) and junior Gabe Gabrera (106) also had strong showings by finishing third and fourth, respectively.
Gabrera’s performance was especially encouraging because it gave him a 27-5 overall record after going just 5-20 last year.
“He worked hard in the offseason,” Leonard said of his turnaround. “He started to believe he could be a good wrestler and I’m looking for big things from him next year.”
Eighth-grader Jack Forte (120), sophomore Chris Gregory (132), junior Aiden Yurdiga (138), and senior Sean Russell (145) all advanced to the semifinals in their weight categories.
“It went good considering we had three bad injuries this year,” Leonard said of his team’s performance at counties. “We finished the year pretty good.”
Bouyer and Carman are both determined to take home the state title, but for different reasons. Bouyer lost a heartbreaker in sudden death during the placement round of last year’s tourney, while Carman will try to finish his high school career on a high note after missing most of the previous two seasons with various injuries.
“They’re going to give it their best shot at taking it all and coming home with all-state will be nice,” Leonard said.