For decades, Wade Davey’s voice echoed throughout Riverhead High School from the sides of the wrestling mat during matches; screaming to get his wrestlers in better positions, guiding them through each grueling minute.
But with Davey’s retirement before the season, that voice is no longer heard. Tom Riccio and Edwin Perry now patrol the sidelines and though they are trying to implement a lot of their own teachings, much of what Davey preached still lives on in the program today.
“I was raised in the Coach Davey era,” Perry said, who won numerous accolades as a wrestler for Riverhead. “I agree with everything he taught me. Everything he taught me works and I continue to teach it. But I have my own style and my own ideas and I try to do my best to relay everything I’ve learned from high school to college.”
A key worry for Davey for the past few years was enrollment numbers. Though Perry said a healthy 35 wrestlers originally enrolled, 10 have since dropped out, leaving the program in a state of flux.
“Wrestling is a tough sport,” Perry said. “It’s a grind on your body. You have to lose weight. It’s a commitment. We’re here during the breaks when nobody else is. Some kids come out and realize they can’t handle it.”
North Babylon came to town on Wednesday and beat a young Blue Waves squad pretty handily, 56-21.
“All I could ask from them is to wrestle hard to the very end and they did,” Perry said.
After a Justin Hansel pin in the heavy weight class early on against an opponent that had a good 30 pounds on him, it looked as if it would spring life into the Blue Waves who were just trailing 15-12. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
The Bulldogs (2-0 League III) ripped off seven straight wins en route to the victory.
Riverhead (0-2 League III) did battle to the end as they won the final two matches with Mitch Hobbs winning the last match of the day, recording a takedown in the final second.
“That takes heart,” Perry said. “It takes heart to finish out a match like that.”
Riverhead continues its league season against Smithtown East on January 13.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by George Faella
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