The top four PSAL blended girls and boys wrestling teams faced off on Thursday, February 4 at Bronx Science in a battle for the first ever Blended League Dual Meet Wrestling Championships. The Blended League format features eight boys’ weight classes and eight girls’ weight classes with both genders scoring points for a single team score.
In the semifinal round, top seeded Bronx Science dispatched fourth seeded Port Richmond 60-27, while on the other mat second seeded Wingate held on for a 44-42 victory over third seeded Townsend Harris.
In a finals match worthy of the history of the evening, it took all sixteen matches to determine the PSAL Championship Team. The dual meet started at the girls’ 117 lb. weight class where Wingate Team Captain Fatoumata Diallo picked up a second period pin over Bronx Science’s Maggie Pernambuco. The two teams swapped leads over the next twelve bouts, continuing when Wingate boys’ heavyweight Mike Babbot scored a fall putting his squad up by six points. With Wingate ahead 42-36 the action went back to the lightweights. Bronx Science girls’ 105 lb. Amanda Rodriguez needed only a minute and a half to put her Wingate opponent to her back for fall, tying the score at 42-42. The fall sealed the victory as Bronx Science would pick up a final six points for a forfeit at boys’ 106 lb. to give the Wolverines a 48-42 victory and the first ever Blended League Wrestling Dual Meet title.
Despite the dual meet coming down to the last match, the bout that gave Bronx Science the momentum was girls’ 125 lb. where Bronx Science’s Unawana Abasurua pulled off an upset victory over Wingate’s Deniel Philip. Philip started the third period in the bottom position, quickly scoring an escape to take a 3-2 lead. A near takedown scramble that would have given Philip an additional two went out of bounds, and with thirty seconds left on the clock the two wrestlers returned to center mat. At the fifteen second mark Abasurua drove through a double leg, securing two points and holding on for a 4-3 victory. The six point swing in team points would prove to be the difference in the final team score.
“In the last 30 seconds I was just thinking that I need to really push it and get the points because I knew I could get the points,” Abasurua said of her match winning takedown. “I just thought about how much this would mean to the team and my coach, especially after all of the time we spent at practice.”
Bronx Science Head Coach Chris Smith, who has not had a team in the PSAL Wrestling Championship Finals since 2011, but whose current squad had a perfect 13-0 record heading into the evening’s championship match, noted that it was “a lot of pressure coming in to try to run it. It’s easier when your team has a couple of losses under its belt to try to step up, but when your team is undefeated it’s really tough.” Coach Smith continued, “It was a great competition. I really appreciated Wingate’s effort. It was such a great opportunity and a great run.”
After the team picture, the hoisting of the cup, and the unfurling of the first ever PSAL Banner to say Girls & Boys Wrestling, Abasurua reflected “I’m just super, super proud of how much work, effort, and dedication my teammates and I have put into this.”