IRVINGTON, N.Y. – Stephen Paternostro could barely contain his enthusiasm Sunday at the Section 1 Small School qualifier for the New York State Wrestling Championships.
The Pleasantville junior pinned Putnam Valley’s A.J. Mirabal 15 seconds into the 126-pound title match at Irvington High School, touching off a memorable reaction.
Paternostro saluted the loud and excited Pleasantville crowd, then ran over and jumped into Pleasantville coach Bob Bernarducci’s arms. No sooner did Paternostro receive congratulations from an excited Bernarducci and assistant coach Stephen Tornambe, then the new champion was greeted by his teammates and the Pleasantville fans.
“It feels amazing,” said Paternostro, as he was accepting high fives and slaps on the back.
Paternostro and all of the individual champions earned a berth in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Small School Championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, at the Albany Times-Union Center.
Paternostro was named the most outstanding wrestler based on his victories over Mirabal, the top seed, and second-seeded Joe Dillon of Nanuet in a semifinal. In the final, he came after Mirabal, took him down immediately, ran a half nelson and finished off the match
“I came in as the third seed and I’m sure many people didn’t think it was possible,” Paternostro said. “When I beat Joe (Dillon), it boosted my confidence up. I wanted to go into the match and go right at him. I went for the dump, then switched to a double and put him to his back. Once I got the half, I just started cranking it.
Paternostro, who decisioned Dillon, 6-5 in a semifinal, had a score to settle with Mirabal. Last year in this tournament, Mirabal pinned Paternostro in the third-place match.
“I wanted to come out and redeem myself this year,” said Paternostro, now 29-5 on the season. “This is the greatest feeling ever.”
Paternostro was not Pleasantville’s lone champion. He will be joined in Albany by James Bathon, who defeated Edgemont’s Kyle Aslanian, 2-0, to win the 99-pound title. Senior Peter Salzarulo was the 182-pound runner-up.