SLATE HILL – Jordan Suarez has re-lived the painful end to his 2019 season for a year now.
In a state tournament wrestle-back match, Suarez attempted to lock a cradle on John Jay-Cross River’s Chris Cook. As he tried to roll through, Suarez lost his grip and couldn’t get Cook to his back. Cook escaped with a 3-2 win and knocked Suarez out of the tournament, preventing him from placing.
“(The defeat) really broke my heart,” said Suarez, a Minisink Valley wrestler. “It sticks with you the whole time.”
Suarez has an opportunity to erase that memory this weekend. He recently won his second consecutive Section 9 title, earning a spot at this weekend’s state tournament in Albany.
Practices leading up to states have been challenging, with classmates and two-time section champions Nick Picariello and Sean Savacool on hand, as well as eighth-grader Zack Ryder, a 2019 state finalist.
“I’m wrestling the best guys over and over and over again,” Suarez said. “I have to get better. There’s never an easy day at all. Sometimes, I just go home and lay in my bed after practice because I can’t move. Your body gets sore.”
Suarez was originally at Pine Bush, and bought into the high expectations of the Minisink program upon transferring in time for his sophomore season. Suarez has reached four section finals, and has a 111-20 record in three seasons with the Warriors.
“He’s a self-motivated kid,” Minisink Valley coach Kevin Gallagher said. “It doesn’t feel like he was anywhere else but here. He’s all Minisink. He’s a pleasure to coach. He’s a hard worker. He’s got that mental toughness. He’s a fighter. He’s got a little mean streak in him.”
Gallagher envisions state medals for Suarez at 132 pounds, as well as Picariello and Savacool, despite the trio being seeded outside of the top eight who will reach the medal podium.
Minisink Valley, which has seven state qualifiers, looks to change its fortunes at the state tournament. The Warriors have sent 26 wrestlers to Albany over the last five years: seven have placed, including 2016 state champion A.J. Aeberli.
“Knowing this is my last time, I have to sell out,” said Suarez of placing this weekend. “This is my last time and I have to do it right here.”