The last six months have been grueling ones for sophomore James O'Hagan.
After starting at offensive tackle for the Seaford’s football team in the fall, O’Hagan had just a one week break before tackling his next challenge on the mats with the Viking wrestlers. The back-to-back seasons competing in two contact sports ended on a rewarding note for O’Hagan when he captured third place in the 285-pound weight class at the Nassau County individual wrestling championships on Feb. 12.
O’Hagan, who finished the 2011-12 season 31-3, reached the semifinals on the county’s top stage at Hofstra University’s Mack Sports Complex before dropping a 3-1 overtime bout to Uniondale’s Dante Salkey. The Seaford sophomore rebounded from the hard-fought defeat to pin Wantagh’s Steve English and beat Lynbrook’s Jon Espinosa 9-5 to earn the third place honors.
O’Hagan entered the two-day individual championships at Hofstra with eyes on a title but was still satisfied with the third place finish. He said a major key to his success this past season was putting on muscle weigh. The sophomore wrestler went from 240 pounds as a freshman to 265 in his second year on the high school mats.
“It helps me hold [my opponents] down a lot easier,” said O’Hagan of having those extra pounds in a weight class that ranges from 220 to 285.
O’Hagan, who hopes to compete in wrestling or football in college, credits his improvements in large part to Dr. Ken Leistner, an acclaimed strength and conditioning coach from East Rockaway who he sees two days a week.
“He’s probably the biggest factor in me getting stronger and gaining weight,” O’Hagan said.
Despite his county success in mid-February, O’Hagan is disappointed he is not competing in Albany this weekend at the state wrestling championships. He hopes next year his wrestling improvements will carry him even father to become Seaford’s first state champion.