It was showtime for senior Liam McIntyre.
The 195-pound Westhampton Beach wrestler was prepared for another moment to shine. He was coming off a successful football campaign that saw him lead his team to the Suffolk County championship game amid a 22-game wining streak. He became the second straight Hurricane following Dylan Laube to win the Hansen Award, given to the county’s best player.
As he stepped onto the mat, he thought back to what head coach Paul Bass had told him six years ago: “He was 106 pounds then, and I told him, ‘You’re going to grow a lot, and when you’re a senior, we’re going to be in the state finals at 195,’” Bass recalled. “Liam said, ‘You think so?’ And that’s where he’s heading right now. He’s just phenomenal.”
McIntyre took multiple wins during the Baldwin Tournament January 12, earning the 153rd of his career in the semifinals to dethrone Connor Bass and make him the winningest wrestler in school history. He’s on track to defend his 2018 county championship and make the trip upstate, while also becoming the first Hurricane to be named six-time All-League.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to know that all of your hours of work and dedication are paying off,” McIntyre said. “But I still have a lot more to do and hopefully a lot more to accomplish. I don’t think I’ve reached my full capabilities yet.”
McIntyre started wrestling and playing football at age six. He made the varsity squad as a seventh-grade grappler, the first in Westhampton school history to do so. He took to the varsity football field as a sophomore, and was named All-State his junior year even after breaking his hand and missing five games.
“I’ve always had a passion for both and loved competing. It’s just a part of who I am,” McIntyre said. “I can’t see myself not being involved in these sports. With football, there’s something about suiting up with guys you call your brothers and playing under the lights in front of a home crowd. It’s the best feeling in the world. And with wrestling, it’s different because it’s just you and another man on the mat and whoever trains harder and is mentally tougher will come out on top. It’s just believing that you can’t be beat.”
Bass said that’s something he’s seen in his wrestler, who he calls “Showtime,” since he was in middle school.
“The bigger the match and the bigger the stage, the better he does, and those kids are rare today,” the coach said. “The higher the pressure, the more he enjoys it. He’s got one speed and it’s full throttle ahead all the time.”
McIntyre topped an All-County wrestler in the Baldwin Tournament to bring his win total to 155. He’s the eighth Hurricane to eclipse 100 wins.
“It’s cool, what he’s been able to do, but it wasn’t a surprise — we knew he could do it,” Bass said. “Liam has given a lot of positive things to this program but he’s also gotten a lot out of it.”
McIntyre said being mentally tough and driven is something he picked up from his father, Bob, who played football and wrestled in high school and college, coached both sports, started the wrestling program in Manorville, and is an athletic director for South Country School District. His father recalls him having a football in his hand since his first birthday, being super competitive, and always wanting to win even at a young age, when other kids were joining teams just to have fun. McIntyre said his son has had amazing opportunities, teammates, and coaches who have helped pave the way.
“We are incredibly proud of him — he’s got all of this great talent, the ability, the work ethic, and it’s hard to digest until you list everything he’s done,” his father said. “The way he carries himself and presents himself to other kids is more important than anything else. He’s doing things the right way, and we’re so much prouder of that than of any of the other accolades.”
“Westhampton Beach took me in six years ago as a 106-pound seventh grader and gave me a bunch of amazing people to help me grow and develop into the athlete and young man that I am today,” McIntyre said. “This place and this athletics program have changed my life in so many ways and given me so many opportunities and platforms to succeed on. I am really grateful for every second of my career here.”
Head football coach Bryan Schaumloffel knows about those opportunities. He said this winter there’s been a parade of college football coaches coming to meet McIntyre and some of his teammates. Schaumloffel likened the scene of Division I, II, and III and Ivy League coaches entering school to shoppers heading into a big retail store on Black Friday.
“I’m really happy for him — these recognitions just show a lot about his character, his hard work, his discipline,” Schaumloffel said. “He’s been a great leader. Liam’s been an emotional, physical kid and this shows the younger kids what it takes to get to that level. He’s done a lot to show that it takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to become the best at your sport.”
McIntyre said he’s honored and humbled to be able to do all he’s done, achieve all he’s been able to, and put a spotlight on the Westhampton Beach program.
“I hope that I inspire others to work hard and do great things, but at the same time be a good person outside of sports — be great in all aspects of life,” he said. “Because if you’re a great athlete or win at everything, but you’re not a good person off the field and no one has any respect for you, then what’s the point?”