Nigel McNeil (Huntington-11) lifts Dan Ventura (Fox Lane-1) in the 119 pound final. McNeil won with an 8-3 decision to capture his second consecutive state crown.
Warren Bosch
Owen and Craig Scott
Kyle Wade
(The word "Family" on his leg.)
Nick Gwiazdowski
    Section Eleven (Suffolk County) won the 49th annual NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships before 4,208 fans at the Times Union Center in Albany. The navy blue-clad contingent tallied 269.5 points to outdistance runner-up Section One (Westchester) with 199.5 and Section Eight (Nassau County) who finished with 156. The Suffolk squad crowned five champions among their ten finalists and were paced by two-time titlist Nigel McNeil (40-0, 163-15) of Huntington. McNeil used a barrage of takedowns, including his single/double changeover en route to the 119-pound crown.

     Other Suffolk winners were Anthony Abidin (36-1, 141-18) of Hills East who defeated rival Alex Gomez (42-3), of Brentwood, 4-2, at 125, Islip's Kyle Wade (41-0), Chanse Menendez (39-3) of Hauppauge and Warren Bosch (39-3) of Kings Park at 215. Wade scored with two low single leg takedowns to earn a hard-fought 5-3 win at 152, Menendez scored with a series of takedowns to post a solid 9-3 verdict at 171 and Bosch tossed his opponent to his back for a first period fall in the 215-pound class. Menendez's teammate Adam Lepkowsky (46-2) appeared to have captured an overtime victory but a controversial call at the conclusion of his bout gave his foe a 6-5 victory at 140 pounds.

     Wantagh's Joe Kavanagh (40-0, 160-14) was the lone winner for Nassau. Kavanagh applied his leg ride and half nelson to secure a second period pin and claim the 189-pound championship. Long Beach's Mark Raghunandan (32-5) was switched to his back in the last 20 seconds and dropped a 10-8 overtime decision to Arlington's Jimmy Duckham (41-8) at 103. At 135 pounds two former state kings squared off, Bob Dierna (41-2) of Wayne and unbeaten Brian Realbuto (53-0, 230-11) of Somers. Dierna rallied with two third period fireman's to knot the score at 7-7, but in the overtime stanza Realbuto struck quickly with a single leg and emerged with an exciting 9-7 victory. For his efforts Realbuto was voted the tournament's outstanding wrestler.

     Other gold medalists were Kyle Kelly (38-0) of Chenango Forks at 96, Sean McCormick (40-2) of Johnson City at 112, Steven Rodrigues (37-0) of Fox Lane at 130, Connor Sutton (44-4) of LaSalle at 140, Jim Kloc (51-1) of Iroquois at 145, Mitchell Wightman (36-1) of Warwick Valley at 160 and New Rochelle's Malcolm Allen (38-5) at 285 pounds.

     In the Divsion II Tournament, Section Five (Rochester) outpointed Section Six (Buffalo), 266.5 to 221.5. They were led by a quartet of two-time champions: Quinton Murphy (55-1, 243-11) of Holley at 135, Chris Nevinger (50-0, 205-24) of Letchworth at 152 and the Scott twins, Owen (46-1, 239-23) at 160 and Craig (48-0, 238-17) at 171, they hail from Palmyra-Macedon. Other winners were Arik Robinson (32-2, 180-18) of Peru who captured his fourth state crown at 112 pounds and Duanesburg's two-time champion Nick Gwiazdowski (50-0, 199-28), who pinned four opponents en route to the 215-pound title.

Mat Notes...
The state leader in sectional team titles is Section Eleven with 19 and at the 2011 state meet they garnered 20 place-winners. Section Eleven now has 147 NYS champions, followed by Section Four (Binghamton) with 136 titles and Section Eight with 105 individual winners. Nigel McNeil concluded a spectacular career with an 80-match win streak. His last loss was in the Suffolk County semifinals in 2009. Huntington is the state leader with 26 individual state champions. Levittown Divsion's John Pellegrino finished with the most wins in the state and had a 59-2 mark, he placed fifth at 125 pounds. Kyle Wade join his brothers Chris (2005) and Lance (2007) as state champions. The only other Long Island family to match that feat was the famed DeStefanis brothers from Locust Valley in the late 1970s. Bob, Al and Carl each won two state titles and Carl (118 pounds) went on to to win the NCAA championship  in 1984 for Penn State.

   Bob Dierna (5-1-3-4-2) became a rare five-time state place-winner and finished with an impressive 214-17 overall record.
In Division II, Lansing freshman William Koll (38-1) clamped his opponent and won the 103-pound weight class. He is the son of Cornell coach Rob Koll. Blue chipper Nick Gwiazdowski  finished the year with a perfect 50-0 mark and pinned 43 foes and received 7 forfeit victories. In essence, he pinned everyone of his opponents this year and in the state championships needed only 8 minutes and 12 seconds in four bouts en route to the 215-pound crown. He will take his mat skills to Binghamton next season. After 30 years of coaching, Hudson Falls' George Chickanis (364 dual meet victories) finally got his first state champion when Luke Albrecht used a snap/spin takedown with ten seconds remaining in his bout to defeat Holley's Kacee Sauer, 2-1, and captured the 285-pound crown. It was Chickanis last match as a coach, as he will retire after the season to spend more time with his family.

     In Divsion I, Shenendehowa amassed 83.5 points to finish ahead of Fox Lane (66), John Glenn (63), St. Anthony's (60) and Chenango Forks (57) to claim the invididual team title. The Division II team winner was Palmyra-Macedon with 70.5 points. The combined record of the Division I champions was 617 victories and 28 losses. Some thoughts for future state championships-put all contestants in both Div. I and Div. II in a single 32-man bracket, and place out to the top eight in each weight class, along with four All-State honorable mention awards. Only three states have single classifications for their state championships: California, Indiana and New Jersey. The 2012 NYSPHSAA State Tournament is scheduled for the weekend of February 24th and 25th...
By Jim & Tony Nordland
Times Union Center
Joe Kavanagh