Long Island crowns 10 champions
By Jim & Tony Nordland

Section Eleven (Suffolk County) won the 51st annual NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships before 5,638 fans at the Times Union Center in Albany. The navy blue-clad contingent tallied a record 312 points to finish ahead of team runner-up Section Eight (Nassau County) who amassed 225 points. Long Island wrestling showed its dominance as they garnered ten individual state champions, had seven other finalists and totaled an impressive 38 placewinners.

Suffolk crowned seven champions and were led by two-time titlist Nick Piccininni (43-0, 141-3 career) and junior Corey Rasheed (34-0). Piccininni, a sophomore, soundly defeated two-time state king Kyle Kelly (35-1) of Chenango Forks as he scored with his low single leg takedowns and a series of tilts and rolled to a 14-4 major decision at 113. For his efforts he was voted the tournament's outstanding wrestler award. Four time state placer Rasheed (2-5-2-1) hit a quick fireman's carry takedown and then applied his patented cross/face cradle to pin previously unbeaten Chris Koo (41-1) of GNS at 152 pounds, and earned his 200th career victory.

     Suffolk other winners were
TJ Fabian (51-1) of SWR who pinned his opponent with a tight half nelson at 126, Matt Leshinger (45-1, 155-26) of Sayville posted four solid decisions en route to the 132-pound crown, Tyler Grimaldi (41-1) of Hills West at 160, tough Carlos Toribio (43-1) of Brentwood at 170 and unbeaten Mike Hughes (42-0, 31 pins) of Smithtown West who tossed his foe for a pin at the 2:30 mark in his 285-pound bout.

     Nassau was paced by
Dan Choi (46-2) of Syosset who upset top-seeded Reggie Williams (Johnson City), 14-4, in the quarterfinals and coasted to the 195-pound gold medal. Also earning titles were Kyle Quinn (37-2) of Wantagh and junior Louis Hernandez (51-1, 105-10) of Mepham. Quinn defeated top-seeded Alex Tanzman (Westhampton Beach) in the 106 final and Hernandez hit a double leg takedown with 20 seconds remaining in his bout for an exciting 4-2 victory at 145 pounds.

     Also earning state crowns were
Yianni Diakomihalis (51-0) of Hilton, he edged Syosset's Vito Arujau (47-1), 3-2, on an overtime ride-out at 99, Alex Delacruz (38-3) of Ossining at 120, three-time state placer Nick Kelley (41-1, 251-19) ) of Shenendehowa at 138,  Shayne Brady (36-1) of Carthage at 182 and junior Rich Sisti (29-0) of Monsignor Farrrell at 220 pounds.

     In the
Division II Tournament, Section Five (Rochester) edged Section Six (Buffalo), 230 points to 225. That section crowned two champions, Warsaw's Burke Paddock (55-1) pinned all four opponents and cruised to the 160-pound title and unbeaten Zack Bacon (37-0) of Hornell won the 220-pound class. Other Div. II standouts included three-time winner Nick Tighe (51-3, 255-30) of Phoenix at 138, he was voted the OSW Award along with a pair of two-time champions, William Koll (46-3) of Lansing at 126 and Zack Zupan (46-2, 211-23) of Canastota at 182 pounds. Renaldo Rodriguez Spencer (126)  became Cheektowaga's first state champion, he finished at 47-0. Long Island had three Div. II wrestlers earn All-State honors; Matteo DeVincenzo (2nd at 99) of Port Jefferson and Locust Valley teammates, Nick Casella (2nd at 113) and sophomore Sam Ward who finished fifth at 132 pounds.

Mat Notes...
The state leader in sectional team titles is Section Eleven with 21. They now have 159 NYS champions followed by Section Four (Binghamton) with 144 and Section Eight has 111 individual winners. Mepham now has 11 state champions which is tops in Nassau, Wantagh now has 10 winners. Huntington is both Suffolk's and the state leader with 25 individual champions. Matt Leshinger became the second wrestler from Sayville to win a state crown. The other champion was Pete Yozzo (1983) who won a NCAA title at Lehigh University.
     Two wrestlers that earned state titles were coached by former state champions, Piccininni's coach, Bill DeSario (was a 1964 champ from Mepham), and Grimaldi is coached by Mike Patrovich (a 2001 champ out of Islip). Harvard-bound Tyler Grimaldi (189-20 career) became Hills West's first state champion.TJ Fabian (195-24 career) became the sixth wild card entrant to win a state tiltle from Long Island, the others were Kyle Wade (Islip), John Glenn's James Dekrone and Nick Bellanza, along with Evan Kappatos (Syosset) and Sean McCabe from Connetquot. The Paddock Family has won a total of six state titles, Ian was a three-time champion and Paul won two titles, and Burke is only a junior.
Wantagh (18-0) was the number #1 mat squad in the state and captured the Division I individual team title with 83.5 points.The Warriors had four All-State matmen, the aforementioned Quinn, Vinny Turano (4th at 138), two-time state placer Dan McDevitt (42-1, 167-53) who won five bouts to earn 3rd place at 170 and finalist James Corbett (40-3) who dropped a tough overtime match at 182 pounds. Midlakes was the Division II winner with 72.5 points.
   The combined record of the Division I champions was an unbelievable mark of 631 victories and only 14 defeats. Only five champions remained unbeaten, Diakomihalis, Piccininni, Rasheed, Sisti and Hughes.The 2014 NYS Tournament is scheduled for February 28th & March 1st.
Wantagh Team Champions
William Koll
Carlos Toribio
Louis Hernandez
Matt Leshinger
Nick Piccininni
Corey Rasheed