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Sunday, March 2, 2014: Highlights from the state wrestling meet in Albany

   Leading off today: Shakur Rasheed made the most out of a very short season.

   Slowed by arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a meniscus and then nearly derailed by a torn labrum in his league tournament, the Longwood senior carried a modest 15-0 record into the NYSPHSAA wrestling tournament in Albany this weekend.

   Wrestling in front of his future college coach, Cael Sanderson of Penn State, Rasheed walked away with his second state championship. He dominated Columbia's Angelo Kress 13-0 in the 160-pound championship match to cap a painful season with the Division I most outstanding wrestler award.

   "We joked at my house that I didn't want to be Boobie Miles from 'Friday Night Lights,' who's promising athletic career ended with a knee injury," Rasheed told Newsday. "This is a tough sport for tough guys. And you have to work through some injuries. This has been a difficult season but I got through it."

   Rasheed was one of six individual champs from Section 11 as Suffolk County matched Sections 4, 5 and 8 for most trips to the top of the podium in the two-day meet. Among the other Section 11 champs was Ward Melville's Nick Piccininni, who earned his third straight state title by beating East Islip's Jesse Dellavecchia for the Division I 120-pound title. In doing so, Piccininni ran his winning streak to 133 matches.

   Longwood, Norwich and Hilton each produced a pair of champions.

   One of Norwich's two champs was Tristan Rifanburg, not a stranger to the land of state titles -- just an infrequent visitor who keeps on battling.

   Rifanburg's Division II 138-pound championship was his first title since 2010, when he became the state's first seventh-grader to win it all. He was a runner-up the past twice in the past three seasons and decisioned Central Valley Academy's Laken Cook 7-1 in Saturday's final.

   "It (took) four years, but it's awesome," he told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "I've been training all year for this moment."

   In the semifinals, Rifanburg avenged his only loss of the season when he beat Locust Valley's Sam Ward 5-0.

   Hilton brothers Vincent (145 pounds), Anthony (152) and Louie Deprez (138) placed first, second and third, respectively in Division I. The Cadets' other victor was freshman Yianni Diakomihalis, who scored an 11-2 decision over Peter Pappas of Plainview JFK in the Division I final at 106 pounds. It ran Diakomihalis' record over the past two seasons to 94-0.

More N.Y. postseason coverage
All sports
NYSSWA site for brackets of tournaments from the past and present seasons. Boys basketball
Road to Glens Falls for scores and stats.
NYSPHSAA tourney brackets
Current state rankings.
Girls basketball
Road to Troy for scores and stats.
NYSPHSAA tourney brackets
Current state rankings.
Ice hockey
NYSSWA site for tournament brackets.
Current state rankings.

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   "Yianni, I think he was a lot more relaxed out there this year, and he allowed himself to have a lot more fun out there," third-year Hilton coach Craig Gross told the Democrat and Chronicle.

   Diakomihalis has a shot at three more state titles. While that would certainly be a huge achievement, it would put him two behind Warsaw's Paddock brothers. Senior Burke Paddock capped his scholastic career with his second straight title and the family's seventh overall.

   The University of Iowa recruit defeated Ryan Marszal of Unatego 9-1 in the 170 final. The Division II most outstanding wrestler ended his career with 304 wins, breaking the state record of 302 by Holley's Quinton Murphy in 2012.

   In other action, Lansing senior William Koll won the Division II 132-pound final for his third championship. The son of Cornell coach Rob Koll previously triumphed in 2011 (96 pounds) and 2013 (126).

   The full brackets and results (in PDF format) for Division I and Division II are available by following the respective links.

   More to come: It's been a long day, capping a long weekend, but I'll be back later with Saturday highlights from other championship action including basketball, hockey, swimming and indoor track.

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