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Sunday, March 1, 2015: State wrestling championships recap

   Leading off today: Ward Melville senior Nick Piccininni became the second wrestler in Long Island history to win four NYSPHSAA wrestling championships, defeating St. Anthony's senior Ben Lamantia 3-1 to claim the Division I 126-pound title Saturday in Albany.

   Shoreham-Wading River's Jesse Jantzen was the first Long Island star to achieve the feat, capping his career in 2000. The most recent of the state's five previous four-time champs was Peru's Arik Robinson in 2011, and Troy Nickerson of Chenango Forks (2001-2005) is the only five-timer.

   "It's special, really special," Piccininni told Newsday. "I was actually nervous before the final match of my career. But I settled down and wrestled a good match."

   Said coach Bill DeSario: "This is a kid that comes around once in a lifetime and really touches a lot of souls. He's community-oriented, he's a leader in school and driven to succeed in everything he touches."

   Piccininni, who'll head to Oklahoma State in the fall, finishes with a record of 225-5, including a 169-match win streak that was snapped last month due to an injury forfeit.

   Teammate Christian Araneo took the 195 title. It was a stellar day in general for Suffolk County, with 12 wrestlers reaching the Division I finals and seven ascending to the top of the podium.

   The Division I outstanding wrestler award went to Hilton sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis, who nailed down his third straight state championship by pinning Plainview sophomore Peter Pappas with seven seconds remaining in the 120 final at Times Union Center. He won all 49 of this matches for the season to improve to 178-3 for his career.

   Hilton classmate Louie DePrez also triumphed, winning at 160 pounds.

   Section 3 had its best year since 2008, winning five championships -- all in Division II and advancing 11 to the finals, led by Mexico champions Theo Powers at 113 pounds and senior Jacob Woolson at 182. Teammate Trevor Allard, who won Mexico's first state title last year at 160, lost to Peru senior Jordan Bushey in the 170-pound title match.

   Holland Patent also had two individual champions in sophomore Hunter Richard (138) and junior Alex Herringshaw (160), who won last year at 145. Also doubling up were Section 8's Locust Valley (Jon Gomez at 106 and Nick Casella at 132) and Section 4's Norwich (Tristan Rifanburg at 145 and Frank Garcia at 152).

   Rifanburg's championship was his third, and Garcia was also a 2014 champ. Both are heading to Binghamton University in the fall.

   "It's unbelievable," Norwich coach Terry Hagenbuch said of his two seniors. "I said last year was a good ride but ...


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  • those two guys are something else. If you have a son you'd want him to be like them."

       Rifanburg won three of his four weekend matches by technical fall.

       "It's obviously a big stress relief, it's all finished now," Rifanburg said. "The third (title) was probably the best one, less stressful."

       Peru's Bushey was named Division II's outstanding wrestler after his 12-4 win over the top-seeded Allard.

       Wrestling at 160 pounds a year ago, Bushey placed fifth in Albany.

       "Last year, I was thinking I was going to be in the finals and ended up losing in the semis," he said. "I'm just happy I just got the chance to win in the finals this year against the returning state champ."

       A nice round number: Jimmy Overhiser, a senior from Lansing, earned his 200th career victory by downing former state champ Derek Spann of Adirondack in the Division II 120-pound final. Spann carried a 58-0 season record into the match.

       Results: View the complete Division I and Division II wrestling brackets (in PDF format) in our reference section.

       Attendance note: Attendance for the two days of wrestling was 12,981, the highest total since 2009.

       More to come: We'll return later Sunday with more recaps, including the state swimming and gymnastics championships.

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