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Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017: Suffolk County advances 23 wrestlers to semis

   Leading off today: Section 11 advanced 17 competitors to the Division I semifinals and Section 3 accomplished the same feat in Division II during Friday's opening day of the NYSPHSAA wrestling tournament in Albany.

   Section 11 also advanced six Division II wrestlers, giving Suffolk County 23 competitors still in the running for championships at the Times Union Center. Seventeen teams will begin Saturday's action with multiple semifinalists.

   In Division I, Hilton, John Glenn, Monroe-Woodbury and Niagara-Wheatfield each qualified trios of semifinalists. In Division II, Central Valley Academy and Mattituck advanced four wrestlers apiece and Alexander three.

   Mattituck, seldom hurting for talent on the mat, had a pleasant surprise on the opening day of the torunament. James Hoeg was a fourth-place finisher in Albany a year ago and wrestled primarily at 182 pounds or "whatever the team needed" this season, but he qualified for the state meet at 195. The senior recorded two technical fall victories in the second period to reach the semis.

   Teammates Luke Bokina (120), Jack Bokina (126) and top-seeded Tanner Zagarino (220) also advanced in Division II.    Junior Jon Charles, who won at 99 pounds a year ago, is this year’s top seed at 106 and scored a pin and a major decision in his first two matches to lead the Central Valley Academy contingent. Teammates Mason Bush (98), Hunter Shaut (138) and Tanner Cook (145) also moved on.

   Despite its Division II enrollment numbers, John Glenn competes in the large-school division. It's trio of stars did the program proud.

   "D-I states, that's really it," 170-pound senior Zach Ancewicz told Newsday. "No disrespect to Division II but we all wanted to wrestle Division I."

   Ancewicz improved to 32-0 with decisions over Long Beach's Joe Giorlando and Hilton's Sammy DePrez. His takedown in the final 15 seconds broke a 3-3 tie with DePrez.

   Ancewicz, who's competing in his first state meet, admitted the size of the arena did intimidate him at first.

   "I actually walked out yesterday and looked up and was like, 'Whoa,'" he said. "I felt dizzy. I didn't feel good ... It's a different world. ... There's a lot of people here. It's nerve-wracking."

   Glenn's Joe Franzese (182) and Damien Caffrey (220) also advanced.

   One of Saturday's Division I 220-pound semis will bring together two of Friday's surprise stories -- Mason Hoose of Canisius and Zach Knighton-Ward of Uniondale, both unseeded.

   Hoose knocked off the No. 1 seed Ryan Ellefson of Goshen in the opening round via a 7-5 decision, then took out eighth-seeded Jason Cunningham of Brighton by a 12-3 score.

   Knighton-Ward pinned No. 4 Halil Gecaj of John Jay Cross River in 1:01 in the opening round before earning a 4-2 decision over No. 5 Caleb Null of Carthage in the quarterfinals by riding out his opponent for nearly three minutes.

   "I'm just really excited, but the job's not done yet," said Knighton-Ward, a senior who is 41-0 this season and appearing in his first state meet. "I still have two more matches to win to get a state title."

   Said coach Tim Godoy: "He wrestles like a lightweight, and it's paying him dividends up here."

   More wrestling: You can view the brackets through the semifinals and the team scoring here.

   Coach replaced: Elmira's girls basketball team will finish its season without fifth-year coach Jake Dailey, the school district announced Friday.

   A release from district AD Tom Morrell cited only "an internal matter" as the reason Dailey is being replaced by JV coach A'Don Allen, The Star-Gazette reported. Allen has been coaching recent varsity practices.

   Elmira (17-2) has not played since losing to Seton Catholic Central 72-57 in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference West championship game Feb. 10. The Express begins Section 4 Class AA play Tuesday vs. Ithaca.

   Elmira is ranked 18th in Class AA this week by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

   More to come: I wanted to get this blog posted in order to catch up on Friday's wrestling action. I'll be back a little later on Saturday to recap action in basketball, hockey and track.

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