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Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017: Teemer, Arujau secure fourth state wrestling titles

   Leading off today: Something that had never happened once in Nassau County wrestling history happened twice in barely 10 minutes Saturday as Jacori Teemer and Vito Arujau each became a four-time NYSPHSAA Championships titlist.

   Teemer, a Long Beach junior, edged Mike Venosa of Victor 1-0 to win the Division I 132-pound crown at the Times Union Center. Arujau, a Syosset senior with 216 career wins and five trips to the finals, beat Hauppauge's Jake Silverstein 8-3 for the 138-pound title. Their efforts were part of a 6-for-6 performance by Section 8 wrestlers in the finals.

   "I was actually having some anxiety and nervous about this final," said Teemer, who has a career record of 170-5. "I was breathing heavy and I knew it wasn't going to be easy."

   Section 5 had a trio of three-time champions by evening's end. Frankie Gissendanner (Penfield, Div. I, 145), Louie DePrez (Hilton, Div. I, 182) and Dane Heberlein (Alexander, Div. II, 132).

   Gissendanner and Heberlein had dominating weekends, winning by pin, technical fall and major decision to reach finals, where Gissendanner defeating Shenendehowa sophomore Kiernan Shannon 7-2 and Heberlein downed Fredonia's Hector Colom 7-3.

   "I won all of my positionings," Gissendanner told the Democrat and Chronicle. "I got my takedowns when there was an opening."

   DePrez finished his season with a 49-0 mark in helping the Cadets win the Division I scoring race.

   The three-time champions were part of a performance that saw Section 5 take home a total of eight championships. None was more wild than the Division II final at 99 pounds. Honeoye Falls-Lima freshman Anthony Noto trailed 4-2 in the second period against Center Moriches eight-grader Jordan Titus, rallied with an escape and takedown and went to overtime, where Noto registered a pin.

   Hilton and Alexander were two of the four schools to crown a pair of champions. The others were Division II squads from Central Valley Academy and Mattituck, which captured its first two individual crowns -- James Hoeg at 195 pounds and Tanner Zagarino at 220.

   Hunter Shaut (138), a sophomore who defeated three higher seeds over the weekend, and Tanner Cook (145) of Central Valley Academy helped their school to the Division II team title with 110 points.

   Perseverance: Fans and media are never lacking for great stories to follow at the state meet, where there are few if any easy matches.

   One of the better success stories of the weekend was Plainview JFK senior Peter Pappas, who was twice a runner-up and then missed the tournament as a junior due to an injury. Down to his last chance and competing in a loaded 152-pound division, the Edinboro recruit captured his first state crown by decisioning Matt Grippi of Fox Lane 7-3.

   Pappas was overwhelmed with emotion and collapsed on the mat after the final buzzer.

   "Once I hit the last takedown, it hit me immediately that I was a state champ," Pappas told Newsday after capping a 39-0 season. "It's all I've ever wanted. I got beat in the finals twice and missed the states with a shoulder injury as a junior. This was my last chance."

    • Monroe-Woodbury senior Kendall Elfstrum pulled off a great comeback. Elfstrum trailed Simon Chee on Benjamin Cardozo 5-1 entering the third period of the Division I 195-pound final and was still behind 7-5 in the final 30 seconds. He kept pushing the pace and forced two stalling points on Chee, the latter coming with :07 to go to force overtime, where he completed the comeback with a takedown 33 seconds later for a 9-7 victory.

   The victory capped a 19-0 season for Elfstrum, who didn't make his debut until Jan. 18 because of a back injury.

   "You are not done until the clock expires," Monroe-Woodbury coach John Gartiser told The Times Herald-Record. "He's a kid that doesn't give up."

   More data: Syosset's Arujau was selected the outstanding wrestler of the Division I meet. Schuylerville 120-pounder Orion Anderson garnered the Division II honor.

   You can check out the full brackets plus team and sectional scoring in our reference section.

   Following up: Mack Beggs, the 17-year-old transgender boy competing in the Texas girls state wrestling tournament, completed a perfect season with a win in the 110-pound weight class.

   The Euless Trinity junior beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 to improve to 56-0 for the season. Beggs fell to his knees for a moment after his win as a mixture of cheers and boos rained down on him. He then hugged his coach and left the mat.

   Beggs, who reached the state tournament after two opponents forfeited, was the subject of criticism from those who believe the testosterone he's taking as he transitions from female to male created an unfair advantage.

   His family has said he would rather be wrestling boys, but state policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates. The University Interscholastic League, which oversees athletics in Texas public schools, enacted the birth certificate policy Aug. 1.

   The UIL treated Beggs just like any other wrestler at the meet, but UIL Executive Deputy Director Jamey Harrison expressed displeasure at the fact that one out of 768 wrestlers had the media's focus on Saturday.

   "It's a shame that 767 aren't getting that much attention," Harrison said.

   Harrison said he didn't anticipate the rule changing due to superintendents voting 95 percent in favor of it last year.

   More to come: We'll be back later Sunday with more news and notes from Saturday action around the state.

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