When word spread that LIU Post was reinstating its dormant wrestling program after 25 years, it caught the attention of football player Chris DiIorio.

Though DiIorio had become a stalwart on the Pioneers' defense as a linebacker, the Sachem East graduate still kept the memory of the end of his wrestling career in his mind.

"I lost my last match in high school and I thought this could be a way to go out and redeem myself," DiIorio said. "I want to end my career on a high note."

DiIorio is on his way to doing just that -- and also on his way to St. Louis for the Division II NCAA championships this weekend -- after winning the 197-pound title at the Super Region One championships March 1 at West Liberty University in West Virginia.

DiIorio, a senior, will be joined at the NCAA championship by LIU Post freshman and Whitman alum Joe Calderone, who finished fourth in the 133-pound bracket.

The fourth-seeded DiIorio knocked off the top two seeds in the bracket on his way to claiming the championship. Against No. 2 seed Chase Long of Ohio Valley he was able to escape with a 6-4 win in sudden victory.

"I'm confident on my feet and I knew I'd be able to get the takedown eventually," he said. "I worked to get the proper angle and set everything up to get the takedown and win the match."

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He faced top-seeded Tyler Richardson of East Stroudsburg in the finals and broke a 1-1 tie with a takedown with under 30 seconds remaining in the match. He held on to win, 3-2.

"In the finals I had a lot of shots but I just didn't finish them," DiIorio said. "I knew going into the last period that I was going to be able to finish one after I tried to wear him out."

Calderone, a two-time state place-winner in high school, reached the semifinals of the Super Region One and won a third-place match by pinning Kutztown's Travis Roper with two seconds remaining in the bout.

"I knew if I didn't win there was a possibility I wasn't going to nationals," Calderone said. "The match was insane -- the kid was tough and I left everything I had out there."

Both will be vying to be Post's first national champion since Richard Duffy won an NAIA title in 1963, according to coach Joe Patrovich.

"I think I have a good chance of winning," DiIorio said. "I'm just going to go one match at a time and hopefully I can win the whole thing."