ALBANY - This wrestling season has been a grind for senior Shakur Rasheed. Longwood's defending state champion missed most of the regular season after arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a meniscus. A torn labrum in the Suffolk League I Tournament also threatened his path to another state wrestling crown.
Nonetheless, there was the undefeated Rasheed putting on a clinic for the capacity crowd at the Times-Union Center Saturday night in his final high school bout. Rasheed dominated Columbia's Angelo Kress, nearly pinning the senior on three occasions, on his way to a 13-0 win and the 160-pound championship.
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Sitting on a trainer's table and accepting congratulations, Rasheed reflected on the injuries that could have derailed his run to the state crown. His second straight undefeated season and second consecutive state title had him fired up.
"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 laughed. "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 also excited that he performed in front of his future college coach Cael Sanderson of Penn State, who sat in the crowd and watched the soon to be member of the Nittany Lions. He also had plenty more to smile about as he was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
"I'm so psyched about Penn State," Rasheed said. "This is how I wanted my high school career to end."
Rasheed (19-0) was one of five Division I state champions from Suffolk, which won the team title for the sixth year in a row and the 22nd crown overall.
Ward Melville's Nick Piccininni (45-0) earned his third straight state title. Piccininni went out against Suffolk rival Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip and produced a solid 3-0 win for the 120-pound crown. The bout was a rematch of the Suffolk title bout. Piccininni ran his winning streak to 133 matches.
Eastport-South Manor senior Travis Passaro followed Piccininni's win with a last second victory. Passaro (50-0) used a switch in the waning seconds of his 126-pound bout with Ossining's Alex Delacruz for a 3-2 win. Passaro's brother Maverick also won the 126-pound state title -- he did it in 2012.
Passaro hit the well-timed move, then held down Delacruz for the sudden win. "It was a wild and crazy ending," said Eastport-South Manor coach Nick Garone. "He fell behind by a point and then hit the big move. What a way to win a state title."
Hauppauge sophomore Chris Mauriello outpointed Said Kakhramonov of New Utrecht, 6-3, to capture the 132-pound state title. Mauriello (48-1) won four bouts by decision to win the crown.
Sachem East senior Mark Tracy (41-2) hit a five-point move midway through the third period to beat top-seeded Brett Perry of John Jay-East Fishkill, 8-2, to win the 182-pound state title. Tracy had split two bouts earlier this season with Perry.