It's hard to win a Suffolk wrestling championship. It's even harder when you have to wrestle your best friend in the final.
Such was the case in Sunday night's 99-pound title when sophomores Anthony Sparacio of North Babylon and Tom Cox of Deer Park opened the Suffolk wrestling championships with a stirring match in front of 5,500 fans at Mack Arena at Hofstra University.
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Sparacio earned the win with a takedown in the first overtime for a 6-4 victory. The two embraced after the exhausting bout that had the capacity crowd on its feet.
"It's really tough when you have to wrestle a guy you practice with every day," Sparacio said. "We knew we'd meet in the final. We go hunting, fishing, basically do everything together. So it's crazy."
Sparacio became North Babylon's first county champion since Chris Parris won the 189-pound title in 2002.
The Suffolk tournament was loaded with terrific finishes. Sachem North's Matt Stallone used a takedown with five seconds left for a dramatic 6-5 win over Anthony Cirillo of Rocky Point at 106 pounds.
Whitman's Vin Feola used a takedown with 32 seconds left for an 8-7 win over Craig Hinrichs of Islip for the title at 220 pounds. It was somewhat of a redemption match for Whitman, who saw Joe Calderone fall in a crushing overtime defeat at 113 pounds to Huntington's defending Suffolk champion John Arceri. Leading 2-0, Calderone was hit with three stalling calls late in the third period to tie the score at 2 and force OT. Arceri nailed a neat takedown for the 4-2 win early in OT.
Ward Melville's Nick Piccininni beat East Islip's Jesse Dellavecchia, 8-0, for the 126-pound crown, his fourth straight Suffolk title, and extended his win streak to 131 in a row. The two-time state champion is 41-0 this season.
Defending state champ Shakur Rasheed pinned Matt Porrello of Glenn in 41 seconds to win the 160-pound title. He pinned all four opponents in the tournament. He set the record for most pins in the least amount of time in the 75-year history of the tournament with four pins in 2:12. He was also named the champion of champions.
Eastport-South Manor crowned two champions. Jimmy Leach earned the 138-pound crown with a 4-3 win over Amityville's Eduardo Ramirez. Leach was joined by teammate Travis Passaro, who won his second Suffolk title, with a 3-1 win over Commack's Mike D'Angelo.
Sachem East's Mark Tracy won by major decision over Deer Park's David Hamil, 11-3, at 182 pounds. The win clinched the second straight team title for the Flaming Arrows with 141.5 points. Teammate Jakob Restrepo beat top-seeded Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point, 6-3, to claim the 145-pound crown. His father, Carlos, won the Suffolk crown in 1997 at Brentwood at 103 pounds and earned the most outstanding wrestler. Restrepo, like father, like son, also garnered the MOW award.
Glenn had All-Suffolk wrestlers to score 139 points and finish second in the team scoring. Glenn sophomore Edwin Rubio won by pin in overtime over Hauppauge's James Louison in 6:22 to punctuate a wildly exciting tournament.