Meet those selected to Newsday's All-Long Island wrestling team for the 2012-13 season.
LI WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: NICK PICCININNI
Ward Melville, 113, Sophomore, 43-0
Can Piccininni become the second wrestler in LI history to go undefeated as a high school student? Shoreham-WR's Jesse Jantzen did it from 1997-2000. Piccininni extended his streak to 90 wins by beating defending champion Kyle Kelley of Chenango Forks, 14-4, for the 113-pound state title. The win avenged Piccininni's last loss - as an eighth-grader to Kelley. Piccininni earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award in the state tournament . Piccininni, who has a career record of 142-3, would like to become the second LI wrestler to win four state crowns.
NASSAU WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: DAN CHOI
Syosset, 195, Senior, 47-2
He rose to the top of the 195-pound weight class and it went through top-seeded Reggie Williams of Johnson City. Choi, a slick wrestler with great athleticism, dominated Williams from the neutral position and took a 14-4 quarterfinal win. It was one of four decisions in his state title run, including a 7-3 win over Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa in the final.
Wantagh, 106, Junior, 36-2
Quinn used a solid wall of defense to make it nearly impossible to score on him through the county sectional and the state tournament. He won two bouts by fall and had two decisions, including a 7-1 win over Westhampton's Alex Tanzman, to earn the state title. He did not allow a takedown in the tournament.
Westhampton, 106, Senior, 35-2
Tanzman is a pinning machine, setting the Long Island record for pins in a season with 37 as a junior. He is a two-time Suffolk champion and two-time all-state wrestler. He took third in the state as a junior and was the state runnerup this season. He had a career record of 118-9.
Shoreham-Wading River, 126, Senior, 51-1
Won state title as a wild-card entrant. At states, two of his four victories came by fall. He pinned Keanu Thompson of Grand Street Campus in 5:51 for the title. Fabian, a three-time All-Suffolk wrestler, set a single season school record for wins.
Sayville, 132, Senior, 45-1
Leshinger is Sayville’s first state champion since Peter Yozzo in 1983. The two-time Suffolk champion and four-time All-County wrestler punctuated his high school career with a 4-2 win over Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam for the state crown. He is only the second wrestler in Sayville history to place at the state tournament twice.
Mepham, 145, Junior, 51-1
Hernandez used a late third-period takedown to earn a 4-2 win over Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster for the state crown. He won all four bouts by decision in the state tournament. He was a two-time Nassau champion and the first Mepham wrestler to win the state title since 1984, when Anthony Arena won at 138 pounds. Hernandez set a single-season school record with 51 wins.
Longwood, 152, Junior, 34-0
Rasheed had finished second in his previous state meets, but this year, he had two first-period pins, including one in 56 seconds over Great Neck South's Chris Koo for the state crown. Rasheed used his signature cradle for the fastest pin of the championship round. He has a 173-15 record and is the 11th state champion from Longwood.
Great Neck South, 152, Senior, 41-1
Koo's leadership qualities and determination to win the Nassau crown carried over into the state tournament where he marched into the finals. His 41-bout winning streak came to an end in the final but it didn't diminish one of the all-time greatest seasons at Great Neck South. He lost only one bout in each of the last two seasons. Koo is a three-time all-Nassau wrestler.
Half Hollow Hills West, 160, Senior, 41-1
He is Harvard-bound and with a state title to his already impressive resume. One year after losing in the state final, Grimaldi returned with a vengeance and stormed into the 160-pound championship where he defeated Steve Schneider of MacArthur, 9-3. He is the first wrestler from Half Hollow Hills West to win a state championship. He was also a three-time All-Suffolk wrestler.
Brentwood, 170, Senior, 43-1
Toribio was the comeback story of the wrestling season. A high ankle sprain made wrestling in the neutral position difficult but Toribio was able to ignore the injury and reach the state final where he edged St. Anthony's John Vrasidas, 4-3. Toribio avenged his only loss of the season in the Suffolk final with a 10-5 win over Joe Piccolo of Half Hollow Hills West.
Smithtown West, 285, Senior, 42-0
The gentle giant of Smithtown West won a state crown after he put the clamps on Austin Coleman of Spencerport for a pin in 2:30. He became the first wrestler in Smithtown West school history to win a state title. Known for his quick pinning ability, Hughes matted two opponents in the state tournament to cap an undefeated season. Hughes had 31 pins, eight wins by forfeit and only went the distance three times. He set a Suffolk tournament record when he recorded four pins in a total of 2:23, the fastest in the 74-year history of the sectional.
COACH OF THE YEAR: PAUL GILLESPIE
Gillespie in his second year as the head coach at Wantagh, has led the Warriors to a 40-0 dual meet record (18-0 this season), two straight Nassau dual meet titles, two consecutive state dual meet titles, and two straight Nassau tournament titles. The National Hall of Fame coach is Newsday/MSG Varsity's coach of the year for the second straight season.
Newsday's All-Long Island wrestling team for 2013
Front row, from left: Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach, Matt Leshinger, Sayville, T.J. Fabian, Shoreham-Wading River, Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville, Louis Hernandez, Mepham, Chris Koo, Great Neck South.
Back row, from left: Tyler Grimaldi, Half Hollow Hills West, Carlos Toribio, Brentwood, Dan Choi, Syosset, Michael Hughes, Smithtown West, Paul Gillespie, Wantagh, Coach of the Year.
VITO ARUJAU, 99, 8th, Syosset, state runnerup; NICK CASSELLA, 113, Soph., Locust Valley, state runnerup; CHRIS CHAMBERS, 195, Senior, East Islip, 3rd in state; JAMES CORBETT, 182, Senior, Wantagh, state runnerup (pictured); MATTEO DeVINCENZO, 99, Fr., Port Jeff, state runnerup; DAN McDEVITT, 170, Senior, Wantagh, 3rd in state; NICK LUPI, 220, Senior, Huntington, 3rd in state; STEVEN MILLS, 220, Senior, Sachem North, state runnerup; JAMES O'HAGAN, 285, Junior, Seaford, 3rd in state; GIO SANTIAGO, 182, Senior, Sachem North, 3rd in state; STEVEN SCHNEIDER, 160, Junior, MacArthur, state runnerup; JOHN VRADSIDAS, 170, Senior, St. Anthony's, state runnerup.