Long Beach's Dunia Sibomana defeated Chenango Forks' Ryan Ferrara in the 102-pound final during the 2022 NYSPHSAA wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the MVP Arena in Albany, N.Y. Credit: Newsday / Video/William Perlman; Photo/J. Conrad Williams. Jr./Video/William Perlman; Photo/J. Conrad Williams. Jr.

ALBANY — Sibomania!

Dunia Sibomana is a state wrestling champion. The Long Beach eighth-grader pinned top-seeded Ryan Ferrara in 1:32 to capture the102-pound title at the New York State Division I wrestling championships at the MVP Arena.

Sibomana — who at six years old survived a chimpanzee attack in his native Congo — turned the crowd of more than 5,000 into ‘Sibomania’ when he turned his previously undefeated Chenango Forks opponent to his back for the first-period pin. The crowd rose in appreciation of Sibomana’s journey to the state crown. And after he had his hand raised, Sibomana proceeded to delight the crowd to celebrate with a cartwheel and a back flip.

"I was so excited, more than ever in my life," he said. "What a great moment for me, my coaches and my family. I did it."

Sibomana opened an early 2-0 lead when he countered Ferrara’s first takedown attempt. He overpowered Ferrara for the takedown and immediately put him to his back for a 4-0 lead.

"We saw something in the previous four bouts while scouting his opponent," Long Beach assistant coach Leo Palacio said. "And we thought Dunia could catch him in a cradle. And Dunia is a sponge and listens to what we tell him. He’s so coachable."

Sibomana locked up Ferrara in a tight cradle to become the 17th state champion in Long Beach’s storied program.

"He’s just super strong," Long Beach coach Ray Adams said. "And there was a calmness before the final. He was ready to do battle. Once he had the cradle, it was over. It’s overwhelming for all of us right now because we all know what he’s been through."

Sibomana beat the top two seeds on the final day of the tournament. He ousted second seed and previously undefeated Luke Satriano of Valley Central in a 9-3 semifinal win.

"He lost to him in middle school and got beaten up pretty bad in one of those," said his adopted father Miguel Rodriguez, who coaches Dunia on the Long Beach Middle School team. "But he told me this morning, ‘Coach, if I continue to move, I can take him.’ I knew he was ready for the big moment."

Sibomana seems ready for anything. He has beaten the odds to be here. When he was 6, playing just outside his village of Rutshuru in the jungle of the Virunga National Park, a vast animal preserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, a troop of chimpanzees attacked him and two family members. His brother and cousin were killed in the vicious attack.

Sibomana survived but was left with horrific, disfiguring injuries to his lips, ears and face. His right ear and facial muscles were gone and the middle finger on his left hand was bitten off. The attack made it difficult for him to speak or swallow.

"I’m already so proud of him," Rodriguez said. "I want this experience to motivate and help him strive for what he wants out of his life. He is such a beautiful boy."

Sibomana wasn’t the only Nassau wrestler to enjoy the big stage. Herricks sophomore Joe Manfredi earned 5-1 win over Hauppauge’s Mikey Manta (43-2) to capture the 110-pound title. Manfredi finished the season with a 53-0 record. He was the Highlanders first state champion since 2015 and fifth in the program’s history.

Top-seeded senior Jaden Scott of Rush-Henrietta decisioned Massapequa senior Anthony Conetta, 4-2, to win the 145-pound title. Conetta (47-3) had an impressive run to the state final from the 10th seed. He knocked out the seven, three and two seeds on his way to the big stage.

Wantagh senior Ben Rogers dropped a hard fought 9-5 decision to top seeded Rocco Camillaci of Hilton in the 152-pound final. Camillaci finished the season 42-0. Rogers had quite the run knocking the two and three seeds out of the tournament tin successive bouts.

"We’re very proud of Ben and what he’s accomplished," said Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie. "He battled there in the final against one of the best in the state."

Nassau finished third in the team scoring.

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