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Huntington's McQueen, McNeil take state crowns

Damon McQueen of Huntingtin celebrates his win over

Damon McQueen of Huntingtin celebrates his win over St. Anthony's Grant Greene after their 119 lb. match. (February 27, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Pat Orr

ALBANY - Damon McQueen's relationship with Grant Greene turned icy this season.

Not belligerent, but rather a cloak of guarded secrecy masking a mutual respect the two friends, who used to wrestle in Greene's Cold Spring Harbor basement, hold for one another.

"We used to talk all the time," said the Huntington senior who defeated Greene of St. Anthony's 9-7 in overtime of the 119-pound state final last night at the Times Union Center in Albany. "When we found out we were going the same weight this year, it was like a "what's up?" but that's it."

McQueen's double-leg takedown nine seconds into the extra period capped his comeback from deficits of 4-1 and 7-2 and gave Huntington state champs in back-to-back weight classes. Nigel McNeil earned an 11-2 major decision over Malik Rasheed of Longwood at 112 pounds in a rematch of the Suffolk final.

"O.T. is always my period," said McQueen, who finished the season 42-1. "I just had to keep pushing the pace. He's a hell of a wrestler. I have the most respect for Grant Greene."

So too did McQueen's boisterous band of believers for Greene. Ask anyone who's ever been to a Huntington match and they'll be able to mimic the voice of McQueen's aunt, Elaine Maddox, who screams her nephew's name before, during and after every match. His posse even wears shirts with an action shot of him screen-printed on it.

But after last night's match, all their love went to Greene, as they chanted his name and offered him congratulatory handshakes along the protective railing.

"His fans showed love to me," Greene said. "We were both warriors out there. It felt good, but terrible at the same time."

Greene (35-3) had his own healthy following in Albany, and it wasn't until he glanced up at his family that the emotions of losing really hit him.

"I feel like I let them down," he said. "After four years of training to give it up is a terrible feeling."

Greene opened the match on fire, taking McQueen down on a dump just 11 seconds into the match and again with 46 seconds left in the first period to make it 4-1. He was the aggressor, even jumping in on McQueen's leg just before the whistle blew knowing he would be given a caution. Said Greene: "In states, I try to hold my lead. It was dumb of me."

A reversal at the second-period buzzer, and an escape and a takedown to open the third from McQueen tied the match at 7 and he rode Greene out to force overtime.

McNeil, who the announcer mistakenly called "Miguel" in his introduction, had a much easier time with Rasheed, with three takedowns and two sets of near-fall points to finish an undefeated season (38-0). He and McNeil are Huntington's 24th and 25th state champions, the most in state history.

"I just wanted my name on the mat," McQueen said of Huntington's tradition of adding a star on its home mat for each state champ. "Our studs stick out."


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