Mattituck sophomore Tanner Zagarino knew he was in a bind. His opponent was much bigger and stronger and holding on to a three-point lead as time dwindled in their 170-pound championship bout at the North Fork Invitational in Mattituck.
"I thought I was the better wrestler but he was very strong," Zagarino said. "I had one last shot before time ran out."
Zagarino hit a beautiful five-point move, taking Riverhead's Raheem Brown to his back just before time expired to pull out a 10-8 title win Saturday, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. The ever-so-popular sophomore, who is also a model/actor, added another storybook ending in a life that seems to break his way.
"That's a million-dollar face," Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said. "He was fired up after that win. Tanner's been wrestling well and he has a very high ceiling."
Zagarino said it wouldn't be long before his 440,000 followers on Instagram get a view of his championship photo. And his 93,000 Twitter followers will also learn of his big comeback.
"It felt amazing to win like that," said Zagarino, whose music video with Alli Simpson has more than 9.6 million views. "My dad finished third in the state of Florida and he combined modeling with wrestling. I'm following the same path. I love it."
Mattituck's other super sophomore James Hoeg, who earned his 100th career win, edged Connetquot's John Lepak for the 160-pound crown as the Tuckers finished fifth in the team scoring.
The championship round belonged to Rocky Point, which crowned five of its seven finalists led by Long Island's all-time winningest wrestler Tom Dutton. The senior punctuated his tournament with his fourth straight pin in 1:36 over Connetquot's Eddie Hart at 145 pounds.
Perhaps the biggest upset in the finals came at 138 pounds, where Rocky Point's James Matias, who'd earned his 100th career win earlier in the tournament, was caught and pinned by West Babylon's Dashea Edwards in 1:13.
North Babylon ended Connetquot's streak of five straight wins at the North Fork Invitational, scoring 227.5 points for the team title. The Bulldogs had two champions in Anthony Sparacino at 106 and Anthony Sobotker at 120. Rocky Point had 217 points.
"We had 12 wrestlers in the tournament and nine of them placed," Rocky Point coach Darren Goldstein said. "I'm very pleased with our effort and the results."