Luke Janosko of Wantagh makes the key pin at 1...

Luke Janosko of Wantagh makes the key pin at 1 minute and 41 seconds into the match against Sean Napoli of MacArthur to Wantagh back in the lead at 33-28 during the Nassau Division I wrestling dual meet championship on Saturday in Jericho. Credit: Dawn McCormick

As a trip to the state championships hung in the balance, a furious rally suddenly put the undefeated Wantagh wrestling team’s dream season in jeopardy.

With only two matches remaining, it was up to Luke Janosko in the 160-pound class to get his team back on track.

"I knew I could do it," Janosko said. "I don’t like getting nervous and just keep it in my head. I like to say I’m like ice cold and chill all the time. I knew I’d go out there and get the victory."

And that ice cold approach paid almost immediate dividends.

Trailing by one with only two matches remaining, Janosko pinned Mark Napoli in 1 minute, 49 seconds to regain the lead before Ben Rogers closed out the victory at 172 pounds by defeating Allan Fernandez by technical fall to give No. 1 Wantagh a late 38-28 win over No. 2 MacArthur in the 43rd Nassau Division I Dual Meet tournament at Jericho on Saturday afternoon.

"Everything I do, I do for my team," Rogers said. "I knew we needed a win and I wanted to finish off in dramatic fashion."

Wantagh (29-0) won the tournament for the ninth time and advances to the Dual Meet State Championships at SRC Arena and Events Center in Syracuse on Jan. 29, looking to win the program’s first state title since 2018.

"We just need to stick to what we’re doing and not change anything," Janosko said. "Just keep working."

Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie said: "I always tell them to take one meet and one match at a time. That’s what I’m going to tell them. We go upstate and don’t look ahead and don’t lose focus. Just take on the task that’s in front of us."

Wantagh seized control with a 27-13 advantage before MacArthur (15-1) staged a late rally of three consecutive victories, putting the Generals ahead 28-27 entering the final two matches.

"We tried not to let our emotions get the best of us," Rogers said. "We just wanted to stay calm there and get back into it during the next match."

It was then on Janosko to recapture the momentum, which also meant it was time to break out his special finishing "chalice" move.

"I practice this move a lot," Janosko said. "I hit it on him once and he flipped back over. And then, boom, stuck him on his back and I was able to pin him from there."

"That was an unbelievable move," Gillespie said. "That solidified the match. We lose that one and we’d have to get a pin to win."

Moments later, Rogers booked Wantagh’s ticket upstate.

"Benny was phenomenal," Gillespie said. "It was a great thing to see what these kids have been able to do since the beginning of the year."

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