Seaford’s Ashley Diaz after pinning Pine Brook’s Brooke Tarshis in...

Seaford’s Ashley Diaz after pinning Pine Brook’s Brooke Tarshis in 5:05 in 120-pound final on Friday, Jan. 27, 2021. Credit: Bryan Bennett

SYRACUSE — At the first state girls wrestling invitational, Long Island was well-represented.

Thirty-three LIers took part in the tournament and three walked out with gold.

Mepham’s Yianna Foufas, Seaford’s Ashley Diaz and Alexandra Viera of Rocky Point each took first place at the unofficial state public schools championships late Friday night at SRC Arena and Events Center.

In the 114-pound final, Foufas struggled in a grueling bout with Teegan Sibble of Bolivar-Richburg. The match was scoreless for the first 5:44, but Foufas stayed calm.

The junior managed a reversal with 16 seconds remaining and refused to relinquish her control for a 2-0 decision.

Mepham's Yianna Foufas stands on the podium after winning the...

Mepham's Yianna Foufas stands on the podium after winning the 114-pound finals at the 2022-23 NYSPHSAA Girls Wrestling Invitational Tournament at SRC Arena in Syracuse, N.Y. on Friday. Credit: Bryan Bennett

“I was surprised with myself that I got that reversal,” Foufas said. “It was just about not giving up. I could’ve quit and it still would’ve been 0-0 and we would’ve gone to overtime. All I needed to do was go behind her and I got my two points.”

Two weeks earlier, Foufas defeated Sibble in the final round of the Eastern States Classic via 3-2 decision in sudden victory.

“She’s very strong. She goes for a lot of upper-body moves and I knew that going into it,” Foufas said.

Foufas secured two pins earlier in the tournament and earned a 3-1 decision in the semifinals.

Diaz found herself in a tight battle with Brooke Tarshis (Pine Bush) at 120 pounds. Tied at 2 entering the third period, Diaz wasted no time getting ahead.

The junior earned an escape 23 seconds into the period before scoring a takedown with an underhook throw and finished it off with a pin a 5:05. Having scored on a throw and on a double-legged takedown earlier, Diaz popped up from the mat smiling from ear to ear.

“I’m not confident in throws or doubles, but I hit a double today and I had a nice throw for the pin,” Diaz said. “I was just really happy and impressed with myself.”

Right before Diaz (23-15) scored the final takedown, it looked as if Tarshis was about to score her own takedown.  

“She’s really good at throws and she thought she was going to win because she had her hips locked in, but it was like I was back at practice with my coaches and I shifted my hips and was able to hit that throw,” said Diaz, who pinned all four of her opponents in the tournament.

At 126 pounds, Viera was in control from the opening whistle. Viera pinned Newfane’s Alexa Doxey in 2:51 after taking a 5-0 lead into the second period.

“She went for a half nelson, but I managed to flip and get on top of her for the pin,” Viera said.

Rocky Point’s Alexandra Viera on the podium after winning via...

Rocky Point’s Alexandra Viera on the podium after winning via pin in the 126-pound final on Friday, Jan. 27, 2021. Credit: Bryan Bennett

Viera (26-7) dominated the weight class throughout the tournament, earning a pin in all four rounds.

“There’s still more tournaments for me to wrestle in, but it’s crazy that this is an opportunity that I actually won. I’m still in shock,” Viera said.

Nine other Long Island wrestlers placed in the tournament, including Islip’s Mora Peterson and Valley Stream North’s Naomi Gonzalez, who earned second place at 107 and 235 pounds, respectively.

Gabriella Schechtman (Bellmore JFK), Gabrielle Severin (Bethpage), Ava Zucker (Jericho), Honesty Tricoche and Lineth Rivera (Bay Shore), Cadence Howard (Bellport) and Ava Capogna (Rocky Point) also placed.

While no final decisions on the tournament’s future have been made, Todd Nelson, the state coordinator for girls wrestling, expects to hold another invitational tournament next year before having the first official state championship in 2025.

“I think we need the time to do it right,” Nelson said. “We don’t want to rush anything.”

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