Clockwise, from top left: Brayden Fahrbach of Mt. Sinai, Gavin...

Clockwise, from top left: Brayden Fahrbach of Mt. Sinai, Gavin Mangano of Shoreham-Wading River, Devin Downes of Plainedge, Joseph Clem of Wantagh, Greyson Meak of Cold Spring Harbor. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman; Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Brayden Fahrbach, Mount Sinai, 138, Sr.

Brayden Fahrbach never had a doubt about winning another state title.

The Mount Sinai senior was the top seed at 138 pounds in the Division II state tournament and following his win in the quarterfinals, he said he didn’t think anyone in his daunting weight class could beat him.

He was right.

Fahrbach claimed his second straight state wrestling title when he defeated two-time state champion Gianni Silvestri (Tioga) via 6-5 decision. He was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler as he capped off a second consecutive undefeated season.

Fahrbach’s confidence and impenetrable defense have been the keys to his dominance, even in the same bracket as defending state champions Silvestri and Jordan Joslyn (Chautauqua Lake).

“Just being more confident in my whole game . . . on my feet, on top and on bottom and being more confident in my shots and knowing how good I really am was important for me,” Fahrbach said. “I’m on the same level as these guys. I know I can compete with them and beat them.”

Fahrbach’s last loss came in the 2022 state finals. He gained confidence in himself when he won the 2023 Eastern States Classic and has been on a special run ever since.

Fahrbach, who will wrestle at Appalachian State University, won his second consecutive Eastern States championship and his fourth straight Suffolk title this season. He went 39-0 and finished his career 198-13.

“He’s the one you point the finger at and say, ‘This is what you want to strive to be,’ ” Mount Sinai coach Matt Armstrong said. “We’ve had some outstanding wrestlers go through our program, but he has to be the best wrestler we’ve had . . . He’s only lost one match [the last] three years.”

Gavin Mangano, Shoreham-Wading River, 131, Fr.

The future is bright for Gavin Mangano.

The Shoreham-Wading River freshman suffered a one-point loss in the 2023 state wrestling finals. He dominated his way back to the state final this year and pinned Tioga’s Jayden Duncanson in 5:56 for a Division II state title at 131 pounds. He led 14-3 before securing the pin in the final seconds.

After his 6-4 decision over Abdul-Ja Zaggout (Unatego/Unadilla Valley) in the quarterfinals, Mangano was disappointed in his performance and thought he could have done better. He left nothing to be desired in the title match.

“Those one or two-point wins feel good, but absolutely dominating at the state tournament is awesome,” Mangano said.

Mangano won his second straight Eastern States Classic title and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. He bulldozed his way to the Suffolk Division II final with three pins in a blazing-fast 56 seconds before securing a 15-0 technical fall in 2:44 to win his second consecutive county crown.

He finished the season 51-1, with his only loss coming in December to his teammate, Chris Colon. The following week, Mangano defeated Northport’s Matt Marlow, a two-time state champion.

“Chris made me wake up,” Mangano said. “I went out the next week and beat a state champion and that just set me off.”

Though he has a long way to go, Mangano has his sights set on becoming a four-time state champion. He would be the sixth Long Islander to win at least four state titles and the second for Shoreham-Wading River along with Jesse Jantzen, who won four championships from 1997-2000.

“He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen in wrestling,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Joe Condon said. “He can score from any position and he’s very tough to score on. He’s beaten multiple state champions. He scores a lot of points and he’s very entertaining to watch.”

Joe Clem, Wantagh, 131, Sr.

It was a moment that stood still for Joe Clem. The one where he’d earned a state wrestling title and while standing there with his hand raised before about 7,000 fans at the MVP Arena in Albany, felt the warm feeling of family pride wash over him.

Clem had beaten Samson McKissick-Staley of Pittsford, 5-3, to claim the 131-pound crown in the Division I tournament. Clem's twin brother, Anthony, had finished earlier in the day with a fourth-place finish at 124 pounds.

“This was a family achievement,” Joe Clem said. “I won this for me and my brother. It’s the greatest feeling.”

Clem came back from a 3-2 third-period deficit for the win. He hit a reversal to take a 4-3 lead with 28 seconds left and was awarded a penalty point when the previously undefeated McKissick waslol  called for a clasp. The top-seeded McKissick finished 38-1.

“These boys trained extremely hard all year round,” Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie said. “They put in the extra time and made this possible. They are the model wrestlers for all the youngsters coming through our program. I’m so proud of them.”

Clem is the 13th state champion under Gillespie’s tutelage. He finished his season at 51-3 and has a career record of 181-18.

It was a year of redemption for Clem. He finished third in the state as a sophomore at 115 pounds and was a state runner-up at 126 in 2023.

“When you lose in the state finals, you have to come back stronger the following season,” Clem said. “You can taste the win and you were so close. You need to take the next step. It’s a great moment for our whole family and Wantagh.”

Devin Downes, Plainedge, 170, So.

Devin Downes made his debut at the Division I state tournament this year as a sophomore. He left a lasting impression. If you didn’t know Downes before the state competition, now you know. He won the Division I state championship at 170 pounds with an unbelievable roll through a most difficult bracket. He upset the first and third seeds on his way to the title.

“It was an incredible run to many people but not our coaching staff,” Plainedge coach Rob Shaver said. “Devin has been really good all season — a real hammer in the lineup. He’s the toughest kid of all. No one can outwork him.”

Downes recorded a late takedown for a three-point lead with 25 seconds remaining and went on to a 6-4 win over third-seeded Leo Venables of Carmel to capture the Division I title. He became the third state wrestling champion in Plainedge history and the first since Dan Spurgeon won the crown in 2012.

Downes’ run through the tournament included two one-point wins. He eliminated top-seeded Johnathan Clohecy of Fulton in the semifinal round, 5-4. And he beat fifth-seeded Landon Lazarek of Hilton, 6-5, in a quarterfinal match. He finished the season with a 51-2 record and a 121-23 career mark.

“I felt like my conditioning was the difference in the close matches,” Downes said. “I felt strong at the end of those tight matches. All the work in the gym and all the weightlifting paid off.”

And he has two more years left to add to an already impressive resume.

Greyson Meak, Cold Spring Harbor, 190, Jr.

Greyson Meak had redemption on his mind all season.

He got his shot in the Division II state wrestling final at 190 pounds and he cashed in. Meak defeated Southwestern’s Tavio Hoose via 5-3 decision for his first state championship. The Cold Spring Harbor junior suffered a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Hoose in the 2023 state final at 172 pounds, as Hoose scored a last-second takedown to snatch the title out of Meak’s grasp.

“Last year, I know how much it [stunk]. I’m definitely glad I’m not in that position again,” Meak said after his championship win. “Every tournament that I did this year, it was just planning and waiting for the state tournament. It’s finally here and it feels great.”

Meak faced Hoose earlier this year in the Eastern States Classic semifinals and suffered another one-point loss. It was Meak’s only loss of the season.

“To come so close and lose the way he did last year, it put a damper on an unbelievable season for him,” Cold Spring Harbor coach Mike Ferrugiari said. “It gave him the extra drive and motivation he needed to come back this year and beat him. Eastern States really helped him turn the corner and add that extra gear. I’m so proud of him.”

After Meak had his hand raised for the final time this season, he gave Ferrugiari a bear hug before slamming him to the mat in celebration.

Meak dominated the state tournament, totaling three pins in 4:58 on his way to the championship match. He also pinned his way to the Nassau Division II title match, with three pins in 4:10 before securing a 16-1 technical fall in 2:16 for his second consecutive Nassau crown. He finished the season with a 41-1 record.


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