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Center Moriches' Jordan Titus wins state wrestling championship

After defeats the last two years, the third time's the charm.

Jordan Titus of Center Moriches defeated Matt Garland of South Jefferson/Sandy Creek in the Division II 120-pound final at the 2019 NYSPHSAA State Championships at the Times-Union Center in Albany on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (Credit: Newsday / Gene Morris)

ALBANY -- You can forgive Jordan Titus for taking his foot off the gas a few moments early.

The Center Moriches sophomore had been driving toward the moment he was experiencing for years, suffering defeats each of the last two years in the state final just before he could reach his goal.

He quickly took back control of Matt Garland of South Jefferson-Sandy Creek and watched the last few seconds melt off the clock.

Titus got up from the mat Saturday night at the Times Union Center with a 5-1 victory and a Division II state championship at 120 pounds. Titus is the first state champ in Center Moriches history.

“This just feels so good after losing the last two years,” Titus said. “The last two years I wrestled scared to lose, but this year I just let everything fly and it got me on top.”

An escape early in the second period gave Titus a 3-1 lead and a takedown later in the period put him in complete control.  

“Jordan came into our room this year and became our hardest worker and a team leader,” Center Moriches coach Mike Koscinski said. “He was hell-bent to get a state title. That was the only thing he wanted. He really earned it.”

Even though he just got his first, Titus is still not completely satisfied.

“In the finals I don’t even think I wrestled as well as I could but I still managed to pull it out,” Titus said. “I still have two more years and two more state championships.”

Said Koscinski: “I think great things will come now.”  

As impressive as it is to make your way through the tournament in dominant fashion, it’s also admirable to suffer a devastating defeat and come back to finish third by winning the consolation bracket.

That’s the spot Bayport-Blue Point’s Max Gallagher was in. The eighth grader was wrestling in his first state tournament as the Suffolk D-II champion at 99 pounds.

He made a run to the semifinals beside his best friend and training partner Joe Sparacio, who was wrestling at 106. Both felt the sting of defeat Saturday morning but didn’t let that slow them down.

Gallagher came back to win two matches in the consolation bracket, culminating in a 4-0 win over Brandon Woodward of Canisteo-Greenwood to capture third place.

“My goal this year was to be a state champion and after I lost in the semis, it crushed me,” Gallagher said. “I just wanted to end on the highest note I could after that match. It’s really easy to just give up and fold but when you are able to come back and win it feels great.”

Gallagher was joined by Joe Contrastano of Wheatley at 120 and Karl Osmono Bouyer of Clarke at 220 as D-II wrestlers to come back and finish third. Sparacio was among four wrestlers to place fourth.

“It’s not really what I expected but it was a goal,” Gallagher said. “To just be here feels great.”

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