ALBANY - Gaven Bell is a student of the game.
The Cold Spring Harbor sophomore entered his Division II quarterfinal at 160 pounds in the state wrestling tournament with a well researched game plan.
I had studied my opponent a lot, Bell said of Center Moriches Lajess Sawyer. I saw that he was good on his feet and I know thats not my strong point. I had to make sure I could capitalize on my strength, which is being on top.
The fourth-seeded Bell did just that after falling behind 4-0. He secured two reversals to tie the score and pulled ahead with two back points with less than a minute remaining to advance, 6-4, to Saturdays 10 a.m. semifinals against top-seeded Jacob Null of Dolgeville-Utica at Times Union Center.
[Toward the end of the match] when he sat, I just kept hearing my coaches yelling, do not give it up, Bell said.
Bell jumped up five weight classes from last season when he was the Nassau D-II champion at 126 pounds, though he was unable to wrestle in the state tournament after tearing his meniscus in training.
Im a natural 145-pounder but my good friend and teammate Ray Costa and I both said we didnt want to wrestle each other, Bell said. After running into trouble with Clarkes Austin Carman at 152, Bell bumped up one more class.
I just said I was going to go to 160 and get that title, Bell said.
Both Bell and Costa, who lost his quarterfinal at 145, have set up a charity website for one of their coaches, Randel McCoy, who was diagnosed with ALS last year.
I had to come back and make my mark this year, Bell said. But were not done yet.
Also not done is Port Jeffersons Ricky DElia. The Port Jeff senior entered the tournament unseeded and knocked off the No. 6 and No. 3 seeds en route to the semifinals at 113.
DElia held on to beat Mason Bush of Central Valley Academy, 4-3, in the quarterfinals.
I just didnt want to give up the takedown or the escape, DElia said. I like being the underdog. I dont need a seed.
DElia will wrestle second-seeded Micha Roes of Lowville in the semifinals as he tries to become Port Jeffs third state finalist and second champion in four years.
It really says a lot about Port Jeff, DElia said. After one guy leaves, we have another coming up and we have to keep building off that.
Suffolk also advanced two-time state finalist Jordan Titus of Center Moriches at 120, Mount Sinais Matt Campo at 152 and Bayport-Blue Points Max Gallagher (99) and Joe Sparacio (106.)
Were partners every day in the room, Gallagher said of Sparacio. Weve been training together since we were in kindergarten.
The longtime friends are looking to bring a state title to the Phantoms wrestling room for the first time since 1985.
But first things first.
We have to make weight tomorrow, Sparacio said. And then we can eat.