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Uniondale’s Knighton-Ward wins 220-pound state title after Whitman’s Robinson injures arm

Uniondale's Zach Knighton-Ward won the 220-pound title at the 2017 New York state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2016 in Albany, then shared an emotional moment after the match. (Videojournalist: Newsday / Owen O'Brien)

ALBANY — It was an all-Long Island showdown for the 220-pound state wrestling title Saturday night at Times Union Center. Seniors Terron Robinson of Whitman and Zach Knighton-Ward of Uniondale battled through three clean periods, giving the crowd of more than 6,000 an exciting bout.

Robinson, the defending state champion, led 9-4 after a slick third-period takedown and seemed on his way to another title. But with 11 seconds left, Knighton-Ward stepped into Robinson and used a lateral drop to put him on his back seconds before time expired.

The official ruled a takedown and three back points, and the five-point move tied the score at 9 and forced overtime. But as the fans stood and cheered them on, something was very wrong.

Robinson got up from the mat and immediately dropped to a knee, dangling his right arm to the side. A team of doctors rushed the mat and discovered that he had broken his right forearm.

Robinson, wanting to continue, broke away from the group and went to the center of the mat. But Whitman coach Vin Altebrando and Suffolk’s team physician, Anthony Donatelli, convinced him he could not proceed.

Knighton-Ward, who was unseeded, was awarded the state’s 220-pound title by injury default. “Zach embraced the win after a while, but he wished the kid didn’t get hurt,” Uniondale coach Tim Godoy said. “Zach would have liked to finish the match and see how it panned out in overtime. It was pretty shocking to see his arm like that.”

According to Godoy, when Knighton-Ward drove Robinson to the mat, the Whitman wrestler tried to post on his right hand, and that’s when the injury occurred. “When he posted on his hand, the arm just snapped,” Godoy said.

A replay drew a large crowd reaction. “He broke the radius and the ulna, and we sent him in an ambulance to Albany Regional,” Donatelli said.

Jim Wright, director of athletics for the South Huntington School District, said Sunday: “Terron came home today and will be looked at by an orthopedic surgeon this week and decide where and when to have the surgery.”

Knighton-Ward finished 43-0 and became Uniondale’s first state wrestling champion in Godoy’s 20 years at the helm.

“We’re overjoyed at how Zach progressed over the year,” Godoy said. “He only started wrestling three years ago. He’s like a sponge and keeps learning, and in many ways, he moves like a lightweight. His workouts in the gym have helped make up for his lack of experience on the mat.”

Said Wright, “The Uniondale wrestler should be congratulated for his comeback effort.”

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