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Will Nick Piccininni win a fourth straight state wrestling title?

Ward Melville senior wrestler Nick Piccininni holds up

Ward Melville senior wrestler Nick Piccininni holds up medals after signing his national letter of intent to wrestle at Oklahoma State University at this home in St. James on Nov. 12, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Nick Piccininni won't let up. You don't have the success he's had by taking anything for granted or looking past anyone.

But for all the dominating pins and wins he's sure to pile up this winter, it's the last weekend in February and the state championships that will forge Piccininni's legacy.

A three-time state champion who hasn't lost since the state finals as an eighth-grader, the Ward Melville senior is already in rarefied air as one of only five wrestlers from Long Island to win three state titles. One more would put him alongside Shoreham-Wading River's Jesse Jantzen, who won four crowns from 1997-2000.

"It would mean everything to me because this is what I've been working toward since I was a little kid," Piccininni said. "It's been a dream of mine and now I want to make it a reality."

Suffolk, which has reigned supreme as the top section in New York at each of the past six state tournaments, returns two other state champs in Hauppauge junior Chris Mauriello, who won the crown at 132 and Port Jefferson's Matteo DeVincenzo, who was the Division II champ at 106 pounds.

Mauriello went 44-1 last season and will bump up to 160. Hauppauge will rely on the lower weights, with returning All-Suffolk performers Ben Tepperman (106, 4th) and Jake Silverstein (99, 5th).

"We have a lot of history and having guys like Chris and guys who come back from college in the room boosts the level of intensity," Hauppauge coach Chris Messina said. "Having returning All-County guys and guys who were just one match away means they all have that taste in their mouths."

Two-time defending Suffolk team champion Sachem East returns four All-Suffolk wrestlers, including champ and state runner-up Jakob Restrepo, who will be at 152.

"All four guys are expecting to improve on their performance from last year," coach Isaac Ramaswamy said. "We're looking for those next three or four guys that will push us into the hunt for another title."

Glenn will be another contender because of its depth at the upper weights.

"We're really excited because from 152 up we basically have an All-County kid at each weight," coach T.J. Brocking said. "We have a lot of big, strong athletic kids and we're turning them into wrestlers."

Junior Edwin Rubio is the headliner, an agile 285-pounder who pinned all four of his opponents en route to a Suffolk title last season.

Rocky Point returns All-State wrestler Tommy Dutton at 145 and will be buoyed by James Matias and Anthony Cirillo.

Port Jefferson again will be in the hunt in Division II with returning state champion DeVincenzo bumping up to 120 and his brother Tristin looking to improve on his fifth-place finish in the state.

Defending CHSAA champion St. Anthony's returns All-State performer Ben Lamantia, who gave Piccininni a tough match in the state semifinals, before falling 3-0. Brian Kelly and Peter Corbett, who each won CHSAA titles last season, are back.

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