Dunia Sibomana, a 14-year-old wrestler from Long Beach who recovered from a near-death experience in a chimpanzee attack as a child in Africa, won his first two matches in the preliminaries and quarterfinals of the state wrestling tournament in Albany on Feb. 25, 2022. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman/William Perlman

ALBANY — The inspirational journey of Dunia Sibomana continued in grand fashion on Friday. The Long Beach eighth-grader earned a first-round bye and then dominated two bouts at the New York State Division I wrestling championships to move into Saturday morning’s semifinal round at the MVP Arena.

Sibomana, who has become a fan favorite, took a 14-2 major decision in the round of 16 and beat previously undefeated Suffolk champion Mason Mangialino of Comsewogue, 12-2, in a 102-pound quarterfinal bout.

"I’m feeling great," Sibomana said. "I feel like the crowd is really behind me, and I’m feeling strong. My coaches have a game plan when we wrestle, and I’m focusing on one period at a time. Every opponent is really good, so there can be no mistakes."

Sibomana, 14, will meet undefeated second seed Luke Satriano of Valley Central (Section IX) in the semifinals on Saturday morning.

"It is amazing to watch this kid go out and persevere," Long Beach wrestling coach Ray Adams said. "He’s an incredibly gifted wrestler and he’s beating the top guys in the state. He knows how blessed he is to be in this position. And when you consider what he’s gone through, it’s just incredible."

Eight years ago, at age 6, Sibomana survived a near-death experience in his homeland of the Congo. He and two family members were playing just outside his village of Rutshuru in the jungle of the Virunga National Park, a vast animal preserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, when a group of chimpanzees attacked.

Sibomana’s brother and cousin were killed, and he

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was left with horrific injuries to his lips, ears and face. His right ear and facial muscles were gone and the middle finger on his left hand was bitten off. The attack made it difficult for him to speak or swallow.

"We’ve been on such an emotional high," said his adopted father, Miguel Rodriguez, who is the assistant coach on the Long Beach Middle School team. "I want him to enjoy the experience. It’s such a big stage and he’s handling it so well. I don’t think anything can really faze him at this point. He has a laser focus."

Sibomana’s most impressive win this season came against Mangialino, who had a 37-0 record. He hit a low single-leg takedown for a 2-0 lead 13 seconds into the first period. Mangialino hadn’t allowed a takedown all season. Sibomana went on to overpower Mangialino and put him to his back three times for the win.

"I outmuscled my opponents most of the season, but Dunia was super-strong and very tough," Mangialino said. "He was stronger than me and never let me set up my shots or get in the top position, which is my strength. In youth tournaments, he was never the guy. But he has emerged as the one. He could win the tournament."

Comsewogue coach Brian Fitzgerald was impressed by Sibomana.

"We needed Mason on top to score some points, and he never got the chance," he said. "Mason is having a great season and we need to refocus and take third place in the state. It’s been a great year. We just ran into a great wrestler."

For Sibomana to capture the championship, he’ll have to beat the top two seeds in the state on Saturday.

Then again, nothing seems impossible for this kid.

Division I Semifinalists

102: Dunia Sibomana, Long Beach

102: Carlos Arango, Massapequa

110: Joseph Manfredi, Herricks

110: Mike Manta, Hauppauge

110: Jason Kwaak, Brentwood

110: Anthony Clem, Wantagh

118: Matthew Marlow, Northport

118: Christian Lievano, Ward Melville

118: Joseph Clem, Wantagh

126: Brayden Fahrbach, Mount Sinai

132: Stephen Lukas, Eastport-South Manor

132: Killian Foy, MacArthur

145: Anthony Conetta, Massapequa

145: Frank Volpe, Hauppauge

152: Ben Rogers, Wantagh

160: Tom Andria, Islip

189: Eric Carlson, Manhasset

189: Jake Trovato, Lindenhurst

215: Robert Smith, Huntington

285: Sebastian Regis, East Islip

Division II Semifinalists:

126: Max Gallagher, Bayport-Blue Point

132: Joe Sparacio, Mattituck

138: Jordan Soriano, Clarke

138: Kyle Barber, Bayport-Blue Point

145: Jackson Polo, Cold Spring Harbor

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