Lead Stories, Sports

Rodas wins Section I crown

A number of local wrestlers shined at sectionals on Feb. 10, as a trio of area grapplers took home top honors at the 2019 Section I championships at Clarkstown South High School. But even though these wrestlers might have reached one mountain-top with their decisive victories at the two-day tournament, they now set their sights on another goal—taking home a state title later this month.

Mamaroneck’s Joey Rodas, New Rochelle’s Jake Logan and Harrison’s Zach Finn were among 16 Division I wrestlers to win their weight divisions this past weekend, and while Sunday’s victories marked the first career titles for both Rodas and Finn, for the New Rochelle 182-pounder, the win was just the latest in a storied career.

Joey Rodas celebrates with his teammates and coaches after nabbing the 113-pound crown at the Section I Championships on Feb. 10. Contributed photo

Logan—who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler at the upper weight classes— has now won three straight Section I titles at 182 pounds. He will head into the state tournament, which will begin on Feb. 22 in Albany, as the reigning champ at the division.

The Huguenot senior cruised in the finals on Sunday, scoring an 18-2 technical fall over Byram Hills’ Alex Behar. Logan’s dominance has been well established within the section over the years, as the Lehigh-bound standout has not suffered a defeat since his sophomore campaign.

Both Finn and Rodas, however, had more challenging paths to the podium.

Rodas, who wrestles at 113 pounds, came into the season as one of the most highly touted prospects in the division but suffered a dislocated elbow on Dec. 27 that put his season in jeopardy.

Mamaroneck coach Scott Gilberti said it was initially unclear if his star wrestler would even be able to return for the postseason.

“When he got injured in December, the doctor wasn’t sure if he was going to be back on the mat this year,” Gilberti said. “That was the hardest thing for him, but he’s so mentally tough, the doctor was astonished he was able to come back.”

Harrison’s Zach Finn locks up with Chai Lewis. Finn claimed his first-ever Section I title this season. Photos/Mike Smith

Rodas returned for the sectional qualifiers wearing a brace on his arm.

He showed no signs of being hampered by his injury, however, scoring a 16-6 major decision over North Rockland’s Reece Beyer in the finals.

“It was good because he didn’t have to wrestle much on Day 1, getting two fairly quick pins,” Gilberti said. “And then he was able to go out and compete really well on [Sunday].”

Like Rodas, Finn faced some uncertainty heading into the postseason, as the Harrison senior entered the sectional qualifiers wrestling at 220 pounds after competing most of the regular season at 195 pounds. But after winning the Westchester County Championships at 220 pounds in January, Finn said he began to prepare for matching up against larger athletes for a sectional title.

“Winning gold at counties, I felt like I was in control at the weight and I stuck with it,” he said. “I knew that I was faster than the guys I’d be wrestling against and because I weighed a lot less, I’d have to use that speed more.”

The strategy worked, as Finn was able to earn a 6-3 decision over Yorktown’s Ben Robinson to become the Huskies’ first Section I champion in more than a decade.

The school’s last winner was Mark Arcara, who now serves as an assistant on Harrison’s staff.

“It was pure euphoria, we hadn’t had a section champ in 11 years and [Arcara] was right there in the coaching corner,” Finn said. “Going back, remembering coming in to the program, as a freshman, I never thought I’d be here.”

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