Lead Stories, Sports

Wrestlers prepare for Sectionals

The top high school wrestlers in the area will get the chance to showcase their talents at the Section I championships this weekend, as competitors hit the mat for a two-day event that will see 15 sectional champions crowned. With a number of local athletes in the mix, the competition could well be a springboard for some of the Review’s wrestling programs.

No area team will be sending more wrestlers to the Section I championships than New Rochelle, which qualified 11 grapplers for the competition. Chief among those set to compete this weekend is 182-pounder Jake Logan, who ran roughshod over opponents at the Huguenots’ qualifying tournament at Horace Greeley on Feb. 2. The New Rochelle senior has gone undefeated since his sophomore year and is the reigning state champion in the weight class, making him the clear favorite at 182 pounds. He will have some competition from one of his teammate, however, as he may cross paths with New Rochelle junior Nick Thomas, currently ranked No. 3 at 182, en route to a successful title defense.

Harrison’s Zach Finn competes against an Eastchester wrestler in December. Finn will move up in weigh to compete at 220 pounds this weekend.

The Huguenots have two more wrestlers riding a hot streak into the competition, as Cameron Burrell (145 pounds) and Sebastian Lujaj (220) both won their weight classes at the qualifying meet to punch their tickets to sectionals.

Mamaroneck will send nine wrestlers to the tournament, and will have great depth in both the 113 and 126-pound division. At the team’s qualifying meet last Saturday, Joey Rodas and Jesse Beers took second and third, respectively, in the 113-pound weight class, while Nahuel Rodriguez finished first at 126 to go along with a fourth-place showing by Mickey O’Brien.

One of the more intriguing entrants in the upcoming tournament will be Harrison High School senior Zach Finn, who will compete at 220 pounds despite spending most of the year at 195. Huskies coach Vin Nicita believes that Finn’s quickness should give him an edge against larger opponents, something that was evident at the Westchester County Championships in January, where Finn took home a gold medal.

“We looked at him in terms of where he had the best chance,” Nicita said. “He’s so athletic, and if he can take advantage of his speed, he has a better chance to win it all at 220 pounds.”

Finn will headline a group of eight Harrison wrestlers that also includes Tyler Joseph, who is expected to contend for a title at 132 pounds. Joseph lost a 5-3 decision to top-ranked 132-pounder Firas Zoha at the qualifiers on Saturday, but Nicita believes that his charge can compete with the best in the division.

“When the seeds come out, Tyler will probably be ranked fourth, so we will probably see Zoha in the semifinals,” he said. “He was right there with him on [Feb. 2], so it will be a good test.”

Eastchester’s Tommy Dell’Aera is also expected to perform well this weekend after topping Mamaroneck’s Andrew Rosenfeld 7-0 in the 120-pound finals last weekend, while Rye’s Tyler Webb could match up against Finn in the 220-pound bracket after securing a 10-5 overtime decision against Ossining’s Izaiah Steen on Saturday.

The Section I Championships will kick off on Feb. 9 at Arlington High School and will conclude the next day at Clarkstown South. From now until then, local wrestlers will be trying to fine-tune their skills as they prepare for the competition ahead.

“We’re going to work out with a couple of different teams this week,” Nicita said. “We want our kids to see some different people and work on the best matchups for getting them ready.”

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