GLENS FALLS — From injury and defeat, Billal Zamani keeps bouncing back.
The Schenectady junior secured the sectional Division I 132-pound wrestling title Saturday, giving the high school its third champion in as many years at the Section II state meet qualifier at Cool Insuring Arena.
Schenectady's Deyker Edwards won the 132-pound title a year ago, and Patriot Antonio Zamora was best at 145 in 2016.
"This is huge for our program," Schenectady coach Chad Languish said. "Before Zamora, we hadn't had a champion here in 23 years."
Zamani pinned Colden Dorfman of Guilderland in 5:28, and earned a 3-2 decision over Nick Rodecker of Amsterdam to advance to the 132-pound final. There, he decisioned Shenendehowa's Cody Deuel 3-1.
"He's wrestled him [Deuel] three times this year and beat him three times, and every time it was close," Languish said of his No. 2-seeded wrestler. "He stayed confident and stayed the course. Did what he had to do to do it."
Zamani used a takedown to build a 2-0 lead in the first period. In the second he went up 3-0 with an escape. Deuel got a point back in the third.
"I was watching footage [of the first two matches against Deuel]," Zamani said. "I saw what I did wrong and tried to fix it."
Deuel's climb to the final included a 3-2 semifinal decision over Columbia top seed Mikey Altomer. Altomer had beat Zamani 7-6 in the Section II Class A title bout last week. That meet was Zamani's first action in three weeks due to a quad pull he sustained in a gym class.
"He was down 5-0, and came back to tie," Languish said of the match with Altomer. "He gave up an escape at the end, but he had a heck of a run in that tournament. I think that helped his confidence."
Edwards was there for support Saturday.
"He [Zamani] did a lot of work in the offseason, and that had an impact on him," Edwards said, before adding. "Two-peat in the weight class and three-peat at the sectionals. We're coming. We're not done, either."
Edwards and Zamani worked out together often last season.
"He beat me up a lot, but it helped me," Zamani said.
Languish and Zamani had words before the 132-pound final.
"Coach told me to believe," Zamani said. "I whispered in his ear, 'I did.'"
Tyler Barnes didn't spend a whole lot of time on the mat in winning his fourth Division I title.
The Ballston Spa senior pinned three opponents in the 170-pound class, and extended his winning streak to 83 matches.
The streak dates back to the wrestlebacks at the 2016 state meet, where Barnes returned last year and became the Scotties first New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion. This year's state meet is Feb. 23-24 at Times Union Center.
"He does have to clear each of these hurdles one at a time," Ballston Spa coach Harvey Staulters said. "He was very relaxed . He went out and did his work."
The 170-pound top seed, Barnes pinned Eladio Montalvo of Amsterdam in 13 seconds in the quarterfinals, and followed with another 13 second fall against Tyler Grupe of Guilderland. Barnes finished off Liam Mooney 1:27 into the title match.
"It would be cool to win it again," Barnes said of the state meet. "I'm ready to go."
Barnes, who has committed to North Carolina State, is 41-0 this year, matching his win total from his junior campaign.
Ballston Spa went 3-for-4 in finals, with Jake Cook (182) and Jake Stangle (285) repeating as sectional champs. Cook recorded three pins.
BACK ON TOP
Eoghan Sweeney of Niskayuna won his third Division I title in four years with a pin of Columbia's Sam Bergin in the 160-pound class.
Sweeney lost to Kyle Jasenski of Albany Academy in the last year's 160-pound final 5-4.
"I've watched that match close to 100 times. I wasn't my best the last couple of seconds," Sweeney said. "I got lazy in the last 40 seconds and tripped over my own feet, and he got a [2-point] takedown. That made it 5-3. I got a point back but that was it."
Sweeney pinned his way through the Class A meet last week to take a title there for the fourth time, and won by a decision and two pins Saturday. That last fall against Columbia's promising eighth-grader was a rematch from last week's final.
Sweeney is the school record holder with 209 wins.
Niskayuna also had champions in Thomas Minahan (138) and Reggie Melvin (195). Shenenedehowa had multiple DI champs in Stevo Poulin (99) and Kiernan Shanahan (145), who was a first-place repeater. Other DI repeat champs were Brock Delsignore of South Glens Falls (120) and Michael Gonyea of Columbia (126).
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake junior John DeConno went from the No. 4 seed to the Division I 113-pound champion.
"I was fourth last year. The year before, I didn't win a match. I went 0-for-2," DeConno said. "I was kind of the underdog."
DeConno's three wins Saturday included a 6-4 overtime decision against top seed Jordan Sartin of Saratoga Springs in the semifinals, and a 3-1 decision against No. 2 seed Brennen Rivas of Amsterdam in the title match. DeConno built that margin with a late escape in the third round.
"He [Rivas] is definitely strong. He has good technique," DeConno, the DI MOW, said. "As soon as I got up I couldn't let off the gas."
Cobleskill-Richmondville junior Ethan Cooper outlasted two-time Section II champ and No. 1 seed Dillan Palaszewski 9-7 in the DII 160 final, and had a a pin and decision before, in winning the small-school MOW award. Both Cooper, the No. 2 seed, and Palaszewski came into the final with one out-of-section loss.
Orion Anderson of Schuylerville will get a crack at a third straight Division II state title, at a third different weight, after pinning Austin Lints of Schoharie in the 126-pound final.
The senior sandwiched pins around a technical fall to win the bracket.
"Be the best I can be and wrestle hard," Anderson said of his mindset for the meet.
Anderson won state titles in 2016 at 106 pounds and in 2017 at 120. Now a beefed up 126, he'll look to continue his superb senior year which included an all-star stint with Schuylerville's football team.
Other DII repeat champs were brothers Caleb Svingala (99) and Trent Svingala (120) of Maple Hill, Dan Motta of Mechanicville/Stillwater (132) and Zack Lawrence of Duanesburg (152).
DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIPS
- 99 — Stevo Poulin (Shenendehowa) major dec. 24-8 Nick Palso (Ballston Spa).
- 106 — Ryan Sleezer (Queensbury) dec. 9-1 Michael Santore (Shaker).
- 113 — John DeConno (Burnt Hills) dec. 3-1 Brennen Rivas (Amsterdam).
- 120 — Brock Delsignore (South Glens Falls) dec. 10-3. Eric Griskowitz (Saratoga).
- 126 — Michael Gonyea (Columbia) pin :12 Logan Barody (SGF).
- 132 — Billal Zamani (Schenectady) dec. 3-1 Cody Deuel (Shenendehowa).
- 138 — Thomas Minahan (Niskayuna) dec.8-2 Danny Jada (Burnt Hills).
- 145 — Kiernan Shanahan (Shenendehowa) pin :55 Peter Meshkov (Niskayuna).
- 152 — Andrew Fountain (Averill Park) pin 1:28 Jake Edwards (Columbia).
- 160 — Eoghan Sweeney (Nisk) pin 2:59 Sam Bergin (Columbia).
- 170 — Tyler Barnes (BS) pin 1:27 Liam Mooney (Colonie).
- 182 — Jake Cook (BS) pin 1:05 Dom Nassivera (Queensbury).
- 195 — Reggie Melvin (Niskayuna) dec. 5-3 Nico Mattia (Queensbury).
- 220 — Nik Koch (Averill Park) pin 4:49 Creedence Cameron (Albany).
- 285 — Jake Stangle (Ballston Spa) dec. 3-2 Paul Brown (Mohonasen).
DIVISION II CHAMPIONSHIPS
- 99 — Caleb Svingala (Maple Hill) pin 3:30 Chris Petteys (Hudson Falls).
- 106 — Joey Scheeren (Galway) major dec. 13-2 Austin Delisle (Ravena).
- 113 — Zac Cummings (Salem/Cambridge) dec. 3-2 Connor Lyons (Watervliet).
- 120 — Trent Svingala (Maple Hill) dec. 5-0 Aidan Cullen (Greenville).
- 126 — Orion Anderson (Schuylerville) pin 1:16 Austin Lints (Schoharie).
- 132 — Dan Motta (Mechanicville/Stillwater) dec. 4-2 Dylan Callahan (Schoharie).
- 138 — Juan Esrada (Ravena) dec. 6-3 Zack Davis (Warrensburg).
- 145 — Logan Duers (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George) pin :12 Hunter McKenna (Warr).
- 152 — Zack Lawrence (Duanesburg) pin 2:41 Rich Forbes (Catskill).
- 160 — Ethan Cooper (Cobleskill-Richmondville) dec. 9-7 Dillan Palaszewski (Galway).
- 170 — Rich Conte (HL/LG) dec. 4-1 Dan Monthony (Warrensburg).
- 182 — Nolan McNeill (Warr) dec. 1-0 Murray Vliet (Catskill).
- 195 — Sterling Spoon (Watervlier) tech fall 18-3 Chris Wilson (Warr).
- 220 — Reggie Poulin (Cohoes) dec. 3-2 Jack Binder (Warrensburg).
- 285 — Craig Sawyer (Hoosick Falls) dec. 5-2 Marc Martinez (Coxsackie-Athens).