For nearly five and a half minutes, Yonkers sophomore Justin Lopez was on the verge of being upset.
The top seed at 99 pounds in Saturday’s Super 16 had been turned to his back early in his match with Mahopac sophomore Abby Bunyea, which gave the first female finalist in tournament history a commanding lead. But using the entire six minutes, Lopez continued to chip away until he finally pulled ahead late for a wild 15-11 decision.
“I was about to go into tears,” Lopez said. “I was pretty mad, but she’s tough. I didn’t expect that. She really gave me a good match. I respect her so much.”
Lopez was one of three champions from a resurgent Yonkers squad, which gave the host its first ever Super 16 team title. Fredy Guevara (120 pounds) and Elieser Maldonado (152) also took first place in their respective weight classes.
No other team had as many individual champs as the Bulldogs, but Mahopac, Horace Greeley and Harrison had two apiece.
Chris Cornell (132) and Ryan Delahanty (220) each earned a title to help Mahopac finish second overall.
“Once I hit my first takedown, I kind of knew the match was mine,” Cornell said after his 8-6 decision over Lakeland/Panas’ John DiDomenico in the finals. “You get that momentum when you get that first takedown, and it really helped a lot. I felt really energized after that. It’s been a good day.”
Mitch Klein (160) and Brock Cvijanovich (195) were champions for Greeley, which placed third overall. Klein picked up his 100th career win the semifinals, and then pinned Pleasantville’s Tom Marrone in the finals. He had beaten Marrone by just four points a week earlier.
“It was a great wrap-up to a great day,” Klein said. “From neutral, we were pretty evenly matched with our defense and offense, but I knew that I had him when I was on top. And I knew that if I kept hammering him, I would get him eventually.”
Lakeland/Panas had three wrestlers reach the finals, but only Jonathan Pla (138) came through with a title, beating Hen Hud’s Jack Wagner with a 4-1 decision.
“I know he’s a tough wrestler and he just won’t quit,” Pla said of Wagner. “I know it’s going to be a six-minute match, and I respect every wrestler.”
One of the most exciting matches of the day came in the 170-pound final, where Sleepy Hollow senior Adam Hofling went down 5-0 in the first period after being put to his back by Ketcham’s Dave Emory, but outscored him 13-1 the rest of the way for a win by decision.
“It shows a bit of resilience and mental toughness,” Hofling said. “I honestly thought I was done for.”
Carmel’s Kevin Knox (113), Pleasantville’s Stephen Paternostro (126), Mount Vernon’s Justin Ayala (182) and Harrison’s Frankie Barchella (106) and Max McMullen (285) also won titles.