NEW ROCHELLE – Top athletes often say that they block out the crowd in tense situations, but for a brief moment, Mamaroneck senior Youssif Hemida allowed himself to take it all in.
The Maryland-bound 220-pounder was about to go into overtime against Walt Whitman’s Vin Feola, a returning New York State finalist, when he noticed that nearly every fan in the gym at the 51st annual Murphy-Guccione Shoreline Classic on Saturday was on their feet.
“I didn’t realize until overtime when I just glanced up for a second,” Hemida said. “I just looked up and everyone was on their feet, being loud and I heard my name chanted. I kind of like that feeling. It gets me pumped and gets me going. It was definitely a great, great atmosphere.”
A late stall call against Feola sent the 220-pound final to overtime tied at 3-3, with Hemida winning a 4-3 decision thanks to a one-point escape.
Hemida had beaten Feola four times during the offseason, but this in-season win firmly establishes him as the wrestler to beat in the state at 220 pounds. He also defeated Greeley’s Brock Cvijanovich with a 5-0 decision in the semifinals, who is considered Hemida’s top competition in Section 1.
“It definitely sends a message that hopefully I’m the No. 1 competitor in the state,” said the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. “I know that was a very close match and he’s right in it, but I have the edge going into (next weekend’s) Eastern States (Classic) and the edge going into states. Hopefully, I’ll be able to win both of those.”
Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida, top, defeated Walt Whitman’s Vin Feola in the 220-pound final of the Shoreline-Guccione Invitational wrestling tournament at New Rochelle Jan. 3, 2015.
Perhaps the second-most thrilling match of the day came in the 195-pound final.
Fox Lane junior Jon Clune came into the tournament as a heavy favorite, having beaten No. 2 seed Dan Mendoza of New Rochelle by technical fall last year and again with a 7-3 decision earlier this season. But Mendoza pulled off a major upset by defeating Clune with a 7-6 decision in the finals.
“That was the worst feeling ever,” Mendoza said of losing to Clune at sectionals. “I just kind of kept that throughout the whole offseason. For eight months, I’ve been thinking about that bad day at sectionals.”
The top team at the Shoreline was North Rockland, which placed first overall and had three individual champs in Anthony Sulla (106 pounds), Alex D’Angelo (120) and Blaise Benderoth (160).
D’Angelo, a defending Division 1 section champ, defeated defending Division 2 section champ Kyle Aslanian of Edgemont with a 5-3 decision in the finals. It was his second win over Aslanian this season.
“It shows the best of Section 1 and how much talent we really do have,” D’Angelo said. “There’s definitely respect (between Aslanian and I). He’s a great competitor, and if we have to wrestle again, it will be a great match.”
Sulla ran into New Rochelle’s Jake Shore in the semis, whom he had defeated by one-point a few weeks ago. The junior won more handily this time around, winning a 7-3 decision to stake his claim as the favorite going into the final two months of the season.
“I don’t want to be too cocky or look forward,” said Sulla, who beat Pine Bush’s Anthony Stramiello with a 4-3 decision in the finals. “I’m just going to keep wrestling the way that I’m wrestling and what’s meant to be is meant to be.”
The next highest placing local team was Pearl River, which took fourth with two champs in Sean McGarvey (99) and Jake Kurzhals (126).
Other local champions included Fordham Prep’s Stefan Lindblom (113), a New Rochelle resident, Fox Lane’s Matt Grippi (132), Mamaroneck’s Roger Ransom (170), Kennedy’s Alex Melikian (182) and Ossining’s Alex Dago (285).