WEST NYACK – It was an all-too-familiar situation for Suffern senior Daiton Powell, with his chance to win an elusive section title slipping away.
He had been on the losing end of a 4-2 decision against former state champ Alex Delacruz in last year’s Division 1 sectional finals, and once again he was trailing late during his finals match against Fox Lane’s freshman phenom Matt Grippi on Sunday at Clarkstown South. Miraculously, Powell pulled off a reversal with just three seconds remaining, winning an improbable 2-1 decision to claim his first section title at 132 pounds.
“It sticks with you so much, and I’m sure that Grippi knows the feeling,” Powell said of his finals loss last season. “It’s terrible, and you just want to get it out of your mind. And the only way to get it out of your mind is to win.”
Powell’s win earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler honors, which was fitting as the Mounties captured their first team title since 2000 in runaway fashion. Suffern finished with 179 points – 46 more than second-place John Jay – with junior Stephen Lauro (152 pounds) and senior Peter Pjetri (195) also winning individual titles.
“Everyone stepped up and got those third- and fifth-place finishes that we needed,” Powell said. “I’m more proud of my team doing this whole thing for (late coach Mickey DeSimone). Even myself, I’m more excited to win the team title than anything.”
The Mounties dethroned two-time defending champ North Rockland, but the Red Raiders were the only team to match Suffern with three champs. Seniors Alex D’Angelo (120) and Blaise Benderoth (160) each won their second titles while junior Anthony Sulla took his first by stunning top-seeded Randy Earl of John Jay-East Fishkill with a 40-second pin. Earl had defeated Sulla earlier this season.
“Even after the match, I was like, ‘Did that really just happen?’ ” Sulla said. “I thought it would be a close match. I thought I would have to go out there and wrestle as hard as I can for six minutes, but the way I did it, I’m proud of myself for it.”
Daiton Powell of Suffern defeated Matt Grippi of Fox Lane 2-1 to win the 132 pound title at the Division 1 sectional wrestling championships at Clarkstown South High School Feb. 15, 2015. Powell scored his only points of the match with a move with three seconds left in the final period.
Mahopac took third with two champs in junior Mike DiNardo (182) and senior Ryan Delahanty (285). DiNardo missed most of the previous two seasons due a recurring tailbone injury.
“It was very frustrating because every time that I would think I’d come back and be fine, a week after I would start feeling more and more of the pain in my back,” he said. “In the beginning of the season, I went through physical therapy and everything like that. After my first match when I didn’t feel anything, I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be a great season. I’m not feeling any pain.’ “
Two of the deepest, most unpredictable weight classes entering the tournament were 126 and 170 pounds.
Carmel junior Kevin Knox won at 126, eking out a 6-4 decision over Suffern’s Peter Oliveto in the semis and a 6-5 decision over New Rochelle’s Jordan Wallace in the finals.
“I have a few friends who were seeded pretty low, but I knew they were tough going in,” Knox said about the depth of the weight class. “I knew that every match was going to be a challenge. Every single win I had to fight for.”
Eastchester junior Nunzio Crowley won the title at 170, defeating John Jay’s Evan Frank 6-0 in the finals after surviving a 1-0 decision over Mamaroneck’s Roger Ransom in the semis. It was Crowley’s fourth win over Ransom this season.
“They’ve been really close – too close for comfort,” Crowley said of the matches with his rival. “I was very nervous coming into yesterday and today, but it’s just wonderful to win.”
Other local champions included East Ramapo junior Trey Wardlaw (99), who won his first title, and Mamaroneck senior Youssif Hemida (220), who won his second.