The words used to describe Jesse Jantzen often evoke a mythical connotation. The “great” Jesse Jantzen. The “legendary” Jesse Jantzen.
And for good reason. At Shoreham-Wading River High School, Jantzen won four state titles for the Wildcats, never losing a match during his four years in high school. Jantzen set the standard for wrestling in Suffolk County following his graduation in 2000.
Until this weekend, no wrestler from Long Island had ever equaled Jantzen’s mark of four state titles. That changed Saturday when Ward Melville star Nick Piccininni won a 3-1 decision over Benjamin Lamantia of St. Anthony’s in the 126-pound Division I championship match at Times Union Center. Piccininni clinched a fourth state title and upped his career win mark to 225.
The Oklahoma State-bound wrestler’s final title didn’t seem like a certainty a few weeks ago, when Piccininni was forced to forfeit his final two matches of the league tournament because of an ankle injury. The losses snapped his 169-match win streak. But with two weeks off, he bounced back to win the county title to set up his run in Albany.
A few years from now, Jantzen and Piccininni could see their record broken. Eastport-South Manor eighth-grader Adam Busiello dominated his 99-pound championship match Saturday to win the state title. Busiello, who lost in the state finals as a seventh-grader, could potentially win five state titles.
• Section XI once again dominated in Division I. Suffolk County wrestlers finished as the top section for the seventh straight year, compiling 312 points. It was only the second time in that run that Section XI surpassed 300 points. Section VIII, which is Nassau County, finished a distant second with 178 points.
• Section XI sent 12 wrestlers into the finals. Seven emerged as state champions. Two years ago Section XI also had seven champions.
• Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point, the all-time wins leader in Suffolk County history, won his first state title. A senior, Dutton won the 145-pound title with a 10-2 win over Michael Raccioppi of Minisink Valley in the championship match.
• Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton (Section V) was named Most Outstanding Wrestler for Division I. Diakomihalis, a sophomore, pinned Peter Pappas of Plainview in the 113-pound final. He won his third straight state title. Pappas lost in the finals for the second straight year.
• In Division II, defending state champion Matteo DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson settled for third this year at 120 pounds. DeVincenzo was the No. 1 seed in the bracket, but lost in the semifinals in a 1-0 decision to the eventual state champ, Jimmy Overhiser of Lansing.
• Hilton of Section V was the team winner in Division I with 71 points. Ward Melville finished third for the top finish for Section XI teams with 49 1/2 points. Hauppauge was fourth with 48.
• The final attendance for the two-day tournament was 12,981. It was the largest crowd since 2009, according to the New York State Public High School Association. The tournament will remain in Albany through 2018.