Two local high school wrestlers shined under the bright lights of the New York State Championships finishing near the top of the podium.
Wantagh junior Josiah Encarnacion improved on his fourth-place showing at last year’s state championships with a runner-up finish in the 113-poound finals while MacArthur freshman Killian Foy capped off a successful first season of varsity by reaching the 99-pound finals. The duo qualified for the big stage at the Times-Union Center in Albany after standout performance at the Nassau County Championships at LIU Post two weeks earlier.
Encarnacion positioned himself for a state title with a come-from-behind semifinal win against Hauppauge’s Luke Smith Saturday morning. The third-seeded Encarnacion, who made his third appearance at states, was trailing 3-2 going into the third period before recording a takedown and then holding on for a 5-3 victory.
The come-from-behind semifinal triumph set up a finals matchup with top-seeded Greg Diakomihalis of Hilton, a three-time reigning state champion. Diakomihalis pinned Encarnacion 1:13 into the match to win his fourth state crown.
The finals loss was just the third of the season for Encarnacion, who entered the state championships with a 51-2 mark. Encarnacion, who qualified for states with a dominating 12-3 Nassau County championship win over Hicksville’s Guerillmo Reyes on Feb. 10, began his weekend strong with major decision wins against Mamaroneck’s Joey Rodas and Jacob Chenier of Kingston.
Foy reached the states after placing second in the Nassau County championships and earning a wildcard entry. The fourth-seeded Foy punched his ticket to the championship match with a dramatic 5-4 semifinal victory against Massapequa’s Anthony Conetta on a late escape. The freshman phenom had fallen 5-2 to Conetta in the county finals and also at the prestigious Eastern States tournament.
“Killian always believed he could beat him,” MacArthur coach Rob Paletta said. “So the next chance he got, he did. He did a great job of managing his weight all year and is a fit, disciplined athlete. He had a great season.”
The semifinal win set up a state title bout with second-seeded Gregor McNeil of Hilton, who defeated Foy 17-5. Entering states with a 39-8 record, Foy began the tournament with a 9-1 major decision win over Tottenville’s Sal Esposito before knocking off Andrew Marchese of Washingtonville, by technical fall in the quarterfinals.
Wantagh junior Matt Rogers also reached the podium with a fifth place finish at 182-pounds. Rogers earned All State honors for the second straight year on the heels of winning the county title with a 7-5 win against Division’s J.D. Moore.