Fox, Lapi finish second at state tourney

ALBANY – In his third trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships, Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi continued his climb up the podium Saturday.

After placing third as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore, Lapi ended his junior season second.

Lapi, the No. 2 seed, dropped a 4-2 decision to Sayville’s Matt Leshinger of Section VIII in the Division I (large-school) 132-pound finals.

After a scoreless period, Leshinger scored a point on an escape six seconds into the second period.

Lapi evened the match, starting the third period with an escape 10 seconds into the final period.

Leshinger, the top seed, scored the only takedown of the match with 27 seconds left and Lapi earned a late escape, making it 3-2. Leshinger was awarded a penalty point at the end of the match to make the final score 4-2.

Leshinger also posted a 4-2 win over Lapi earlier this season at the Eastern States Classic.

Lapi, who finished the season with a 48-4 record, is the first Amsterdam wrestler to reach the state finals since Giuseppi Lanzi in 2010.

Dolgeville’s Danny Fox also reached the finals, competing for the Division II (small-school) title.

Fox, the No. 2 seed, came up short against Hoosick Falls’ Luis Weierbach of Section II in the 106-pound finals. Weierbach, the No. 1 seed, scored a first-period takedown and an escape in the second period on his way to the win.

Fox, who finished his sophomore season with a 38-3 record, scored his lone point with an escape with 21 seconds remaining. Fox is the first Dolgeville wrestler to reach the state tournament since Dan Haughton placed fifth in 2008.

All four area wrestlers placed among the top five in their respective weight classes.

In addition to Lapi and Fox, Johnstown’s Joe Nellis and Amsterdam’s James Marquez finished on the podium.

Nellis finished fifth in Division II at 220 pounds, while Marquez was third at 160 pounds in Division I.

Fox punched his ticket to the 106-pound championship match with a 4-0 overtime win over Adirondack’s Ryan O’Rourke in the semifinals. The contest was a rematch of the Section III Division II finals, which Fox won 1-0 in double overtime.

Lapi also needed overtime to reach the finals, edging Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian of the Catholic High School Athletic Association, 3-1.

After a scoreless first period, Melikian scored an escape to take a 1-0 lead 38 seconds into the second period.

Lapi evened up the match 48 seconds into the third period and avoided a late takedown attempt to force overtime.

Lapi needed just eight seconds of overtime to score the decisive takedown and earn his first trip to the state championship match.

Marquez recovered from an opening-round loss by reeling off five straight wins to place third.

In his first match Saturday, Marquez posted a 5-1 win over Churchville-Chili’s Josh Powell of Section V in the consolation quarterfinals.

In the consolation semifinals, Marquez posted a 5-3 win over Vestal’s Alex Francik of Section IV.

Marquez, a senior, finished his high school career and his first trip to states in fine fashion by pinning John Jay-East Fishkill’s Dale White of Section I in 2:32 in the consolation finals.

Marquez finished season with a 44-10 overall record.

Like Marquez, Nellis lost his first match of the weekend Friday and rallied to finish on the podium by going 4-1 in his last five matches.

Nellis, a senior, opened Saturday by pinning General Brown’s Corey Gaffney of Section III in 2:02 in the consolation quarterfinals.

In the consolation finals, Nellis dropped a 7-1 decision to Holley’s Michael Silvis of Section V, who went on t finish third.

In the fifth- and sixth-place match, Nellis posted an 8-2 win over Fredonia’s Chris Saden of Section VI.

Nellis finished the season with a 33-3 record.

Section II had three wrestlers reach the Division I finals, while two Section II wrestlers advanced to the DII finals.

Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley won at 138 pounds, while Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley was second at 195 pounds.

Hoosick Falls’ Weierbach won the 106-pound Division II title, while Schalmont’s Nick Gallo (160 pounds) finished second.

A total of nine Section II wrestlers posted top-six showings in the Division I tourney, while eight Section II competitors placed in the top six in Division II.

Colonie’s Golan Cohen (106, fourth), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Joey Butler (138, third), Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva (145, third), Queensbury’s Franky Nassivera (170, sixth) and Columbia’s El Shaddai (285, fourth) finished in the top six in Division I.

In Division II, Salem’s Carter Merecki (120, fourth), Albany Academy’s Sean Romanski (138, fifth), Cobleskill-Richmondville’s Mike Green (170, sixth), Hoosick Falls’ Brad Burns (third, 182) and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk’s Alex Soutiere (285, third) all finished in the top six in their respective weight classes.