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Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020: Carmel seventh-grader among Eastern States champions

   Leading off today: Start familiarizing yourself with the name P.J. Duke. You could be hearing about him for a long time on the high school wrestling scene.

   The Carmel seventh-grader never trailed in any of his matches and beat wrestlers from Pennsylvania powerhouse Wyoming Seminary in his final two rounds and earned the 99-pound championship Saturday in the Eastern States Classic at Sullivan Community College.

   "I was eager to prove myself," Duke said. "A lot of people say I'm a seventh grader so I can't do stuff, but I like to prove them wrong."

   He concluded his day with a 4-1 decision over Jake Dailey in the semifinals and a pin in 3:16 vs. third-seeded Vince Bouzakis for the title, the first by a Carmel wrestler in a meet that attracted competitors from 174 schools this weekend.

   Duke improved his season record to 26-0.

   "It helps my confidence, because I feel like now that I beat kids from Pennsylvania and other states too, with just New York competition it'll be a lot easier," he said. "Because those Wyoming Seminary kids are really good."

   New York had finalists in 14 of 15 weight classes, but Wyoming Seminary competitors went 6-1 in title matches as the school coasted to the team championship.

   Shenendehowa finished second in the standings with the help of first-place showings from 2019 NYSPHSAA champ Stevo Poulin (113 pounds) and Brock Delsignore (182).

   Long Island wrestlers took him three first-place finishes as Sam Khodaparest of Massapequa (285), Zach Redding of Eastport-South Manor (132) and Jordan Titus from Center Moriches (120) prevailed.

   Titus, the defending NYSPHSAA Division II champ at 120, earned a 9-4 decision over Honeoye Falls-Lima's Anthony Noto, the reigning Division II champ at 113, to end a string of losses to the Section 5 star.

   "This is big," Titus said. "I feel like nobody can beat me right now."

   Khodaparest had a long albeit successful day en route to a title from the No. 8 seed. Following a 3-2 ultimate tie-breaker against top seed Myles Norris of Freeport in the quarterfinals and a 3-2 double overtime victory in the semis, he outlasted Brentwood's London Castillo 8-6.

   "I was proving everyone wrong," Khodaparest said. "It's all about motivation. I was working, staying in my head. I had the toughness and fought through adversity."

   The other New York titlists were Pine Bush's Tommy Askey at 152 pounds and Dolgeville's Jacob Hill at 160.

   Hilton's Ryan Burgos, a state champion coming off career victory No. 200 on Wednesday, was the runner-up at 138.

   BK girls win in OT: Sixth-ranked Bishop Kearney edged No. 7 Saratoga Springs 60-57 in overtime in an intersectional matchup of state-ranked Class AA teams. Saniaa Wilson scored 19 points, including five in OT to offset 22 points by the Blue Streaks' Dolly Cairns.


   More girls basketball: In a big Class A contest, No. 2 Staten Island Academy edged No. 12 Moore Catholic 65-58.

   Nyema Lindsay led a balanced attack with 17 points, while Ashley Schmitt added 15 and Allie McGinn and Brooklyn Sanfillippo scored 11 apiece.

   "We're a young team, with no seniors, but without a doubt they do whatever to get the win. ... Every game someone different steps up," said SIA coach Allie Ryan. "They play

together and want to win."

   Jordan Welle led Moore Catholic with 24 points.

   Milestone victory: Syracuse CBA boys basketball coach Buddy Wleklinski picked up his 500th win with a 67-47 triumph against Solvay.

   CBA has won four of its last five games after a 1-4 start to the season.

   "Honestly, we didn't talk about it," Wleklinski said of the milestone. "All we were trying to do was get back to .500. The kids have been playing very well lately."

   Wleklinski is 500-284 in his 36th season.

   Sophomore Dan Anderson led CBA with 19 points and junior Sam Haas added 17 on the strength of five 3-pointers.

   The Brothers host Bishop Grimes on Tuesday as Cobras coach Bob McKenney goes for win No. 600 after having a scheduled Saturday game vs. Mekeel Christian postponed.

   Coach dies in home fire: Approximately 100 people attended a Sunday vigil at the school a day after Spring Valley boys JV soccer coach Venel Edouard died in a house fire in Hillcrest.

   Former students said Edouard, a security guard for the district, helped them garner a love for the sport.

   "He was a fighter for me," said Stanley Saint Louis, who now plays soccer professionally. "When I came to the United States, I didn't have soccer cleats to play. He bought me my first pair of cleats.

   "My first soccer team that I signed up with was because of a security guard for the district, of him. He called them and sent me to Los Angeles. It's because of him that I'm on a professional team."

   Spring Valley AD Ryan Marcus shed tears as he huddled with players at the center of the field.

   "He loved his job, he loved Spring Valley and these kids," Marcus said. "We're gonna have his legacy go on."

   The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Ramapo Police Investigations Division and Rockland County Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

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