Fox, Lapi advance to state semifinals

ALBANY – One did it by pin, the other by decision.

The end result was the same for Dolgeville’s Danny Fox and Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi – a spot in the state semifinals.

Both Fox and Lapi reached today’s semifinal round at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships with a pair of wins on Friday.

Fox, a sophomore, punched his ticket to the Division II (small-school) semifinals with two pins, while Lapi, a junior, used a pair of 2-0 decisions to advance to the Division I (large-school) semifinals.

“He’s [Fox] been working hard for this. He put in the time in the offseason and he’s come a long way,” Dolgeville coach Jeremy Calkins said.

Johnstown’s Joe Nellis (220 pounds) also competed in the Division II tourney, while Amsterdam’s James Marquez competed in the Division I tourney at 160 pounds. Both Nellis and Marquez lost their first-round matches Friday. However, both rebounded to win their two consolation matches to remain alive in the tournament.

In his 106-pound quarterfinal match, Fox pinned Brooklyn International’s Alpha Diallo of the Public School Athletic League in 1:03 to earn a spot in the semifinals.

“I didn’t think he would pin both of his guys,” Calkins said. “The competition at the state tournament is tough.”

Fox, the No. 2 seed, will face a familiar foe in the semifinals as he will meet Adirondack’s Ryan O’Rourke in a rematch of the Section III Division II championship match.

Fox (37-2 overall) won the previous meeting on Feb. 9, 1-0 in double overtime. O’Rourke earned a wild-card spot into the state tournament.

“Ryan [O’Rourke] is top notch,” Calkins said. “We know what we’re getting with him. He’s tough on his feet and he’s got a heck of a cradle on top.”

O’Rourke (41-3 overall) advanced to the semifinals with a 9-0 win over Highland’s Mike Feliciano of Section IX and a 12-6 win over Midlakes’ Jason Charlette of Section V.

In his first match, Fox pinned Babylon’s Dominick Mazzella of Section XI in 3:08.

“It feels pretty good. I’ve been working a long time for this,” said Fox, who placed fourth in the Section III Division II tournament last year. “I knew I had to face tough kids coming in. It’s the state tournament though and everybody is tough.”

Fox is the first Dolgeville wrestler to reach the state tournament since Dan Haughton placed fifth at the DII tourney in 2008.

While Fox cruised into the semis, Lapi ground his way through two matches to earn a spot in the semifinals for a third straight year. He placed third as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore.

“Brandon had two close matches today,” Amsterdam coach Ken Benton said. “They’re all good kids here and you can’t take anyone lightly.”

Lapi, the No. 2 seed at 132 pounds, opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over Ithaca’s Richie Burke of Section IV, scoring the only points of the match with a first-period takedown.

The second match was more of the same as Lapi scored a second-period reversal for the only points in his 2-0 quarterfinal win over Minisink Valley’s Chris Truglio of Section IX.

“The nice thing about winning the first two matches is now Brandon can get some rest,” Benton said. “He’s been pushing pretty hard.”

Lapi (47-3 overall) will face third-seeded Sam Melikian in today’s semifinal match.

Melikian (39-1 overall) advanced to the semifinals with a 10-0 decision over Penfield’s Eric Harley of Section V in the first round and a 3-2 win over Niagara Wheatfield’s Marcus Popp of Section VI in the quarterfinals.

“It will be nice to relax a little tonight,” Lapi said. “I’ll get up early tomorrow, get a good warmup in and get the nerves out.”

In his first match, Nellis (220 pounds) suffered just his second loss in 31 matches this season, losing by pinfall to Hornell’s Zack Bacon of Section V in 46 seconds.

Bacon, the No. 1 seed, finished second in the Division II tourney last season.

Nellis rebounded by pinning Gouverneur’s Mike Mandigo of Section X in his first wrestleback match in 10 seconds.

Nellis won his second wrestleback match and advanced to the consolation quarterfinals with a 6-4 win over Marathon’s Dillon Hurlbert of Section IV.

Nellis will face General Brown’s Corey Gaffney of Section III in his first match today.

Marquez lost his opener at 160 pounds in overtime to MacArthur’s Steve Schneider of Section VIII, 3-1. Scheider, the No. 2 seed, earned the win with a takedown with 19 seconds left in the first overtime session.

In his first wrestleback match, Marquez posted a 3-2 win over Jericho’s Jun Yoo of Section VIII.

Marquez reached the consolation quarterfinals with an 8-6 win over Clarence’s Jake Weber of Section VI.

Marquez will face Churchville-Chili’s Josh Powell of Section V in the consolation quarterfinals today.

Section II had a total of six wrestlers reach the Division I semifinals, while five Section II wrestlers advanced to the DII semis.

In addition to Lapi, Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley (138 pounds), David Almaviva (145) and Levi Ashley (195) all reached the DI semifinals, as well as Colonie’s Golan Cohen (106) and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Joey Butler (138).

In Division II, Hoosick Falls’ Luis Weierbach, Salem’s Carter Merecki, Albany Academy’s Sean Romanski, Schalmont’s Nick Gallo and Cobleskill-Richmondville’s Mike Green all advanced to the semifinals.

Section XI leads the Division I team standings with 121.5 points, while Section VIII is second with 102 points. Section II (74 points) is third, Section I (70) is fourth and Section IX and Section V are tied for fifth with 55.5 points.

In Division II, Section V leads with 111 points, while Section IV is second with 98.5 points. Section VI (96 points) is third, Section III (95) is fourth and Section II (71) is fifth.

Wrestling will resume today with the championship semifinals and consolation quarterfinals at 10 a.m. The championship finals are slated to begin at 6 p.m. on two mats. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast by Time Warner Cable Sports.

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