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Yorktown's Sabella Wins Sectional Wrestling Title

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Steven Sabella entered day two of the Section 1 Large School Wrestling Championships Sunday as the underdog.

The Yorktown junior was the fifth seed among the top three seeds in the semis of the 170-poound weight class. In order for Sabella to achieve his goal, he would have to beat the top seeds, including New Rochelle’s Aaron Butler, who was No. 1 and a 2011 sectional champ.

Sabella beat Butler and then completed his championship run with a 4-2 overtime victory over second-seeded Jack Braun of Scarsdale in the final at Pace University.

The 15 large-school champions earned an automatic berth to the New York State Wrestling Championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25, at the Times Union Center in Albany. The wrestlers who are alive for wild cards will learn Wednesday if they received one.

Teammate David Varian won the 285-pound title in overtime and Joe Mastro (145) and Thomas Murray (182) were runners-up as Yorktown had its best sectional finish ever -- fifth place (105 points). Jimmy Kaishian finished fifth at 120.

Fox Lane had four champions -- Sam Speno (126), Danny Ventura (132), Tommy Grippi (138) and Matt Pasqualini (160) -- to win the team title. Ossining’s Alex De la Cruz won the 113-pound title and was named most outstanding wrestler in the large-school competition.

Somers’ senior Brian Realbuto (152) made Section 1 wrestling history by winning his fifth sectional title.

“I came in confident and ready to pull the upsets,” said Sabella, who earlier this season reached 100 varsity wins. “The seeds were not set in stone. Just because I had the fifth seed did not mean I was going to finish fifth.”

Sabella began his day with a 6-2 win over Butler. Sabella was the aggressor throughout the match, initiating shots and getting in, only to have Butler defend and not allow Sabella to finish. Sabella would eventually take a lead in the second period.

“I had been preparing for him for a while and I knew what I needed to do,” Sabella said. Sabella, who had beaten Braun in the Scarsdale Tournament 170-final in January, knew the Scarsdale senior would be motivated and come at him. Sabella reversed Braun to start the second period, but Braun answered back with an escape.

Braun tied the score at 2-2 with an escape 37 seconds into the third period. Sabella wasted little time in overtime, taking down Braun, before he went out of bounds 13 seconds in.

“When I saw him off balance I knew I had to go after him there,” Sabella said.

Once Sabella had his hand raised, he ran to his corner and was congratulated by coaches John Tornambe and Matt Shakin.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Sabella said. “It feels better than anything I’ve ever felt.”

Varian and New Rochelle’s Justin Douglas were tied at 1-1 through regulation and the first sudden-victory overtime. In the 30-second double-overtime periods, Varian reversed Douglas for two points. Douglas would escape from Varian in the second 30-second period but fall one point short.

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