ALBANY, NY -- Sean McCabe is making the most of his second chance.
The Connetquot senior who finished third in the Suffolk County sectional tournament two weeks ago, qualified for this weekend's Division I state tournament at 120 pounds through the wild-card system. He'd like to become the second wild-card wrestler to capture a state title. Islip's Lance Wade accomplished the feat in 2007, at 152.
"My goal has always been to win a state title," said McCabe, who was third at the state tournament as a junior. "It's a one-match-at-a-time mentality. You could lose to anyone up here because everyone is so good."
McCabe won a 10-1 major decision over Casey Jones of Queensbury Friday in his first match at the Times Union Center and then ousted unseeded wild card T.J. Fabian of Shoreham-Wading River, 5-4, in a wild quarterfinal bout.
"Our sectional tournament was so tough," said McCabe, who improved to 39-2. "We had three wrestlers qualify for the state tournament in one weight."
Suffolk champion Matt Leshinger of Sayville, who was the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the county tournament, was the top seed in Albany but fell in the quarterfinal round to Justin Corradino of Warwick Valley, 6-1, opening the door a little more for McCabe to kick it in.
McCabe is one of 13 wild cards from Suffolk and six have advanced into Saturday's semifinal round, which begins at 10 a.m. Glenn senior James Dekrone (43-4) lost in the Suffolk semifinal round but garnered a wild-card spot upstate with a third-place finish at 138. Dekrone, who placed second in last year's state tournament, also has taken advantage of the opportunity with two shutout decisions. He will meet top-seeded Dan McDevitt of Wantagh in a semifinal.
"This is a very deep sectional team," said Suffolk sectional chairman Bob Panariello of Islip. "The team is loaded with talent and we're seeing that after the first day."
Nowhere is that more apparent than at 138 pounds, where Suffolk advanced three wrestlers into the semifinals. Joining Dekrone is Malik Rasheed of Longwood and Brentwood senior Alexis Blanco, who earned two decisions. Blanco will meet Rasheed in a semifinal, a rematch of the Suffolk final won by Rasheed.
"It's an All-Long Island weight class," said Eastport-South Manor coach Nick Garone. "We also have two Suffolk guys in the 152-pound weight class meeting in a semifinal."
That would be senior John Keck of Shoreham-Wading River and junior Nick Hall of Longwood. Hall beat Keck, 4-3, in the Suffolk final.
St. Anthony's senior Jamel Hudson turned in the fastest pin in the 50-year history of the state tournament, pinning Elmira sophomore Curtis Grant in eight seconds of the first round at 132.
"I just attacked him from the whistle," said Hudson, who is 33-1. "I went out there, and the kid lined up exactly the way I wanted him to."
Hudson, looking to become only the fourth Long Island wrestler representing a Catholic school to win a NYPHSAA title, added a win by technical fall in the quarterfinals.
"I've been doing this for a very long time," laughed Freeport assistant coach Russ Cellan. "And I've never seen anything so fast. I couldn't get around to the other side of the mat fast enough to see the pin. I got there -- and he was finished."
Hudson would like to continue to make quick work of his opponents. Up next is Shenendehowa junior Nick Kelley, who beat Hauppauge's Nick Mauriello, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.
"It's my third time to the states and my first year in the semis," Hudson said. "This year, we're winning a state title.''