In one of the biggest sporting events Oneida High School has hosted in recent times, the top 16 wrestling teams in the area gathered last Saturday for the day-long, Section III Dual Meet.
And for the 17th time out of 19 tries, the Fulton Red Raiders came out on top, never getting a serious threat from any of its four foes along the way.
In the opening round, Fulton met Copenhagen and won big, 48-20. Otherwise in the top half of the bracket, Adirondack beat Indian River 35-26, South Jefferson routed Central Square 43-20, and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill edged Watertown IHC 33-28 because the Cavaliers forfeited two matches, to the Red Devils' one.
As for the lower half of the tournament bracket, no. 2 seed Mexico flew past Cortland 43-22, with Watertown beating Liverpool 45-21, Holland Patent stopping Beaver River 40-28 and Phoenix getting past East Syracuse-Minoa 46-24.
A consolation round was added for the eight teams ousted in the first round. When Beaver River beat ESM, it gave legendeary head coach Wayne Ferguson his 500th career victory.
Over in the main bracket, Fulton continued its domination in the quarterfinals, stopping V-V-S 40-18. The Red Devils won the first two matches, as Neal Deecher (140 pounds) beat Chris Torrese 7-1 and Steve Wandell (145 pounds) topped Chris Woods, but the Red Raiders dominated from there.
Adirondack survived the closest quarterfinal, edging South Jefferson 28-26. It came down to the final match, at 135 pounds, where the Wildcats' Will Wheelock beat the Spartans' Kevin Deon in a 12-8 thriller.
Mexico whipped Watertown 42-20 and Phoenix, in similar style, took care of Holland Patent 43-21, setting up a classic semifinal between the Tigers and Firebirds. The two long-time rivals battled into the final matches, but Mexico came out on top, 39-31, repeating a regular-season triumph from Dec. 20.