Now the Cazenovia wrestling team's main concern was hanging on to the OHSL Liberty division lead it seized just before the holiday break on Dec. 23, when it beat Hannibal.
And the Lakers were feeling quite good after the way it performed during the Jan. 3 Port Byron Invitational, where it nearly beat a large field.
Out of 16 teams entered, Cazenovia finished second, piling up 171 points. Only North Rose-Wolcott (Section V), with 226 points, fared better.
Alex Petroff went even higher, earning the Most Outstanding Wrestler honors after his victory in the 125-pound class. Petroff mowed down all opponents on his way to the finals, then finished off his big day by edging Pat Cost (Marcellus) in a thrilling 2-1 battle.
Brad Nardella, at 96 pounds, beat Trey Duvall (Addison) 8-1 to win that weight class. Two other Lakers made finals, only to taste defeat as Jose Wells (112 pounds) fell to Caleb Green (Port Byron) 7-0 and Clancy Kemp, at 215 pounds, took a 15-6 loss to Solvay/Westhill's Tom Bradley.
Adam Lockwood won third place at 130 pounds by shutting out Casey Bright (Pulaski) 12-0 as Sam Taylor needed just 18 seconds to pin David Whyte (Red Creek) and win the 171-pound consolation match.
Ryan Cook (103 pounds) and Noah Shephard (135 pounds) both lost one-point decisions and settled for fourth place in their respective weight classes. Dylan Perry (140 pounds) beat Scott Yeaples (Addison) 4-3 for fifth place, as Cody Foster (189 pounds) earned that same spot by pinning Solvay's John Racciatti. Teddy Kugler was sixth at 119 pounds.
As it turned out, Cazenovia and Solvay/Westhill would meet each other on Tuesday in the first league meet of 2009 -- and the Lakers would dominate, routing the Bearcats 40-17.
Ranked no. 2 among small-school 125-pound wrestlers behind South Jefferson's Sean Hanson, Petroff took just 1:35 to pin Solvay/Westhill's Joe Merola.
Cazenovia swept all four matches in the lower weight classes, from Wells' second-period pin of Matt Berkley to Nardella, at 103 pounds, scrapping his way to an 8-6 decision over J.T. Romagnoli. Teddy Kugler took a forfeit at 119 pounds.
At 171 pounds, Taylor offered a highlight when he pinned John Racciatti in 33 seconds, just before Foster earned his pin over Brad Pozzi midway through the second period. Phil Kugler (160 pounds) battled past Cirro Nicoletti-Watson 5-3, while Shephard dominated Tyler Avery in a 10-1 romp.