Canastota and Morrisville-Eaton wrestling fans left Utica Memorial Auditorium Saturday night with pride in the fact that they both would produce winners at the 2010 Section III Division II championship meet.
Both the Raiders' Tyler Sirota, at 145 pounds, and the Warriors' Shane Strong, at 285 pounds, would win their respective weight classes, earning spots at the Feb. 26-27 state meet, to be held at Times Union Center in Albany.
Of the two, Sirota's was a bit more surprising, given the fact that he was only the no. 3 seed and, as it turned out, would have to knock off the top two seeds to finish on top.
After a 13-6 quarterfinal win over Cazenovia's Dylan Perry, Sirota went after no. 2 seed Jared Soule (Sandy Creek) in the semifinals. And though points were plentiful, Sirota had more of them, earning a 9-5 decision.
The final pitted Sirota against the top seed, Phoenix's Tyler Button. Taking the action right to Button, Sirota used a takedown and reversal to bolt out to a 4-0 lead. Button closed within 4-3, but one more escape and solid defense at the end allowed Sirota to prevail, 5-3, and go to the top spot on the podium.
Meanwhile, Strong was defending his top seed at 285, pinning Alex Prashaw (Adirondack) before surviving a tense semifinal against Canastota's Sam Stagnitti, ultimately prevailing 2-1 in overtime.
In the final against another Phoenix wrestler, Aaron Webster, Strong made a second-period escape to break a 0-0 stalemate, then used a late takedown to clinch a 3-0 win and improve to 21-5 on his way to the state meet.
Canastota's Zach Zupan had a chance to join them, as the top seed at 160 pounds with a 26-1 mark going into the sectional meet.
But after the talented freshman took just a combined two minutes, 12 seconds to pin Eric Ulinski (Mohawk) and Steve Ellsworth (Oneida) to reach the finals, Zupan ran right into Cato-Meridian star Nick Lalone and never got close, taking a 12-3 defeat. Still, the 28-2 mark could give Zupan a wild-card entry into the state meet.