Though just a freshman, Canastota wrestler Zach Zupan got within two matches of earning a state Division II championship at 160 pounds and finished fourth overall, while teammate Tyler Sirota took sixth at 145 pounds.
During Friday's opening session of the state meet at Times Union Center in Albany, Zupan had two wildly varying matches, yet still prevailed in both to advance to Saturday's semifinal round.
Zupan was named as a wild-card entry into the meet after losing the Section III final to Cato-Meridian's Nick Lalone, and did not waste his big opportunity.
In the first round, Zupan immediately took over against Gouverneur's Kyle Bigwarf, taking just 43 seconds to pin Bigwarf.
A few hours later, Zupan met Travis Beayon (Whitehall) in the quarterfinals and fell behind, 3-0, in the first period. Striking back in the second period with a reversal and takedown, Zupan tied it, 4-4, then used a third-period escape to go in front, hanging on to beat Beayon 5-4.
The semifinal on Saturday pitted Zupan against Palmyra-Macedon's Craig Scott. An early takedown gave Zupan a 2-0 lead, but Scott rallied, tied it 3-3, then used a late second-period takedown to move ahead for good, eventually beating Zupan by an 8-3 margin.
Assured of a podium finish, Zupan still had two matches left. He would split them, beating Derek Wignall (Deposit/Hancock) in a 6-5 thriller, but losing the consolation bracket final to Ray Wang (Edgemont) 3-1.
Still, it meant a fourth-place finish for Zupan. Given his youth, he will be favored to come back to Albany often.
Meanwhile, Sirota, the 145-pound sectional champion, rolled through the first round, beating Sam Patterson (Cold Spring Harbor) in an 11-4 decision.
But it turned around in the quarterfinals, as Warsaw's Burke Paddock led from the start and, when Sirota tried to turn things around, found himself pinned with 12 seconds left.