Just a couple of points kept Jordan-Elbridge wrestler Mitch Alpha from notching his program's first Section III wrestling title in 12 years.
Not since Brian Platt, in 1999, has any Eagle gone to the top spot of the podium. But Alpha, with a 30-0 record and a Class B title to his credit this winter, was favored to do so as the top seed at 112 pounds n last Saturday's sectional Division II (small school) championships at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Alpha, following a first-round bye, beat Hannibal's Dennis Spaulding 9-3 in the quarterfinals. Then came a tense semifinal against Sandy Creek's Jake Benedict where Alpha fell behind 4-0 and 6-4, but came back both times, using a third-period escape and reversal to pull out a 7-6 win.
This led to Saturday night's final against South Jefferson's Jeron Tanner. For two periods, neither wrestler could gain a point. In the third, Alpha allowed Tanner to escape for a single point, in search of a winning takedown - but could not get it, leading to a 1-0 defeat.
Despite the loss, Alpha's record might still merit a berth in the state championship meet, which takes place Feb. 25-26 at Albany's Times Union Center.
Elsewhere, West Genesee's Connor Grome made it to the 125-pound Division I (large school) final from a no. 7 seed, having to win three times to get to the title match.
Grome, 30-9 on the season, beat Sonny McPherson (Indian River) 5-0 in the first round, then topped no. 2 seedrevor Allard (Mexico) 5-4 in the quarterfinals. Not stopping there, Grome held off no. 3 seed Derek Harris (Fulton) 4-1 and found himself with a chance to beat all of the top three seeds. But top seed Mike Sardo (Whitesboro) proved far too much, beating Grome 11-3.
Ian Coolican, the no. 2 seed at 119 pounds, reached the semifinals, but fell to Cicero-North Syracuse's Tony Battista in a 4-3 decision. Coolican did recover to beat Nate Hathaway (LiverpooL) in overtime and Joey Shaheen (Baldwinsville) 8-2 for third place on the podium as his record improved to 35-5.