In just its second season, the combined CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt wrestling team can proudly boast having a pair of Section III champions.
J.T. Romagnoli and Aaron Benedict earned the honors during last Saturday's sectional Division I (large school) meet at Utica Memorial Auditorium - Romagnoli at 130 pounds, Benedict at 140 pounds.
Entering the meet, Romagnoli was the no. 2 seed at 130, this despite a 30-5 record and his victory (and Most Outstanding Wrestler honors) at the Feb. 5 sectional Class AA championships.
Soon enough, Romagnoli made his way to the top. After holding off Mike Madonia (Rome Free Academy) 4-1 in the quarterfinals and topping C.J. Loomis (Mexico) 8-2 in the semifinals, Romagnoli faced the top seed, Camden's Cody Sullivan, in Saturday night's title match.
They were scoreless until the second period, when Romagnoli earned a one-point escape. Then, with a third-period takedown of Sullivan, Romagnoli gave himself an extra cushion, and he went on to win 3-0 and grab the top spot on the podium.
As for Benedict, he did have the top seed at 140, having gone 30-1 this winter. Three more wins would be added here, though not without some late suspense.
Easy wins over Baldwinsville's Anthony Rafkis (13-2) and Fulton's Devon Viscome (7-0) led to a final against Mexico's Kyle Sikes. In the first period, Benedict slammed Sikes a split-second after the whistle, causing a long injury time-out. The match looked to be over.
But Sikes roared back, nearly pinning Benedict in the second period and moving ahead 6-1. Staying patient, Benedict worked his way back late in that frame, then used an escape and takedown to move in front in the third period and win a 9-6 decision.
Both Romangnoli and Benedict will represent Section III in the Feb. 25-26 state championships at Albany's Times Union Center.