Sullivan CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt wrestler Aaron Benedict looked ready to take a loss to Fulton's Adam Wallace in Saturday night's 138-pound title match in the Section III Division I championships at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena.
Yet in the closing seconds, Benedict made a stunning move to force overtime and, newly energized, went on to stun Wallace 11-9 and earn a second consecutive sectional title.
Both Benedict and J.T. Romagnoli, who prevailed at 145 pounds, repeated their sectional triumphs of a year ago, and earned a return trip to Albany's Times Union Center for the Feb. 24-25 state meet.
On his way to the finals, Benedict had topped Jeff Thurston (Auburn) in a technical fall and pinned Cortland's Ryan Webber in 59 seconds. However, Wallace, who entered the final with a 24-3 record, nearly pinned Benedict in the first period and zoomed to an 8-3 lead.
Little changed until the waning seconds. Trailing 9-4, and needing to do something drastic, Benedict turned Wallace over for a two-point reversal and nearly pinned him, getting three more points as the clock ran out. Pumped up by this, Benedict took down Wallace in the OT period to win it, improving to 34-3 on the season.
Romagnoli found himself in a much quieter final against Fayetteville-Manlius junior Tom Quinlan. They were stalemated until the late portion of the second period, when Romagnoli nearly pinned Quinlan and gained three points, more than enough as Romagnoli went on to win a 4-0 decision.
To reach that final, Romagnoli (24-4 this season) got past Tom Peterson (Cicero-North Syracuse) 9-5 and handled Sonny McPherson (Indian River) 12-3 in the semifinals. Quinlan, who went 34-6 this winter, piled up points in a 23-10 win over Steve Petrelli (Baldwinsville) and, in his semifinal, held off Carthage's Josh McFarland 10-7.
As a team, CBA/J-D was seventh in Division I (large schools) with 96 points. That included Ben Honis, who nearly won at 182 pounds, as he beat East Syracuse-Minoa's Alex Moss with a third-period pin and got past Matt Nichols (West Genesee) 6-1 before a narrow 4-3 defeat to Indian River's Garrick Cook in the title match.