Through 38 matches this winter, Chittenango senior Wes Blanding had remained perfect, moving within a couple of victories of earning the school's first-ever state championship.
But an overtime takedown in the 132-pound semifinal round of the state Division II meet at Albany's Times Union Center kept Blanding from fulfilling that ultimate goal as he settled for fifth place overall.
Blanding was one of two Bears wrestlers present in Albany. Cody Carbery, the Section III runner-up at 106 pounds, earned a wild-card entry to the state meet and, despite a first-round loss, recovered with an impressive run in the consolation bracket to claim sixth place.
All of it started Friday morning, when Blanding opened at 132 pounds against Paul Schoenberg (Baruch College), and quickly accumulated points to beat Schoenberg in a 22-7 technical fall. Later that day, in the quarterfinals, Blanding got a tougher test from Peru's Jacob Goddeau, but still won a 9-5 decision.
That set up Saturday's semifinal, which pitted Blanding against Lansing's Connor Lapresi. For six minutes, Blanding and Lapresi struggled on the mat, both of them only managing a single point for an escape, so it went to overtime - where Lapresi executed a takedown and won the match 3-1.
Just like that, a single move had ruined Blanding's state title hopes. Perhaps stunned by that turn of events, Blanding also lost, 4-3, to Eden's Tom Page in the consolation bracket, but did recover in time to win a rematch with Goddeau, 3-2, and take the fifth spot.
As for Carbery, any hope for a state title was dashed in Friday's opening round, courtesy of Nanuet's Vinny Sokos, who won over Carbery in a close, hard-fought 6-2 decision.
Still with some wrestling to do, though, Carbery beat Jerome Gladney (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) 4-1, topped Michael Menzer (Center Moriches) 6-1 and edged Carter Merecki (Salem) 4-3, the decisions guaranteeing a podium finish.
However, Carbery ran into the man that beat him in the sectional final, General Brown's Ryan Snow, who edged him in a 5-4 decision. Then, in the fifth-place match, Carbery fell to Perry's Corey Hollister 5-1, to finish his season with a 34-6 record.