SYRACUSE Nearly half a century after the Cazenovia wrestling team produced a Section III champion, Brad Lucas was dead-set on ending that long drought – and came within inches of pulling it off.
During Saturday’s Section III Division II meet at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena, Lucas, the no. 2 seed at 285 pounds, made it to the finals and dragged the top seed, Oneida’s Tyler Lavener, to overtime before taking a painful 2-1 defeat.
Lucas, better than anyone, knew the history. Ever since Lee Avery took the 103-pound sectional title back in 1967, two generations of Cazenovia wrestlers had tried, in vain, to match Avery’s feat.
Dylan Evans nearly pulled it off a year ago, dropping the 120-pound Division II sectional final to Cooperstown’s Michael Boyle 4-2, and Lucas, who won the sectional Class C 285-pound title on Feb. 8 at General Brown, was determined not to come up short.
A format change led to several top seeds not getting first-round byes. That included Lucas, who promptly pinned Mount Markham’s Geoff Roberts in 27 seconds in the opening round before cruising past Nate Osbourne (South Lewis) 13-6 in the quarterfinals.
A tough semifinal match saw Lucas battle Camden’s Ian Radell to the wire, requiring a late takedown to pull out a 3-1 decision and set up the final with Havener, who also needed to wrestle three times to reach the title bout despite his no. 1 seed.
Neither wrestler would surrender anything close to a takedown in the six minutes of regulation. Lucas escaped in the second period to go up 1-0, but Havener did the same in the third period to tie it, 1-1.
And it stayed that way through two overtime periods, Lucas almost getting decisive takedowns, but thwarted every time by Havener’s scrambling. Finally, Havener made an escape in the third OT, and held on the rest of the period for that narrow victory.