Mar 02, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A full decade after Shawn Farnham gave the Baldwinsville wrestling program its last state championship, four seniors – Kevin Paul, Chad McArdell, Gunnar Sutphen and Joe Nasoni – would try to add to that total at Albany’s Times Union Center.
And while they were unable to do so, each of them put out a memorable effort, with everything from come-from-behind pins to hard-earned decisions that they earned along the way.
Paul, wrestling at 138 pounds, was the veteran, appearing in his third straight state meet. McArdell, Sutphen and Nasoni all said that having Paul as a mentor was important as he gave advice on how to stay focused and perform on the big stage.
As the Sportsmanship Award winner from his section, Paul had the honor of carrying the Section III banner into the arena as part of Friday’s opening ceremonies.
Two hours later, he was on the mat, taking on Shenendehowa’s Kevin Parker in the first round, but he didn’t stay on his feet for long, Parker nearly pinning him in the first period on his way to a 10-0 lead and what looked like certain victory.
But then Paul got off his back, earned a takedown, and midway through the second period, with one quick move, Paul put Parker’s shoulders on the mat for a dramatic pin that sent him to the quarterfinals against the top seed, Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi.
Here, the dream of a state title ended, as Lapi bolted out to a 4-0 lead. Paul earned his lone point on an escape, but Lapi dominated the rest of the bout and prevailed, 12-1, eventually earning the state championship on Saturday night with an overtime victory over MacArthur’s Justin Cooksey.
Later on Friday night, in the consolation bracket, Paul ran into West Seneca East’s Danny Graham and lost a close 6-3 decision, which put an end to a 39-6 season and a high school career that included nearly 150 total wins.
McArdell, at 152 pounds, got started against Mount Saint Michael’s Addrian Ferrarie and managed to match Paul’s effort, right down to trailing in the second period (by a 3-0 margin) before taking down and pinning Ferrarie to reach the quarterfinals.
But against the no. 2 seed, Hilton’s Anthony Deprez (who only needed 53 seconds to pin first-round opponent Dan Elman), McArdell never got close, dropping an 11-0 decision as he, like Paul, would lose a close decision in the consolation round, 8-5, to Warwick Valley’s Ryan Fero.
Deprez, who beat McArdell, went on to a second-place finish as McArdell matched Paul in one other manner, concluding with 148 total wins in his varsity career and a 42-6 mark this winter.
Then it was Sutphen’s turn at 182 pounds, as he faced top-seeded Brett Perry, from John Jay-East Fishkill. Just like Paul and McArdell, he fell behind, 2-0, but got within 2-1 going to the second period, where Perry took over, extending his lead and, in the third period, pinning Sutphen to advance.
Not discouraged by this, Sutphen nearly ended up with a podium finish. Starting out in the consolation bracket, Sutphen pinned Nick McShea (Union-Endicott) in 3:59 and edged Maleke Cunningham (Wingate) 4-1.
It took a narrow 4-3 defeat to Deer Park’s David Hamil (who beat CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt’s Mark Friske in the first round) on Saturday morning to keep Sutphen from, at worst, a sixth-place finish, as he had a 39-8 record for the 2013-14 season.
Finally, Nasoni entered the opening round at 220 pounds, his broken hand healed, and he went after Saugerties’ James Bethel, grabbing a 4-2 lead after an active first period.
Bethel rallied and tied it, 6-6, by the third period, and though an escape put Nasoni back in front, in the final seconds Bethel gained a decisive takedown and handed Nasoni a disappointing 8-7 defeat.
Moving to the consolation bracket, Nasoni got a rematch with Whitesboro’s Tyler Hudson, who had beaten him in the Section III Division I final on Feb. 15, and this time Nasoni prevailed by a comfortable 9-3 margin. But he lost, 5-0, to Colonie’s Wayne Burt a round later, concluding a 43-5 season that ended up in Albany.