Never before had a Marcellus wrestler earned a title at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships, but Cahal Donovan sought to break that drought.
Donovan, the Section III Division II champion at 132 pounds, was the top seed in that weight class going into last weekend’s state meet at Albany’s Times Union Center. Before he transferred from Phoenix, Donovan had finished second in the state meet in 2016 at 106 pounds and third in 2017 at 120 pounds.
Now at Marcellus, Donovan was the program’s first representative at the state meet since Matt Barnes and Pat Bennett both made it in 2001, and expected to win it all.
In the first round Friday against Cold Spring Harbor’s Raymond Costa, Donovan found things close until a takedown late in the second period created a 4-1 margin, and Donovan went on to win 7-2.
The quarterfinal against Jacob Vergien (Iroquois) proved even more nervous. Through two periods, Donovan led 4-1, but Vergien engineered a third-period reversal to pull within one, forcing Donovan to hang on for a 4-3 decision.
Mattituck’s Luke Bokina awaited in Saturday morning’s semifinal round, and again it was close. Falling behind 2-0, Donovan rallied, tied it 2-2, only to get victimized by a late takedown that allowed Bokina to prevail 4-2.
Disappointed though he was, Donovan would recover to win a rematch with Costa 4-0 and, finally, defeat Putnam Valley-Haldane’s Kyle Sams in a wild 10-8 battle to gain third place. Bokina went on to beat Nicholas Young (Alexander) 2-1 for the state title.
The same fate as Donovan would happen to Westhill senior Matt Griffin, who had done everything on a high school wrestling mat except earn a state championship.
Griffin, who competes with Jamesville-DeWitt/CBA, had gone to the state meet at Albany’s Times Union Center three times before, but had never finished better than third place, at 99 pounds in 2016.
Now, as the top seed at 106 pounds in 2018, Griffin, a senior, had one more chance at a state title, and had little trouble in the first round, defeating Queensbury’s Ryan Sleezer in five minutes with a 16-0 technical fall.
Then, in the quarterfinals, Griffin got challenged by North Tonawanda’s Ty Bartolomei, falling behind 4-1 in the first period. But with some brilliant moves, Griffin pinned Bartolomei early in the second period.
Saturday’s action began with a semifinal between Griffin and Monsignor Farrell’s Terry Adams, the no. 4 seed. It proved a classic, with Griffin surrendering a 5-0 lead, falling behind 9-7 but then staging his own comeback to tie it, 9-9, and send it to overtime.
Adams made the late moves, though, and prevailed 13-10 on his way to a state title earned later that night in a 3-2 decision over Rush-Henrietta’s Jayden Scott.
Similar to Donovan, Griffin lost to the eventual state champion and would recover to finish third, edging Ivan Garcia (Port Chester) 4-3 and then taking the consolation bracket final over Wantagh’s Josiah Encarnacion 4-2 to finish his season at 39-3.
Myles Griffin was there, too, an at-large entry at 120 pounds who had finished third at 99 a year ago. Despite falling to Indian River’s Logan Patterson in the sectional final, Griffin still had the no. 4 seed.
Meeting Manhasset’s Nick Tanuzzo in the first round, Griffin led early, but surrendered that advantage when Tanuzzo nearly pinned him in the second period. Down 12-4 at one point, Griffin frantically rallied, but still lost, 12-9.
Pushed into the consolation bracket, Griffin won once there, topping Gabe Pasqualini (Arlington) 6-1, but in a rematch with Patterson with a podium spot on the line, Patterson prevailed again, this time 5-1.
Meanwhile, two West Genesee wrestlers were making state tournament debuts – Nate Wade at 99 pounds, Devin Earl at 145 pounds.
Both said that the rise of the WG program this year, including its first league title in more than two decades, was made possible by the increased work ethic of the squad and the extra work done at programs like Phoenix coach Gene Mills’ “Pin to Win” and the programs at Cornell University.
Wade had to face the no. 2 seed, Shenendehowa’s Steve Poulin, in the first round. Poulin, who won the prestigious Eastern States Championship in January, accumulated 12 points in the first period and scored a technical fall on Wade in the second period on his way to winning the state title a night later.
But Wade recovered in the consolation bracket, beating Colin Coughenour (Niagara-Wheatfield) with a second-period injury default and then edging Manhasset’s Anthony Conetta 3-2.
Then, on Saturday, Wade met Horace Greeley’s Matt Schreiber, and a win would guarantee a podium finish – but Schreiber shut out Wade 5-0, just the seventh defeat Wade took this season against 39 victories.
Earl, like Wade, had to go against a pre-tournament favorite when he met no. 3 seed Kyle Mosher (South East) in the first round, and only managed a single point as Mosher claimed a third-period technical fall.
From there, Earl did win once in the consolation bracket, pinning Massena’s Logan Sharlow in 2:25, but then taking a 10-5 defeat to Mamaroneck’s Crew Fullerton as he finished with a 30-15 mark this season.
Jun 23, 2018
Jun 22, 2018