By Josh McMullen – Mid-York Sports Report
SYRACUSE, NY – All of the wrestlers that converged on the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College on Saturday had been training for months, and for some of them, even years for this moment: to be six minutes away from a sectional title and a berth in the state tournament in two weeks.
“We train from day one back in November for today,” Camden head coach Bill Sullivan said. “Our goal is to be in the sectional finals. We worked hard for this. I came here with nine kids…bringing nine and having nine place shows me they wanted it. We bust our chops in our wrestling room and it’s paying off.”
For thirty wrestlers over two divisions from around the section, their goals became realized, as one by one, each weight class crowned their sectional champions on the mat. Several Central New York schools, including defending state champions from Central Valley and Camden, looked to head to the Times Union Center in Albany in two weeks with the honor of being one of Section III’s champions.
There were only two Central New York wrestlers fighting for championships in Division I, and they both represented their school (Rome Free Academy) admirably, both with emotional wins for the Black Knights and earning them fifth place in the division.
At 155 pounds, the Black Knights’ Stephen Hildenbrandt started off his match with Auburn’s Hunter Duger, and right off the bat, the RFA senior got early control. The first (and, as it turned out, only) points of the game would be scored by Hildenbrandt on a takedown with less than 15 seconds left in the first period. From there, he would be the aggressor for most of the match, scoring an emphatic victory for the Black Knights, 2-0 over the Auburn Maroon. After the final whistle, Hildenbrandt made his way over to the stands, where a happy bunch of supporters met him to take pictures and rejoice in his victory.
“I couldn’t have done it without Coach [Mike Madonia]… I couldn’t have done it without my family and all they’ve done for me,” Hildenbrandt said. “It means a lot. Since I’ve started here, I wanted to win sectionals and go to states. It was my last year…I wanted to go out with a bang.”
The Black Knights would continue the celebration a couple of hours later, when the 285-pound weight class began their match. This time, it was senior Spencer Pisaneschi who was locked in a battle, this time with Fulton’s Sam Jones. Again, the Division II side of the SRC Arena was able to erupt in jubilant celebration, as Pisaneschi finished his season in Section III undefeated (going 32-0 in 2017-18) with a massive pin with just two seconds left in the second period. Pisaneschi was met with the same raucous crowd, so much so that he almost missed his own awards ceremony afterward. He is no stranger to the podium (placing third as a sophomore and fifth as a junior), but finally getting that medal was special to the senior.
“It feels amazing…I’ve been working on this since 10th grade,” Pisaneschi said. “I’m just glad that after so long the work has paid off.”
In Division II, the two favorites to win it all, Central Valley and Camden, kicked things off in the 99-pound division, with the Thunder’s Mason Bush going up against Devin Coleman of Camden. Through the first period, both wrestlers were engaged in a technical battle, with neither wrestler gaining a real advantage. As a result, the first two minutes came and went without any scoring. However, in the second period, Coleman was able to escape from the down position just ten seconds in to pick up the lead. The rest of the period would be fought in a neutral position, much like the second period, and the Blue Devil would have a slight 1-0 lead going into the final period. Bush would get a late escape of his own, and the first match of the night in Division II would go into overtime.
In the overtime period, Bush would take advantage and never give it up, scoring the sudden-death takedown with just 11 seconds left in the period. However, the freshman would not leave the mat area just yet, as his teammates wrestled just after him, including his favorite one: his brother, Marek.
“Me and him, we have a huge bond through the sport that it would mean a lot to stand next to each other [at the state championships],” Mason said. “We put in so much time and effort…you don’t get here without hard work.”
Marek wrestled at the 113-pound classification, and he did not disappoint in his match with Matt Garland of South Jefferson/Sandy Creek. From the first period, the older Bush (by one minute, according to him) took complete control of Garland, using a spinning takedown to get the first two points of the match. The freshman would keep Garland on his stomach for most of the first period, then in the top position in the second. Bush would allow the Spartan to pick up a couple of points in the second period, but he would allow him to get no further, keeping Garland flat throughout to pick up the 6-2 victory.
“I wrestled my match, and I didn’t stand down to anyone,” Marek said of his performance, which earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament. “A lot of hard work went into this win.”
It was no different at 106 pounds, where sophomore Dawson Mower went up against Micah Roes of Lowville. However, Mower’s match would end in an unfortunate result, at least for him. Roes would be on the attack early and often, riding the sophomore for most of the match, getting two quick points after a minute’s struggle. From there, Mower could not wrest control from the Raider, as Roes slammed him late in the second to put the match away from good. The Central Valley sophomore would pick up two points, but the takedowns by the Lowville sophomore would prove to be the difference, with Roes taking home the first of two sectional championships for his family in an 8-2 decision. (His brother, Isaiah, would pick up his own win at 160 pounds, defeating Dylan Harrington of Phoenix.)
The Adirondack Wildcats’ only entry into the championship round came at 126 pounds, with senior Kevin Spann pitting his 38-1 record against Matt McLaughlin of Cazenovia. From the outset, the Laker was the more aggressive wrestler, shooting for Spann’s legs constantly. Spann would deny his fellow senior constantly throughout the period, leaving it scoreless. The action would get going in the second period, as Spann got a quick reversal less than 30 seconds in for two points. Spann would add another takedown in the second period, and that would be all that he would need, shutting out McLaughlin, 4-0.
Camden would feature in the next two weight classes, first showing at 132, where senior Tybarius Harter faced off against Cahal Donovan of Marcellus. The Mustang wasted no time, trying to chop the legs from under Harter several times during the first period. Donovan would take a 2-0 lead into the second period, where he would ride the Camden senior all over the mat, taking down Harter almost at will. Despite having control for most of the third period, Harter simply could not get anything going, instead having to settle for a second place medal in a 10-2 major decision defeat.
One of the more ballyhooed matches came at 138 pounds, where Camden’s Riley Gerber faced off against a familiar foe: Ian McKenna of New Hartford. The battle of the seniors first tipped in the Blue Devils’ favor, when Gerber would get a quick takedown just one minute into the match. It did not stay that way for long, as McKenna got a takedown of his own, then took the lead on a reversal. McKenna would extend the lead halfway through the second period, grabbing three points on a reveral and a takedown. Gerber would try to get something going late, but McKenna would cut him off at every turn, keeping the Camden grappler at bay to pick up the 8-5 victory.
“The way I see it, it’s all practice for states,” McKenna said of his victory. “The sectional medals are good, but I want to be at the top of that podium at [the Times Union Center].”
McKenna has been there before, but the senior has never won a match in his two trips to the state tournament. “My first time, I was a deer in headlights,” McKenna said. “but now I’m ready. I know what to expect. In my mind it’s mine already, I just have to go out and take it.”
An even more anticipated match came just after the Gerber/McKenna match at 138 pounds, as Holland Patent’s only entry, senior TJ Philpotts, faced off against another veteran of the mat, Central Valley’s Hunter Shaut. The match itself was one for the ages, as through one period, the two veterans did nothing but circle each other, staring daggers through each other as they did so. Philpotts would take a late lead on an escape, but Shaut would answer back with an escape of their own and the two would take those two points into two overtime periods. Philpotts (who did not leave the tournament emptyhanded, picking up the George “Pee-Wee” Jones Scholarship on Saturday) would remain the aggressor through most of the extra time, but it would be Shaut winning the day, picking up the only point on an escape in the second overtime.
The Thunder would not fare as well at 170 pounds, as Trent Ingerham faced off against Phoenix’s Ross McFarland. Blood time would almost derail McFarland’s quest for a championship before it began, as he used over half of his allotted time trying to staunch a bloody nose. When the match continued, however, McFarland regained full control, not allowing Ingerham to mount any sort of offense throughout their match. Ingerham would not be able to get back on track after the break, and the Firebird would walk away with the 7-0 shutout.
Senior Tambren Bennett of New Hartford would not fare well either at Division I’s 285-pound championship, facing off against Nathan Briggs of Onondaga/Tully. From the outset, the two would be content to push each other all over the ring, ending the first period as most of the other matches had: scoreless. Bennett would start to get on a roll early on in the second period, however, the Tiger had all the answers, managing to roll Bennett over quickly and pick up an even quicker pin. However, the Spartan senior had no regrets looking back on his last match.
“I feel like I should have prepared better,” Bennett said, “[but] I gave it one heck of a shot.”
One might argue that the time between matches might have been a factor (Bennett’s match, the last of the night at Division II, kicked off at just about 9 pm, when his previous match finished over eight hours ago). However, the senior does not see it that way.
“We both rested the same amount of time,” Bennett said. “I was just looking forward to finishing.”
In the end, however, the fact that all nine Camden Blue Devils got onto the podium gave them enough points to maintain their 17-point lead going into Saturday’s matches, and they were crowned Section III team champions, just edging out Central Valley. It is a boon for Camden, who has not been the powerhouse it once was in the early 2000’s. However, with a case full of sectional medals coming back to Camden, Sullivan saw it as inspiration for the town.
“It shows that our program is strong,” Sullivan said. “The kids at our school can realize we can win. We’ve had a hard time winning in the spotlight lately. We broke records, and that’s our goal, to continue to break records. It shows that as a team, we can win.”
TEAM SCORES: Camden 140.50; Central Valley Academy 126.50; South Jefferson/Sandy Creek 92; Canastota 86; Onondaga/Tully 81.50; Holland Patent 78.50; Adirondack 75; New Hartford 58; Phoenix 56; Lowville 54; Chittenango 52.50; Cato-Meridian 52; Homer 51; Copenhagen 46.50; Beaver River 46; Mexico 39; Sherburne-Earlville 39; VVS 35; Cortland 34.50; Skaneateles 31; Cazenovia 31; Port Byron 31; South Lewis 29; Morrisville-Eaton 29; Hannibal 27; Marcellus 26.50; Dolgeville 24; Cooperstown 22; General Brown 16; Mount Markham 14; Altmar-Parrish-Williamstown/Pulaski 4; Otselic Valley 4; Little Falls 2; Oneida 1, Jordan Elbridge 0; Poland 0.
Division 2 Championship Finals
99: Mason Bush (CVA) D. Devin Coleman, Camden, 3-1 OT
106: Micah Roes (Lowville) D. Dawson Mower (CVA), 8-2
113: Marek Bush (CVA) D. Matt Garland (S. Jeff/SC) 6-2
120: Dean Shambo (Mex) D. Joe Powers (Port Byron) 3-2
126: Kevin Spann (Adir) D. Matt McLaughlin (Caz) 4-0
132: Cahal Donovan (Mar) M-Dec Tybarius Harter (Cam) 10-2
138: Ian McKenna (NH) D. Riley Gerber (Cam) 8-5
145: Hunter Shaut (CVA) D. T.J. Philpotts (HP) 2-1 OT
152: Zach Williams (Hannibal) D. Dempsey Carroll (Copen) 2-1
160: Isaiah Roes (Lowville) D. Dylan Harrington (Phoenix) 6-5
170: Ross McFarland (Phoenix) M-Dec Trent Ingerham (CVA) 10-0
182: Connor Fredricks (Chitt) D. Paul Morse (Homer) 6-1
195: Doug Simmons (Can) Pin Harold Sherman (Cato-Mer) 0:31
220: Joe Benedict (S. Jeff/SC) Pin Alex Thompson (Sherburne), 0:43
285: Nathan Briggs (Onondaga/Tully Pin Tambren Bennett (NH) 2:54
Division 2 Consolation Matches
99: Avery Leonard (Coop) Pin Andrew Walseman (BR) 1:54
106: Kaiden Haynes (Cortland) D. Bryar Croniser (Adir) 2-0
113: Jon Charles (CVA) D. Hunter Williams (Cam) 3-1 NO 3RD
120: Jon Lillie (SJ/SC) Pin Hunter White (Cato-Mer) 4:52
126: Dylan Price (Onondaga/Tully) D. Noah Thomas (Homer) 2-1
132: Beau Burke (Morrisville-Eaton) D. Austin Reed (Mexico) 6-0
138: Kyle Greene (SL) D. Ian O’Neil (VVS) 3-2
145: Marshall Bruggerman (Can) D. Colby Johnson (Cam) 1-0
152: Jake Null (Dolg) Pin Mason Warner (Morr-Eaton) 2:48
160: Nick Herringshaw (HP) D. Jeremiah Brunje (VVS) 6-0
170: Dylan Stellmack (Onon/Tully) D. Michael Bristol (Camden) 4-0
182: Bryce Dare (HP) Pin John Mitchell (Cam) 4:25
195: Austin Kellogg (SJ/SC) D. Isiah Prado (Chitt) 11-5
220: T.J. Greenfield (Skan) Pin Josh Greenwood (BR) 2:35
285: Nick Schmitt (Cato-Mer) Pin Cody Zubrzycki (Copenhagen) 4:23
TEAM SCORES: Fulton 267; Jamesville-DeWitt/CBA 153; Indian River 124; West Genesee 122.50; RFA 103; Carthage 89; Auburn 87; Central Square 82.50; Liverpool 76; Cicero-North Syracuse 68; Fayetteville-Manlius 56.50; Syracuse 49; East Syracuse-Minoa 36; Oswego 26; Whitesboro 25.50; Watertown 18; Baldwinsville 9.
Division 1 Championship Finals
99: Nate Wade (WG) D. Alex Booth (IR) 7-2
106: Matt Griffin (JD/CBA) D. Kole Mulhauser (CS) 5-0
113: Thomas Hughes (Fulton) D. Luca Pirozzolo (Auburn) 7-2
120: Logan Patterson (IR) D. Myles Griffin (JD/CBA) 6-0
126: Tyler Kellison (JD/CBA) M-Dec Andru Walts (Fulton) 14-4
132: Cole French (Fulton) D. Spencer Lavin (W’town) 6-2
138: Garret Bauer (JD/CBA) D. Quin Burlingham (Fulton) 9-3
145: Devin Earl (WG) D. Ali Salem (FM) 5-1
152: Stephen Hildenbrant (RFA) D. Hunter Duger (Auburn) 2-0
160: Nicholas Noel (Fulton) D. Anthony Piscatelli (Liverpool) 12-5
170: Camrin Galvin (Fulton) D. Jake Wright (JD/CBA) 6-5
182: Stephen Demong (Oswego) D. Fombo Azah (Carthage) 2-1
195: Matej Zavacky (Fulton) M-Dec Jamie Bataglia (CS) 15-6
220: Mykle Thomas (Syracuse) Pin John Parrish (Fulton) 3:53
285: Spencer Pisaneschi (RFA) Pin Sam Jones (Fulton) 1:58
Division 1 Consolation Finals
99: Andon Green (Carthage) M-Dec Nick Loehr (Carthage) 12-1
106: Dario Ciciarelli (CNS) D. Lucas Vantassel (IR) 6-1
113: Braden Florczyk (FM) T-Fall Jeremy Ianno (Liverpool) 2:30
120: Caleb Carreon (Fulton) D. Jacob Cavallo (Bville) 2-1
126: Eric Burt (W’Boro) D. Steve Pascarella (Liverpool) 6-0
132: Peyton Rupracht (CS) D. Sam May (Fulton) 4-1
138: Tyler Pitts (IR) D. Andy Nicholson (CS), 2-1
145: Adam DeMauro (Fulton) D. Aiden Poe (IR) 6-4
152: Anthony Desimone (CNS) D. Ben Christopher (FM) 8-5
160: Victor Elias (WG) Pin Marc Darcangelo (RFA) 4:31
170: Griffin Saso (WG) D. Keyshin Cooper (Auburn) 7-2
182: Dylan DeMauro (Fulton) Pin Cole Wade (WG) 2:47
195: Kyler Martin (IR) Pin Chandler McAvan (WG) 3:39
220: Jordan Pone (CS) D. Ameer Ladd (ESM) 2-1
285: Collin Null (Carthage) D. Calvin Young (Syracuse) 1-0