ALBANY – This past weekend, Feb. 26 and 27, at the Times Union Center in Albany, Sherburne-Earlville entered just one athlete into the New York State Championships, but that is all it took to bring home a first place finish.
S-E brought home their first State Wrestling title in well over 40-years. According to the coaching staff, S-E was suffering a 47-year hiatus since their last champion of Jerry Seifert won the title back in 1969.
Jack Buell, a senior at S-E capped off his amazing high school wrestling career standing atop the podium as the Division II 195-pound champion Saturday night.
“Our community needed it, there’s been a lot of people who have gone through that wrestling room,” said S-E head coach Bim Palmer. “It’s been a long time since our last champion, like I said, our community really needed it and it’s a great thing for Jack. He’s really really worked hard his whole life and everything finally came together.”
Buell entered the tournament hot off his performance in the Section III Division II championships. Buell marched through the sectional tournament, much like he had the entire year, pinning each of his opponents en route to a pin in the finals over Sandy Creeks Joe Benedict in just 3:34.
“It is his first season he’s been healthy all the way through, and we went everywhere and tried to wrestle everybody to get ready for this,” said Palmer reciting how they made trips to the Eastern States, Shenendehowa and even flew out to Las Vegas for tournaments.
Buell came into the 2016 New York State Tournament as the number one seed in his weight bracket, as a two time Section III champion, with a career record of 197-34, while boasting a 36-1 season record. Buell’s only loss of the season would come to an opponent at the Eastern States tournament earlier in the year, he still managed a third place finish despite the loss.
Buell began his final run in the state tournament on Friday, Feb. 26, when he defeated Candor’s Devin Hills with a win by pin at :57 seconds into the match.
Buell followed up that outing with a second consecutive win on the night, beating Seaford’s Kevin Digney by decision at 7-5.
The following day on Saturday, Buell punched his ticket to the finals when he defeated Jake Kubala of Section 6’s Newfane in the semi-finals by another pin just over a minute into the second period, at 3:17.
Little did Buell know that he would get a rematch of the Section III title match in the finals of the state tournament, as Joe Benedict, fellow Section III wrestler from Sandy Creek upset the number two seeded Tanner Zagarino in the semi-finals.
“I took each match like I would any other, one at a time. It was my second time wrestling Benedict, I mean it’s harder to score for both guys when you know what the others going to do, so certainly that was a challenge,” said Buell. “He didn’t do anything else different though than the last time I wrestled him, which was nice because I knew what was going to happen.”
Buell would draw first blood with a take down in the finals match-up against Benedict with just under a minute left in the first period.
After winning the coin flip and deferring to Benedict, the match would be stalemated for sometime as Buell attempted to ride out Benedict on top. Benedict eventually earned the escape to draw the match to 2-1 entering the final two-minute period.
After choosing down in the final period, Buell earned the escape easily in just :11 seconds. With well over a minute left, Benedict was in dire need of a take down to tie the match, something Buell defended well, Buell would win a 3-1 decision.
With that win, Buell successfully ended an almost five decade drought for S-E, emerging as their State Champion at 195-pounds for Division II. Buell would finish his high school career with a 41-1 season record, while also securing his 201st win, finishing with a 201-34 overall record.
“I worked for my whole life and it came true, but it hasn’t really set in yet. I’m the first state champ in my school since 1969,” said Buell following the finals match. “ It feels great to give my town some hope.”
With the cherry on top of an amazing high school career, Buell now looks to the future where he will attend West Point.
This championship run also marks the first state champion that head coach Bim Palmer has coached.
“I don’t ever think about it being my first state champion that I’ve coached, it’s all about Jack and the kids I coach. My community, my school system, and everybody supported me, and let me go, and that is what you need from everybody to get what we got today, and that was Jack Buell winning the state title. It’s awesome.” Said Palmer. “It’s been good and it is good for him. My hat is off to Jack Buell for working so hard and getting this win.”