ALBANY – It was almost a case of one local wrestler trying to one-up the next.
Seventh-grader Tristan Rifanburg became Norwich’s first state champion in school history, and the first seventh-grader in New York State history to win a state title in the opening match of the Division II finals. Later on, Greene’s Nick Wilcox became his school’s first three-time state champion, UV’s Tyler Peet unseated a defending state champion, and to complete a quartet of state champions, Greene senior Tyler Beckwith had the only pinfall of the finals, and was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
“All Chenango County wrestlers, that’s amazing,” said Greene’s longtime head coach, Tim Jenks. “That will be the headline tomorrow, right?”
Rifanburg (35-1) was not your typical first-year varsity wrestler from the moment he walked into practice nearly four months ago, and head coach Joe Downey expected big things right way. “He was the real deal, and he’s been working pretty much his whole life for this,” Downey said, himself a four-time sectional champion for Norwich. “This was not Tristan’s first big tournament. It’s his biggest tournament, but he’s wrestled all over. He was definitely prepared and ready.”
In the finals, Rifanburg found himself behind for the only time in the tournament giving up a first-period takedown to Drew Longo of Section I. Down 2-1 entering the second, Rifanburg proved dominant from the top position. He tilted Longo twice in the second period to forge ahead, and selected the top position in the third, a choice that led to more back points and a commanding lead on his way to a 10-6 win.