In three varsity seasons, Norwich freshman wrestler Tristan Rifanburg had missed the finals of just one tournament. That total nearly doubled last Saturday at the Section IV wrestling championships.
Rifanburg, already a two-time sectional champion, needed to rally twice in the semifinals against Waverly’s Austyn Bostwick. Rifanburg earned a hard-fought 10-6 overtime win, but his close call seemed to tarnish his unbeatable luster.
“Bostwick is a just an unorthodox kid that gets you into some weird positions,” said Norwich coach Joe Downey. “The class tournament was a similar match, but not as close.”
While Rifanburg edged past Bostwick, his upcoming finals opponent, Corey Dake, blew through his semifinals foe as he sought a fourth straight Section IV championship.
With two defending champions on center-stage for the finals, something had to give.
“I know I said this before, but when Tristan gets under the spotlight, he’s a totally different person,” Downey said. “Some wrestlers are great in the wrestling room, and some are great under the spotlight.”
Rifanburg is great in both.
After a scoreless opening period, Rifanburg had the top position as Dake chose bottom. Dake came close to shaking Rifanburg, but eventually succumbed to Rifanburg’s varied offensive attack. The NHS freshman tilted Dake for three back points, and was fully in control entering the final period.