VESTAL – Nik Hansen just couldn't stay healthy the first half of his wrestling career at Oxford. Three knee surgeries later and a pair of heart-breaking near-misses in 2012 and 2013 made Sunday's championship that much sweeter for the Blackhawks senior.
Hansen captured the 160-pound Section IV Division II title Sunday night at the Binghamton Events Center, one of seven Chenango County grapplers to claim titles in the division two ranks.
Norwich, Class B champions the previous week, added a Division II championship to a sterling season, its first since the section split its tournaments into two divisions 10 years ago.
Hansen placed third in the section the previous two years coming up one victory shy of reaching the finals. This time around, Hansen (160) made the most of his opportunity beating Whitney Point's Jordan Torbitt in overtime, 5-3.
In the last 30 seconds of the final period, Torbitt was hit with a stalling penalty that allowed Hansen to tie the match at 3-3. Just 12 seconds into overtime, Hansen sprawled off a Torbitt takedown attempt, and slid behind the stout Golden Eagles wrestler for the decisive two-pointer.
"I don't think I've ever wanted it more for a kid than Nik," said Oxford head coach Craig Tefft. "He's a kid that gives everything to the sport."
Early on in the tournament finals, Oxford senior Joe Nelson returned to the top of the podium after a one-year absence. A sectional champion as a sophomore, Nelson (113) dominated top-seeded Brandon Gould of Watkins Glen, 14-5.
"He just made a couple of mistakes that I was able to capitalize on," Nelson said after the victory.
Nelson won his first section title as a sophomore, and wound up placing third in the state that year. Last season, Nelson missed significant time with an injury, and struggled in the sectional tournament placing fourth. Nelson said he wasn't mentally or physically prepared last year, and Tefft agreed.