ALBANY, NY The biggest stage of the 2016-2017 season, the New York State high school wrestling state championships is upon us, and Chenango County will be represented by nine wrestlers.
These nine wrestlers are all from powerhouse local DII teams Norwich and Bainbridge-Guilford-Afton Harpursville (BGAH).
The two-day tournament at Times Union Center in Albany the site of the state championships since 2009 gets underway early on this morning, 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 24, and continues until the completion on the night of Saturday, Feb. 25.
8:30 a.m. Gates open
9:30 a.m. Parade of Champions, National Anthem, Sportsmanship Awards
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Preliminary Round of wrestling
2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Championship Quarterfinals
4 p.m. - 8 p.m. Consolation Wrestle-backs
Saturday's schedule (Session 1)
8:30 a.m. Gates open
9:30 a.m. National Anthem
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Championship Semifinals, Consolation Wrestle-backs
12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. Consolation Wrestle-backs and Semifinals
2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Consolation Finals
Saturday's schedule (Session 2)
5 p.m. Gates Re-open
5:50 p.m. Championship Ceremonies Begin
6:30 p.m. Championship Finals (Two-mats DI and DII) and Podium Awards every five matches
Representing Section IV Athletics, Chenango County, and their respective schools are the following wrestlers: Norwich Mikey Squires 106 pounds, Eli Rodriguez 113 pounds, Ty Rifanburg 145 pounds, Cole Rifanburg 152 pounds, and Brennan Slater 182 pounds; BGAH Brody Oleksak 106 pounds, Ben Bivar 138 pounds, Madison Hoover 160 pounds, and Austin Carr 170 pounds.
These nine wrestlers will be appearing in eight different weight classes Squires and Oleksak both at 106 pounds with eight of the nine being seeded in the top eight.
Mikey Squires will be wrestling at 106 pounds for Norwich and currently holds a season record of 37-6. Squires first match of the tournament from the fourth-seed spot is against Ricky D`elia a sophomore from Port Jefferson.
Mikey has a nice seed for his first time making it to the State Tournament. But he is in the upper bracket with returning state champ Jon Charles who has beaten Mikey twice this year, said Norwich coach Bob Hagenbuch. Close matches but to get to redeem those losses we have to just take it one match at a time and stay focused.
Eli Rodriguez will be wrestling from the top-seed at the 113 pounds weight class and currently holds a season record of 35-6. Rodriguez's first match is against Matt Laporte a sophomore from Hoosick Falls.
Eli is the number one seed. Being a 3rd place returner he is no stranger to big tournaments. When it's on the line Eli flips the switch and really wrestled well in big matches. He just can't look past any opponent and he will be fine, said coach Hagenbuch.
Ty Rifanburg will be the lone Chenango County wrestler who did not garner a top-eight seed in the state tournament but will instead be looking to prove his belonging at the 145 pounds weight class. Ty holds a season record of 38-7, and will first face off against Dustin Joy a senior and fourth-seed from Lyndonville.
Ty is also a state place winner from last year. With that said he is not even seeded. That's just tells you how tough his bracket is. Ty is a competitor and he will use not being seeded as a motivator for sure. We like him under the radar. He is very dangerous and should place high on the podium, said Hagenbuch.