Athlete of the Week: Rifanburg looks to make history again

Tristan Rifanburg made New York State wrestling history last February when he became the first seventh-grader to win a state championship. Rifanburg also became the first Norwich wrestler in school history to win a state championship.

Rifanburg, now with a target on his back as “the person to beat,” is in position to make history again for the Tornado. He backed up a Section IV title from a year ago with a dominating run to the 112-pound championship last weekend in the Section IV Division II Championships. A week from now, Rifanburg will attempt to become a repeat state champion.

The Norwich grappler breezed into the sectional finals with three blowout wins by pin, then upended defending 103-pound Section IV champion Jesse Holton of Windsor, 6-2 for the tile. It was the second win in as many weeks for Rifanburg over Holton, and the victory has garnered Rifanburg our weekly honor as Smith Ford, Giant’s Warehouse/Evening Sun Athlete of the Week.

“He’s doing just phenomenal. In two years of wrestling he’s had around 70 wins, and the majority of those have been either pins or technical falls,” said Norwich second-year coach Joe Downey. “It just shows how ahead of the game he is from everybody else in his weight class. In sectionals last year, he breezed through the tournament. This year, he wasn’t really tested either.”

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