OXFORD – Joe Nelson was not where he wanted to be – down a point with with less than a minute left in the third period.
Seeking a third straight Clyde Cole Tournament title, the Oxford native came through in the clutch.
Before a vocal partisan crowd, Nelson secured a takedown of Carthage’s Andrew McFarland with 30 seconds left. McFarland worked for the switch and then the escape to no avail as Nelson held on for the 113-pound title, 6-5, Saturday night.
Nelson led the host Blackhawks to a third-place team finish, the best among five Chenango County teams entered in the 50th annual tourney.
Norwich led all local teams with three champions, Dalen Geislinger, Tristan Rifanburg, and Frank Garcia. B-G/Afton’s Jesse Griswold and Mark Viviano won their first Clyde Cole championships, while Sherburne-Earlville sophomore, Garrett DuVall, had his club’s lone title win.
Nelson pressed for the pin in the first period with the hope of moving his team up the standings and perhaps earn a team championship. He locked up McFarland in an early cradle, and appeared on his way to said pin. However, McFarland, fifth in Section III’s division one tournament a season ago, had other ideas. He secured a reversal and two back points, and either led or was tied with Nelson until the final 30 seconds. “He came out and wrestled like he had nothing to lose,” said Carthage head coach Don Dorchester of his young charge. “It’s a tough loss, but it’s something that will make him a better wrestler.”
The same might be said of Nelson, who didn’t have nearly the same difficulty in winning titles in 2010-2011. “He was a real tough kid, and I have to give him credit,” said Oxford coach Craig Tefft of McFarland. “True to Joe’s mettle, champions find a way to pull through in the end.”
Oxford registered six third-place finishers to shoot up the standings finishing 10 points behind champion Averill Park, and three points out of second place behind Unatego. “We had some guys lose on Friday and we needed to regroup,” Tefft said. “We told the guys to not let what happened on Friday affect them on Saturday. To their credit, they were able to wrestle back well.”
Geislinger (99), giving up substantial weight to Marcelino Aponte of Averill Park, used a first-period ankle-pick takedown to snare the lead, and that 2-0 margin stood up giving him his first championship in his first varsity wrestling tournament.
Rifanburg (138) won his first Clyde Cole title since his seventh-grade year blanking B-G/Afton’s Justin Cirigliano, 5-0. Rifanburg built the five-point lead in the first, and from there, Cirigliano went into a defensive mode to prevent any further scoring by Rifanburg.
Garcia, the number two seed, stunned top-seeded Codie Nichols, 14-3, in the 145-pound championship. Garcia had a series of back points in the second period turning a 2-1 match into a 12-2 lead. For his convincing win, Garcia earned the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler award.
“It was just amazing what Franky did,” said Norwich coach Joe Downey. “Nichols is one of the best kids in the section, and was the sectional runner-up at 145 last year. Franky just dominated.”
As for Geislinger, Downey could not be happier. “He’s a real go-getter, and almost like another Franky,” Downey said. ‘He’s constantly going forward, taking shots, and he never quits. We’re really enthused with what we’ve seen so far.”..