Norwich and BGAH bring home multiple Section IV champions

Dwayne A. Lobdell Photo

WATKINS GLEN – 49 local wrestlers from all around Chenango County entered into the both the Section IV and Section III tournament's this past weekend – only seven will be moving on to Albany as definite locks.

The lower half of the county saw Norwich (13), BGAH (13), Greene (6), Oxford (4), and Unadilla Valley (1), travel to Watkins Glen for a two-day solely Division II small-schools tournament. 2017 marked the first year since 2004 that Section IV has split the DI and DII Sectional tournaments up – a move that saw Chenango County dominate the DII side bringing home seven champions of the potential 15 spots.

The northern half of the county did not fair quite as well – bringing 12 of the 49 total local wrestlers – Sherburne-Earlville (8), and Otselic Valley (4). None were able to lay claim to a first place finish, a mark needed to guarantee a trip to Albany, on Feb. 24, and 25, for the New York State Tournament.

However, Norwich laid claim to a fantastic tournament – topping off a fine season by any means going 12-4 overall as team – and now breaking their school's record for most ever finalists and eventual champions at the Section IV tournament.

Norwich – who brought 13 wrestlers – showed grit throughout the two days, as six wrestlers found their way through the ranks to the finals – with four guaranteed to earn trips to Albany.

BGAH managed a better team finish with their 13 wrestlers – topping Norwich to finish second on the day at 191 – behind champion team Tioga at 197. However, BGAH would suffer some big losses in their finals matches – moving five wrestlers to the finals, while only bringing home three champions – due to two losses to the aforementioned Tornado.

Greene, Oxford, and Unadilla Valley would see no champions on the weekend – but would earn some solid mat-time where various wrestlers earned spots on the podium.

Section IV DII local results:

• 99 pounds: Norwich's Dante Geislinger highlighted the weight class, as the freshman third-seed gunned for a championship spot following a semifinals win over second-seeded Chandler Merwin of Walton-Delhi at 5-0. Geislinger finished 2-1 on the day when he was met in the finals by top-seeded John Worthing of Tioga. Geislinger suffered a finals loss to Worthing by way of a pin at just :33 into the match. Geislinger does have a chance to advance to the New York State tournament as a possible wild-card.

“John Worthing is a returning section champ, state finalist last year. He pinned Dante earlier in the year and we were hoping this time was going to be different. We got into a scramble, neither one had control but Dante ended up getting to his back and was defensive pinned,” said Norwich head coach Bob Hagenbuch.

Notably in the weight class, Oxford's Cooper Rice, an eighth grader was able to secure a respectable finish. Rice snagged an early win over Payton Bennett of Maine-Endwell by way of pin at 3:26, before dropping a match to Merwin by major decision at 20-9. Rice went on to three wrestle-back matches – suffering another loss to Merwin which sent him to the eventual fifth place finish. Rice finished the weekend going 4-2, on the day and held an overall record of 23-13 on the season.

• 106 pounds: BGAH against Norwich, first-seed against second seed – the championship match was filled with twists and turns as Mikey Squires of Norwich (second-seed) was able to secure a 3-2 win over Brody Oleksak (first seed) to give Norwich their first of four sectional champions.

“This is the third time they met this year, every time they wrestle its a coin flip,” said coach Hagenbuch.

Squires looked to be on the attack early, securing an early 2-0 lead with a takedown over Oleksak. Squires rode out this early lead to hang on for the close 3-2 victory – ensuring his trip to Albany.

“Mikey has been working hard all year, he is one of the hardest workers in the room and it has paid off so far,” said coach Hagenbuch. Squires finished the tournament 4-0, with a big win over Nate Lehr of Chenango Valley in the semifinals at 3-1 to help lift him to the championship. Oleksak of BGAH finished the day going 3-1 – with a much easier glide to the finals where the one loss occurred. It remains unknown if Oleksak will garner a wild-card slot to states.

Notably, Brady Smith of Oxford and Jordan Taft of Greene did participate in the weight – neither were able to earn a spot on the podium. Taft finished 0-2 on the day, while Smith grabbed a win over Taft to help raise his weekend record to 2-1.

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