Meagan Schulz Photo
TIOGA – The Purple Tornado wrestlers are the 2017-2018 Section IV Division-II Dual champions after taking two wins in Tioga Thursday, one in which was over the host team in an exciting final that went down to the second to last match of night.
Norwich started the tournament by facing a Spencer-Van Etten/Candor (SVEC) team that handed a loss to the purple earlier season. However this time, Norwich got the best of SVEC with 58-19 victory to advance to the final against Tioga.
In the semi-final match, SVEC took a 10-0 lead after the first two weight classes due to a major decision win over Norwich’s 160 and 170 pound wrestlers. Tornado Ty Rifanburg moved up a weight class to 182 to get points for his team. He grabbed six with a 1:15 pin over Kevin Dobell. Teammate Brennan Slater added another six to the Purple’s point total with a first period pin as well. He took Mandell Davis down to the mat and set him up for the 1:33 fall.
Norwich then scored 22 straight points with a major decision by Tornado Keegan Wright, a forfeit for Dante Geislinger, and two back-to-back pins by Andrew Brown and Nick Glanville.
Izaiah Caballero took a thrilling 3-2 decision match down the final seconds, securing another three points towards the Tornado total.
At this point Norwich held a commanding lead, already landing a spot in the finals. But the match of the dual between the Purple and SVEC was in the 132 pound weight class. Norwich head coach Bob Hagenbuch decided to let Mike Squires wrestle defending Section IV champ Bryant Sexton.
Squires said he started the match the mindset of he “had nothing to lose.” It clearly showed as he jumped out to an early lead and controlled the tempo and the match until the buzzer sounded, signaling his big win.
Dakota Powers gained another six for the Purple by pinning his opponent. Igor Leal in the first period. Norwich finished scoring their 58 points by Dakota Hall getting a forfeit at the 152 pound match.
“They beat us at the beginning of the season but we knew our team was better than that day. Our guys went out tonight and avenged that loss to put us in the finals,” said Hagenbuch.
Moving to the finals, Norwich knew it wasn’t going to be walk in the park. “It really is a chess match sometimes. You try not to look ahead at who you wrestle next but you kind of have to so you the right lineup.”
Gambling against the host team, Norwich had some key guys step, making the statement win possible Thursday night.
The Purple picked up their first lead of the finals after Brennan Slater took an exciting match over Tioga’s Trey Floyd. Floyd went out with some fire early in the match but Slater quick put the flames out, winning with a major decision of 14-6.
Norwich’s Tyler Rice moved up to 285, getting a shot to revenge his loss to Tioga’s Stephen Taylor from a year ago in the same tournament.
Rice gave up nearly 60 pounds in weight by moving up but it paid off as the youngster took a 5-0 decision win in an action packed match...