Keith Lanfear Photo
CHENANGO COUNTY – Over the course of Friday and Saturday and between two locations, six wrestlers of area earned their automatic bid into the New York State wrestling tournament while 15 others placed in the top six or higher.
The Section IV Championships were held in Watkins Glen. The teams of Norwich, Oxford, Greene and BGAH made their long journey to the school on Friday and finished on Saturday evening. Norwich finished with four wrestlers headed to Albany in two weeks while Bainbridge-Guilford-Afton-Harpursville (BGAH) will be sending two after their finals match wins.
At 99-pounds, Norwich’s Dante Geislinger earned his big to the New York State tournament by dominating his bracket with his 4-0 record. In the finals, he took on Cody Merwin of Walton/Delhi and won by 7-0 decision. In the 99-pound bracket, Geislinger and teammate Andrew Brown matched up yet again for the second week in a row. This time it was a semifinal match that Geislinger took with a tech fall of 15-0.
Brown needed one win to move into the consolation finals. In that match, he was squared up against Tioga’s Mason Welch. Brown moved onto the consolation final match by taking the 2-0 decision over Welch and went on to face Maine-Endwell’s Payton Bennett. By a decision win of 9-3, Brown finished third in the bracket.
“Andrew wrestled awesome,” said Norwich’s head coach Bob Hagenbuch. “If not being on the same side of the bracket with Dante, it might have been a Norwich final. With Andrew being new to varsity this year, he is a long shot for a wild card bid to States with no points.”
Oxford’s Cooper Rice is the lone Blackhawk to earn his trip to the state tournament, after an exciting and dramatic 15-14 win over the first seed Kyle Willard. Rice held the lead for most of the match and had a few pinning chances before Willard squirmed loose. Rice had gained a 15-9 advantage before Willard earned the take down and five-count near fall to close the gap. But it was not enough to overcome Rice’s big lead.
Nick Glanville of the Purple Tornado and Teague Rezucha of BGAH were in the 113-pound bracket. Rezucha lost his first match of the day to Glanville and was sent to wrestlebacks. In the first round of wrestlebacks, Rezucha received a bye and moved into the next round. It was there he met Ryan LaForrest of Waverly and was handed a tough 5-4 decision loss, giving him an early exit from the tournament.
Glanville moved through the bracket into the semis to face Chandler Merwin of Walton/Delhi. Merwin, ranked just ahead of Glanville before the weekend, took a 1-0 decision win and sent Glanville to wrestleback for no higher than a third place finish. Glanville made it to the consolation finals match and was leading 3-0 late in the match. But having to wrestle hard til the last second against David MacWhinnie of Tioga, Glanville was pinned at 4:16 to finish fourth in the bracket.
In the next weight class, the 120-pound featured Damien Hitt of Greene and Brady Smith of Oxford. Neither wrestler placed in the bracket but both had tough roads on their way. In his first match, Hitt squared off against Parker Sexton of Spencer Van-Etten/Candor who is ranked number three section at that weight. Hitt was pinned at 1:23 and was sent to the wrestlebacks rounds. It was there he was faced with an early tournament exit by Richard Bellanger of Dryden. Bellanger, who’s record on the year was 15-9 before the sectional tournament started, pinned Hitt early in the first-period.