Queensbury senior Lanz James walked off the wrestling mat for the fourth, and final, time Saturday at Mohonasen High School with a big smile on his face and blood running from his lip. A bunch of hugs soon followed.
James wasn’t among the first-place guys at Saturday’s Section II Class B meet, but the 145-pounder will be joining them next weekend in Glens Falls for the area’s Division I tournament after earning his way. James was one of a number of wrestlers Saturday to prevail in a make-or-break fifth-place final of wrestlebacks, from which the wrestlers on the winning end saw their seasons continue to next weekend’s state qualifier. While top-five finishers from Saturday’s Class A and B events advanced to next weekend, only the top-four finishers in the Class CC, C and D tournaments advanced.
“It comes down to whoever wants it more and gets the dub,” James said after getting pinned twice, and pinning two opponents. “You’ve got to go in with a strong mentality and look forward to winning.”
Mohonasen junior Janez Zwetschek followed the same path as James with four matches that ended with pins, two for and two against, to snag fifth in the 132-pound bracket.
“I was seeded fourth and fought my way back. It just feels great,” Zwetschek said after pinning Robert Rathbun of Queensbury to finish fifth in his first Class B meet appearance. “I was losing up until that pin. Now I get another week.”
Mohonasen’s Vincent Graulau (113), Zach Gillis of Amsterdam (126) and both Jack Davis (152) and Michael Lupo (220) of Ballston Spa were among the others who won fifth-place matches.
“Our kids have never been in this situation, but they were ready because of our tough schedule,” Mohonasen coach Brandon Guthrie said. “We wrestled in a lot of tough meets for times like this.”
In the Class A event held at Bethlehem, Shenendehowa senior Pablo Delarosa was able to finish in fifth place after a tough start to his day. Unseeded Delarosa lost his opening match at 120 to eventual champion, Jack Schiavo of Niskayuna.
“It’s tough going up against No. 1 seeds, and then losing and having to wrestle back all the way up to fifth-[place], third-place — whatever the place might be,” Delarosa said.
After a wrestleback victory, he was pitted against third-seeded Plainsmen teammate David Ensminger. An 11-7 defeat in that match made the fifth-place final a must-win match for Delarosa, but he entered that final match with confidence.
“I knew going out there I was going to do my thing,” Delarosa said. “I knew I was going to win and come out on top.”
Delarosa made quick work of Guilderland’s Samuel Sosnovsky, pinning him at 1:43 and earning another trip to next weekend’s area championships.
“He kept his composure and came back. Gave himself a chance to be back at the Cool Insuring Arena,” Shenendehowa coach Rob Weeks said. “It’s not how you start the season; it’s how you finish it, and he’s going to try and finish it on a high note.”
The Class B meet was considered the deepest in talent among the five Section II class meets that were held Saturday. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake won the team title ahead of Ballston Spa, Mohonasen, Queensbury, Columbia and Amsterdam.
“This sport is so personal,” Ballston Spa coach Harvey Staulters said. “The boys wrestling for first and second, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth — they’ll remember that match.”
Ballston Spa’s Davis didn’t think he’d be wrestling for survival. The senior was fourth at the 2019 Class B meet, and was looking to move up.
“I lost to some people I beat before, and this was do or die,” Davis said after going 2-2 and winning the 152-pound fifth-place bout over Queensbury’s Dristen Hughes by technical fall. “I was upset that I was in that scenario, but I went out with a win. It would have been a big disappointment if it went the other way.”
Queensbury’s James was thinking the same thing.
“Senior year,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out like that.”