BURNT HILLS — There may have technically still been some work to be done, but as Liam Carlin sprinted off the mat into a sea of high-fives and hugs from his Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake wrestling teammates, he knew it was over.
Carlin, a freshman 126-pounder, scored a decisive takedown with 40 seconds left in the third period to pull out a two-point win over Shaker’s Michael Santore. That put the Spartans up five points on Shaker with three weight classes left in the finals of the Section II Division 1 dual meet tournament, and with a trio of heavy hitters — Gabriel Goss, Colin Carlin and Tyler Rossini — set to close things out for Burnt Hills, it was all over but the plaque presentation.
“I was like, ‘We’re winning this, for sure,’” Liam Carlin said.
Liam Carlin’s thrilling decision win was followed by three straight first-period pins as the top-seeded Spartans pulled away for a 45-22 win over Shaker on Tuesday to stamp their ticket to the state dual meet championships on Jan. 29 at SRC Arena in Syracuse.
“I’m real proud of these guys,” Burnt Hills coach Steve Jones said. “They’ve been working hard for many years. This is the fruit of their labors this year.”
Burnt Hills, which suffered a heartbreaking 39-35 last-match loss to Shenendehowa in the semifinals when the Section II tournament was last contested in 2020, scored a measure of revenge to start off Tuesday with a 37-30 semifinal win.
That set up the championship showdown with third-seeded Shaker, which had rallied from seven points down with two matches remaining to beat No. 2 Ballston Spa 33-31 in the other semifinal.
Burnt Hills headed into the event looking the part of the likely champion, but the semifinal win over long-time Section II power Shenendehowa allowed the Spartans to breathe a little easier heading into the championship round.
“That took a lot off our shoulders,” said Burnt Hills junior Joshua Warland. “We knew Shen was the team to beat at the start.”
In the final against Shaker, it was Warland who got the Spartans off on the right foot, pinning Cameron Medina in 1:25 at 160 pounds. Following a pin by Thomas Pawlinga and a forfeit to Ryan Buthfer, Burnt Hills was quickly up 18-0.
Shaker won the next four weight classes to go up 19-18, but a forfeit to Tyler Whiteley at 110 pounds put Burnt Hills back in front 24-19. Shaker’s Alex Polsinello won a 7-2 decision at 118 to close the gap to 24-22, setting up a crucial matchup between Liam Carlin and Santore at 126.
The two met last month at the Wrangle in the Plains, and just like in that meeting, it was the freshman Spartan coming out on top in a low-scoring match. In December, it was 3-0. Tuesday, it was a 3-1 win for Carlin.
“The first match, I was really heavy on my feet and I wasn’t confident in my attacks,” said Carlin, who has handed Santore two of his three losses so far this season. “This time, I really was.”
Carlin was coming off a disappointing third-place finish at Saturday’s Schenectady Invitational, and had lost four of his last seven matches entering Tuesday following a 15-0 start to the season.
“I changed a lot in my game,” Carlin said. “I’m moving a lot more. I’m lighter on my feet.”
After his win, the party was on. Goss, Colin Carlin and Rossini all rolled to pins, with Rossini’s 100th career victory finishing off the night in style.
“It’s a major accomplishment,” Warland said. “We worked really hard for this. I think we really deserved it. So much has led up to this night. It’s nice to know we finally got it done.”
Warrensburg will represent Section II in the Division 2 state dual meet tournament. The Section II Division 2 tournament was called off when the remaining two teams in the field, Duanesburg/Schoharie and Hudson Falls, opted not to participate.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 45, SHAKER 22
152: Warland (BH-BL) pinned Medina, 1:25. 160: Pawlinga (BH-BL) pinned Garcia, 3:51. 172: Buthfer (BH-BL) by forfeit. 189: Deguire (Shak) dec. Casey, 6-3. 215: Ahmad (Shak) major dec. Ismail, 12-3. 285: Stein (Shak) by forfeit. 102: Drake (Shak) by forfeit. 110: Whiteley (BH-BL) by forfeit. 118: Polsinello (Shak) dec. Taylor, 7-2. 126: L. Carlin (BH-BL) dec. Santore, 3-1. 132: Goss (BH-BL) pinned Abbaszadeh, 1:31. 138: C. Carlin (BH-BL) pinned B. Rezek, 1:40. 145: Rossi (BH-BL) pinned A. Rezek, 1:47.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 37, SHENENDEHOWA 30
145: Holmes (Shen) pinned Bearce, 1:35. 152: Rossini (BH-BL) pinned Harbour, 1:46. 160: Warland (BH-BL) major dec. Hashimee, 10-2. 172: Pawlinga (BH-BL) dec. Maiello, 5-4. 189: Buthfer (BH-BL) pinned Woolums, 3:39. 215: Casey (BH-BL) dec. Janikas, 9-5. 285: Ismail (BH-BL) pinned Hyslop, :44. 102: Donatelli (Shen) by forfeit. 110: Whiteley (BH-BL) pinned Green, 3:55. 118: Noman (Shen) pinned Taylor, 2:46. 126: L. Carlin (BH-BL) dec. Robles, 4-2. 132: Grembocki (Shen) by forfeit. 138: Ensminger (Shen) by forfeit.
SHAKER 33, BALLSTON SPA 31
145: A. Rezek (Sha) dec. Leahy, 10-5. 152: Gregory (BSpa) pinned Medina, 1:54. 160: Siracuse (BSpa) pinned Garcia, 3:49. 172: Deguire (Shak) by forfeit. 189: Ahmad (Shak) dec. Hemby, 8-2. 215: Stein (Shak) by forfeit. 285: D. Insogna (BSpa) by forfeit. 102: Warlikowski (BSpa) by forfeit. 110: M. Insogna (BSpa) major dec. Drake, 8-0. 118: Santore (Shak) by forfeit. 126: Hinchcliff (BSpa) dec. Polsinello, 11-8. 132: Abbaszadeh (Shak) pinned O’Connor, :43. 138: B. Rezek (Shak) dec. Collins, 10-3.