GLENS FALLS — Clayton O’Connor had one day to get ready for the Section II Division 1 wrestling tournament, and a light one at that.
“I was out of practice all week,” O’Connor, a senior at Mohonasen, said after winning the 110-pound championship on Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena. “Yesterday [Friday] was my only day of practice, and we didn’t even do any live [wrestling].”
A week earlier, an injured right shoulder — the fear, he said, was a sprained AC joint — cost O’Connor the chance at a Section II Class B title. He forfeited his semifinal match as the No. 1 seed, wrestled one consolation match to ensure his place in Glens Falls, then defaulted to finish fourth.
Saturday, with his right shoulder in a heavy brace, the senior came up with a clutch performance, outlasting Averill Park’s Jacob Hanlon via 3-0 decision to add a second Section II championship to the one O’Connor claimed as a sophomore at 99 pounds in 2020.
“Amazing,” said O’Connor, who stamped his ticket to the New York State championships, which will be held Feb. 25 and 26 at MVP Arena in Albany. “This is even better than the first one.”
O’Connor wasn’t the only wrestler from a Rotterdam school to put in a head-turning performance on Saturday.
In Division 2, Schalmont freshman 126-pounder Dylan Devine provided one of the most exciting moments of the finals with his 12-11 decision win over top-seeded Dylan Winchell of Warrensburg/Bolton.
“It was crazy,” Devine said. “I worked hard, and it paid off. I just had to believe in myself. If I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t have won that match.”
In a roller coaster ride of a six-minute match, Devine trailed 11-9 with 43 seconds back, but got back within a point thanks to a locked-hands penalty from Winchell. Then, with 15 seconds remaining, Devine scored the go-ahead takedown and held Winchell down until the clock ran out to secure the title.
“I knew that I had to dig deep down,” said Devine, who was named Division 2’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. “I had to get that last takedown. Just keep working hard, and never give up. It’s awesome. All the hard work paid off, all the days being in the gym paid off.”
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake easily took home the Division 1 team championship, outpacing runner-up Shenendehowa by nearly 60 points.
The Spartans, who also won the Section II Division 1 dual meet title last month, had finalists in six weight classes, with 132-pounder Gabriel Goss and 145-pounder Josh Warland both winning individual crowns.
Goss pinned Saratoga Springs’ Taylor Beaury in 1:18, adding a Section II title to a long comeback from injury. Goss missed all of Burnt Hills’ COVID-shortened 2021 season with a torn meniscus in his right knee, which he then tore again during his recovery.
“Whether we had a season or not I wouldn’t have been able to compete in it,” said Goss, who was named Division 1’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. “I think that’s what drove me to really work my buns off and go take that title.”
Warland scored a 3-2 decision win over Amsterdam’s Renso Montalvo by scoring a third-period reversal to take the lead and fighting off Montalvo’s last-minute reversal attempt.
Also producing multiple Division I champions were Shenendehowa with Ayden Robles (126) and the undefeated Jashon Holmes (138), Ballston Spa with Ralph Keeney (102) and Connor Gregory (152), and Shaker with Michael Santore (118) and Ryan Stein (215).
The Division II team championship went to Warrensburg/Bolton, with runner-up Coxsackie-Athens a distant 63 points behind.
It had been 45 years since a Fonda-Fultonville wrestler had won a Section II championship, dating back to Bob Phillips’ victory at 177 pounds in 1977.
Owen Hicks needed all of 84 seconds to end that drought.
Hicks, representing the merged Fonda-Fultonville/Johnstown program, pinned Warrensburg/Bolton’s Dante Corriveau in the first period to put an exclamation mark on his Division 2 145-pounder championship — which also happened to come in the senior’s 100th career win.
“My goal was to pin him,” said Hicks, who improved to 30-1 on the season. “I wanted to get the match done as quick as possible. . . . I was tired of getting second every year.”
Hicks had twice been a runner-up in Glens Falls, falling to Maple Hill’s Caleb Svingala in 2020 and Shenendehowa’s Stevo Poulin in 2019.
After a 45-year gap between Fonda-Fultonville’s first and second state tournament qualifiers, the gap between the second and third was, oh, about 25 minutes. Jonathan Cranker didn’t take the title at 160 pounds, falling by pin to Catskill’s Daniel Forbes in the second period, but Cranker earned a berth at states when Glens Falls’ Skyler Sturdevant — whom Cranker had beaten in Saturday’s semifinals — took third place, foregoing the need for a wrestle-off.
One match later, another Montgomery County program saw a lengthy championship drought end when Canajoharie/Fort Plain’s Reed Douglass won the Division 2 172-pound crown, giving the program its first area champion since Carlo Izzo in 2006.
Douglass, who will wrestle in college at Division I Presbyterian, took down long-time club training partner Ray Hutton of La Salle Institute early in overtime for a 6-4 sudden victory.
“I’ve been training for that match for a year,” Douglass said. “I put that in my head every single night for a year. Two more weeks, we’re going to states, baby.
“I train with Ray every day. We know almost every single thing we do. I love the kid. I would not be where I am without him.”
FIRST TIME FOR ‘TRUE’ SECOND
Once the 26 championship matches — wrestled concurrently with the 26 third-place matches — wrapped up, that didn’t mean wrestling was done for the night.
A revamped state tournament format gives Section II two berths in every weight class, leading to a series of qualifying matches to fill out the state roster. If the second-place finisher in a weight class hadn’t beaten the third-place finisher during the course of the tournament, a wrestle-off was held to determine the state qualifier.
In total, 15 matches were contested — seven in Division 1, eight in Division 2 — with 11 other runners-up qualifying thanks to wins earlier Saturday.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 193, Shenendehowa 135.5, Shaker 118, Saratoga Springs 112, Ballston Spa 101.5, Mohonasen 94.5, Colonie 90.5, Guilderland 80, Averill Park 62.5, Queensbury 58, Columbia 42, Niskayuna 41, Amsterdam 34, Albany 23, Schenectady 17, Scotia-Glenville/Galway 17, Bethlehem 15, South Glens Falls 7.
102: Keeney (BSpa) dec. Graulau (Mohon), 7-5. 110: O’Connor (Mohon) dec. Hanlon (AP), 3-0. 118: Santore (Shak) dec. Rivera (Mohon), 4-0. 126: Robles (Shen) dec. L. Carlin (BH-BL), 1-0. 132: Goss (BH-BL) pinned Beuary (Sara), 1:18. 138: Holmes (Shen) dec. Rossini (BH-BL), 4-1. 145: Warland (BH-BL) dec. R. Montalvo (Ams), 3-2. 152: Gregory (BSpa) dec. Tempel (AP), 6-3. 160: Chuckrow (Sara) dec. Pawlinga (BH-BL), 9-4. 172: D. Schell (Qby) major dec. Buthfer (BH-BL), 19-6. 189: Blanchard (Guil) dec. Ahmad (Shak), 4-2. 215: Stein (Shak) dec. Insogna (BSpa), 6-4. 285: Hotaling (Colo) pinned Aguirre-Hamlin (Colo), 0:57.
102: Keeney (BSpa) pinned Dacey (Sara), 2:14; Graulau (Mohon) major dec. Green (Shen), 15-5. 110: Hanlon (AP) pinned Kligerman (Alb), 3:57; O’Connor (Mohon) dec. Whiteley (BH-BL), 4-3. 118: Santore (Shak) pinned Hinchcliff (BSpa), 2:38; Rivera (Mohon) pinned Polsinello (Shak), 3:36. 126: L. Carlin (BH-BL) dec. Conti (S-G/Gal), 8-2 (OT); Robles (Shen) pinned C. Montalvo (Ams), 1:39. 132: Goss (BH-BL) pinned Miller (Colo), 0:49; Beaury (Sara) dec. Grembocki (Shen), 1-0. 138: Holmes (Shen) pinned Griskowitz (Sara), 0:25; Rossini (BH-BL) dec. Carlin (BH-BL), 7-5. 145: Warland (BSpa) major dec. Smith (Colu), 9-1; R. Montalvo (Ams) dec. Ensminger (Shen), 8-4. 152: Gregory (BSpa) dec. Murray (Sara), 7-0; Tempel (AP) dec. L. Schell (Qby), 6-1. 160: Pawlinga (BH-BL) dec. Welcome (Colu), 4-3 (OT); Chuckrow (Sara) dec. Truesdell (Colo), 9-2. 172: D. Schell (Qby) pinned Payton (Mohon), 1:17; Buthfer (BH-BL) dec. Deguire (Shak), 6-1. 189: Blanchard (Guil) pinned Palleschi (Sara), 1:02; Ahmad (Shak) dec. Ahrens (SGF), 5-4. 215: Stein (Shak) pinned Elsiddig (Schen), 0:34; Insogna (BSpa) pinned Morizio (Guil), 0:59. 285: Aguirre-Hamlin (Colo) pinned Harrison (Guil), 1:27; Hotaling (Colo) pinned Allen (Nisk), 1:25.
Warrensburg/Bolton 155, Coxsackie-Athens 92, Hudson Falls 81, Tamarac 80, Duanesburg/Schoharie 77.5, Cobleskill-Richmondville 77, Salem/Cambridge 69.5, Granville/Fort Ann 68, Canajoharie/Fort Plain 66.5, Fonda-Fultonville/Johnstown 66, B-K-W/Middleburgh 58.5, Ravena 47.5, Schalmont 45, Lansingburgh 39, Hoosick Falls 36, Whitehall 36, Glens Falls 34.5, Watervliet/Cohes 32, Greenville 31.5, Catskill 28, Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George 28, Maple Hill 26, La Salle Institute 19.5, Mechanicville/Stillwater 18, Berlin/New Lebanon 15, Taconic Hills 11, Corinth 6, Ichabod Crane 4, Schuylerville/Greenwich 4, Rensselaer/Loudonville Christian 0.
102: G. English (BKW/Mid) major dec. Ju. Mullis (HudF), 12-2. 110: L. English (BKW/Mid) major dec. Cox (C-A), 15-5. 118: Tr. Bishop (Tam) dec. Nicolella (D/S), 7-0. 126: Devine (Schal) dec. Winchell (W/B), 12-11. 132: McKenna (W/B) dec. To. Bishop (Tam), 11-9. 138: Cullen (Green) pinned Yorke (C-R), 3:35. 145: Hicks (F-F/J) pinned Corriveau (W/B), 1:24. 152: Flynn (W/C) pinned Rehberg (D/S), 2:45. 160: Forbes (Cat) pinned Cranker (F-F/J), 2:27. 172: Douglass (C/FP) dec. Hutton (LSI), 6-4 (OT). 189: Perry (G/FA) dec. Austin (Whi), 1-0. 215: Marissal (H-L/LG) pinned Martindale (S/C), 4:35. 285: Hitchcock (W/B) dec. Day (S/C), 4-3.
102: G. English (BKW/Mid) dec. Haley (C-R), 6-2; Ju. Mullis (HudF) pinned Murphy (C-A), 5:20. 110: Cox (C-A) pinned Carpenter (W/B), 5:06; L. English (BKW/Mid) pinned Torres (G/FA), 1:17. 118: Tr. Bishop (Tam) pinned Smith (C/FP), 2:58; Nicolella (D/S) dec. Olden (W/B), 7-4. 126: Winchell (W/B) dec. Ortiz (MH), 7-6; Devine (Schal) dec. Broadhurst (Rav), 7-3. 132: McKenna (W/B) pinned Vogt (D/S), 1:09; To. Bishop (Tam) pinned McMahon (G/FA), 1:45. 138: Cullen (Green) pinned Roadcap (Tam), 1:51; Yorke (C-R) major dec. Haig (C/FP), 13-4. 145: Hicks (F-F/J) pinned Millington (Lan), 1:33; Corriveau (W/B) tech fall Fitzpatrick (Tam), 5:05 (24-7). 152: Flynn (W/C) pinned Ostrander (Whi), 1:01; Rehberg (D/S) dec. Schirmacher (M/S), 2-1. 160: Forbes (Cat) dec. Martinez (C/A), 8-1; Cranker (F-F/J) pinned Sturdevant (GF), 3:07. 172: Douglass (C/FP) major dec. Je. Mullis (HudF), 11-2; Hutton (LSI) tech fall Iamunno (C-A), 4:17 (16-0). 189: Austin (Whi) pinned Burns (TH), 1:18; Perry (G/FA) pinned Chapman (Rav), 3:09. 215: Marissal (H-L/LG) pinned Nemec (W/B), 1:10; Martindale (S/C) dec. Williams (GF), 10-4. 285: Hitchcock (W/B) pinned Hathaway (HooF), 0:16; Day (S/C) dec. Cooper (C-R), 2-0.
Stan Hudy contributed to this report.