Turns out the Mayans were a day off.
Since Friday — the day some felt would herald the end of the world, according to the ancient Mayan calander — came and went without incident, the Burnt Hills wrestling team decided it would shake up Section II wrestling Saturday.
Taking advantage of a favorable draw that established the 170-pound bout as the match opener, the Spartans roared out to a 37-0 lead and ended Shenendehowa’s 60-plus-match Suburban Council winning streak with a 46-30 victory.
The one-sided nature of the early bouts all but negated Shenendehowa’s run of state-caliber wrestlers, who could not impact the outcome after Nolan Hale put the match out of reach with a win at 132.
“I had no idea. I honestly didn’t think it was going to come down to that possibility. I was in the 10th [actually the 11th] match,” said Hale, who used a takedown and three-point near fall in the final minute of the second period to beat Jordan Maynard, 6-2. “But when I saw the kid before me get pinned, I knew it was going to be an important match. It sealed the match, but I had no idea going in.”
“We got the right draw, and we knew we could get a run,” said Burnt Hills coach Steve Jones, whose team assumes the lead in the SC North at 4-0. “They really wanted it. It’s been a long time coming.”
“All good things must end,” said Shenendehowa coach Rob Weeks, who had not suffered a league loss since falling to Colonie late in the 2004-05 season. “We knew coming in, as far as this time of the year, this was the dual meet of the season. We lost to a better team today.”
Burnt Hills was able to use a group of veterans in the upper weights against a Shenendehowa group without Levi Ashley, sidelined by illness, and Ali Hashimee,
“It gets the momentum going right away, and gets Shen down a little bit, so that when we hit the heart of their lineup, they were down a little bit,” said Burnt Hills junior Joey Butler, a two-time Section II finalist.
Jack Hatton got the Spartans started with a pin. Jones then went to Antonio Rodriguez, who beat Chris Naccarato, 5-2.
“Antonio Rodriguez came in and had a big win,” Jones said. “We fancied our chances with Antonio and took that risk. He’s dangerous, and he’s a little heavier than Chris is at this time. Those things all weighed in our decision.”
Jones then bumped Anthony Papa, Race Viedt and Nico Fragale up a weight class, a move that resulted in a maximum 18 points when Papa was awarded a forfeit, and both Viedt and Fragale won by fall.
“Nico at 285 got a huge pin. We thought he could win that match, but getting the fall was even better, a bonus,” said Jones.
A win by eighth-grader Christian Gramuglia and a second Shenendehowa forfeit pushed the Burnt Hills lead to 37-0 with seven bouts, and a maximum 42 points, remaining.
“A 37-point lead, you’re up against it, and we were up against it today,” said Weeks. “But they put us in that position.
“I reassured my team that our chances would come, and they did. We had our opportunities to get back into it.”
A win by Kevin Guardino at 113 and pins by Corey Ali and Kevin Parker pulled Shenendehowa to within 37-15 and kept its chance for a win alive.
Hale not only put an end to that quick run, but ended Shenendehowa’s run of perfect league seasons at seven.
“I knew after my match they had a bunch of studs coming up, so I knew we needed a nice cushion,” said Hale. “We started off great. We got a big pin from Nico. We got a great match from Christian, and a bunch of pins that we really needed.”
Hale had his difficulties, getting hit for stalling in the second period to give Maynard a 1-0 lead.
“ I didn’t mean to stall. I just kept going backwards,” he said. “I know you have to stall a little bit to win the match, but I didn’t mean to at the beginning.
“It’s so huge. They haven’t lost against a Section II team in so long.”
“We lost a couple of the swing matches, that, on paper, we strategized we would catch a win, or if not a win, a close loss,” said Weeks. “Most of the matches went the way we thought, but a couple of the swings hurt us.
“Those are the kids that in our room win the Skull Award for the day, the kids that step up in the face of adversity and either keep it close when they’re losing or get a good win against a better opponent. The moons were aligned for Burnt Hills today.”
“Everybody contributed,” said Jones, cognizant of a handful of alumni in attendance, and another member of the Burnt Hills wrestling family that was lost in October.
“There might have been other factors. Coach is looking at us and giving us a big smile from the heavens,” said Jones, referring to Olympic champion Jeff Blatnick, an assistant coach with the Spartans when he passed away in October. “He’s with us all the time.
“I’m a man of faith, and I think the big guy is watching.”
“He’s around, and he’s definitely helping us,” said Butler. “It’s an incredible win. I’ve been on the other side of too many of these.”
With the outcome decided, Weeks opted to keep two-time state place finisher Nick Kelley off the mat, leaving an anticipated scrap with Butler for a later date. Kelley also missed the Plainsmen’s previous dual after placing third in the tough Reno Tournament of Champions last weekend.
“Nick’s a little banged up from Reno. I decided to hold him back,” said Weeks, whose team is entered in the Spencerport Tournament next week. “It wasn’t an easy
decision, but when you look at it, it really is. It’s for the benefit of the individual.
“We’ve got four or five guys we think have a chance to win a state title. If I sacrifice one of those guys now, in a match that’s already decided, my program will be less of a program.
“We went to battle with the team we have. On Dec. 22, 2012, Burnt Hills had a better team than Shenendehowa. We’ll see what it looks like at the end of the season.”
Burnt Hills will not have a lot of time to savor the win.
“There’s a ton of wrestling left,” said Jones, whose team competes in the two-day Mountain Duals next week in Dolgeville. “This is a nice Christmas present, but towards the end is where the guys want to shine. We’ll be happy here, but hopefully, there’s more to come.”
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 46,
99 — Christian Gramuglia (BH) dec. Deitrich Hartman, 8-0; 106 — Jackson Lindberg (BH) by forfeit; 113 — Kevin Guardino (S) dec. Nick Martinez, 6-0; 120 — Corey Ali (S) pinned Austin Rowinski, 1:40; 126 — Kevin Parker (S) pinned Mason Rabideau, 5:21; 132 — Nolan Hale (BH) dec. Jordan Maynard, 6-1; 138 — Jesse Porter (S) pinned Nate Sisler, 1:19; 145 — Joey Butler (BH) pinned Zach Lamora, 2:18; 152 — Zach Joseph (S) dec. Jake Ashcraft, 11-10; 160 — David Almavivia (S) injury default over Mike Danz; *170 — Jack Hatton (BH) pinned Bryant Gallagher, 3:09; 182 — Antonio Rodriguez (BH) dec. Chris Noccarrato, 5-2; 195 — Anthony Papa (BH) by forfeit; 220 — Race Viedt (BH) pinned Kevin Leonard, 3:19; 285 — Nico Fragae (BH) pinned Jacob Brooks, 5:33.