Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Joey Butler and Jake Ashcraft, and Shenendehowa senior Zach Joseph were among the 14 Section II athletes who received at-large berths Friday into next weekend’s Division I state tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Butler also got a wild card a year ago, while Joseph went as a Section II champ. Butler finished second to Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley at 138 pounds in the Section II championships last Sunday.
The at-large bids are awarded based on competition points earned thoughout a wrestler’s varsity career. Section II got seven additonal spots in Division I and six in Division II. Salem senior and returning state place finisher Tyler Morris also qualified, but withdrew because of a shoulder injury suffered in last weekend’s sectional final.
Joseph, a 2012 Section II champ, and Ashcraft were second and third, respectively behind two-time champ Angelo Kress of Columbia in the Section II finals. Joseph will join five teammates who won sectional titles last weekend.
“Zach deserves to go,” said Shenendehowa coach Rob Weeks, who figured the senior had enough points to be put into the 16-man draw. “He gets overlooked, but he’s one of the big reasons for our success this year. He’s a Section II champ, who, because of the presence of two other Section II champs [Kelley and David Almaviva], moved up five weight classes and won the Class A title and placed second in the section.”
Butler knew coming off the mat Saturday that he was in all likelihood going back to the state tourney.
“Of course, you want to win a Section II title, but getting back to the states and placing high is also a goal,” said the 11th-grader. “I wasn’t entirely sure about the points. My dad was the one who was sure I was going.”
Guilderland’s Mike Lainhart (106), Queensbury’s Brandon Winchip (113) and Frank Nassivera (170), and Anthony Sgorrano (99) of South Glens Falls were also added to the DI event.
Seniors Mike Green of Cobleskill-Richmonville (170) and John Diekel (138) of Whitehall were among the wrestlers added to the Division II tourney.
Green was also a wild-card entry last year. Diekel is a former state placer who will be competing in his fourth straight state tourney,
The other DII additions were Galway’s Nico Riccio (106), Salem’s Carter Merecki (120), Andre Maxam of Glens Falls (195) and William Baker of Taconic Hills (285), the first wrestler from his school to get to the state tourney.