Nick Kelley likes to fish.
Saturday night, he finally caught the big one.
The Shenendehowa senior capped a standout six-year varsity career by winning the 138-pound state Division I wrestling championship.
“It’s a relief. It’s a burden off my shoulders,” said Kelley, a three-time state place finisher with a final 251-19 career record. “I worried about it every day.”
Kelley’s title was one of two earned by Section II wrestlers, who had 11 semifinalists between the Division I and Division II events. Hoosick Falls junior Luis Weierbach won the DII 106-pound title, the first wrestler from his school to get a state championship.
Three more underclassmen represented the other finalists. Juniors Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam and Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa, and sophomore Nick Gallo of Schalmont were the section’s other semifinal winners.
Kelley beat North Rockland junior Matt Caputo, 8-3, in his morning semi, setting up his first and only shot at a state title.
He took control against Hilton junior Vincent Deprez with a quick takedown, but Deprez got an escape late in the first and another in the second to tie the bout.
Kelley re-established his lead with the final takedown of his career, and got his final point on a third-period escape.
“I wrestled him before and beat him with a cradle,” said Kelley. “This is the state final, so he’s not going to give me the cradle. I had to work harder.”
He also used the home field advantage, figuratively and literally.
“I’ve been here so many times, I know little places to go to relax,” he said. “Little things like that help a lot.”
The ability to go home between sessions also helped.
“The other guys can’t go home. They’re staying in a hotel room,” he said. “There’s more stress.”
Lapi, who scored a pair of 2-0 wins on Friday, used a takedown eight seconds into overtime to win his DI 132-pound semifinal against third-seeded Sam Melikian of Fordham Prep.
In the final, Mike Leshinger of Sayville didn’t allow Lapi anything on offense. Lapi’s points in a 3-2 loss came on two escapes.
“I’ve worked my whole life for this goal, so this is pretty tough,” said Lapi, who now has state finishes of second, third and fourth. “When I get to the final, there’s a lot less pressure. What’s the worst that can happen? You finish second.”
Gallo was efficient in reaching his first state final, a 3-1 win over Oneida’s Matt Fisher getting him through.
In the 160 DII final, his takedown attempt was countered by Warsaw’s Burke Paddock, who turned it into a first-period pin.
“My goal was to come here and place, and I took second,” said the three-time state participant. “It’s not the way I wanted it to end. I just got caught. Even the best wrestlers get caught. I’m going to work even harder to come back.”
Ashley handled Section XI’s Nick Weber, 11-8, in his semi, registering five takedowns, but fell to Dan Choi of Syosset, 7-4, in the DI 195 final.
“Levi came off the mat, and he was disappointed in his performance,” said Shendenowa coach Rob Weeks, who got three place finishers from his six state qualifiers.
“He said, ‘I think I can wrestle better than that.’ My comment to him was, ‘Let that bitterness sink in, and come back and win it as a senior.’ ”
Amsterdam senior James Marquez (160) and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake junior Joey Butler (138) also placed third in DI. Columbia senior El Shaddai Gilmore VanHoesen, second a year ago at 285, was fourth this time.
Butler beat Rocky Point sophomore Tommy Dutton for the second time in two days in his final
match of the season. Butler is now the school’s top all-time win leader, finishing his junior career at 179.
“I wanted to place,” he said. “Next year, the goal is to come back and win a state title.”
The final day David Almaviva’s outstanding varsity career at Shenendehowa was bittersweet. Not even his 200th win, coming in his 145 bronze-medal bout, was much consolation after a 1-0 semifinal loss to Lancaster’s Eric Lewandoski.
“You have to be mentally prepared,” he said of finishing the tournament after seeing his chance for a first-place medal taken away.
Last year, Almaviva won five straight after losing his opener as he placed third.
“Today was a lot harder because I made it to the semis and lost,” he said. “I fell short.”
Colonie junior Golan Cohen took fourth at 106 in the DI event, and Queensbury 11th-grader Franky Nassivera was sixth at 170.
Weierbach became Hoosick Falls’ first state champion with a 3-2 win over Danny Fox of Dolgeville.
Fifth last year, Weirbach went 4-0 over the two days, beating Brad Bihler of Maple Grove, 2-0, in his morning semifinal.
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk senior Alex Soutiere, like Gilmore VanHoesen a top seed and returning state finalist, bounced back from a stunning opening-round loss to take third at 285 in the DII event.
Hoosick Falls senior Brad Burns moved three steps up the state podium, following last year’s sixth-place showing with a bronze-medal effort at 182.
Salem 120-pounder Carter Merecki was fourth, Sean Romanski of Albany Academy (138) and Johnstown senior Joe Nellis (220) were fifth, and Cobleskill-Richmondville senior Mike Green wrapped up his career with a sixth-place showing at 170.
Romanski is just the third Albany Academy wrestler to place here, and first since 2007. Nellis returned to the sport after missing last season with a shoulder injury.
Section II results
(Wrestlers in competition Saturday)
106 — #4-Golan Cohen (Colonie) dec. Steven Lee (West Babylon-XI), 3-2; pinned #5-Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport-V), 1:07; semifinals: #1-Alex Tanzman (Westhampton Beach-XI), 4-1; dec. Steven Lee (West Babylon-XI), 4-1; lost to Jon Haas (Spencerport-V), 5-3 (ot). Fourth place.
120 — #-7-Blake Retell (Shaker) pinned P.J. Smoot (Monroe-Woodbury-IX), 2:10; lost to #2-John Muldoon (Pearl River-1), 7-0; pinned Cole Ford (Newark Valley-IV), :58; lost to Mike Deangelo (Commack-VIII), 4-0. did not place.
132 — #2-Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam) dec. Richie Burke (Ithaca-IV), 2-0; dec. Chris Truglio (Minisink Valley-IX), 2-0; semifinals: dec. #3-Sam Melikian (Fordman Prep-C), 3-1 (ot); Championship: lost to #1-Matt Leshinger (Sayville-XI), 3-2. Second place.
138 — #-1-Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa)pinned Julian Alsbrooks (New Utrecht-P), 5:22; dec. #8-Curtis Grant (Elmira-IV), 6-2; semifinals: dec. #4-Matt Caputo (North Rockland-I), 8-3. Championship: dec. #2-Vincent Deprez (Hilton-V), 5-2. Champion.
138 — #6-Joey Butler (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) pinned Isaiah Butler (Massena-X), 4:36; pinned #3-Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point-VIII), 5:25; semifinals: lost to #2-Vincent Deprez (Hilton-V), 6-1; pinned #8-Curtis Grant (Elmira-IV); dec. #3-Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point-VIII), 5-0. Third place.
145 — #2-David Almaviva (Shenendehowa)dec. Trevor Hoffmmier (Newark Valley-IV), 1-0; pinned Brendan Dent (Connetquot-XI), 2:44; semifinals: lost to #3-Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster-VI), 1-0; dec. #8-Jackson Mordente (Sachem East-XI), 4-1; dec. Brendan Dent (Connetquot-XI), 4-1. Third place.
152 — #3-Zach Joseph (Shenendehowa) dec. Terrance Acker (Grand Island-VI), 12-3; pinned by #6-Zach Colgan (Johnson City-IV), 5:45; dec. Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake-II), 6-2; lost to #8-Joe Mastro (Yorktown-1), 19-7. did not place
160 — James Marquez (Amsterdam) lost to #2-Steve Schneider (MacArthur-VIII), 3-1 (ot) dec. Jun Yoo (Jericho-VIII), 4-2; dec. #8-Jake Weber (Clarence-VI), 8-6; dec. #8-Josh Powell (Churchville-Chili-V), 5-1;dec. #6-Alex Francik (Vestal-IV), 5-2; pinned Dale White (John Jay East Fishkill-I), 2:32. Third place.
170 — #6-Jack Hatton (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) lost to Isaiah Zimmer (Chenango Forks-IV), 2-1 (utb); dec. Jared Mesiti (Brockport-V), 6-5; pinned Cedrick Stephens (Wingate-P), 4:00; lost to #1-Dan McDevitt (Wantagh-VIII), 7-0. did not place.
170 — #7-Franky Nassivera (Queensbury)dec. Andrew Paulsen (Iroquois-VI), 10-2; vs. pinned by #2-Carlos Toribio (Brentwood-XI), 3:27; dec. Kyle McGuire (Newburgh Free Academy-IX),16-2; dec. Isaiah Zimmer (Chenango Forks-IV), 10-5; lost to A.J. Voelker (Monroe-Woodbury-IX), 5-4; pinned by #3-Brad Perry (John Jay East Fishkill), 5:20. Sixth place.
195 — Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa)dec. #3-Ben Honis (Jamesville-DeWitt/CBA-III), 8-0; dec. #6-Scott Wymbs (Horace Greeley-I), 2-1 (ot); semifinals: dec. Nick Weber (Kings Park-XI), 11-8. Championship: lost to #8-Dan Choi (Syosset-8), 7-4. Second.
285 — #-1-El Shaddai VanHoesen (Columbia) pinned Nolan Terrance (Massena-X), 3:23; vs. lost to #8-James O’Hagan (Seaford-VIII), 2-1 (ot); dec. Shaquille Williams (Brooklyn Tech-P), 5-0; dec. #3-David Varian (Yorktown-I), 1-0; pinned Mike Manni (Tappan Zee-I), 2:28; lost to #8-James O’Hagan (Seaford-VIII), 2-1 (ot). Fourth place.
106 — #-1-Luis Weierbach (Hoosick Falls)pinned Brody Sheppard (Ogensburg Free Academy-X), 3:09; dec. Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley-VIII), 2-0; semifinals: dec. Brad Bihler (Maple Grove-VI), 2-0. Championship: dec. Danny Fox (Dolgeville-III), 3-2. Champion.
120 — #5-Al Aubin (Whitehall) lost to Peter Schneider (Smithtown Christian-XI), 7-6; dec. Dylan Deuel (Addison-V), 3-2; dec. #3-Nate Hayes (Windsor-IV), 3-2; lost to #7-Kellen Devlin (Amherst-VI), 11-2. did not place.
120 — #6-Carter Merecki (Salem)dec. Tom Stobe (Clarke-VIII), 11-3; vs. dec. #3-Nate Hayes (Windsor-IV), 2-0; semifinals: lost to #2-John Aslanian (Edgemont-I), 9-1; dec. #8-Sean Ballard (Whitney Point-IV), 6-3; lost to Kellen Devlin (Amherst-VI), 13-4. Fourth place.
138 — #4-Sean Romanski (Albany Academy) pinned Daniel Dornbaum (Baruch-P), 1:19; dec. Taylor Jones (Palmyra-Macedon-V), 9-2; semifinals: lost to #1-Nick Tighe (Phoenix-III), 4-1; lost to #7-Drew Longo (Ardsley-I), 9-4; dec. Taylor Jones (Palmyra-Macedon-V), 6-4. Fifth place.
145 — #8-Kyle Mulcahy (Corinth) dec. Paul Schoenberg (Baruch-P), 6-4 (ot); lost to #1-Drew Hull (Royalton-Hartland-V), 11-2; dec. Sal Mazzella (Highland-IX), 12-4; lost to Matt Dillon (Nanuet-I), 4-3. did not place.
152 — Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg) lost to #-7 Trey Duvall (Addison-V), 9-2; dec. Kevin Palko (Tri-Valley-IX), 14-3; dec. Max Lloyd (Palmyra-Macedon-V), 5-2; pinned by #4-Tyler Spann (Adirondack-III), 1:49. did not place.
160 — #6-Nick Gallo (Schalmont) dec. Gunnar Van Curen (Portville-VI), 4-1; dec. #3-Tyler Silverthorn (General Brown-III), 4-2; semifinals: dec. #5-Matt Fisher (Oneida-III), 3-1. Championship: pinned by #1-Burke Paddock (Warsaw-V), 1:36. Second place.
170 — #4-Mike Green (Cobleskill-Richmondville) dec. Andrew Cole (Ogdensburg Free Academy-X), 8-2; dec. Mark Dove (Homer-III), 5-1 (ot); semifinals: lost to #1-Christian Dietrich (Greene-IV), 8-5; lost to John Messinger (Putman Valley-I), 6-4 (ot); lost to Colin Fox (Midlakes-V), 9-4. Sixth place.
182 — #6-Brad Burns (Hoosick Falls) dec. Derrick Din (Canisteo-Greenwood-V), 11-7; lost to #3-Ryan Marszal (Unatego-IV), 3-2 (ot); pinned Tyler Veno (Portville-VI), 3:23; dec. Cody Nolan (Hampton Bays-XI) 4-1; vs. Gage Bourdeau (Beekmantown-VII), 3-2; dec. Austin Lynn (Frewsburg-VI), 3-2. Third place.
195 — #4-Jeff Senecal (Duanesburg) pinned by Mark Viviano (BGA-4), 4:59; pinned Jacob Wiegard (Lourdes-I), :39; dec. #6-Wyatt Albanese (Canastota-III), 1-0; vs. #7-Matt Booth (Cattaraguas-VI), 6-1. did not place.
220 — Joe Nellis (Johnstown) pinned by #1-Zack Bacon (Hornell-V), :46; pinned Mike Mandigo (Gouverneur-X), :10; dec. #7-Dillon Hurlbert (Marthon-IV), 6-4; pinned Corey Gaffney (General Brown-III),2:02; lost to #4-Michael Silvis (Holley-V), 7-1; dec. #8-Chris Saden (Fredonia-VI), 8-2. Fifth place.
285 — #1-Alex Soutiere (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) pinned by Connor Calkins (Alfred-Almond-V), 5:55; pinnedcElvin Gervacio (Brooklyn International-P), 3:42; pinned #7-Nathan Sarkin (Ogdensburg Free Academy-X), 1:25; dec. Wyatt Morris (Morrisville-Eaton-III), 1-0; won by forfeit over Connor Calkins (Alfred-Almond-V); dec. #2-Brandon Fayle (Lowville-III), 3-2. Third place.