Frankie Gissendanner is in Albany for most of this weekend, and he took a look around inside the Times Union Center downtown.
“There are a lot of seats here,” he said. “I don’t think too many will be empty.”
That is a good guess by Gissendanner, a seventh-grader at Bay Trail Middle School in Penfield, who will try to work his way through the high school wrestling state championships in the arena on Friday and Saturday.
There are 52 wrestlers from Section V schools at states, including all three DePrez brothers on the Hilton varsity. Gissendanner, at 13 years old, is among the youngest competitors at states. He will wrestle in the 126-pound weight class tournament in Division I, the classification for the state’s largest schools.
“One match a time,” Gissendanner said. “Everything is on me now, and I have nothing to lose. I’m going to give it what I got.”
That part of Gissendanner’s approach helped lead to a 42-4 record and a berth to the state championships in his first varsity season.
“This year I want to win, so I can make history,” he said. “There’s no need to hold back and you can’t fool around at big meets like this.
“It’s time to bring it.”
A first-place finish at the Top Hat Tournament in Williamsport, Pa., and a seventh at the Eastern States Classic at Sullivan Community College are among Gissendanner’s season highlights. He also won his weight division at the Monroe County league meet, Section V Class AA Championships and SuperSectionals, the qualifier for states.
“He’s on the move, he’s ready for this,” Penfield coach John Leone said.
Gissendanner’s four losses were to Fairport’s James Arao, Lansing junior William Koll, 1-0 versus Waterloo senior Jake Nicholson and Minisink Valley sophomore Michael Raccioppi.
Gissendanner has defeated Arao this season. Koll is the No. 1 seed in the Division II 126-pound state tournament, which includes the 39-1 Nicholson. Raccioppi, who is seeded, and Gissendanner are in the same division and weight-class tournament. It would almost be foolish to count on a rematch, however.
“It’s a senior-driven weight class,” Leone said. “If Frankie wins in the first-round, he would face the No. 1 seed.
“To forecast or predict is too hard to do, but Frankie thinks that he is a player. So do I, and so do a lot of other people.”
Leone praised Gissendanner’s poise all season, including after a 3-1 overtime win over Webster Schroeder’s Rosario Venniro in the SuperSectional Division I 126 final.
“There are going to be 4,000 or 5,000 people in this arena watching,” Leone said. “I think he enjoys that kind of environment.”