For a select few, this weekend’s Section 4 Wrestling Championships will serve as a tune-up for what they hope will lead to the realization of state-title aspirations two weeks from now in Albany.
But for others competing today and Sunday at Binghamton University’s Events Center, there is no such certainty. A season’s worth of hard work can go for naught in a matter of minutes, an undesirable outcome leading to an earlier-than-hoped end of the season.
Or in the case of wrestlers such as Union-Endicott’s Xavian Hughes and Johnson City’s Dominic Taylor, the end of their scholastic careers. Both seniors are highly-seeded in their respective weight classes, both vying for that first Section 4 title and accompanying berth in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
“(My teammates) said it’s an eye-opener when you get to states,” said Hughes, the No. 1 seed in the Division I 132-pound weight class, where he was a runner-up last season. “Right now, I’m taking it one match at a time, but just to go to states would be my biggest accomplishment in wrestling so far.”
Taylor, a Section 4 Division I runner-up last season at 182, is the second seed at 170 this year behind Newark Valley’s Vinnie Darpino. After battling various injuries the past couple of years, Taylor is healthy and hopeful of a good tournament this weekend.
“Knowing I’m the underdog going in, I’m just preparing to — if I get into the finals — to wrestle a full match,” Taylor said. “Last year losing in the Sectional final, I didn’t get the grasp of it all, being a junior.
“I’ve asked (my teammates) what it’s like to win it. Zach (Colgan) told me it’s the greatest feeling he ever had when he won his first one. I’m looking forward to that if I win.”
The Section 4 Championships begin at noon today. On Sunday, wrestling starts at 12:30 with the championship finals scheduled for 5.
The 30 Section 4 champions — 15 each in Division I and II — automatically advance to the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 28-March 1 at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Seeking history is Norwich junior Tristan Rifanburg, a former state champion and Division II 138 top seed this year who is looking to become only the seventh wrestler to win five Section 4 titles. Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton’s Eric Decker is the lone six-time Section 4 champion, with Chenango Forks’ Troy Nickerson, Oxford’s J.P. O’Connor, Tioga’s Derek Heyman, Greene’s Nick Wilcox and Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton’s Danny Gormley each having won five.
Johnson City’s Reggie Williams, Waverly’s Ryan Wolcott, and Lansing’s William Koll are vying for their fourth Section 4 titles. Koll, a two-time state champion, is seeded first at 132 in Division II, while Wolcott is seeded first at 220 in Division II. Williams is the top seed in Division I 195.
In a change from past years, the Division I semifinals will take place today at 3:15, with the Division II semifinals at 12:30 Sunday. Traditionally both the Division I and II semifinals have been held on the second day.
In addition to individual titles, there will be team championships at stake. Last year, Johnson City won the Division I team title while Greene prevailed in Division II.