At last year’s state wrestling tournament, it took one day for the title hopes of Reggie Williams to come to a stunning end.
There were no such worries Friday for the Johnson City senior.
Williams pinned both his opponents in the Division I 195-pound weight class to join 11 other Section 4 wrestlers into the semifinals of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at the Times Union Center.
Also advancing to Saturday’s semifinals, which will begin at 10 a.m., were Williams’ teammate Zach Colgan (160) and Ithaca’s Richie Burke (126) in Division I.
The Division II semifinalists were Deposit/Hancock’s Dean Raymond (99), Lansing’s William Koll (132), Norwich’s Tristan Rifanburg (138) and Frank Garcia (152), Oxford’s Nik Hansen (160), Unatego’s Ryan Marszal (170), Greene’s Christian Dietrich (182), Waverly’s Ryan Wolcott (220) and Sidney’s Austin Dean (285).
The top seed at Division I 195 last year and coming off a state runner-up finish the year before, Williams was dominated by eventual champion Dan Choi of Syosset, 14-4, in the quarterfinals.
This time, he was in control in both his bouts on the first day, pinning Massena’s Jeremy Malone in 1:44 of their first-round match before doing likewise to Lawrence’s Hamza Ramza in 3:52 of the quarterfinals.
“There’s no reason to dread those moments of disappointment, there’s no reason to look back,” Williams said of last year. “It’s a new year, it’s my last chance to win a state title. I’m very focused.
“I got two pins, I’m going out there for the kill.”
Williams’ road to a state title was further enhanced Friday when top-seeded Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa, who was unbeaten and had beaten Williams decisively in their two regular-season encounters, withdrew from the tournament due to mononucleous prior to his quarterfinal match with Cornwall’s Erik Jessell. Williams will meet Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt in the semifinals.
Colgan had a much more dramatic trip into the semifinals.
After squeaking out a 1-0 decision in his opening-round match against St. Anthony’s Andrew Pryor, Colgan won a wild 16-12 decision over Jericho’s Jason White in the quarterfinals.
White led 2-1 after the first period, but Colgan’s five-point move early in the second period gave him a 6-2 lead.
It was back and forth the rest of the match, Colgan finally seizing control in the waning seconds when he put White on his back for a three-point near fall.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever been tired in a match,” Colgan said. “Normally I can go six minutes straight without injury time.”
“I wrestled alright, nothing to be real happy with.”
Burke didn’t give up a point in his two matches, the last of those a 1-0 decision over East Meadow’s Adam Smith in which Burke got an escape with about 10 seconds remaining for the victory.
Among Section 4’s 10 semifinalists in Division II were a quartet of runners-up from last year, Rifanburg, Garcia, Dietrich, and Wolcott. All four advanced relatively easily, though Garcia, the top seed at 152, had a somewhat tough go in the quarterfinals before pulling out a 7-3 victory over Albany Academy’s Cam Milliken.
Rifanburg, who with Koll are the only previous state champions from Section 4 competing this weekend, advanced to the semifinals with an 11-0 victory over Canastota’s Nate Walker. The junior, who became New York’s first seventh-grader to win a state title when he captured the 96 crown in 2010, will get the chance to avenge his lone loss of the season when he meets Locust Valley’s Sam Ward in the semifinals. Ward defeated Rifanburg, 6-4, at the Eastern States Classic in January.
Koll, who state titles last year and in 2011, had a closer-than-expected 14-11 win over Onondaga’s Tyler Field in the first round before dominating Putnam Valley’s A.J. Mirabell in the quarterfinals, getting a pin in 2:22.