Four of seven Newark Valley wrestlers who advanced to the finals won titles Saturday night as the Cardinals repeated as team champions at the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Wrestling Championships at Watkins Glen High School.
Bennie Baker started the finals with a 1-0 win over Waverly’s AJ Burkhart in one of the night’s top matches, and Gianno Silba followed with a pin in the 106-pound final to give Newark Valley two quick titles.
Trevor Hoffmier added the 145-pound title and Derek Holcomb won at 160 as the Cardinals finished with 261 points to beat runner-up Tioga by 15. Waverly finished third with 137.
“Early today we did not wrestle great. We were kind of in a funk a little bit in the semifinals,” Newark Valley coach Eric D’Arcy said. “We lost three matches we definitely shouldn’t have. All three were real close, tight matches. I think all three losses were in overtime.
“But the kids were resilient and came back today. We did a nice job in the wrestleback rounds. We had some kids come through who maybe haven’t come through in the past. That was nice to see. We’re pretty excited and happy we got through this. Tioga has a great team.”
Tournament host Watkins Glen had two champions in 113-pounder Brandon Gould and 182-pounder Ian Chedzoy, both sophomores. Odessa-Montour junior Joe Rorick gave Schuyler County three champions when he captured the 120-pound title for his third straight IAC title.
Gould was named Most Outstanding Wrestler for the lower weights. Waverly senior Brandon Ellers, who pulled out a dramatic win in the 170-pound final, was named Most Outstanding Wrestler for the upper weights.
Other champions were Groton’s Darren Ostrander (126), Lansing’s Greg Lee (132), Tioga’s Jesse Manuel (138), Candor’s Freedom Boda (152) and Tyler Hallett (285), Whitney Point’s Andrew Barnhart (195) and Southern Cayuga’s Dan Lukas (220).
Notably absent from the mats was Waverly senior 220-pounder Ryan Wolcott, the Division II New York state runner-up last year and Waverly’s all-time wins leader as of last week. Wolcott, unbeaten this season, suffered a slight tear to the labrum in his shoulder and will be re-evaluated by his doctor Thursday to see if he can return for sectionals next week.
Another top wrestler, Whitney Point’s Jordan Torbitt, was forced to injury default the 160-pound final against Holcomb. Torbitt has been bothered by a shoulder injury this season.
Wolcott was reduced to cheering for his teammates Saturday and yelled encouragement to Ellers as he pulled out a 4-3 win over Newark Valley’s Vinnie Darpino in the 170-pound final. Ellers beat Darpino in double-overtime, 5-4, earlier this season.
A late throw helped Ellers pull out the win after Darpino took a 3-2 third-period with an escape and takedown.
“When he got out with a minute left in the third period I said, ‘OK, I’ve got to turn it on,” Ellers said. “With 15 seconds left in the match I had to go for something big and I got it. … When I got that, I knew I had the match. I’m used to close matches, winning when I have to. Who doesn’t live for that moment?”
Gould captured his second straight IAC title in dominant fashion, pinning Spencer-Van Etten’s Grady Alpert in 23 seconds in the finals after a quarterfinal pin and a 15-1 semifinal victory.
“I just went out there aggressive and just attacked the best I could all day,” said Gould, now 34-1 this season. “The finals I got lucky in the very beginning and got a snap down to a front headlock and locked up a cradle.”
Chedzoy’s first IAC championship came with a 5-2 victory against Justin Lovejoy of Newark Valley at 182 pounds. The match was tied 2-2 before Chedzoy got an escape and takedown.
“This is my first time (winning an IAC title) and it’s fun to be doing it in front of friends and family,” Chedzoy said.
Rorick recorded an escape early in the third period to take a 1-0 lead over Tioga’s Kaleb Stone before scoring three late points for a 4-0 victory.
He said he benefited from a conversation he had two weeks ago with Stone at the Elmira Tournament in which Stone told him being on top is his weakness and he’ll turn an opponent loose to put himself in better position. Once he had the lead, Rorick had to work to keep it.
“That was a really tough match,” said Rorick, now 38-3. “It wore it out of me. I had a game plan and it was working good in the first period. I rode him hard in the second period, then I just totally went away from my game plan in the third period and it almost cost me the match. I definitely have to work on my cardio because I shouldn’t be that tired in the match.”