All the Section 4 wrestling titles meant nothing to Johnson City’s Reggie Williams.
He needed a state title to fill the lone significant void in his scholastic wrestling career. Saturday night at the Times Union Center, he got his wish.
Williams won the Division I state title in the 195-pound weight class, one of six Section 4 wrestlers to win state titles at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
Also winning state titles, all in Division II, were Norwich’s Tristan Rifanburg (138) and Frank Garcia (152), Greene’s Christian Dietrich (182), Waverly’s Ryan Wolcott (220) and Lansing’s William Koll (132).
A four-time Section 4 champion, Williams had lost in his only previous state finals appearance two years ago as a sophomore. Last year, as the top seed at 195, Williams failed to get past the quarterfinals.
But getting a second shot in the finals, this time against Beacon’s Andrew Grella, Williams capitalized.
He got a first-period takedown for a 2-0 lead, eventually building a 5-0 lead when he got another takedown with just a second left in the second period and cruising the rest of the way to a 5-1 victory.
“I accomplished one of the biggest goals I’ve had, it’s the greatest night of my life,” Williams said. “I put all my time in, and to have it pay off, it’s all I wanted.”
While Williams captured his first state title, Rifanburg won his second title, and first since 2010 when he became New York State’s first seventh-grader to win a state title. He got it with a 7-1 decision over Central Valley Academy’s Laken Cook in the 138 final.
An early takedown gave Rifanburg the lead for good, 2-0. He got another takedown early in the second period to go up 5-1.
“Finally!” said Rifanburg, who had lost a pair of state finals since his first title before prevailing Saturday. “It (took) four years, but it’s awesome. I’ve been training all year for this moment.”
Rifanburg was dominant the entire tournament, particularly in avenging his only loss of the season when he beat Locust Valley’s Sam Ward, 5-0, in the semifinals. Ward had defeated Rifanburg, 6-4, at the Eastern States Classic in January.
“I controlled his hands better this time around,” Rifanburg said of Ward. “I wrestled more my match than his.”
Like Rifanburg, the trio of Garcia, Wolcott, and Dietrich all won their titles after runner-up finishes last year.
Garcia defeated General Brown’s Tyler Silverthorn by a 4-0 decision in the 152 final. After a scoreless first period, Garcia tilted Silverthorn on his back for a pair of nearfalls in a span of 20 seconds for all his points, then played defense much of the third period.
“It’s amazing, especially having Tristan here and all our fans here to see me,” Garcia said. “I didn’t expect to get those back points so quickly, but it gave me a lot of cushion.”
The titles by Rifanburg and Garcia capped a great month for Norwich, which had won the Section 4 Class B and Division II team titles earlier.
“It’s been a dream season,” Norwich coach Terry Hagenbuch said. “Tristan, I think he won this in January, when had his loss, it just set a whole different tone for him the rest of the season.
“Frank is one of the top-notch kids I’ve had, he was one of the reasons I came back to coach.”
Dietrich won the 182 title with a 3-0 win over South Jefferson’s Daniel Smith. Dietrich got an early takedown in the first period and an escape early in the third period to build his three-point lead, then averted disaster when he got caught in a headlock by Smith with about a minute left and taken to his back only to have the official rule that the takedown had taken place out of bounds.
“I was really disappointed last year that I didn’t win the state title,” said Dietrich, the 170 runner-up a year ago. “This just shows that working hard, I could get it done.”
Wolcott defeated Sandy Creek’s Jake Benedict, 3-1, in the 220 final, the same weight class where he lost to Hornell’s Zach Bacon, 1-0, in last year’s final.
“My family has taken me to tournaments since I was four,” Wolcott said. “There’s been a lot of great memories, but no better memory this this.”
Wolcott led early with a first-period takedown. When have gave up an escape to Benedict early in the third period, it was the first point he had allowed all tournament.
“At this level, if you don’t give up any takedowns, and you’re strong on your feet, you’re going to be tough to beat,” Wolcott said.
Koll proved tough to beat again, winning his third state title. He defeated Midlakes’ Sean Peacock, 6-3, in the 126 final.
The only Section 4 wrestler to lose in the finals was Unatego’s Ryan Marszal. He lost to Warsaw’s Burke Paddock, 9-1, in the 170 final, the victory the 300th of Paddock’s career.
Paddock got a takedown midway through the first period, then seized control when got a three-point nearfall as time expired in the period to go up 5-0.