After dealing with knee injuries that hampered him greatly from eighth grade up through his sophomore season, it would have been easy for Oxford’s Nik Hansen to simply say enough was enough.
But he persevered, and now the Blackhawks senior is reaping the benefits.
Hansen was among Section 4 wrestlers to advance Friday to the semifinals of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at the Times Union Center.
Competing in the Division II 160-pound weight class, Hansen reached Saturday’s semifinals with a 5-2 decision over Locust Valley’s Jordan Formicola. That followed a 9-7 first-round victory over Maple Grove’s Howie Nolan, when Hansen broke a 6-all tie midway through the third period by putting Nolan on his back.
“Hats off to him,” Oxford coach Craig Tefft said. “Every match is the same for him, he gives you everything he’s got. He’s just relentless with his attacks and pressure.”
Hansen earned his trip to the state tournament with a dramatic 5-3 overtime victory over Whitney Point’s Jordan Torbitt two weeks ago at the Section 4 Championships, an emotional victory that brought Hansen to tears.
It was Hansen’s first Section 4 title. He had placed at the Section 4 Division II tournament as a seventh-grader, but missed significant parts of the following three seasons due to knee problems.
Hansen had a solid junior season, winning more than 30 matches and placing third at Section 4 Division II 152, before putting it all together this season.
“Everyone had forgotten who Nik Hansen is, and they shouldn’t,” Tefft said. “Because (he’s) one of the top kids in the Section 4. We see it every day in practice, the way he goes about his business, it’s something I wish I had up and down the lineup.
“It’s great to see him having success, there’s not a kid that I’ve wanted that sectional title and success here at the state tournament as much as him.”
Tough day for Cardinals
Newark Valley came into the state tournament with a Section 4-best five representatives. All five saw their Division I state title hopes come to an end Friday.
Bennie Baker (99), Trevor Hoffmier (145), and Vinnie Darpino (170) lost in the quarterfinals, while Derek Holcomb (160) and Larry Kasmarcik (152) were first-round losers.
Holcomb’s loss was a surprise. Seeded second, the NV senior gave up a takedown in overtime to lose 5-3 to North Rockland’s Nick Didio.
“I feel bad for Derek, he’s had a knee issue that’s gotten bad the last couple of weeks,” NV coach Eric D’Arcy said. “We had some close losses, which was tough. But I’m proud of having five guys here and hopefully we’ll come back and get some place-winners.”
Dietrich, Wolcott stay perfect
They came into this weekend undefeated, and both Greene’s Christian Dietrich and Waverly’s Ryan Wolcott remained that way by garnering Division II semifinal berths.
Dietrich, runner-up a year ago at 170 and the top seed at 182 this year, cruised to an 11-0 quarterfinal victory over Dunkirk’s Marquis Buchanon. Earlier, Dietrich pinned Locust Valley’s Zach Holowchak in 44 seconds.
“He’s attacking more and he’s in tremendous shape,” Jenks said. “He’s not merely happy with the ‘W,’ he’s pushing for pins.
“Christian’s being a lot smarter on the mat this year, and he’s the best shape he’s ever been in.”
Wolcott, runner-up at 220 last year and the top seed this year, improved to 40-0 with a 3-0 decision East Aurora’s Tyler Hall in the quarterfinals. The senior wasn’t particularly pleased with his performance against Hall, but he hasn’t given up a point thus far in two matches.
“I wasn’t doing my stuff, I’m going to have to go a lot harder tomorrow,” Wolcott said. “I wasn’t as dominant as I wanted to be.”
In his state tournament debut a year ago, Deposit/Hancock’s Dean Raymond lost his opening-round match and failed to place.
The sophomore is having a much better go of it thus far, cruising into the Division II 99 semifinals.
The top seed in his weight class, Raymond pinned Petrides’ Kevin Velez in 17 seconds in his first-round match before defeating Ogdensburg’s Cordell David by technical fall, 15-0, in the quarterfinals.
“I feel like I did well, I worked stuff on top very well,” Raymond said. “I’m much more confident this year, being the No. 1 seed.”
Odds and ends
Unatego’s Ryan Marszal, seeded second at Division II 170, reached the semifinals for the second straight year. Last year, Marszal advanced to the Division II 185 semifinals, eventually placing fifth. …. Section 4’s 13 semifinalists are one less than last year. Of the 14 semifinalists last year, nine reached the finals with Windsor’s Matt Abbott (Division II 285), Unatego’s Kevin Thayer (Division II 152) and Lansing’s William Koll (Division II 126) winning state titles. … Section 4 was third in the Division II team standings and seventh in the Division I standings after Friday’s competition.