Tioga flipped the script on Elmira’s home turf, taking the team title Saturday at the Elmira Christmas Tournament at Southside High School.
Four Tioga wrestlers won their weight classes as the Tigers captured their first invitational of the season, outscoring runner-up Elmira, 126-112, in a nine-team event that was delayed a month because of a snowstorm. Last weekend it was the Express that finished first ahead of Tioga at the Mike Watson Invitational at Watkins Glen.
“It was nice to see early on in the tournament we avenged three head-to-head losses with the Elmira varsity guys,” Tioga coach Josh Roe said. “That was nice. … That shows growth. It shows our kids stayed in the fight and got back wins we thought we should have had earlier in the season.”
Individual champions for Tioga were Dan Hosking (126), Jesse Manual (132), Justin Fiske (182) and Zach Kelsey (285).
Elmira’s runner-up finish was led by senior Connor Wilson, who won the 138-pound title for his first career varsity invitational title.
“It feels great because it’s my senior year, I’m finishing out the season, it’s the second half,” Wilson said. “It’s a home tournament, so that’s great. Four years of work finally put me here.”
Wilson credited teammate Curtis Grant, who wrestled up to 145 pounds Saturday and finished third, with helping him reach the goal.
“Curtis being my wrestling partner for the last three years, I owe a lot of it to him,” Wilson said.
Union-Endicott placed third with a reduced lineup, with Grant Gannon taking the 106-pound title. Most championships were decided with a finals match in the round-robin format, though some weight classes, including Gannon’s, were determined by record.
Homer finished fourth and had the Most Outstanding Wrestler in Matt Norris, who edged Owego Free Academy’s Nate Bell, 6-5, at 145.
Also of note was another tournament title for Waverly 220-pounder Ryan Wolcott, whose pin in the finals gave him 195 career victories, tying Colin McDonald for the school record.
“It’s great. I’ve been wrestling since I was four years old and it’s always been my dream to be part of Waverly’s best,” said Wolcott, now 28-0 this season. “Today I tied the record and I’m going to keep getting better and hopefully get 200 wins this year.”
Also taking titles for Waverly were AJ Burkhart at 99 pounds and Brandon Ellers at 170. Whitney Point also had two champions in 160-pounder Jordan Torbitt and 195-pounder Andrew Barnhart.
Other champions were Watkins Glen’s Brandon Gould at 113, Odessa-Montour’s Joe Rorick at 120 and Homer’s Eric Petrie at 152.
Wilson’s title came with a 5-1 finals win over Union-Endicott’s Matt Bishop.
“I actually wrestled that kid earlier today and the score was 6-4,” Wilson said. “It was pretty even. He was definitely the toughest kid I wrestled today. He hit me in my eye a few times. It was just a great match (in the finals). As soon as it got over, we looked at each other all beat up and stuff and said, ‘Good match.’ “
Rorick lost to Owego’s Ryan Kwiatkowski at the Watson Invitational last week and beat him twice Saturday, including a 5-2 finals victory.
“I came out and wrestled a lot better than I did at the Watson and I beat him in overtime, which was a real great win and got me real fired up,” Rorick said. “Then I wrestled him again and that was just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, show him that his first match was a fluke when he beat me.
“Last week when I wrestled him I was gassed. In the third period I could barely breathe. I worked so much harder and I was actually able to last the whole six minutes with him.”
The gutsiest performance of the tournament belonged to Torbitt, who overcame pain from a cracked collarbone suffered earlier in the season to beat Tioga’s Luke Hoose, 3-2, in the 160-pound finals.
There was some question as to whether Torbitt would be able to even get out on the mat for the finals.
“Coach asked me if I had any aches or pains, wondering if my shoulder was going to hold up,” Torbitt said. “I said, ‘Coach, if it pops out I’ll tell you and we’ll call injury time and we’re going to forfeit the match.”
Torbitt fought off a potential tying one-point escape from Hoose early in the third period. He was in obvious pain after the win and got an ice pack for the shoulder.
“The third period, coming down to the last 40 seconds, I was pretty much in pain,” he said. “I had no feeling in my hand. I couldn’t grab anything. Pretty much my whole arm was dead.”
His teammate Barnhart had a far easier day, winning three times by technical fall and twice by pin to improve to 26-1 this season. He has five tournament titles in five tries.
“I just went out there and wrestled the stuff I normally do,” he said. “I didn’t try anything different, I just stuck to the stuff I’m good at.
“I’m feeling pretty good about the season. It’s going well for me.”
Wolcott won all four of his matches by pin, putting away Union-Endicott’s Andrew Brinser 1 minute, 25 seconds into the second period.
“I knew he was a good wrestler so I was going to have to use my best stuff,” Wolcott said. “I’m pretty good on top with my bars and I’ve been working on that this year. Once I got him flat, I put him in a bar and pinned him.”