TOWN OF CHENANGO
The Union-Endicott wrestling team did not get the chance to avenge its lone loss to a Section 4 team this season, but otherwise it was a satisfying day for the Tigers.
Union-Endicott won three matches decisively Saturday, including a 55-21 rout of rival Vestal in the title match, to win the Section 4 Dual Meet Tournament at Chenango Forks. The Tigers, who earlier in the day rolled to easy victories against Norwich (60-21) in the quarterfinals and defending champion Johnson City (57-24) in the semifinals, won 11 of 15 matches in the final against the Golden Bears in capturing their second Section 4 Dual Meet Tournament title in three years.
Anthony Noce’s victory by technical fall, 15-0, over Alex Crotsley in a 126-pound match secured the victory for U-E, giving the second-seeded Tigers an insurmountable 41-21 lead with three matches remaining.
“Our guys wrestled really well (Saturday), they really stepped up,” U-E coach Josh Ruff said. “It was probably one of our better performances of the season. … After the loss to Newark Valley, we were really looking forward to this.”
Union-Endicott lost to Newark Valley, 41-40, at the Owego Duals on Dec. 20. Had the seeds held to form, the two would have met in Saturday’s final. Instead it was fourth-seeded Vestal that awaited Union-Endicott, the Golden Bears reaching their first Section 4 Dual Meet Tournament final after knocking off top-seeded and previously unbeaten Newark Valley 34-32 in the semifinals.
The Golden Bears got off to a good start against U-E when Owen Jarrold rallied from an early deficit for a 7-2 decision over Shalik Napoleon at 152, but U-E won the next three matches. After Zach Martin received a forfeit at 160, Tahjae Napoleon pinned Rob Durst in 2:33 at 170 and Sammy Davis followed with a technical fall victory, 24-7, over David Gardner at 182 to put U-E ahead 17-3.
Vestal’s Pat Carlin brought his team within 17-9 when he pinned Jon Veruto in 1:30 of their 195 match, but Andrew Brinser (220) followed with a pin and Isaac Eddings received a forfeit at 285 as U-E surged ahead 29-9.
For Davis, who missed all but one match last season due to a broken leg suffered during football season, the title carried added significance.
“It was great to be out here,” said Davis, who was put on his back early against Gardner before asserting his dominance shortly thereafter. “We did great, we pulled it all together and did what we needed to do.”
Vestal coach Tony Policare had few qualms about his team’s performance. Policare noted afterward his squad had beaten the top-ranked large-school (Newark Valley) and small-school (Tioga) teams in Section 4 to reach the final.
“We had to go through the two No. 1 teams in the Section,” said Policare, whose squad defeated Tioga 51-33 in the quarterfinals. “It was nice to see the cross-river rivalry make the finals.
“We gave it our best shot but you have to hand it to U-E, they’re an excellent team. But it was a lot of fun, we take a lot of positives leaving here.”
The match of the day was Vestal’s semifinal victory over Newark Valley, which denied the Cardinals their first appearance in the finals.
Vestal rallied by winning four straight matches late, including a pair of close ones as Garet Bleir eked out a 7-6 decision over Lane Carrier at 120 followed by Crotsley’s 4-0 decision over Cole Ford at 126. Vestal clinched the victory a match later when Max Kilmer won by an 8-1 decision over Dylan Williams at 132 to put the Golden Bears ahead 34-26 with one match left.
“We lost all the close ones, and made some mistakes,” Newark Valley coach Eric D’Arcy said. “They outhustled us and did a better job of being prepared for those (close) matches.
“Give them credit, I knew it was going to be a close one coming in, they match up really well with our team. We just didn’t get it done when we needed to. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully it pushes us to be better over the next three weeks and get some of these matches back.”
U-E’s semifinal against Johnson City was a rematch of last year’s title match, that one won by the Wildcats, 40-36.
JC was shorthanded Saturday, with Reggie Williams missing the quarterfinals and semifinals due to SATs and Josh Dember out with an injury, but likely mattered little in the outcome as the Tigers won 11 of 15 matches against the Wildcats. Most notable among the U-E wins was Mikey Carr’s pin of Isaiah Colgan in 5:04 in a 120 bout that served as a possible Section 4 Division I championship match preview, the pair ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in Section 4 Division I.
JC had reached the semifinals with a 40-28 victory over Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton/Harpursville. In the other quarterfinal match, NV defeated Elmira, 61-21.