ALBANY – He didn’t exactly make it easy on himself Friday at the Times Union Center, but that probably mattered little to Tioga’s Jesse Manuel.
What did matter was in his third appearance at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships, Manuel made it to the semifinals for the first time, doing so with a pair of dramatic comeback victories in the Division II 138-pound weight class.
First came a 6-5 first-round victory over Southampton’s Chris Osufen in which Manuel got a takedown with only seven seconds remaining to overcome a one-point deficit. Then in the quarterfinals against fellow Section 4 competitor Darren Ostrander of Groton, Manuel got a takedown with about 15 seconds remaining to pull out a 4-3 victory.
“It’s pretty exciting going to the semifinals for the first time,” Manuel said. “Just a lot more hard work and mental toughness has made the difference. My maturity and knowing what it takes to go out and get the win.”
Tioga coach Josh Roe acknowledged there were a few more nervous moments than he cared for, but he was proud of Manuel’s ability to persevere when things weren’t looking all too promising.
“Just keep moving to the right of the bracket,” Roe said with a chuckle. “Hopefully when they say that you’re a state champion or a state place-winner, they don’t say how you did it.
“But for me personally, it’s great to see him win the third period to win the matches. That’s phenomenal, that’s a great attitude shift for him, for a guy who’s not a year-round wrestler.”
“He’s got a curse, he’s really good at three sports. We don’t have many three-sport athletes nowadays.”
Roe was making reference to Manuel’s high-caliber play in both football and baseball for the Tigers. While many of this weekend’s participants are year-round wrestlers or close to it, Manuel is essentially a part-time competitor.
Not that he hasn’t done too badly for himself, having qualified for three state tournaments as well as twice finishing as a Section 4 runner-up.
“For a guy who has wrestled a total of 12 months in the last four years, he’s put together a nice resume,” Roe said. “He just grinds it out. That was the fourth time he’s wrestled Ostrander, we split the season 2-2 with him but this was the big one for us.”
Cirigliano gets chance at revenge
Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton/Harpursville’s Chris Cirigliano advanced to his first state semifinal, courtesy of a 3-2 victory over Wayne’s Joey Sliwoski at Division II 113.
The victory set up a semifinal meeting with Mexico’s Theo Power, who handed Cirigliano his lone loss of the season back in January, a 2-1 setback in the finals of the Red Devil Invitational at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
“They know each other, they just have to go out and wrestle,” BGAH coach Brandon MacNaught said.
Tough day for Section 4 in Division I
Expectations weren’t very high for Section 4 in the Division I Tournament with only a handful of seeded wrestlers and nary an at-large qualifier.
So it wasn’t a complete shock that by day’s end, only Newark Valley’s Benny Baker (99) and Ithaca’s Richie Burke (138) made it to the semifinals. Twelve of the 15 Section 4 Division I champions lost their first-round match, and NV’s Vinnie Darpino lost in the quarterfinals 7-4 to John Glenn’s Brandon Aviles. Darpino had overcome an 8-4 deficit in his first-round match to pull off a remarkable 12-11 win over Central Square’s Jerrett Norton.
Among the first-round losers were fifth-seeded Allan Michael Rios of Chenango Forks, who was pinned by Horace Greeley’s Brock Cvijanovich in a 220 bout, and Johnson City 285-pounder Nikola Cejic, who lost 6-4 in overtime to second-seeded Erik Jessell of Carthage after giving up a takedown in the waning seconds of regulation.
Odds and ends
Section 4’s 10 semifinalists are two less than last year’s 12. In 2013, Section 4 had 14 semifinalists … Deposit/Hancock’s Zach Gifford had the longest match of the opening day, losing 3-2 in three overtimes to Canastota’s Elijah Sampo in a Division II 220 quarterfinal bout. Sampo got an escape with about 10 seconds remaining in the 30-second ultimate tiebreaker period to secure the victory. … Maple Grove’s Brad Bihler eliminated a pair of Section 4 wrestlers from title contention at Division II 126. Bihler eked out a 6-4 win over Unatego’s Austin Ryan in the first round, then defeated Susquehanna Valley’s Ian Lupole by injury default when Lupole injured his right shoulder early in the first period and couldn’t continue.