Wrestlers get two shots at Section 2 Championships

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Kevin Ochs, of Guilderland, grabs the wrist of Schenectady’s Tyreke Keene, who is caught underneath him during the 132-pound first round in Glens Falls last Saturday for the Section 2 tournament. Ochs pinned Keene in 56 seconds, but lost his next match to Keith Davidson of Averill Park. Ochs won two matches in the wrestlebacks, including a 7-to-2 decision over Dutch teammate Tyler Grupe.

GLENS FALLS — Lose once, and fall to the consolation rounds. Lose again, and it’s elimination.

Wrestling is one of the most emotional sports. It’s also very personal.

Section 2’s top fighters — split into large-school and small-school divisions — take over the Glens Falls Civic Center every February to vie for titles in 15 different weight classes. At the end of the weekend, 30 wrestlers are crowned champions and advance to the state tournament.

Everyone else goes home unhappy.

The Section 2 Championships is where a wrestler wants to place after a season full of intense training. And, since the sport is so personal, a loss can’t be blamed on anyone else.

“It can be very upsetting, even catastrophic,” said Guilderland Head Coach Don Favro last Saturday at the tournament. “Knowing that this is the big show, and to fail, it is…Some guys don’t bounce back.”

Guilderland had eight wrestlers at the Section 2 Tournament, and six of them lost their first match to drop to the consolation rounds. Andy Cummings, the first seed at 195 pounds, made it to the semifinals for the Dutch before losing, 5 to 4, to Queensbury’s Chris Goudy, who won the title. Kevin Ochs, at 132 pounds, won his first match by pin, and then lost in the quarterfinals.

Cummings ended up in third place. David Wolanski, at 120 pounds, placed fifth for Guilderland by winning three out of four matches in the consolation rounds.

“If you’re still thinking of the last loss, you can’t possibly be ready for the next match,” said Favro. “All your energy needs to be in the next match, one point at a time. It’s a lot of pressure.”

Berne-Knox-Westerlo had three wrestlers in Glens Falls for the Division II tournament. Sal Audino, at 99 pounds, got pinned by eventual champion Orion Anderson, of Schuylerville, in the first round. Joe Amedio, at 285 pounds, was pinned by Whitehall’s Zach Rozell in the first round.

Rob Haas, at 152 pounds, won his first-round match by pin for the Bulldogs, and then lost to Levi Cummings, of Salem, 3 to 2, in the quarterfinals. Then, Haas won two consecutive matches by pin in the consolation rounds before losing to Collin O’Brien, 4 to 2. In the fifth-place match, Haas lost to Cummings again, 7 to 5, to place in sixth overall.

“It’s hard to think about,” Hass said of the two losses to Cummings. “Those could have gone either way.”

“Seeing him bounce back from the first loss was the moment of the year,” BKW Coach Dan Dodard said of Haas. “He was dedicated, focused, and kept his head up.”

As a team, Guilderland went 8-7 in the consolation rounds of the Division I tournament.

“You have to take that negative energy and get rid of it because you can come back and win,” said Favro, making a comparison to a light switch. “It’s goes from the hardest thing you’ve ever done to sitting in the stands and waiting for the next hardest thing you’ve ever done, and trying to stay elevated that whole time.”

After a match, wrestlers have a resting phase, then a warm-up, and then they go right into their next match. There are six mats on the Civic Center floor — three for Division I and three for Division II — for a never-ending cycle of matches.

“You have a certain amount of decompression time, and then the switch comes back on,” Favro said. “Some guys cry, some get mad; it’s mixed emotions. The bigger the match, the shorter the fuse.”

Wrestlers competing in the Section 2 Championship for the first time may need a while to get used to the craziness of the tournament.

“Being pinned is the worst that can happen, and everyone knows that,” Favro concluded. “At that point, it really is over.”

Strong armed: Guilderland’s Andy Cummings makes Amsterdam’s Francisco Alejandro grimace during last Saturday’s first-round 195-pound match at the Section 2 Division 1 Championships in Glens Falls. Cummings, the number-one seed in the tournament, advanced, 11 to 4, but lost his semifinal match to Chris Goudy of Queensbury, 5 to 4; Goudy (36-3) went on to win the 195-pound title. Cummings (22-7) placed third by beating Shaker’s Chris MacDonald, 6 to 5, on Sunday. The Enterprise — Michael Koff


For more wrestling photos from last weekend's Section 2 Championships, click HERE.

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