ADAMS — Joe Benedict has been sporting a mustache since the start of wrestling season, and if the undefeated senior keeps performing as he did in the Frontier League championships on Saturday, there will be fewer clean-shaven faces around the Sandy Creek/South Jefferson area for the next month.
Benedict continued his dominant season by winning the 220-pound title, recording a pin in one minute and five seconds in the final, to win his third straight league crown and up his season record to 28-0.
Indian River won the team title for the second straight year with a fresh cast of five new champions, securing 215 points to edge out South Jefferson/Sandy Creek (152) and Carthage (147).
Benedict — a two-time state finalist — said he initially grew the mustache on a dare from his brother but many of his teammates, and even some of his coaches and the parents who follow the team, have followed suit to make it a trend.
“My brother, he kind of dared me to do it so I did and I wasn’t going to keep it for long, but then a lot of people started jumping on the train and told me that if I took it to states, they would grow out their mustaches for states,” Benedict said.
Benedict is the only active three-time champion in the league following Saturday’s victory, and will be the league’s only undefeated wrestler entering next Saturday’s Section 3 class tournaments.
He has won 21 of his 28 matches by pin this year — all in the first round and nine in less than a minute, with four ending in 30 seconds or less — and he is up to 152 career wins.
“It’s my senior year and obviously the past two years I’ve come up short of my goal (to win states), and it’s not like I have a re-do year next year,” Benedict said. “So I figured I have one more year and I’ve been making the most out of it, training with my brother (Jake) and my dad (Bill), and (assistant coach) Joe Beach has been helping me a lot, too.”
The Warriors relied on the strength of five individual champions to claim the team title for the second year in a row, winning back-to-back for the first time since capturing three straight from 2010-12, a title stretch that ended a 38-year drought for the program.
“This group of kids is very special,” Indian River coach Jamee Call said. “We’re young and with our new additions, we’ve meshed and we’ve wrestled well, and these young kids are just living on the edge. They’re all out and they don’t care who they wrestle, they just want to wrestle.”
Indian River received championship performances from sophomore Logan Patterson (120 pounds), senior Michael Lind (182), and eighth-graders Aiden Poe (145 pounds) and Alex Booth (99).
Junior Kyler Martin won at 195 pounds for the Warriors and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler after claiming a hard-fought 6-5 decision.
Lind won the most intense match of the day with a 5-2 decision over Fombo Azah of Carthage.
He scored a takedown just before the buzzer of the second period to take a 2-1 lead, and after Azah appeared to score two on a takedown to tie the match in the final minute, the official waived off the points, igniting a passionate reaction from the crowd. Lind then held on for the win in the closing seconds.
“I’m just thinking to myself that I had to push the pace, it was only one more minute, and I don’t want to be looking back on that minute for the rest of my life so I just tried to go as hard as I could, thinking he’s just as tired as I am,” Lind said.
Jeromy Henning and Tyler Pitts each secured the 100th victory of their careers during the tournament for the Warriors, who finished 8-0 during the league dual meet season to capture their 10th straight regular-season “A” Division championship.
“It’s really showing what a great program we have and how much work we’ve put in,” said Patterson, who secured his 120th career victory during Saturday’s tournament. “I think it shows that we have a really strong feeder program. All of us have come up through it and we’ve done a good job.”
Brothers Isaiah Roes (170) and Micah Roes (106) each repeated as champions in their respective weight classes for Lowville, while Matthew Garland (113) and Anthony Rasmussen (160) each won their second consecutive league championship for the Spartans.
South Lewis senior Kyle Greene (138) also won his weight class for the second year in a row.
Copenhagen was represented by a pair of individual champions — Dempsey Carroll (152) and Cody Zubrzycki (285) — while Watertown junior Spencer Lavin (132) and General Brown freshman Corey O’Connor (126) claimed their first respective league titles.