ALBANY — A trio of Frontier League wrestlers will have a chance at state title after winning their first two matches at the state wrestling championships Friday at the Times Union Center.
South Jefferson/Sandy Creek junior Matt Garland and senior Joe Benedict reached the second day at 113 and 220 pounds, respectively. Copenhagen junior Dempsey Carroll is looking to become the first wrestler in program history to reach a final after making the semifinals at 152.
Both Garland and Benedict were able to gain comfortable victories in their first two matches. Garland scored a pin in one minute, 14 seconds over Darryl Adler of the Public School Athletic League’s Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy. He then scored a 6-0 decision over Eric Tigue of Section 9’s Port Jervis.
“(The opening match pin) boosted my confidence up,” said Garland, who is 30-5 this season. “This is my second year going here, and I still get nervous in the first match.”
Garland will face a familiar foe in the semifinals as he takes on freshman Marek Bush of Central Valley Academy. Bush is 2-1 against Garland this season, including a victory over Garland at the Section 3 Division II championship Feb. 10. However, Garland did beat Bush in the semifinals of the Section 3 Class B championships at Central Valley.
“It’s going to come down to who makes the crucial move at the crucial time,” South Jefferson/Sandy Creek coach Pat Conners said.
Top-seeded Benedict blanked Francis Tawaih of the PSAL’s Petrides with a 12-0 major decision, where he wrestled a match that did not end in a pin for the first time since beating Alex Woodmansee of Section 4’s Newark Valley in the Kenneth Haines Memorial Tournament on Dec. 29 at SUNY Oswego.
The first match did accomplish something Benedict has been looking to do in the run-up to reaching state final for the third consecutive year.
“One of my goals for my conditioning was to get a (full) six-minute match in before day two and I got that,” said Benedict, who is 36-0 this season.
Benedict has lost in the state final at 195 pounds two years in a row and is looking claim that elusive state crown in his final opportunity.
“It’s my last year so I might as well go after it,” Benedict said.
Carroll beat area wrestler Brody Sheppard of Ogdensburg Free Academy, who won an opening round match over William Harrison of Port Jervis, 8-3, to get a berth in the round of 16, 10-3, to get a spot in the quarterfinals.
Carroll then scratched out a victory over Section 11’s John Carl Petretti of Shoreham-Wading River. The match was tied at four when Carroll scored a late two-point takedown as time in regulation expired.
“I was just waiting for my opportunity,” said Carroll, who is 43-6 this season. “I heard my coach in the corner yelling ‘one shot, one shot,’ so I just got in deep.”
The victory avenges a loss Carroll suffered earlier in the season to Petretti in the semifinals at the prestigious Eastern States Classic on Jan. 12.
“I just kept saying to myself ‘I’m not going to lose again’ and that drove me through the match,” Carroll said.
In Division I Indian River’s Logan Patterson (120) won his opening round match before losing in the quarterfinals. Gouverneur’s Cater Baer (106), Ogdensburg Free Academy’s Zach Roberts (126) and Lowville’s Isaiah Roes (160) each won their round-of-16 matches in Division II before falling in the quarterfinals.
Semifinal bouts start at 10 a.m. today and championship matches are set for 6:30 p.m. at the Times Union Center.