By Craig Harvey
ALBANY - Fredonia's Dakota Gardner and Dunkirk's Tito Colom went 2-0 on Friday during the first day of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships at the Times Union Center.
For Gardner, the No. 1 seed at 138 pounds, it was business as usual as he opened the day with a 16-0 technical fall victory over Petrides' Nate Musel.
Gardner followed that up with a 10-2 victory over East Rochester's Kaydon Newton.
"He was sharp," Fredonia coach Joe Santilli said. "Now he can relax and compose himself and get ready to get back after it (today)."
Gardner will face Laken Cook of Central Valley Academy today in the semifinals. Gardner has faced Cook in summer wrestling programs and fared well.
Meanwhile, Tito Colom went 2-0 at 113 and is guaranteed to take a spot on the podium as the worst he can finish will be sixth. It will mark just the second time in Dunkirk history a wrestler placed as Joe Pagan placed sixth in 1987.
Colom took down Watkins Glen's Branon Gould in the first match and then held off Nolan Foster in the quarterfinals, 4-3.
"He wrestled two tough kids," Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy said. "He actually wasn't feeling well. It took control of him. He was weak. He said he felt better as the day went on. He looked better in the second match than the first. He has a real tough match in the semis tomorrow. If we get a strong Tito, he will do just fine. I know the returning state champ is the first seed. I told Tito control the bottom part of the bracket and we will worry about it from there. I think if we get a strong Tito, he wins it."
Southwestern's Ryan Hetrick had his hopes of a state title dashed in heart-breaking fashion at 113 as a controversial call in overtime of the quarterfinals went against him in a 2-1 defeat.
The official ruled Hetrick locked his hands on a hold to give Anthony Recco of Section 11's Lyndonville the victory.
"A match like that shouldn't be decided by a referee judgement call," Southwestern coach Joe Hoose said. "In my opinion, it was a real questionable locking hands call. Ryan shook it off. He recognized it. Too many kids dwell on that. He shook it off and came back strong.
Hetrick advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 3-2 decision over Tyler Asianian of Section 1's Edgemont.
In the wrestlebacks, Hetrick scored a takedown in all three rounds for an 8-4 victory and the chance to place today.
"I knew Ryan would come back strong," Hoose said. "He is very resilient. Sometimes kids check out after a loss. To show that, shows big heart. It shows a lot of mental toughness. It's not the first time he has been here. I think he will come back to third. I think he will get there.''
At 106, Dunkirk's Hector Colom won his first-round match over Kevin McColgan with a pin. However, in the quarterfinals, Colom had to face returning state champion and No. 1 seed Matteo DeVincenzio. Despite a strong showing, Colom fell to DeVincenzio, 6-4.
In the wrestlebacks, Colom used a takedown in the first round, a reversal in the second round and another takedown in the third period for a 6-0 victory and the opportunity to place today.
Colom's teammate, Marquis Buchanan, ran into the same scenario as Hector. After winning his first-round match 3-2, Buchanan went up against the No. 1 seed at 182 in Greene's Christian Dietrich. There, Buchanan fell, 11-0.
In Buchanan's wrestleback match, he gave up six points in the second period and could never recover in a 6-1 defeat.
"Dietrich has won a lot of tournaments," McMurdy noted. "He placed as an eighth-grader and won it last year. He ran into one of the best wrestlers in the tournament here. Marquis fought and fought. We got very good effort out of him like we have all year. He is running into guys a lot more experienced. Marquis has only wrestled a couple years. It's amazing what he has accomplished. Sit back and be proud of what you've done. He handled it with class. He handles everything with class."
Maple Grove's Brad Bihler won't be able to improve on his third-place finish last year as Bihler fell in the quarterfinals to Luis Weierbach at 120.
Bihler won his opening match with an 11-2 major decision victory over Joe Dillon of Nanuet. In the wrestlebacks, Bihler won 6-1 over Austin Ingraham.
"He lost to the same kid he lost to last year here," Maple Grove coach Tim Shrout said. "It was a tough match. He is on his way back. He is looking to continue on to tomorrow. He has his head in the right place and we are expecting good things. Getting your head reset is a real tough thing to do. You have to learn from your mistakes but don't dwell on it."
Also making it to today's action is Maple Grove's Howie Nolan at 160 in very rare form. Nelson only wrestled one match Friday. After losing in his first match of the day, both wrestlers he was supposed to battle in the wrestlebacks had to back out of the tournament due to injury.
"He lost to the four seed," Shrout said. "He came to the wrestlebacks early."
Also for Maple Grove, Brian Westerdahl went 1-2 on the day at 152. After winning his opening match with an impressive 15-4 major decision, he fell in the quarterfinals to Dan Woughter of Section 10's Alfred-Almond.
In the wrestlebacks, Westerdahl fell to Simon Breckinridge, 7-3.
"He started off with a solid 15-4 win and looked real great," Shrout said. "In the wrestlebacks he wasn't able to pull it off. The kid wrestled too smart for us. We need to refocus and look towards next year."
Frewsburg's Trevor Spicer had a tough opening-round loss to Andrew Ogrodowski of Section 5's Red Jacket at 195. Ogrodowski earned a 2:59 pin.
In Spicer's first wrestleback match, he fell behind 2-0 in the opening frame but pinned Brandon Defayette in the opening moments of the second period to advance. In the second round of wrestlebacks, he won 8-5 over Andrew Barnhart to stay alive.
Falconer's Kyle Ross is still alive at 170. After dropping his opening match to Jacob Woolson of Mexico, he won two straight decisions in the wrestlebacks to remain alive.
"You never want to be in the wrestlebacks, but we talked this week and we knew we were going to be there at some point," Falconer coach Drew Wilcox said. "He had to stay mentally focused and when it did happen, try and come back and get a medal. He wrestled really well and stayed within himself. He does a few things really, really well. When he sticks to his style, he is tough to beat. I thought it was gritty. You lose your first match, you have to win three in a row to get a medal. To win two tonight was huge for his confidence. We will see what (today) brings."
Salamanca's Brad Cunningham had a strong showing in his first match of the day with a 14-3 major decision over Jacob Beckwith of Section 10 at 220. However, after that, he was pinned in the quarterfinals in 39 seconds by Jake Benedict of Sandy Creek. And in the wrestlebacks, Cunningham was defeated by Paul Herreal of Saranac, 7-2.
Jamestown's Dylan Lundmark lost both his matches in Division 1 at 152.
"Dylan wrestled 138 all year and we bumped him up to 152 in hopes he could get here," Jamestown coach Matt Langworthy said. "He caught a wild card. It would have been nice to place, but he will be working hard in the offseason to get back here. Moving into the middle weights shows him some things he needs to work on."
Also dropping his first two matches was Southwestern's Shane Hetrick at 99.
"I think Shane is learning the gift he was given," Hoose said. "I told him, 'My opinion is you look around and you let this image burn in your eyes. So every time during the offseason when you're not sure about coming to practice, this is what you remember.' As much as two and out really sucks, this experience will set Shane up for many years to come."