Whereas the DI final reminded us that the realm of sports can be an ever-changing pyramid, where one's position atop the hierarchy can never be taken for granted; the Small School finale demonstrated the old saying, that "as much as things change; they also manage to stay the same."
When mats were officially rolled out in November, the almost unanimously shared opinion of the Empire State pundits is that the Tigers of Tioga were significant favorites to repeat as NYSPHSAA DII State Dual Champs...
And this past Saturday (January 28th), theory was transformed into fact as the Kris Harrington mentored squad went predominantly untested from start to finish en route to hoisting hardware in Syracuse for a second consecutive winter!!
One year removed from defeating Canisteo-Greenwood, 50-7, to claim the program's first state dual gold, the Tigers prowled their way to a 10-3 record in individual bouts that yielded a commanding 49-18 triumph over the local fan favorite Thunder of Central Valley Academy...
Shaping up to be a potential instant classic at the dual's onset (the two schools split the first six bouts with CVA holding an 18-12 advantage), the gentlemen of Section 4 took full control in the lighter and middle weight classes as the Tigers closed out the dual by stringing together SEVEN straight bonus-point victories from 102-145 to runaway with the verdict!!!
Getting the party started at 102 and igniting that party blaze was freshman, Logan Bellis (#6 ranked), who put on a show in every possible way, as he imposed his will on the feet in the form of three takedowns, while also displaying remarkable mat prowess in the 2nd period, when he secured a reversal in the last :40 and then immediately went into a tilt for a full count...In the end, the 2022 S4 5th place finisher seized an 11-1 major decision over NYWN Honorable Mention, Jacob Hurd!
Brayden MacWhinnie and Jayden Duncanson followed-up the [Logan] Bellis win by registering 1st period falls at 110 and 118 that propelled Tioga into the lead on the scoreboard, 28-18!
Engaged in a battle of freshman up-and-comers versus the Thunder's Matt Osley, MacWhinnie drew first blood when he utilized a shrug for the TD approximately 34 seconds into the 1st period...From top, he'd lock up a cradle and roll it over for the fall with 21 ticks remaining in the 1st...
Duncanson, the 2022 NYS DII bronze medalist, who currently sits in the #5 spot of the 118-pound polls, recorded one of the most substantial conquests of the weekend, as he posted "6" in a collision of respective state placers when he stuck 2022 DII 5th, Gene Edwards (ranked 7th), :48 into the 2nd period....The bout scoreless after the initial 2:00, Duncanson exploded off of bottom in the first 10 seconds of the 2nd, getting to his feet and launching Edwards to earn 2+3 for the reversal and near-fall to establish a 5-0 cushion...The action restarted after the combatants went out of bounds, the Tioga 9th grader would complement MacWhinnie's cradle with one of his own to secure the slap of the mat!
Now enjoying aforementioned 28-18 edge, the "5th Avenue phenomenons" turned to the sweet spot/core of their line-up to take them the rest of the way of Titlesville!!
Comprised/boasting a quartet of state medalists and/or state ranked personnel in all four of the final matches---Deakon Bailey (126), Gianni Silvestri (132), Tyler Roe (138), and Caden Bellis (145)---all meant business down the home stretch as they'd combine to tack on 21 additional points to round out the onslaught!!
Doing an abundance of damage on the mat in his contest with CVA 11th grader, Maddox Walz, the sixth-ranked Bailey amassed 11 of his 17 total points on five sets of swipes (including earning NF on three separate occasions in the 1st period)...When you add on his 1st period TD and a pair of reversals in the 3rd, you have the makings of a 17-2 technical fall!!
3x State finalist/2x champ, Silvestri (#1 @126), had no problems bumping up to 132 pounds where he toppled fellow state placer (6th in 2022), Cooper Reed (#11), by a score of 10-2....Striking for one takedown in each of the three periods, the big blow occurred just moments into the 1st period when off the whistle, he got in deep on a high-C and then defended the "Gator bacon" attempt to trap Reed on his back for 2+2...He also had escapes in the 2nd and 3rd periods to account for the final tally!
Speaking of transforming defense into offense, that is exactly what the returning State 5th, Roe (#6 @132) was able to achieve, as he anticipated a cement mixer try from opponent/2022 S3 6th, Aden Mead, catching the CVA junior on his back and keeping him in danger before the end came at the 53-second mark of the 1st period!
Putting the exclamation point on a day of brilliance for the Tigers was the team's most decorated student-athlete in the person of 3x NYS medalist/2022 runner-up, [Caden] Bellis (1st @138)...His credentials not limited to the boarders of NYS, the 2022 NHSCA AA (3rd)/2022 Fargo AA (8th) hit a dump less than 20 seconds into the 1st period and then began working a bar, which he eventually was able to power over to notch the fall in a time of 1:28 over Santino Curley!
Drew Macumber (160), Ousmane Duncanson (172), and Trent Browne (215) also succeeded in getting their respective arms raised during the previously cited exchange of bouts at the early stages of the dual...
His team down 6-0 after a loss by fall at 152 pounds, Macumber (#10 @145), a 2022 NYS Qualifier/S4 runner-up, answered back with a two takedown, two escape, one set of swipes performance that sent him to an 8-2 decision victory over Cole Wheet (#5 @152) in a clash of NYWN top-10s...
Feeding off the momentum created by Macumber was the defending DII State titlist, Duncanson (#1 @160), who maintained his immaculate 2022-2023 record (27-0) when drove through on a high-dive for a TD :23 into the 1st period and then cinched up a cradle (after threatening with a bar) to pin Nikolai Penree with 1:10 to go in the 1st period...
Browne, a 5th place performer at the Sectional Championships last season, scored six of his nine points in the last 1:20 of the opening period in his 215-pound match with Sal Fresco....Down 1-0 after surrendering a penalty point, he would connect with a headlock that produced 2 +4 (scream point) that instantly surged him to a 6-1 lead at the end of 2:00....An escape in the 2nd, coupled with a TD during the first 1:00 of the 3rd completed his output, as he went on to relish a 9-3 decision that squared the dual at 12-12!
Both Duncansons, as well as Silvesti, Roe, Caden Bellis, and Macumber all wrapped up the weekend as the owners of perfect records (3 or more appearances)!
Sixx Cook, Ethan Randall, and Jeremy McRedmond, who were responsible for all 18 of the Thunder's points with falls at 152, 189, and 285, went unbeaten on behalf of their school!! _________________________________________________________________________________________________
Tioga-49; Central Valley Academy-18
POOL A (Match #1): 47-16 over #13 Cobleskill-Richmondville
Summary: The repeat bid for the Tigers commenced with the program winning 9 of 13 bouts, including a streak of six in a row from 132-172 en route to easily defeating the sectional champs from the Albany area....Getting Tioga on the board and serving as the catalyst was 7th-ranked (@126) Levi Bellis, who made the most of one of his two total outings when he pinned Ben Yorke 1:03 into the 2nd period of their 132-pound bout....Following on his heels were the likes of Silvestri (fall in 3:11 over #10 ranked/2022 NYS Qualifier, Luke Yorke), Roe (19-4 tech fall against sectional 5th ranked, Dominic Scolaro), and Caden Bellis (15-3 major versus NYWN Honorable Mention/2x Sectional 5th, Kyber Henry)....Macumber (18-3 TF over Dylan Gallagher), Kaydin Cole (forfeit), and both Duncansons (Ousmane pinned Connor Wade in 0:38; Jayden won by forfeit) all emerged with some variety of bonus point result...Austin Babcock picked up the first of his two wins (2-0) of the day via a 7-2 decision against Jake LeSage!
POOL A (Match #3): 33-24 over #4 Chautauqua Lake-Westfield-Panama
Summary: The only time in their four outings that the Tigers did not overwhelm the team lined up opposite them, in hindsight, the dual with the fourth-ranked Thunderbirds out of Section VI would have made for an amazingly entertaining state finals pairing...Categorized by an exchange of mini-winning streaks, after three consecutive losses at 189-285 put them in an 18-16 hole, as they had done all Saturday long, the lightweights rose to the occasion, as Logan Bellis (11-3 major over NYWN HM, Gavin Burchanowski), MacWhinnie (5-0 decision against NYWN Watch list, Thandon Bensink), Jayden Duncanson (forfeit), and Silvestri (11-2 major versus 10th-ranked/2020 NYS DII 5th, Martin Ohlsson) posted wins in four of the final five bouts to "Save the day".....Earlier in the competition, Caden Bellis (fall in 5:12 over NYWN Watch lister, Brad Smith), Macumber (2-1 win in the tiebreakers against #8 ranked/2022 S6 bronze medalist, John Watson), and Ousmane Duncanson (5-2 decision versus 11th-ranked/2022 S6 4th, Jayden Malecki) all prevailed in marquee match-up to help Tioga build a 16-3 advantage!
SEMIFINALS: 55-15 over #8 Gouverneur
Summary: Victorious in 10 of 13 bouts, highlight displays came courtesy of Logan Bellis (102) & Bailey (126), who both upended fellow "recognized" counterparts as part of the Tigers swallowing the Wildcats...Up 2-0 at the time, Bellis beat the buzzer when he used a power-half to stick NYWN Watch lister, Paul Minckler, with :02 remaining in the 1st period....Bailey struck for four TDs en route to a 10-3 decision against NYWN Watch list member, Cyler Baer....Additional noteworthy dubs were delivered by Caden Bellis (91-second fall against Turner Sochia), Macumber (17-2 TF over 2x S10 finalist/defending Champion, Hunter Mashaw), and Jayden Duncanson (17-2 tech of 2022 sectional gold medalist, Ryan Mashaw)...Nine of Tioga's 10 wins were accompanied by some form of bonus point as Ousmane Duncanson (over Khasar Tulga) and Babcock (versus James Hayden) collected falls in times of :39 and 3:07....Bradley Guiles (285), Silvestri (132), and Roe (138) each won by forfeit!!