On Feb. 8, Harrison High School played host to one leg of the sectional wrestling qualifiers with grapplers from nine area high schools looking to earn their ticket to Arlington High School for next week’s tournament.
Of the three local squads in attendance, New Rochelle fared the best, getting 10 wrestlers qualified for sectionals, while four Harrison grapplers also earned a spot in the tourney. The Garnets came in ahead of the Huskies, with five wrestlers moving on to Section I’s biggest stage.
Rye had one tournament winner, as Brian Gardner won the 126-pound bracket, defeating Harrison’s Max Uretta on an 8-1 decision in the semis before outpointing Brewster’s Tom Kozal 4-0 in the finals.
Two of Gardner’s teammates were able to bounce back from semifinal losses and win third-place matches, as Walter Florio (132) easily breezed past Adrian McCullough for third place and Jackson Kligerman did the same at 152, beating Sleepy Hollow’s Mike Lopez 13-6.
Alex Raynor (170) and Franklin Goldszer (113) also made the sectional cut.
While Gardner came into divisionals as one of the favorites in the weight class, rankings are often thrown out the window once the wrestling postseason rolls around.
“That’s the great thing is that everyone has a chance, regardless of ranking,” New Rochelle coach Eddie Ortiz said after the meet. “All it takes is for someone to have a good day.”
With sectionals on the horizon, Rye’s grapplers will spend the rest of the week preparing for the task at hand, and will likely team up with a couple of other area teams–including Harrison–as squads begin to pair-off in order to get their remaining wrestlers some work.
“We’re going to be figuring that out,” Harrison coach Vin Nicita said. “We’ll be seeing who other teams are sending and doing our best to figure out what weights work for practices.”
Sectionals kick off on Feb. 15 at Arlington High School and will conclude the following day at Clarkstown South.
-Reporting by Mike Smith