It had been a long time since New Paltz won a Division title on the mat. And this one came down to Evan Jansen, the Huguenots 285-pound bruiser wrestling Wallkill’s Jackson Faider in the meet’s final match with New Paltz up a point at 39-38.
And as is usual with the big-boys, whoever hits the mat first usually takes the loss. So Wallkill’s Faider, after a 0-0 first period of grabbing, groping and feeling each other out, made a move on Jansen that put him on the mat, but without having full control on the takedown move Jansen escaped — scoring a point. And as fate would have it, that single point held up as the two bear-like wrestlers just kept banging at each other for the next period-and-a-half. And with the huge crowd in full-throated roar and Faider trying for a takedown and Jansen playing a kind-of rope-a-dope, it ended…42-38 New Paltz, with the Huguenots winning their first Division title in many a year.
After forfeiting at 99 pounds, up-and-coming freshman Cole Cuppett continued his winning ways with a 6-1 win over Rocco Futia at 106 pounds. Losing at 113, New Paltz got a big pin from Elliot Crocco (leading 7-0) of Adam Howling in 3:24 at 120 pounds. Down 23-9 after losses at 126 and 132, the Huguenots ran off five pins in a row to go up 39-23: it was Mitch Gibson over Oscar Avila in 0:30 at 138 pounds; Aidan Cuppett over Matthew Rizzo in 1:02 at 145; Ethan Palanca over James Rizzo in 1:09 at 152; Levi Wyns over Noah Grabowski in 0:46 at 160; and Matt Thomas over Cael Atkins in 1:27 at 170.
Every meet has its one wild-and-crazy match, where its a back-and-forth near-pin fest. This one was New Paltz’s Logan Michael against Wallkill’s Justin Lyle at 182 pounds. It was 7-3 Lyle after the first period, then 10-8, and finally 12-9 as a tiring Michael tried for a last minute takedown. Wallkill then won the next two matches with pins to set up the Jansen-Faider grand finale.
But more than just this big win over Wallkill, this group of New Paltz wrestlers and their take-no-prisoners swagger is very reminiscent of the championship group from 20-or-so years ago that included present coach Ryan Pullman and his brother George — both Section 9 champions — and now Wallkill assistant coach and one-time “gunslinger” Dave Kelso — all of whom were at this match (including then coach Frank Ciliberto — now Ryan Pullman’s “bench coach”), lending it that deja vu moment. But whatever the memory, this team is good, solid all the way through. They may be the smallest school in Division 1, going up against the monsters: Monroe-Woodbury, Minisink Valley, Newburgh, Middletown, Kingston, Valley Central, et al,…but they’re back. An individual title here-and-there, even against that competition, would not be surprising.
Earlier in the week at the prestigious Bernie Miller Duals at Rye, New Paltz took second with wins over Lakeland-Panas 63-15, Port Chester 60-21, Sleepy Hollow 72-12 and St. Joseph’s By the Sea 70-16, losing to Brewster 53-33 in the final. Cole Cuppett, Palanca and Michael all went undefeated at 5-0.
New Paltz, 11-8 in dual meets, will wrestle in the Section 9 Division 1 Championships on Saturday, February 15 at Monroe-Woodbury, starting at 11 a.m.
Highland wrestling fell to 5-4 in dual meets with Wednesday’s 64-15 loss to Port Jervis. Wins for the Huskies went to Logan Zehr with a 6-2 decision over Logan Zappollo at 145 pounds; Ben Swart a pin of Jason Cintron in 3:32 at 195; and Jonathan Perez a pin of Ricky Mendoza in 3:41 at 285 pounds.
Highland will wrestle in the Section 9 Division 2 Championships on Saturday, February 15 at SUNY Ulster at 11 a.m.