Larson takes first as Gowanda competes at NYWAY State Championships

The second annual NYWAY (New York Wrestling Association for Youth) State Championship tournament was held recently at First Arena in Elmira. On Saturday, the level of competition was truly at a state level. No match was easy. Nolan Thomas recorded two pins. Dominik Thomas fought deep into the consolation rounds. Lucas McKeever was eligible to participate at this tournament and wrestled brilliantly against a New York State Champion. David Poff and Mike Liszkiewicz both wrestled their hearts out.

Jordan Ringer was losing in his first match of the day with seconds to spare, but reversed his opponent and recorded the pin with two seconds to go on the clock. Ringer scrapped the rest of the day and was able to come home with a fourth-place finish.

Hunter Larson has battled all year. He is dedicated and committed to the sport of wrestling. It paid dividends on the second day as his first match of the day lasted just under two minutes before he recorded the pin. His second match lasted less than a minute until the pin was called. That second victory propelled him into the championship match. Wasting little time, Larson attacked his opponent and fought to score a takedown. He took a 2-0 lead into the second period. There, he scored on a technical violation and then scored again with an escape and a takedown for a 6-0 cushion. The lead was more than enough to be crowned champion. Larson became the first Gowanda Panther Youth wrestler to become a state champion.

Evan Fort took a hard loss in the first round, but battled his way back through the consolations and took home fourth place. Maddox Browning’s first opponent of the day attacked him with a head and arm throw, but Browning lowered his hips and capitalized on his opponents mistake and scored the takedown and eventually earned the pin. Maddox also placed fourth. Bryce Benedict also wrestled his way to a fourth-place finish.

George Kruszka pinned his first opponent and battled against his next two opponents. Kruszka had a very impressive day for a first-year wrestler. Dawson Russo also had a strong performance at the tournament while Zach Phillips battled and pinned an opponent. David Ball, Ethan Fort and Kai Kendall also represented Gowanda.

Chelton Bellinger was in one of the largest brackets at the tournament. He downed his first opponent by pin fall in the second period. He then battled match after match. In the consolation quarterfinals, he took a score of 7-4 into the third period and held on for the 7-6 victory.

Gowanda sent the second most representatives from Section 6. At the end of the tournament, Gowanda placed 18th out of 161 teams.