Sometimes the best workout partner you could possibly find is the guy next to you in your own wrestling room. That is the case for Norwich eighth-graders Tristan Rifanburg and Frank Garcia, who each make the trip to Albany this weekend for the New York State Division II Wrestling Championships.
Rifanburg and Garcia battled each other for years as they climbed the peewee wrestling ranks. Now as teammates, they are inseparable in the wrestling room as they set the tone in practice for the rest of the team, said NHS head coach Joe Downey. “They’re like puppy dogs going hand-in-hand,” Downey said of his two prospects. “They are the best of friends and their is a lot of mutual respect between them. They’re workout partners, and when one is down, the other one picks him up. They push each other, and it’s unbelievable to see their work in the wrestling room.”
The Rifanburg-Garcia connection is just one of many local stories. Can B-G/A senior Danny Gormley, in his fifth trip to the New York State Tournament, finally grab the brass ring and win a state championship?
Greene has a remarkable five entries in the state tournament. From 145 pounds and up, is there a deeper and more talented Division II team in the state?
Sherburne-Earlville senior, Greg DuVall, is another veteran of the state tournament stage. In five years, DuVall has won three sectional championships and earned an at-large bid a season ago.
The Times Union Arena will again host the tournament with first-round matches starting Friday at 10:30 a.m., and second-round matches to start at 2:30 p.m. Semifinals on Saturday begin promptly at 10 a.m.
Eleven Chenango County wrestlers are entered in the tournament. Below, we break down each wrestler in his respective weight class.
Tristan Rifanburg, 112 pounds
Rifanburg’s first-round match against Eddie Hutschenreuter of Section VI could be a good indicator of the Norwich eighth-grader’s prospects. Hutschenreuter lost in the sectional finals by technical fall to 103-pound state champion Abdulqawi Mohamed. If Rifanburg is to again advance to the state finals, he will likely see Drew Longo (his state finals opponent last year) in the quarterfinals, Mohamed in the semis, and three-time defending state champion Arik Robinson of Peru in the finals. “I’m not sure if two guys who placed in the same weight class the previous year are supposed to face each other that early in the tournament,” said Norwich coach Joe Downey of Rifanburg’s potential matchup with Longo. “I think the bracket might change.”
Frank Garcia, 119 pounds
Garcia, with a 34-3 record has losses on his docket this year to a defending division one state champion, two-time state place finisher Corey Dake of Lansing, and a defeat to a Pennsylvania state place-winner in the Clyde Cole Tournament. “It doesn’t matter who they put in front of Frankie, he doesn’t care,” Downey said of Garcia and his hard-charging eighth-grader. Garcia, if he gets past his first-round match, will likely face top-seeded Noah Valastro of Hudson Falls. Valastro has 47 wins this season, and his only losses came at the prestigious Eastern States Classic.
Danny Gormley, 125 pounds
Making his fifth state tournament appearance, Gormley placed third a year ago, his best finish in the tournament. This year, Gormley is slotted as they number one seed, and faces Orpheus Rambharose of Riverdale in the first round. At the bottom of Gormley’s bracket is Tom Page of Eden, the number two seed and a third-place finisher in the state a season ago at 112 pounds.
Editor’s note: The complete article will appear in the Wednesday edition of The Evening Sun.