By MIKE PETRO
Special to The News
For a while, Canisius senior Mason Hoose couldn’t catch a break.
He missed his entire junior wrestling season after having surgery on both of his shoulders and came into this year without preseason practices because of a concussion he suffered in the final game of the fall football season.
Hoose was rusty at first, admittedly losing a few winnable matches, but just a few months later, his fortunes have certainly turned and he’s returned to his dominant ways. He made quick work of Nicholas Cohen of St. Joseph’s by the Sea with a first period pin in the finals of the state Catholic High Schools Athletic Association Wrestling Tournament on Sunday at St. Francis to win the 220-pound title.
After qualifying as a sophomore, Hoose will return to the state tournament on Feb. 24-25 at the Times Union Center in Albany, where both sectional and state Catholic champions will compete.
“Now I’m starting to peak and get back to where I used to be,” said Hoose, who first suffered the injury during a state tournament semifinal match in 2015. “I wanted to take care of business and get back to Albany because I had to take last year off due to injury. It feels great but it’s not over yet. I want to get a state championship.”
For the first time in its history, Canisius had two state Catholic wrestling champions at the weekend-long tournament. Crusaders senior Nick Sillart scored the final two points of the 126-pound final with 20 seconds remaining to earn a dramatic 7-6 win over Jack Reusing of Monsignor Farrell.
“We’ve been working at this as a program for the last several years and a lot of hard work paid off today. It’s gratifying,” Canisius coach Jim Cunningham said. “Sometimes in this sport a lot can go against you, but if you have that will not to lose, it shows up.”
Led by sophomore Dominik Thomas, who earned Most Outstanding Wrestler for small schools, St. Francis won the small school division with 131.5 points and took fifth overall.
All-Catholics team champion St. Joe’s, behind 195-pound winner Freddie Nixon, finished just ahead of the Red Raiders overall with 148.5 and placed fourth among large schools.
Canisius was sixth overall, fifth for large schools, with 121.5. St. Anthony’s of Long Island edged Monsignor Farrell of Staten Island for the overall title, 337.5-327.5.
Sillart, the third seed, bounced back from losing the All-Catholics final to Ben Parish of St. Joe’s. Down 6-5 Sunday with the clock ticking down, Sillart pulled off a takedown as Reusing tried to ride out the match.
“He had a tough loss at the league championships but he never got down on himself,” Cunningham said of Sillart. “He put it all together for this championship and he deserves it.”
Thomas had just lost, 11-7, a few weeks ago to Justin Crawford of St. Anthony’s at 145, but in the state final against the same opponent, he took an early four-point lead and then held on, 8-3, to qualify for the state tournament for the first time. The field was very strong at 145, according to St. Francis coach Mike Messore.
“Dominic went out and attacked right away,” Messore said. “He wound up giving up a 7-1 lead last time they met, so he knew he wanted to control the pace right away and this time he took charge and distanced himself in the score.”
Nixon scored a 6-4 overtime victory over Matthew Savarese of St. Anthony’s. The senior had beaten Savarese by pin a few weeks ago at the Staten Island Duals, but Sunday he struggled with a bloody nose throughout the match.
“It was a little frustrating because I’m trying to win the match as quick as I can,” said Nixon, who will make his first state tournament appearance. “I knew he was a tough guy so I had to give it my all.”
St. Joe’s teammate Garrett House was denied consecutive state Catholic titles, falling 5-3 at 160 to Michael Lanza of Monsignor Farrell, who scored the deciding points with 10 seconds left in the match. Lanza notched the late takedown after House had come back from 3-1 down in the third period.