Cory Day of Iroquois stuck around to watch the next Division II final, at 170 pounds, and found a little bitter to go with all his newfound sweet.
His Sunday wrestling partner, Sam Wolf of Warsaw, couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain as both chased senior-year state championships.
But Day could ultimately feel good about finishing off a first-time title run as a No. 6 seed. He ousted top seed Jacob Null of Dolgeville (Section III), 8-3, at 160 pounds Saturday night at the Times Union Center in Albany to become Western New York’s first champion of the night after the first four attempts came up runner-up.
Robbie Penhollow of Falconer (195) and Mike Rigerman from Pioneer (220) later joined Day as first-time state champs at the Division II level.
"I always dreamed about being in the finals and being a state champ. I’ve talked about it all of my life," Day said. "So it definitely feels amazing to follow through with it."
It was as easy as 3, 2, 1.
Day ousted the No. 3 seed in Friday’s second round and then beat No. 2 seed Charlie Grygas (Duanesburg, Section II) in Saturday morning’s semifinals before beating Null.
So how did he get a No. 6 seed, coming into states with a 43-3 record — not to mention a fourth-place finish in downtown Albany last year?
"I’m really not sure," Day said with a smile. "There’s a points system."
Where Day kept score for himself was with a mid-January loss to Null at the prestigious Eastern States tournament, 5-1. Null also lost the ensuing consolation bracket match.
"Those pushed me, for sure," Day said.
Buffalo-area schools advanced seven wrestlers to the finals, including five in the small-school Division II.
Day started a big heavier-weight trend of upstarts who took advantage of their first chances in the finals, amid big improvements from last year.
Penhollow was the No. 1 seed (bringing a 48-1 record to states) who was trying to live up to his dad, Jonathan, who was a state finalist as a junior in 1989.
"It goes to show you dreams can come true," Penhollow said after his 8-1 win against Jace Filion (Northern Adirondack, Section VII). It avenged coming in as the No. 2 seed last year and losing in the quarterfinals, then bowing out quickly in the consolation bracket.
Just as he was talking about his biography, his father approached him and offered a long hug on the arena floor.
"He one-upped me," Jonathan said with tears in his eyes. "Yeah, I’m proud."
Penhollow had a big cheer erupt when he won, as did Rigerman a short time later.
Rigerman finished fourth last year, but clearly didn’t feel "super nervous" again this year.
"I trusted my coaching and I had my whole community behind me," the Pioneer senior said after finishing off a perfect 46-0 season and a No. 1 seed.
He defeated No. 2 seed Keagan Carmenatty of South Seneca (Section V), 5-3.
"After the first takedown, I knew it was my match," Rigerman said.
The Buffalo area also produced four second-place finishes.
Andy Lucinski of Newfane (Division II, 99 pounds) was better than his No. 3 seed, but lost a 3-0 outcome to the No. 1 seed (Jace Schafer of Palmyra, Section V) in the finals, 2-0.
Willie McDougald (Niagara Falls) lost by pin to five-time state champion Adam Busiello (Eastport-South Manor, Section XI) in the 138 (Division I) championship.
Zach Braddell of Tonawanda fell in the 138 (D-I) title match, while Warren McDougald (Niagara Wheatfield) lost in overtime of the 152 final (D-II).
Other local placers:
D-I, 113: Tyler Bartolomei of North Tonawanda placed fifth.
D-I, 132: Justin McDougald of Niagara Wheatfield, fifth.
D-I, 152: Ryan Stencel of Lancaster placed fifth.
D-I, 160: Adam Daghestani of Grand Island took fourth.
D-I, 182: Patrick Walson of Olean took fifth.
D-I, 138: Dalton Gardner of Fredonia took fourth.
D-I, 145: Jimmy Kramer of Falconer took sixth.