BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
ALBANY - SVEC's Mark Mullen had his sights set on a podium spot at the 2019 NYSPHSAA Division II Wrestling Championships.
Unfortunately for the Eagles' senior 182-pounder, that goal was just missed following a heartbreaking 7-5 overtime loss to Susquehanna Valley's Mitchell Knapp at the Times-Union Center Friday.
Knapp was awarded a stalling point at the buzzer, tying the bout at five and sending it into overtime where he fended off Mullen's takedown attempt to score one of his own.
Mullen would score the initial points of the match, Countering a Knapp takedown attempt with a nice head-control, spin-behind move for a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.
With 1:38 remaining in the second period, Knapp notched a reversal to tie things up, but with 47 seconds left in the period, Mullen escaped to take a 3-2 lead.
He would add another escape with 42 seconds left in the third period to build a 4-2 advantage.
Knapp discovered a sense of urgency in his game plan and took Mullen down, but with eight seconds left in regulation, Mullen got free to go up, 5-4. As Knapp came at him Mullen stepped backward and was called for stalling. having been warned for stalling earlier in the match, Mullen surrendered a point this time, forcing the extra session.
"Right at the end. It was a rough one," SVEC head coach Ernie Marilley said. "We knew we already had a stall call on us and knew we had to circle in and he called us for going straight back, so it tied it up at the end."
The Sus Valley grappler picked up the winning points 27 seconds into the one-minute OT.
"Knapp's a tough competitor and he has been all year," Marilley said. "I wish him the best of luck. Represent Section IV for us."
Mullen finished the season with a 30-5 record, capping an impressive varsity career that began in the eighth grade and included more than 135 victories.
"He's had a great career," Marilley said. "He's another one of our role models. He wrestled year-round. He's really put in a lot of work for many years now to try to get to where he's at, so he deserved to be here and we were pretty close. It's hard to swallow right now."
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