BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO - Owego won its first STAC divisional championship since 1979 Thursday evening, downing Vestal, 48-30. The Indians won nine of the 13 contested bouts, six with bonus-point victories.
"The kids wrestled tough," Owego head coach Nick Rodgers said.
The Indians set the tempo from the start and went after Vestal with an aggressive style that brought them a 21-0 lead after the first four matches.
"We got a good draw. We started right where we wanted to," Rodgers said. "That was the game plan, get out and get after them. We knew we could outwrestle them, so that's what we did."
Andrew Laubach dominated Tristab Rosas at 138 pounds in the first match of the night, racking up a 17-1 technical fall with 15 seconds left on the clock. He scored eight points on a takedown and two near falls in there first period and never looked back, building a 15-0 cushion before Rosas could get on the scoreboard.
Zach Miner pinned Anthony Policare in 2:35 at 145 and Austin Culver decked Kyle Bennett in 3:27 at 152, pushing the Owego advantage to 17-0.
Cam Bundy, dropping from 170 to 160, battled cramps in his calves, but controlled the tempo in a 9-0 major decision over Cullin Kintneil to make the score 21-0.
Dante Burns (170) gave the Golden Bears their first points of the night with a fall. After James Bundy (182) picked up a forfeit for the home team, Vestal's Todd Degroat (195) scored a 40-second pin to boost his unscathed record to 21-0 and close the gap to 27-12.
Owego bounced back with three straight wins. Tyler Benjamin posted a 59-second fall over David Yan at 220, Mike Bridge pulled out a hard-fought 1-0 decision over Cameron Mundel at 285 and Matt Laubach tacked on a pin of Brody Galyen in 1:27 at 99 pounds. Bridge's victory came via an escape just six seconds into the final period.
Those wins would give the Indians a 42-12 lead and clinch the win. The best Vestal could do would be to tie the final score at 42, but Owego had locked up the tie-breaker (greater number of victories) with Laubach's win.
The match would never get to that point. After the Bears' Haddi Smith (106) won by forfeit and Chris Tozer (113) added a fall, the Indians' Avery Middendorf sealed the victory in a 6-4 thriller with Vestal's Pater Sacco at 120.
Sacco came into the bout with a 15-1 record and ranked third in Section IV Division I while Middendorf was No. 3 at 126 in Division II. Middendorf scored the initial takedown, but Sacco tied things up with a reversal heading into the second period. Middendorf would lead, 4-3, as the third period began, but increased his lead to 6-3 with 1:23 to go. Sacco escaped to make it 6-4, but Middendorf fended off his desperation attempt at a takedown in the final seconds.
"Middendorf, that was an awesome match," said Rodgers. "That's the exact match-up we wanted and that's exactly how we wanted it to turn out. We expected it. Avery's a good wrestler. He's a senior, he's a seasoned vet. He rises to the occasion in big matches."
Jacob Morris moved up to 126 and held off Cale Wager, 7-5, to give Owego a 48-24 advantage. Morris grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period, then ran his lead to 7-0 with a reversal and near fall in the second. However, Wager would score an escape on the edge of the mat, then catch Morris off guard and take him down to his back to trim the seemingly safe margin to 7-5. Morris added a third-period takedown for the 9-5 win.
Co-De Petticrew (132) added a pin for Vestal's final points.
Although Owego had won an overall STAC championship in 1981, it was the Indians' first Metro division title in 40 years. And Rodgers was satisfied with the overall performance in achieving it.
"That's been the story of our year," he said. "We have a lot of solid guys that work hard the whole time. They just wrestle tough. We've got a few superstars, but other than that, it's just a lot of tough kids that want to win."
Owego head to the Stan Elinsky tournament in Deposit Saturday.
Owego 48, Vestal 30
138: Andrew Laubach (O) by tech. fall over Tristab Rosas, 17-1
145: Zach Miner (O) pinned Anthony Policare, 2:35
152: Austin Culver (O) pinned Kyle Bennet, 3:27
160: Cam Bundy (O) maj. dec. Collin Kintner, 9-0
170: Dante Burns (V) pinned Sean Heffernan, 1:01
182: James Bundy (O) by forfeit
195: Todd Degroat (V) pinned Mason Pratt, :40
220: Tyler Benjamin (O) pinned David Yan, :59
285: Michael Bridge (O) dec. Cameron Mundel, 1-0
99: Matt Laubach (O) pinned Brody Galyen, 1:27
106: Haddi Smith (V) by forfeit
113: Chris Tozer (V) pinned Owen Titus, :35
120: Avery Middendorf (O) dec. Peter Sacco, 6-4
126: Jacob Morris (O) dec. Cole Wager, 9-5
132: Co-De Petticrew (V) pinned Hunter Martin, 3:02
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Jacob Morris. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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