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IAC WRESTLING: OWEGO HOSTS TIOGA VARSITY, MODIFIED TEAMS IN NON-SCORING DUAL MEET (2021-02-19)

BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — It was a rather unusual dual meet. Of course, these are rather unusual times.

Tioga and Owego met here Friday evening for a dual meet which included 19 varsity bouts and 11 modified matches. There were no team scores kept but, after approximately 2 1/2 hours, the Tigers clearly emerged as the more dominant program.

"We've got to make the best with what we have this year and we have a ton of young guys who are trying to figure it out at this level," Tioga coach Kris Harrington said. "Everyone is getting matches and that's a great thing."

"Coach Harrington and I talked and we just wanted to get as many match-ups for the kids as possible, as much mat time as possible, so that's what we decided to do," Owego coach Nick Rodgers said. "We tried to get every one of their kids a match, and my team's a little bit smaller, so we got multiple matches. We got 20 bouts in there, so that's a good night as far as I'm concerned."

Owego continues to be understaffed with some wrestlers still short the number of practices required to compete, and one of its top returnees, Tyler Benjamin, out with an injury."

The Tigers' varsity group went 14-5 on the night, registering 13 pins and one technical fall. The modified team won nine of the 11 bouts although three of them pitted teammates against one another.

The night began with five modified matches and six more modified bouts would be held during a varsity intermission. The Tigers' Brennan Sindoni racked up a pair of victories. Other Tioga winners included Ryan Chamberlain, Jake Brown, Shawn Widrig, Austin Babcock, Garrett Godfrey, Logan Bellis and Owen Rogers.

The varsity coaches have limited opportunities to watch the modified teams wrestle, and even less now due to COVID restrictions, so watching them compete alongside the varsity is a blessing.

"That's a good thing about this year. They're going to be with us most of the way, at most of our meets, so we'll get a chance to see them," Rodgers said.

"With them being add-ons to these matches, it's nice to see the development of these young guys," Harrington said. "Coach (Adam) MaCauley is doing a great job with them, so that's been a lot of fun."

In the varsity dual, the Tigers won the first seven bouts. Defending state champion Gianni Silvestri would start things off with a 21-second fall over Lucas Reilly, a second-year grappler. Mason Welch, a returning state placer, dispatched Matt Laubach in 1:25. Donavan Smith, a state qualifier as a transfer from Elmira last season, rolled to a 17-1 technical fall over Jacob Morris.

Justin Hopkins pinned Steven Bidwell in 1:54 and Ethan Agan took care of Zach Miner in 2:51. Emmett Wood, another returning state place-winner, followed with a fall over Matt Gatto in 1:18 and Trent Browne pinned Caleb Hoover in 2:27.

Logan Bailey would snap the streak for the Indians, posting a pin over Cole Williams in 1:58 and Cam Bundy, a bronze medalist at last year's state championships, worked a 13-4 major decision over Josh Snell to send the varsity dual into intermission.

Following the second batch of modified matches, Levi Bellis decked Reilly in 1:46, then Caden Bellis pinned Laubach in 37 seconds. Hopkins stepped onto the mat next and won his second bout of the evening with a fall over Morris in 2:59.

Smith would record a fall in his second match, dispatching Miner in 2:58. Gatto's second bout of the evening brought a win for Owego as he pinned Snell in 3:25. Agan won for a second time as well, scoring the fall against Hoover in 1:47.

Reilly would take the mat for a third time, chalking up Owego's fourth win with a fall in 1:12 against Hunter Feathers.

Tyler Roe followed with a pin in 1:01 over Laubach and Drew Macumber recorded Tioga's final, win, dispatching Bidwell in 3:12.

The final bout of the evening was rematch between Bailey and Williams with the Indians' heavyweight winning by pin again, this time in 2:58. For Harrington and his coaching staff, getting his younger wrestlers as much experience as possible is a very high priority.

"I appreciate that most of the coaches have the same vision we do, which is compete as much as we can this year with the shortened five-week season and three-week competition season," he said. "I'm happy that we're out there and we're scrapping and we're aggressive, so I think we're in a good spot right now."

Harrington has reason to be optimistic. The two-time defending state champion Tigers, have 13 underclassmen and three juniors, and had just three seniors in Friday's line-up.

Owego (1-1) visits SVEC (0-1) Wednesday and Tioga (2-0) heads to Odessa-Montour (1-0) Monday.

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Cam Bundy. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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