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SECTION IV WRESTLING: OWEGO’S CRAFT BECOMES FIRST THREE-TIME GIRLS CHAMP (2024-02-11)

River Hawks’ Struble punches ticket to state tournament

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Owego’s Rae Ann Craft became the first three-time girls sectional champion at the Section IV Girls Wrestling Championships at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday evening.

The sophomore 120-pounder racked up a trio of falls, two by pin, to add the title to the one she had already won in 2022 and 2023.

“I think it feels great,” she said of the achievement. “I think I was excited to be here and I knew that it was going to be a good finals match. I think that I worked hard and I think I worked hard enough to deserve being here.”

Craft started her historic day with a 16-0 technical fall over Kassandra Lindsay of Dryden. She followed up with a pin of Windsor’s Kimberly Olaeta in 1:15 in the semifinals before dispatching Tioga’s Kali Bailey in 2:28 in the championship bout.

“I'm super proud of everybody in my bracket. Kali (Bailey) wrestled great. Everybody wrestled great and I’m super proud of everyone for being here.”

Craft still has two more years of high school wrestling accomplishments to add to her already impressive resume.

“I think my main goal for the next two years is to win the state tournament. I mean, I got cut short this year with a couple rough losses, but I think that my main goal is just to win that tournament, maybe place again at Fargo, and some good off season goals I think.

Meanwhile, in the boys tournament, Bobby Struble bounced back from a heartbreaking setback in the semis to qualify for the state championships at 170 pounds.

The junior won by fall over Darren Rose of Oneonta in 5:25, but misfired on a throw attempt in the semis. He attempted a headlock on Maine-Endwell’s Mark Winchel, but the Spartan grappler was able to slip it and catch Struble for a fall at 1:45.

Struble came back to deck Jaxon Backus from Walton/Dehi in 4:31 before working a 3-1 decision over Kazio Jellick of M-E for third place.

The River Hawks sent two other competitors to the podium as Dylan Brace placed fifth at 124 and Collin Monell took sixth at 138.

Brace won a 14-7 decision over Ahmet Zaggout (Unatego/Unadilla Valley/Franklin, but lost by fall in 5:28 to Landyn Shaffer from Deposit/Hancock in the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, he won his first two bouts by shutout over Saverio Prisco of Walton/Delhi, 6-0, and Brendan Gumaer of Marathon, 5-0. He fell to Owen Clark of Lansing by pin in 2:48, but finished off his season with a fall over SVEC’s Caden Ruben in 2:42.

Monell dropped an 8-6 heartbreaker to Asaac Mead from Deposit/Hancock in the final seconds, but battled his way past Ethan Randis of Chenango Valley, 4-2, in his next match. He lost by fall to Aiden Marcin from Oxford/Greene in 2:55, then dropped another battle in the fifth-place match, losing to Regan Roach of Norwich, 4-2.

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego’s RaeAnn Craft. ... IN PHOTO 2: Owego’s Bobby Struble. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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