|SECTION IV WRESTLING: STOTLER LEADS WAVERLY'S EFFORTS AT DIVISION 2 CHAMPIONSHIPS (17 PHOTOS) (2018-02-10)
By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WATKINS GLEN — Sophomore Ethan Stotler opened Saturday’s action with a loss in the semifinals, but battled back for a third-place finish here at the Section IV, Division 2 wrestling championships at the Watkins Glen Field House.
The Wolverines finished 24th in the 26-team field with 21 points. Tioga repeated as D-2 champs with 209 points, while Norwich was second with 196, and BGAH was third with 136.5.
“Ethan (Stotler) put together a good tournament,” said Waverly coach Devan Witman. “He lost to (Lansing’s) Daniel Koll, who is incredibly strong, and technical.
“Ethan is in 10th grade, and has two more years,” noted Witman. “He’ll be in those big matches the next two years.
“He has really stepped up since Christmas,” added Witman. “He’s working hard in the room, and has corrected stuff that has hurt him in the past. He has made big improvements. I’m excited for his future.”
Witman says it’s a “long shot” for Stotler to receive a wild card to the state tournament, but there’s a chance.
Stotler, the fifth seed at 132 pounds, opened his day with a loss in the semifinals via fall in 1:52 to top-seed Daniel Koll of Lansing.
He bounced back with 10-4 decision over Norwich’s Eli Rodriguez, who was the third seed, in the consolation semifinals.
“That was a big win for Ethan, especially since the last time he faced him, he lost by tech fall,” said Witman.
In the third-place match, Stotler forged a 7-3 decision over fourth-seed Cooper Hall of Deposit-Hancock. Stotler pinned Hall in the quarterfinals.
At 113 pounds, Laforest opened his day in the second round of wrestlebacks and scored a reversal at the final buzzer to edge BGAH’s Teague Rezucha, 5-4.
In the third round of wrestlebacks (the blood round), Laforest dropped a 15-2 major to SVEC freshman Hunter Cleveland.
“Rylan (Laforest) is an awesome story,” said Witman. “His first time ever out on the mat was last year. He had one win, and that was against his own teammate no less.
“For him to win 20-plus matches this season, and make it to the blood round of Sectionals is an incredible turnaround,” he noted.
“If he continues to make those types of strides going forward, he’s going to be in the mix in the next two years,” added Witman.
At 145 pounds, Kimble scored a second-period escape, then rode out BGAH’s Talon Rezucha for the entire third period for a 1-0 win.
Kimble was eliminated in the second round of wrestlebacks by fall in 2:18 to Whitney Point’s Weston Underwood.
“I didn’t know what I was gonna get from Austin (Kimble) at the beginning of the year, coming in from (Sayre), but he worked very, very hard,” said Witman.
“Like we had to do with Ethan (Stotler) and a lot of other wrestlers, we are working on minimizing his mistakes. If we can do that, he’s going to be a lot better,” noted Witman. “He knows what he’s doing, it’s the simple mistakes that he makes too many times that gets him in trouble.
“I think you’ll see a completely different wrestler next year,” added Witman. “I think he’ll make huge strides over the summer. I expect big things from him next year, the second year in our system.”
At 138 pounds, junior Cody Chanler lost via a 17-1 technical fall to Owego’s Kaden Russell in the opening round of wrestlebacks.
At 160 pounds, freshman Trevor Meyers was eliminated in the opening round of wrestlebacks via a 17-0 technical fall to Norwich’s Angel Francis.
At 99 pounds, Skeens withdrew due to illness.
“He was sick yesterday, but he decided to go for it, and it didn’t work out,” said Witman. “And, he had a high temperature again this morning.”
Witman believes the Waverly program is moving forward.
“I definitely believe you’ll see bigger numbers next year,” he said. “My goal is to have a full team at the beginning of the year. Then, the goal is keep them throughout the year.
“We were close to a full team this year at the beginning, but then slowly they started to drop off, but the real wrestlers, the ones who stuck it out, improved throughout the season,” Witman said.
The Waverly wrestling program is likely to have another ally and resource in its midst as soon as Wednesday with Eric Knolles, currently the middle school principal at S-VE, and the SVEC wrestling coach, assuming the role of Superintendent of Schools at Waverly.
“It definitely won’t hurt having (Eric Knolles) here,” said Witman. “I know he has a job to do, and I’m going to continue doing the best job I can do as coach, but it’s always nice having the administration rooting for you.”
Knolles is excited about returning to the Valley.
“Any way I can help kids, I’m excited about it.
“Going home to Waverly, and the Valley is exciting for me,” said Knolles. “I’m going to try to do everything I can do to be the school, and the teams, I think we can be.”
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly’s Ethan Stotler. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.