ALBANY — The third time was a charm for Amherst sophomore Kellen Devlin on Saturday at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships.
After losing the past two years at lower weight classes, Devlin dominated his opponent, Ryan Snow of General Brown (Section III, Syracuse area), to capture a 4-1 decision and the Division II 126-pound state title, with his parents looking on at the Times Union Center.
Devlin took a 1-0 lead midway through the second period with an escape and iced the outcome by recording three back points with roughly a minute to go in the bout.
“I determined my own fate in the third period,” said Devlin, who finished the year at 48-4 while improving his career mark to 164-13. “Once I got those back points that pretty much sealed the deal. It was a wrap.”
He was the only Section VI champion as no Division I grapplers reached the finals, and junior Andrew Shomers of Lewiston-Porter was pinned 56 seconds into the third period of his Division II, 145-pound championship match.
Devlin was the aggressor from the opening whistle, although Brown managed to elude him throughout the first period, which ended 0-0. Starting in the down position to open the frame, Devlin finally struggled free to grab a 1-0 lead.
“That was huge,” he said, “because I knew he was going to take bottom in the third period.”
Brown’s only point came on a third-period escape.
Devlin’s coach, Dennis Bauer, was extremely pleased with his star pupil.
“He thinks he’s especially tough on top and he proved right because he got the three-point near fall,” Bauer said. “That was the key to the match.”
Devlin placed third last year at 120 pounds, going 5-1 during the state tournament, and lost his only two matches as an eighth-grader at 112 pounds.
He reached this year’s finals with ease by recording technical falls in his first two matches, 17-0 and 17-2, respectively, followed by a 7-2 victory over senior Rafael Mateo of Midlakes (Section V, Rochester area) in the semis.
Devlin said he’s already looking forward to defending his title next year.
“Two more times,” the 10th-grader said, smiling.
Shomers wasn’t as fortunate in his first-ever appearance in the state finals. His opponent, sophomore Alex Herringshaw of Holland-Patent (Section III), led all the way and was up 7-0 when he recorded the pin. Shomers finished his season at 48-8 and is 153-33 for his career.
“I was just nervous, being in the state finals for the first time,” he said.
During the year he wrestled at 138, a big jump up from last year’s 113-pound weight class, which was made even tougher by moving up to 145 at the end of this season.
“I just told him, ‘Now you have a goal, you have a whole year to prepare, be right back here and be the one with your hand raised in the air,’ ” coach John Hoover said. “He can do it if he wants to.”
In Division I, senior Jake Weber of Clarence was the only Section VI grappler to reach the semifinals, in the 170-pound weight class. But he came out on the short end of a hard-fought, 4-2, match against Erik Ardon of East Islip (Section XI, Suffolk County) that took an overtime session to decide.
Weber finished fourth in the state after losing, 9-5, to senior Gino Gioielli of Brewster (Section I, Westchester area) in a consolation match.
In other Division II matches, at 113 pounds, sophomore Tito Colom of Dunkirk lost a 5-3 semifinal match to freshman Hunter Dusold of Locust Valley (Settion VIII, Nassau County), and wound up fourth in the state after falling, 6-0, to Anthony Recco of Lyndonville (V) in a consolation match.
Sophomore Ryan Hetrick of Southwestern placed sixth in that weight class.
Senior Abdul-Fatah Alshawai of Lackawanna and sophomore Bradley Bihler of Maple Grove finished third and fourth, respectively, at 120 pounds after Alshawai won their consolation match, 6-1.
Sophomore Dakota Gardner of Fredonia took fourth place at 138 pounds and senior Nate Martin of Newfane won a consolation match to to capture third place at 145 pounds.