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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Collins makes a triumphant return to win NYSPHSAA invitational title in Section 2 girls’ wrestling


SYRACUSE — Mia Collins had something to prove on Friday at the NYSPHSAA Girls’ Wrestling Invitational.

The Ballston Spa junior had spent most of‍ the‍ season recovering from a shoulder injury‍ that kept her out of action. However, she recovered just in time for the most important tournaments of the year.

On‍ Jan. 12, the 132-pounder came in first‍ place at the Eastern States Girls’ Classic. Then on Jan. 14, she won the Section 2 girls’ title.

All she needed was first place at the NYSPHSAA⁣ invitational to complete the sweep.

Collins started her day on⁤ Friday‍ with a 38-second pin over Holland ⁣Patent’s Hannah Kusmierczak.

She faced her⁢ toughest test of the day in ⁣the quarterfinals⁤ against Bellport’s Caitlin Maragioglio. After Maragioglio had a‌ takedown and nearfall late in ​the third period, Collins used a⁢ reversal with 17 seconds ⁢remaining to‌ preserve​ her victory.

It was a moment that came down to experience.

“I have a⁢ lot of experience​ wrestling really good girls at national tournaments, and I think that helped ​a ​lot today,” said Collins, who spoke about ‍the level of competition at ‌the tournament.

“It’s awesome how many girls are here and it’s really well put together,” she said. “With the⁣ increase in girls’ teams around ⁣New York​ State, it’s really cool to see how much the competition has grown.”

In the 132-pound semifinals, Collins secured a second-period pin over Minisink Valley’s Jaida Macaluso. She ⁢then pinned top-seeded Alexa Doxey, of Newfane, in the ⁤championship match to win the NYSPHSAA‌ title.

“I felt like I had‍ something to prove in that match, since they seeded her above‍ me,” Collins said of the championship. “I wanted to show that’s where ‍I should be.”

“It‍ felt really good, coming out knowing I dominated,” Collins added on getting the‌ pin.​ “There ‍wasn’t ‍any confusion and getting⁣ the pin is always just⁣ better anyway.”


Cailan Drake had been waiting ‍for a girls’ wrestling state tournament for a long⁤ time. However, after a​ fifth place finish ‌last season, there was some unfinished business.

“More than anything,” Drake said on how much⁢ she wanted to come back and win. “I didn’t have opportunities like this when I first started wrestling, and now to have a state championship, I really wanted to win it.”

The Shaker senior did just that, taking ​home the 114-pound NYSPHSAA​ title on Friday.

She picked up a first period‍ pin in her first round match, and then‌ a 7-0 decision⁢ in the quarterfinals.

Drake ‍earned a 12-4 major decision over Hicksville’s Haley Gonzales in the semifinals, before securing a third-period pin against Bay Shore’s Mora Peterson in ⁤the championship.

Drake, who spends ‌much of her‍ time also wrestling on the Shaker boys’ team, will have her season continue next week at the boys’ individual championships at Colonie.


Columbia junior Elle Hutton had a day‌ like no other at⁢ the NYSPHSAA ⁤invitational, on her route to ⁤the ⁢185-pound title.

In her⁣ semifinal match against‍ top-seeded Yaletsy Tamayo (Sweet Home), ⁣Hutton found ⁢herself trailing 16-4,⁣ and on the verge of a technical fall.

“My coach ⁤had ‍a pep talk with me, and he was saying I had gotten all negative,” Hutton said. “So, I flipped the switch, and just started thinking that I got this. I got back on the⁣ mat and felt ‍a rush of adrenaline.”

Hutton then did the improbable, securing the pin ⁤in what was⁢ likely the only way to win the match, which had just entered⁢ the third period.

“I⁣ got the escape and‍ reversal, into getting her into a cradle,” Hutton ⁣described. “I don’t even think I realized I’d pinned⁣ her until ‌it was over.”

“She hits a switch that sends her on autopilot,” said Columbia coach Mike Merhige, ⁢“but​ some days it comes later ⁤than others.”

Hutton won her first match of the day with a second-period pin. She then faced Vestal’s ‌Kiera ‌Devantier‍ in the quarterfinals,‍ rallying ⁤to earn a 4-2 win in the sudden-victory round.

“I’ve never ⁢seen anyone have a‌ day like Elle ​had today. You can never count her out,” ⁢Merhige ‌said. “It’s a testament to her mental strength. She never gives up⁤ on herself.”

In the championship match against Carmel’s ⁤Alexia Mangual, Hutton finished ⁣the job with⁤ a second period​ pin, to take home a first place ⁢medal.

“It was an amazing feeling [getting the win], but it’s ⁣hard to explain. I’m‌ still processing all of it,” said Hutton, who is also a linebacker on Columbia’s football⁢ team. “It’s only my second year wrestling and on this⁣ day last year, I didn’t place at all.”


After coming in third place at​ the NYSPHSAA invitational ‍last year, Ragan Retell returned with a chip on her shoulder.

“It was the biggest goal I’ve ever had,” said Retell, “to come back and win.”

The Tamarac senior won ​her first two matches⁤ in the 126-pound bracket with first-period pins, and then defeated Chautauqua Lake’s Noli Paddock with an 11-5 decision in the semifinals.

Retell found⁣ herself​ in the championship match, up against Columbia’s Bella Satalino, her training partner at Curby Training Center ‌in Troy.

“We train together all the ​time,‍ so we know ⁢a lot of each other’s ⁤moves and everything,” Satalino⁤ said of facing Retell. “We’ve been ​friends ‍for a long time, have been training partners the entire season and it feels good to go ‌up against someone who has​ helped ‌push me ⁣to get to‌ this position.”

During the Section 2⁢ qualifiers on Jan. 14, Retell defeated Satalino with a⁢ technical fall. ⁤However, Friday’s match at the NYSPHSAA invitational‍ went much differently.

Retell⁤ staved off Satalino with a 9-5 decision to win the NYSPHSAA title.

“At the end of the day,⁤ she’s my best friend,” Retell said.⁣ “No matter what happened, it was going to be a great experience⁢ competing at states.”

The Tamarac senior ‌noted that her season isn’t⁣ quite⁤ over yet. ⁣She ⁢will be traveling to a tournament in Vermont on Sunday, in order to pick up ⁢her 100th ‍career win.

“I’m going on Sunday to a tournament at ‌Burr and ⁢Burton, and that ‍will be it,” Retell ⁤said. “I’m⁤ at​ 98 wins right now, so I’ll get my 100th win there.”


Shenendehowa eighth-grader Ava Guilmette earned a second second place finish in the 138-pound division, dropping a ​6-0 decision to defending champion Zoe Griffith, out of Gouverneur.

Guilmette was able to weather most of Griffith’s attacks’ keeping the ‌match scoreless until the second ‍period. The match‌ was just 2-0 most of the way, until Griffith tacked on four more points in the⁤ final 35‍ seconds.

“It was crazy. Ava did⁤ really well,” said Collins, ⁣who⁤ wrestles​ with Guilmette at Curby. “It didn’t go exactly how she wanted it to, but I love her so much. She works really hard and I’m glad she got this opportunity. I know ‍she’s going to ⁤get another one, especially since she’s only in‍ eighth grade.”


Isabella Gretzinger entered Friday expecting to walk away with‌ another NYSPHSAA title. Instead,‌ she was the runner up after falling in the second period of the⁢ 152-pound ‌championship to Little Falls’ Brynn Shepardson.

Gretzinger cruised to the championship ‍round with three first-period pins, however she found herself in a sticky ⁢position shortly into her ⁣match against Shepardson.

On her back with Shepardson pressing for the upset pin, ⁣Gretzinger managed to keep her shoulders up for nearly a full minute, surviving until​ the clock reset for the⁢ second period.

Shepardson‌ was ultimately​ able to‍ secure the pin over Gretzinger later on in the second,⁢ to take ⁢the 152-pound ‍title from the defending champion.

Cailan Drake (Shaker), champion

114: Drake⁣ def. Orianna Carrasquel (Midlakes),​ fall (1:12); Drake def. Melodie Sutton (Marathon), Dec 7-0; Drake def. Haley⁣ Gonzales (Hicksville), MD 12-4; Drake def. Mora Peterson (Bay Shore), fall​ (5:00).

Ragan Retell (Tamarac), ​champion

126: Retell def. Kyra Talaniec ‌(Saugerties), fall (1:55); Retell ⁣def. Marissa Tara (Orchard Park), fall (1:59); Retell def. ⁤Noli Paddock (Chautauqua Lake), Dec 11-5; Retell def. Bella ‍Satalino (Columbia), ⁣Dec 9-5.

Mia ‍Collins (Ballston Spa), champion

132: Collins def. Hannah Kusmierczak (Holland Patent), fall (0:38); Collins def. ⁣Caitlin Maragioglio (Bellport), Dec ⁢6-4; Collins def.⁢ Jaida‌ Macaluso (Minisink Valley), ⁢fall ⁤(4:00); Collins def. Alexa Doxey (Newfane), fall (3:58)

Elle Hutton (Columbia), champion

185: Hutton def. Rhyan Pitcher (Fulton), fall‌ (3:46); Hutton def. Kiera Devantier (Vestal), SV-1 4-2; Hutton ‌def. Kiera Devantier (Vestal), fall (4:33); Hutton def. Alexia Mangual (Carmel), fall (3:55).

Bella Satalino (Columbia), 2nd place

126: ⁤ Satalino def. Melania ⁣Turano (Bay Shore), TF 16-0; Satalino def. Tayah‍ Beach⁣ (SVEC), fall (2:55); ⁢Satalino def. Gracie⁣ Hostetler (Warsaw), MD 8-0; Ragan Retell (Tamarac) def. Satalino, ​Dec 9-5.

Ava Guilmette (Shenendehowa), 2nd place

138: ⁣ Guilmette def. Kaibree​ Gaba (Lowville Academy), fall (1:45); Guilmette def. America Figueras (Phoenix), Dec 2-0; Guilmette⁣ def. Talia⁢ Robles (Mepham), Dec ⁣8-1; Zoe ⁤Griffith (Gouverneur) def. Guilmette, Dec 6-0.

Isabella Gretzinger⁢ (Shenendehowa), 2nd place

152: Gretzinger def. Bella ​Andes (Lockport), fall (1:06); Jade Cook (Corning), fall (1:22);⁣ Gabriella Gonzales (Phoenix), fall (1:45); Brynn Shepardson (Little Falls) def. Gretzinger, fall (3:43).

Madeline Palulis (Salem/Cambridge), 4th place

94: Bianca Awerman ‌(Commack)‌ def. Palulis, fall (3:05); Palulis def. Amelia Armstrong (Wayne), Dec 5-0; Palulis def. Meyah Aponte (Fredonia), Dec‍ 6-2; Palulis def. Julia Duro (Shaker), Dec 5-1; Palulis def. Peyton Kelley (Camden), Dec 5-1; Awerman ⁤def. Palulis, fall (0:35).

Alivia⁤ Ortiz (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk), 5th place

145: Ortiz def. Camila Hidalgo (Walt‍ Whitman), fall (1:21);⁣ Ortiz def. Jaymie ‌Landon ⁤(Granville), TF 16-0; Madison Westerberg (Waterloo) def. Ortiz,‍ fall (2:36); Selina Moore (Sherburne-Earlville)‍ def. Ortiz, Dec 10-6; Ortiz def. Landon, ⁣fall (2:08).

Araya Guilmette (Shenendehowa), 6th place

165: ‍Guilmette def. Kyra Bryant (Binghamton/Seton), fall (4:56); Mikaela Tepley (Harborfields) def. Guilmette, fall⁢ (4:15); Guilmette def. Kyah Nelson (Tioga), fall (2:06); Guilmette def. Esmerelda Braman (Hadley-Luzerne), Dec 9-2; Lilly Sorenson (Homer) def. Guilmette, SV-1 2-0; Tepley‌ def. Guilmette, fall (0:40).

Beckett Nielson
Beckett Nielson
Transitioning from a collegiate athlete to a sports journalist, Beckett O’Neal channels his passion for sports into engaging stories. A Boston College graduate, Beckett specializes in local sports coverage, from high school heroes to regional professional teams, providing in-depth analysis and an athlete's insight.
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  1. Great job, Collins! You totally nailed it and proved your dominance in Section 2 girls’ wrestling. Keep up the amazing work!


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