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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Finally, Mohonasen’s Nico Rivera Triumphs in Section 2 Boys’ Wrestling


GLENS FALLS ‍— After years of anticipation ⁢and hard‌ work,‌ Mohonasen junior Nico Rivera finally achieved his dream of standing victorious at the ​Section 2 Division 1⁤ championships.

Having been the runner-up for⁣ the‌ past two seasons, Rivera finally ⁢claimed the ⁣top spot this Saturday, winning the 124-pound weight class.

“This is a moment I’ve been dreaming of since ⁣I started wrestling in sixth grade. It’s all I’ve ever wanted,” ⁤Rivera said. “The feeling is indescribable⁢ after coming in second two‌ years in a ‌row. It feels like all the hard‍ work⁢ has finally⁢ paid off.”

Although Rivera has previously competed​ at the state tournament, he did ‌so as the runner-up, including surviving ‘true second’⁤ matches to reach the ‍pinnacle of New York State wrestling.

This year,‍ Rivera (31-5 overall) secured his spot at states outright.

“The⁢ thought of reaching the top of the​ podium has‌ been my ⁢daily motivation,” Rivera ⁢said. “It’s what ‍I wake up thinking about, what ​I⁣ think about ‍throughout the school day,⁣ over the summers, at practice, and before‍ I⁤ go to sleep. It’s what I’ve ⁣been working towards.”

Rivera’s victorious ​day on ⁢Saturday began with a third-period pin over ⁢Shenendehowa’s Chase Heidt, followed by a first-period pin in the semifinals against Burnt ​Hills-Ballston Lake’s ⁤Christain Witt.

The Mohonasen junior then advanced to ⁤the 124-pound ‌championship, where he secured an 18-6 major ‌decision over Schenectady’s Dominick ⁣Witko.

Despite having made it to the state ​tournament before, Rivera has yet to⁤ make the NYSPHSAA podium, which is his next goal.

“I fell short the last two ⁣years to get on the podium,” ⁤Rivera said, ‌“so it’s time⁣ to give it ⁢my ⁢all to get up there now.”


Saratoga⁢ Springs’ Pat McKinley claimed the Section 2 Division‌ 1 215-pound title in the only way he knew how –⁢ in overtime.

As​ the top seed in his bracket, McKinley used two straight pins to advance to ⁤the championship match​ against a familiar opponent, Shaker’s Nick Whyte.

McKinley and Whyte entered the match having faced each other four times ⁤already this season, with⁢ the Blue Streak senior 4-0, including wins in an ultimate tiebreaker and sudden ⁣victory.

Saturday’s match ⁣was just as closely contested,‌ as the bout headed to overtime tied 1-1.‍ In ​the first sudden-victory ⁢period, Whyte was called for stalling, handing McKinley the 2-1 decision.

“I⁣ saw the stalling ​call​ with six seconds left, but ⁢I‍ thought we still had to finish,” said McKinley, who didn’t realize he had ​won the match right away. “I was thinking I needed to push the pace. I didn’t realize I had won.”

Overall this⁢ season, McKinley ⁣has put together a 43-4‌ record, while going 6-1 in matches that have ⁢gone ​to extra time — including⁤ three of those wins being against ​Whyte. McKinley has won three sudden victories, a tiebreaker and⁣ two ultimate ‌tiebreakers, while dropping one ⁣ultimate tiebreaker.

“I’ve had a lot of them so far and honestly⁣ I like going to ⁤overtime,” McKinley⁢ said.⁤ “I feel like I have more conditioning than everyone else, because ⁤of the work that​ I ⁢put in during ⁣practice and my practice partners pushing ​me. I just have confidence‍ knowing that I’m still feeling good after ⁣regulation.”

“Winning the 215-pound title feels like a real accomplishment, especially ‍compared to last year where I⁤ got second place,” he added. ‌“I knew that I​ had ​a lot more in⁣ me, ​so getting the title feels really good.”

McKinley also advanced to states last year as a junior, when he was the runner up to Ballston Spa’s Darrien Insogna.

“Last ⁣year, Darrien was quick, strong and he really knew how to wrestle,”⁣ McKinley said. “Looking back on it, it was definitely his strength,⁤ and ⁤I⁣ felt like I‍ wasn’t as strong as I should⁤ have been. ⁤I mean, he also came in second‍ in⁢ the state too – he ​knew how to wrestle.”

While McKinley was the only Blue Streak to win a ⁣title on Saturday, he ⁤will be‍ joined by⁢ four of ‌his teammates at the state tournament in ⁢two weeks.

Gianni Delgado took home second place in the 170-pound division, ‌dropping​ a 3-2 decision in the championship match to Columbia’s Matt Hoxie.

A trio of‍ Blue Streaks swept their⁤ ‘true second’ matches, to round out the group of five headed⁢ to states.

Taylor Beaury (131)⁣ staved off Shenendehowa’s Greg Green with a⁢ 2-0⁣ decision to return to MVP‌ Arena, while Luke ⁣Stoutenburg (138) defeated Shenendehowa’s Conge Losee with a​ 3-1 decision.

Danny Dacey (145) held on for a 5-2 decision over Bethlehem’s Jackson Willi to clinch‍ his trip ‌to states.

“I⁢ feel bad they didn’t win because ‌of the amount of work that they put in at ⁣practice,” McKinley said of his teammates,⁤ “but they all had really‌ great seasons and are still going to go on to states.”


Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake ​and Ballston Spa each crowned two champions, and will send three wrestlers⁤ apiece to⁣ states.

In the Division 1 101-pound championship, Burnt Hills’ ​Brody‌ DiCaprio took down teammate⁢ Daniel Jones with an 11-2 major decision, clinching the title.

At 145-pounds, Liam⁤ Carlin cruised to his second straight title. ⁣He used pins⁣ in 38 seconds and 58 ‌seconds to advance to the championship, where he drew​ a ‍17-2 technical fall over Danny ‌Dacey.

Carlin was⁤ named the Most Outstanding Wrestler for the Division ⁤1 tournament.

Ballston Spa’s William⁢ O’Connor completed a massive upset as the​ sixth ‌seed ⁣in the 152-pound Division 1 bracket, upending top-seeded Abdo Baraeya ‍(Guilderland) with a 3-1 ‍decision in⁤ the championship match.

The ⁢Scotties also ⁣saw Ralph Keeney win ⁢his third straight title.

After winning ⁤at 102 pounds as⁣ a ‍sophomore and 110 as a junior, Keeney won the 108-pound title this season. He ⁣used a first-period pin over CBA’s Luca Popolizio to clinch the title.

Cole​ Donnelly also⁣ came in second place in the 285-pound bracket for Ballston Spa, falling to Guilderland’s Billy Pokeda in the third period.


Schenectady saw two of‍ its wrestlers earn second place⁢ finishes in the Division 1 tournament.

At 116 pounds, Xavier Vargas ‍earned 15-6 and 15-5 ⁣major decisions in his ‌first ⁤two matches‍ to advance to the championship, where he dropped a 16-6 major decision to ⁤Colonie’s​ Vincent Mastrianni.

In ⁣the 124-pound bracket,​ Monhonasen’s Nico Rivera topped Dominick Witko with ‍a 18-6 major⁣ decision in the championship bout. Witko began his day with a first period pin, followed by a 7-6 ‍decision in the semifinals.

Both Vargas and Witko will go on to compete at the state championships in two weeks at MVP Arena ⁣in ​Albany.



101: Brody DiCaprio (BHBL) def. Daniel⁢ Jones (BHBL), MD 11-2. 108: Ralph Keeney (BSPA) def. Luca Popolizio (CBA), fall ⁣(1:48). 116: Vincent Mastrianni (Colo) ⁢def. Xavier ⁣Vargas (Schen), MD​ 16-6. 124: Nico Rivera (Mohon) def. Dominick Witko (Schen), MD 18-6. *131: Jacob Hanlon def. ‌Taylor Beaury (Sar), SV-1 9-7. *138: David Ensminger ‍(Shen) def. Conge ⁤Losee (Shen), MD 11-1. *145: Liam Carlin (BHBL) def. Danny Dacey (Sar), TF 17-2 (2:32). *152: William O`Connor (BSPA) def. Abdo Baraeya ⁣(Guild), ​Dec 3-1. 160: LJ Welcome def. Lucas Schell (QBY), Dec 5-3. 170: Matt Hoxie (Colu) ⁤def. Gianni Delgado (Sar), Dec 3-2. *190: Tanner Scaccia (Colu) def. ⁤Quincy Bonville (Beth), Dec 5-0. 215: Pat McKinley (Sar) def. Nick ⁢Whyte (Sha), SV-1 2-1. 285: Billy ‌Pokeda (Guild) def. Cole Donnelly (BSPA), fall ⁤(4:15).


*101: Peter Filli (IC) def. Jonah Stevens (S-C), ⁣fall (1:11). 108: Luke LeBlanc (S-C) ⁤def. Cameron Carpenter (W/LG), Dec 4-3. *116: Kolt⁢ Wojtowecz (Gal) def.⁤ Colby Beers (Gre), fall (4:37). 124: Ashten Haley (C-R) def. Neil Murphy (C-A), fall (1:19). 131: Justin ⁤Mullis (HF) def. Scott⁤ Nicolella (D/S), Dec 7-2. *138: Trevor Bishop (Tam) ‌def. Zachary Olden (W/LG), Dec 5-1. *145: Kieran ‍Cullen (Gre) def. Ryker ‌Cox​ (C-A), fall (1:59). 152: Jacob Schweigard (D/S) def. Jaxon Torres (Gra), Dec 4-0. *160: Joseph Davis ‍(Gre) def. Kyber Henry (C-R), TB-1​ 3-2. *170: Joseph Martinez (C-A) def. ‍Skyler Sturdevant (GF), ⁤SV-1 10-8. 190: Jesse Mullis (HF) def. ⁣Chad ‌Monty (Whi), fall (2:19). *215: Ben Nania (M/S) ⁤def. Violence ⁣Sturdevant (GF), Dec 5-1. *285: Jakob Pregent (GF) def. Dalton Cooper ⁣(D/S), fall (2:14).

* — State qualifiers pending results of‌ ‘true second’ matches



131: Beaury (Sar) def. Greg Green (Shen), Dec 2-0. 138: Luke Stoutenburg (Sar) def. C. Losee ‌(Shen), Dec 3-1. 145: ‌ Dacey (Sar) def. Jackson ‌Willi⁣ (Beth), Dec 5-2. 152: Joey ⁤Losee (Shen) ⁤def. Baraeya (Guild), Dec 7-6. 190: Paul Harley (Shak) def. Bonville (Beth), Dec 10-7.


101: Stevens (S/C) ⁢def. Kaden Chamberlin (GF),​ Dec 10-1. ​ 116: Jayden Acomb (RCK) def. Beers​ (Gre), fall (5:07). 145: Cox (C-A) def. Daniel Stealey (D/S), MD 12-3.​ 160: Henry (C-R) def. Brayton Cary (S/C), MD 11-1. 170: S.  Sturdevant (GF) def. Nick Moyer ⁤(RCK), Dec 11-5. 215: V. Sturdevant (GF) def. Brendan Woytowich (C-A), Med forfeit. ​ 285: Cooper (D/S) def. Alex Vaughn (Tam), ⁣fall (2:30).

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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