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Newman’s Walk Off Pin Lifts Falconer to First New York State Dual Meet Wrestling Title

Falconer Golden Falcons Wrestling is a proud tradition with decades worth of championship teams & individuals, top rankings, and hall of famers. On Saturday night in Syracuse, head coach Drew Wilcox and his team added a new accomplishment to the program’s long line of accolades: a NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championship.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s one of the best feelings I have had in my entire life,” said Wilcox following a 40-39 win over the two-time defending NYS champion Mt. Sinai Mustangs in the small school final. “To finally see all of the hard work of these kids and this coaching staff over the years pay off is really a dream come true. People might have thought we were done after losing three state representatives and eight starters last year. We proved everyone wrong, and now it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Although they return no state tournament qualifying wrestlers, Falconer entered the tournament as the #1 ranked small school team in NYS, but the 7-seed at the start of the tournament on Saturday morning. After knocking off Section V champion Palmyra-Macedon 51-31, the Golden Falcons defeated returning state runner-up Central Valley Academy 45-33 to advance to the semifinal round.

In the semifinal, Falconer upended Section VIII champion W.T. Clarke High School 42-30 to set up a date with the two-time defending champion Mustangs out of Section XI, Suffolk County.

The final began with an Austin Chase pin at 113-pounds for a 6-0 lead. However, Mt. Sinai countered with their own pin at 120 before Joey Pillittieri gutted out a 10-3 decision win at 126.

Mt. Sinai would cause a significant gap between themselves and the Golden Falcons as they rattled off a major decision at 132 and pins 138 and 145 for a 22-9 lead going into 152-pounds.

Mack Mikula would recover some team points at 152 with a decision win, 11-5, before Bryce Baglia earned a 15-4 major decision at 160-pounds to close the gap to 22-16.

The Mustangs extended their lead to 33-18 with a pin at 170 and tech fall at 182. With only five matches remaining, some of the matchups favored Falconer, however they knew they would need some magic to pull off the win.

At 195-pounds Brock Johnson met Sinai’s Adham Shata in a bout that featured two wrestlers with nearly identical records (28-3 and 27-3, respectively). Knowing that a pin in this bout was critical to the win, Johnson knew he would need to dig deeper than ever for his team.

After falling behind in the match and fighting out of a near fall criteria situation, Johnson gutted out the pin his team needed to spark a furious comeback and energize the large crowd of Falconer faithful in attendance, making the team score 33-22 Mt. Sinai.

“It was unreal,” said Wilcox on Johnson’s come from behind pin. “For anyone that watched that high bridge, it was the best high bridge I have ever seen in my life. That was a kid right there that was refusing to lose.”

In the next two weights both Collin Beichner and Collin Mower overpowered their Long Island opponents for pins at 220 and 285-pounds respectively. In spite of an opponent whose intent was to burn time off of the clock, Mower earned the critical fall with less than twenty-seconds remaining in the match for a 34-33 Golden Falcon lead.

The Mustangs would earn a pin at 99-pounds for a brief 39-33 lead, but Wicox and the rest of the Golden Falcons knew that their returning Section VI finalist Brayden Newman was on deck and not about to let this opportunity go to waste.

After a flurry of activity that saw Newman fight out of a near fall situation, much like Johnson, he came up on top for a reversal into a near side cradle, putting his Mt. Sinai opponent into near fall criteria and ultimately securing the pin with only eleven seconds remaining in the first period. Newman’s walk off pin lifted Falconer to an even 40-39 victory, capturing the program’s first state dual meet title as well as the first for Section VI.

“There was thirty-one kids cheering him on, and he wasn’t about to let them down…not today,” said Wilcox. “It’s just a great accomplishment for this group of kids and I could not be more proud of them.”

The nearly three and a half hour trip from Falconer to Syracuse was no match for the dozens of Falconer fans, friends, parents, and alumni in attendance as they were one of the most well represented groups at the Duals.

The #1 state and WNY ranked Golden Falcons improved to 31-1 overall this season, captured the team’s ninth straight CCAA I title two weeks ago and now the program’s first ever NYS team title.

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