GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- After finishing as a Section II runner-up in last year Sectional wrestling tournament, Hoosick Falls Central School sophomore Nolan Foster spent all year trying to climb one place on the podium.
With a dominant performance over the weekend, Foster did just that, rolling through the 113-pound weight class in Division II and punching a New York state ticket with an 11-1 major decision over Rensselaer's Win Myint in the final.
"Ever since eighth grade, when I was sixth at sectionals, I wanted to get higher on the podium every year," said Foster, who improved to 38-4 with the win. "After hours and hours of offseason work, I'm on top of the podium today."
Foster came into the final after two pins and a tech fall, the tech coming in the semifinal against Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George's Gideon Jardine. Using that momentum against Myint, Foster scored takedowns and near fall points in the first and second period to take a 9-0 lead, then cruised the rest of the way to a sectional title.
"I saw this coming at the beginning of the season," said Hoosick Falls coach Landon Nelson. "He had [a lot] of off-season matches. He also saw one of his teammates win the state title last year and that motivated him."
Defending 106-pound champ Luis Weierbach, wrestling this year at 120 pounds, faced off in his final against undefeated Matt Morris from Albany Academy -- the only Section II wrestler to beat Weierbach this season.
Morris scored the first takedown, but Weierbach escaped to trail 2-1 after one period. In the second, Morris started down and scored a reversal for a 4-1 lead. Weierbach escaped again to make it 4-2, then scored on a penalty point with time winding down in the third period, but the match ended 4-3 in favor of Morris.
"Morris is a tough opponent, a great wrestler," said Weierbach, who is now 38-5 on the year. "I knew what he had coming in, I game-planned for it."
With all the accolades in the past two seasons, including his state title, Weierbach is a strong favorite to receive a wild card berth for the state tournament on Feb. 28 and March 1.
"My season isn't over, I will go to states," Weierbach said. "My goal has not changed, I won't shy away from trying to win states again. I'm going to work very hard in the next two weeks to reach the top of the podium."
Nelson said the plan was to get a takedown in the first period.
"The last match was 1-0 with [Morris] and we wanted to get the first takedown, but he got it and it was the difference in the match," Nelson said.
The third finalist for the Panthers, Mike Matatt, faced Albany Academy senior Sam DeLarge, a 3-time place finisher at the sectional tournament. DeLarge scored an early takedown, then escaped in the second period for a 3-0 lead. Matatt seemed to wait for a mistake that never came as he lost 5-0.
"[DeLarge] wrestled fundamentally sound and stayed in a good position," Nelson said. "Mike wrestled tough, we had a couple of scrambles but we couldn't take advantage."
Matatt finished second after two years of not placing at the sectional tournament.
"After the last couple of years, it's a big improvement for him," Nelson said.
Along with the three finalists, Hoosick Falls had three other place-finishers as six of the eight Panthers placed. Tom Peabody and Colby Davendonis wrestled back for fourth place at 132 pounds and 152 pounds, respectively. Garrett Wright came back to take fifth after an opening round loss to Schalmont's Kevin Paskevich. In the wrestlebacks, Wright beat Maple Hill's Jeremy Morris and Green Tech's Najee Collins-Coleman in tight decisions before taking Paskevich to overtime in a 3-1 defeat.
Then in the fifth-place match, Wright beat Mechanicville's Chris Kawola 4-3 in overtime, a competitor he also beat at the Class C tournament.
Peabody lost in the second round to Corinth's Tyler Mulcahy and worked his way through the losers bracket, winning three times to reach the third-place match against Warrensburg's Denver Berry. In the third period, ahead 1-0, Peabody was turned for three near-fall points, all Berry needed for the victory.
Davendonis lost to Tamarac's Logan Brunick 10-7 in a back-and-forth semifinal, then decisioned Cobleskill's Zac Cooper in the consolation semi, winning with a reversal with three seconds remaining. Facing Granville's Nathaniel Palmer in the third-place match -- a rematch happening for the third time, Davendonis fell 5-1 to his Wasaren League opponent.
"I'm extremely proud of my team, there's something about the team this year," Weierbach said. "There's a lot of character in our wrestling room and it shouldn't go unnoticed."
Hoosick Falls finished fifth in the team score behind champion Hudson Falls. The top five teams -- Hudson Falls, Schalmont, HLLG, Salem and Hoosick Falls -- were a mere 10 points apart.
"Most people think that wrestling is an individual sport but we send our team to represent Hoosick Falls and that's a reflection of our program," Nelson said. "To be in the top five with 40 small schools competing is pretty impressive."
Cambridge's Nate Winchester lost in the semifinal at 220 pounds to Ravena's Logan Kunkle, but came back for third after a decision over Mechanicville's Brandon Farrell.
"I was gassed from the consolation semi that went to overtime," Winchester said. "It was tiring just getting on the mat."
Hoosick Falls' Nick Schrom was 1-2 at 126, while Shane Barss was 2-2 at 195. For Cambridge, eighth-grader Colton Dean was 2-2 at 195.