Immaculate Heart Central senior wrestler Nick Koelmel is doing everything he can to make the state tournament after missing out on his previous chance this school year.
Koelmel is the top seed in the 160-pound division of the Section 3 Division II tournament Saturday at the SRC Arena in Syracuse. He is looking for a third trip to the state tournament in wrestling after an opportunity to qualify in a different sport.
Just three days before the Section 3 Class C football championship game against General Brown, Koelmel had an appendectomy and was forced to miss the game, which the Cavaliers lost, 34-7. Koelmel was devastated when he found out he couldnt play, but was able to get through it.
It came at me all once, said Koelmel, a two-time Times All-North first team selection at wide receiver. But I had a lot support from my friends and family.
Despite the surgery and a knee injury he suffered at the Port Byron Invitational on Jan. 4, Koelmel managed to put together a 21-3 record this wrestling season. The only non-injury defeat came at the hands of General Browns Tyler Silverthorn, who is the top seed in the 152-pound weight class in Division II, at the North Country Invitational on Dec. 31. IHC wrestling coach John H. Babcock said Koelmel was able to overcome a rough start.
It was frustrating for him not to get going early in the year, Babcock said. But I think hes motivated now, and thats the main thing.
Koelmel said that missing out on the football title game did inspire him.
I feel like its my second chance, said Koelmel, who has a career record of 173-33. Wrestling is a solo sport and its all on me.
On Feb. 8 Koelmel added his fourth Section 3 Class D title, which were all won in different weight classes. Babcock said Koelmels athletic ability has made him a consistent winner.
Hes a very good wrestler, but hes also a good football player and an excellent lacrosse player, Babcock said.
Koelmel is also looking to improve on his fourth place finish from last years Division II tournament, where he went into the semifinals undefeated before losing in the last minute of the 145-pound semifinal to Frank Garcia of Norwich, 3-2. Koelmel said hes ready to make it to the state finals.
It was a big loss, but this year Im coming back stronger, Koelmel said. Ive been working out more, and this year I think Im a better wrestler.
TEN AREA wrestlers TOP SEEDS
A number of Frontier League wrestlers are in good position at Saturdays Section 3 Division I and II championships to qualify for the upcoming state tournament.
Indian River has three top seeds in the Division I tournament with Tucker Amato (106 pounds), Nick Toutant (113) and Sonny McPherson (170). Carthages Andrew McFarland (113) and Trevor Gibbons (285) earned the other two No. 1 seeds.
Besides Koelmel and Silverthorn, three other Frontier League wrestlers are top seeds. General Brown senior Ryan Snow is looking to get back the state tournament for a fourth time as hes No. 1 seed at 126 pounds. South Jefferson freshman Trey LaFlamme is top seed in the 99-pound tournament.
The state wrestling championships will be Feb. 28 and March 1 at the Times Union Center in Albany.