ALBANY — Despite being the size of a Division II school, Glenn wanted the ultimate challenge at the state wrestling championships this weekend.
“D-I states, that’s really it,” senior Zach Ancewicz said. “No disrespect to Division II but we all wanted to wrestle Division I.”
And it didn’t take the Knights’ wrestlers long to prove they belonged battling the best New York has to offer. Ancewicz (170 pounds), Joe Franzese (182) and Damien Caffrey (220) each won their opening two matches Friday at Times Union Center to advance to Saturday’s semifinals with the opportunity to compete for a Division I championship.
“We wanted a chance to do really well here,” Franzese said. “D-II’s good but there’s nothing like saying you placed in states at Division I.”
It’s the first state championship experience for Ancewicz and Franzese but neither shied away, even though Ancewicz admitted the size of the arena did intimidate him at first.
“I actually walked out yesterday and looked up and was like ‘Whoa,’ ” he said. “I felt dizzy. I didn’t feel good . . . It’s a different world. It’s hard. All the lights. There’s a lot of people here. It’s nerve-wracking.”
But Ancewicz improved to 32-0 on the season after defeating Long Beach’s Joe Giorlando, 7-3, via decision in the opening match and Sammy DePrez (Hilton, Section V), 5-4, in the quarterfinals in which Ancewicz had a two-point takedown with less than 15 seconds left to break a tie at three.
“I knew a takedown was going to win it,” Ancewicz said. “It was a tight match late and I just wanted to take him down and hold him down and I did that.”
Just minutes later, Franzese finished his quarterfinal match with a 9-8 victory over Evan Frank (Cross River John Jay, Section I). Franzese had more than just a trip to the state semifinal on his mind. He was out for revenge after losing to Frank earlier in the season.
“It’s not fun wrestling a kid you knew you lost to,” Franzese said. “But I guess I improved more than he did and that’s all you want to see.”
Franzese’s match also went down to the final second as the clock hitting zero brought both a sigh of relief and feeling of euphoria.
“I heard them say ‘3-2-1’ then I heard my coach scream ‘Woo,’ ” Franzese said with a smile. “I was just happy to see his face when I got up.”
Caffrey completed the Glenn trio’s advancement with another one-point victory, defeating Eastport-South Manor’s Matt DeFrancis, 5-4, in the quarterfinals after a 5-0 opening victory over Long Beach’s Mark Rivera.
Suffolk leads the team scores with 110.5 after the first day, thanks to numerous standout performances, including Smithtown East’s James Trezza (138) and Commack’s Nick Munsch (160), who each had wins over higher-seeded wrestlers. Defending state champion Adam Busiello of Eastport-South Manor advanced to the Division I semifinals at 120 pounds.
But the final day presents the opportunity wrestlers such as Ancewicz have dreamed about since they can remember.
“I’ve been training for this day since I was 6 years old,” Ancewicz said. “I remember I used to come up here with my dad when I was like 9 years old as a little kid and I was like, ‘I want to do that one day.’ ”