ALBANY — Kyle Mosher is ready to take the next step.
The South Side senior has placed in the state wrestling tournament throughout his high school career, but after recording a pair of pins in his first two matches at 160 pounds at the Times Union Center on Friday afternoon, he’s determined to finish as a state champion.
“My first thought is getting to the finals,” said Mosher, the No. 2 seed. “It would mean the world, honestly. I’ve always gotten a taste, but I’ve never been at the top of the podium and that’s the kind of thing you dream about as a little kid.”
Mosher took some time to settle into his attack during his first match, but said once he shook off the early jitters, it was easy to find his stride. He pinned Centereach’s Jett Tancsik in 3:19 and felt his confidence grow as soon as the whistle sounded.
“I felt a little flat-footed, but after a minute or two my heat got in the zone,” Mosher said.
He followed it up with another strong performance in the quarterfinals, pinning No. 7 Quincy Downes, of Fox Lane (Westchester area), in 45 seconds. It was a quick victory, but one Mosher said he’s certain will only help him going forward.
“I’d wrestled [Downes] before at Eastern States so I knew he was a tough kid,” Mosher said. “He was going to come for my head and I could counter, I wanted to hit early and get the pin.”
Now, Mosher is looking to keep notching quick victories, determined to grab the one thing that’s always alluded him — a title.
“I want to stick to the game plan and get out of there as fast as possible,” Mosher said. “Really I’m just going all out and letting it all fly.”
Westhampton’s Liam McIntyre wrapped up his first day at the state wrestling tournament with a pair of victories at 195 pounds, including a 6-1 decision over Iona Prep’s Matt Kelly in the quarterfinals. The victories kept McIntyre’s season record perfect, improving to 39-0, but the senior said he wasn’t concerned with the number, just getting to the semifinals.
“I was sticking to what I know, what I’ve been doing my whole life,” McIntyre said. “I stayed quick on my feet, wrestled hard and wrestled to win.”
McIntyre, who will take on No. 3 Adam Daghestani of Grand Island in the semis, also added that he doesn’t feel any pressure to preserve his perfect season, especially at the state tournament, where he came in as the No. 6 seed.
“Coming up here, not being the number one guy, not expecting to win at all, it’s my last wrestling tournament ever, so I’m just having fun,” McIntyre said. “Going into counties there was pressure, but not here.”
Long Island will be well represented in Saturday’s Division I semifinals. All five top seeds from the Island advanced — along with some names you might not have expected when looking at the seeds.
At 132, No. 7 Xavier Pommells of Uniondale defeated No. 2 Drew Witham of Corning, 10-2. The win set up a Nassau final rematch against No. 6 Mike Blando of Massapequa, who upset No. 3 Devin Woodworth of Horseheads, 9-4.
Blando was one of seven No. 6 seeds from Long Island to advance to the semis.
Three unseeded wrestlers knocked off No. 2 seeds. Hewlett’s Michael Gordon defeated No. 2 Fombo Azah in the first round at 182 before losing his quarterfinal. Joe Gannone of Eastport-South Manor knocked off No. 2 Matt Rogers of Wantagh, 8-5, at 170 and Myles Norris, an unseeded 285-pounder from Freeport, beat No. 2 Jake Stangle of Ballston Spa, 3-1. Both Gannone and Norris picked up their wins in the quarterfinals.
Norris is no stranger to upsets — he defeated top-seed Joey Slackman of Commack in the finals of the Ted Petersen tournament last season. Slackman’s only two other loses came to Amityville’s Deonte Wilson in the county and state finals.