CENTRAL SQUARE — This Rocky is no underdog and has little interest in taking his matches the distance.
Central Square-Paul V. Moore High School junior Rocky Files is entering his second straight state championship wrestling tournament this weekend at MVP Arena in Albany.
Files will open with a 36-1 season record, and unlike the beloved cinematic boxing long-shot “Rocky Balboa,” he walks into the tournament as a well-established contender aiming to cap off a dominant campaign.
Files is the No. 7 seed among 21 participants in the Division I 215-pound weight class and is coming off his first official Section 3 Division I title, avenging his only loss of the year in the process.
“Confidence is always key,” Files said. “It boosted my confidence a lot being able to win sectionals. It’s the mental game, you can’t go into your matches without confidence.”
Files is among five Oswego County state qualifiers, joining the Fulton duo of Walter Crofoot (138) and Jonathan Clohecy (160) in Division I, along with the South Jefferson/Sandy Creek tandem of Brock Frederick (110) and Ryley Monica (145) in Division II.
Preliminary rounds are slated for Friday with the semifinals and finals for each bracket on Saturday.
Files advanced to the tourney as a sophomore last year but lost his first two matches. He has lost only one match since and said he has been driven to secure his return to the big stage.
“I learned quite a bit there last year,” Files said. “Patience is key, you have to think before you move, and again, the confidence, I’m going to be a lot more confident this year going in.”
Files has won 26 of his 36 matches by pin this year, with 16 ending within the first two minutes.
He has won 10 matches by pin in less than a minute, including two such victories en route to winning the Section 3 Class A title on Feb. 4 before adding the Section 3 Division I crown a week later.
“I like getting off the mat pretty quick, the quicker the better, but if I have to, I can drag it out,” Files said.
Files has scored 191 points and allowed just six all season, according to results posted at cnywrestling.com.
He enters with a combined record of 66-11 with 47 pins over the last two seasons and has won five individual tournaments this year.
“He’s aggressive but he’s smart, he has a lot of great technique, and he knows what to do to go out there and get the win,” Central Square coach Tim LaRose said.
“That record is awesome, and it shows the hard work and effort he puts into wrestling,” LaRose added. “This is his favorite sport, and he puts everything into it, wrestles year-round, and has huge family support.”
Files has won 21 straight matches and hasn’t lost since being pinned on Dec. 28 by Cicero-North Syracuse junior Kamdin Bembry.
All but seven of those victories have come via pins in his recent streak. Files defeated Bembry in his last match on Feb. 11 to conquer his only season setback and take two of the three matchups between the Section 3 contenders.
“He was focused all day and you could tell by looking at him, he wanted that win and was going to make sure he got it,” LaRose said. “(Bembry) is tough, and we’re happy that it came out in our favor.”
Files will be on a mission to join Kole Mulhauser (2022) and George Korthas (1985) as the only state champions in Central Square program history. He is just the seventh in team history to make multiple state tournament appearances.
Files has been wrestling since the age of five with the support of his parents — John Pontello and Rockie Files — competing in club and showcase tournaments year-round. He also plays football for the Redhawks. Files is also the nephew of former Central Square wrestling standout, Jamie Pontello.
“Looking for a state title is motivating and seeing my uncle’s name with all the past names (of wins leaders) on the wall in the wrestling room,” Files said.
He added: “I’m hoping for the best like usual, just go in confident with my head high.”
Oswego County participants
138 pounds: Walter Crofoot (Fulton)
160: Jonathan Clohecy (Fulton)
215: Rocky Files (Central Square)
110: Brock Frederick (South Jefferson/Sandy Creek)
145: Ryley Monica (South Jefferson/Sandy Creek)
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