ALBANY — February 25th has become a special date for the Copenhagen wrestling program.
Copenhagen junior Chase Nevills recorded the program’s second state title with a 9-1 major decision against Joey Florance of Section 4’s Bainbridge-Guilford-Afton-Harpursville in the 118-pound final in Division II at the NYSPHSAA championships Saturday night at MVP Arena.
Nevills joins Dempsey Carroll as the only other Golden Knights’ wrestler to win a state title. Carroll took the crown at 152 in 2017 exactly six years ago to the day.
Nevills had been going down to the state tournament for years and now adds the state title he’s always coveted.
“I’ve been coming here ever since I was a little kid,” said Nevills, who wraps up the season with a 39-1 record. “I’ve been watching all these other kids win it (a state title) and now me winning it, feels unbelievable.”
The start of the final bout at 118 was delayed due to the 110 final in Division I between Luke Satriano of Section 9’s Valley Central and Evin Gursoy of the PSAL’s Midwood going into overtime. Nevills stayed loose and waited out the other match without a problem before getting down to business.
“I was just joking with my coaches because when I’m happy and smiling, I wrestle my best,” Nevills said. “My coach and I were just making jokes just to stay positive and stay happy.”
Nevills got into the match quickly and recorded a quick two-point takedown 38 seconds into the first period. Florance scored his only point of the match via an escape, but Nevills notched another takedown to go up 4-1 after the first period.
The Knights’ grappler then grabbed an escape-point after selecting the down positioning to start the second period. He then ran up the score with two more two-point takedowns to secure the major decision. Nevills likes to build up points quickly and start matches strong.
“Our mindset is to get ahead,” Copenhagen coach Clay Russell said. “We have a gas tank and we want to keep pushing the pace and keep scoring because that’s what we do.”
Nevills met a familiar foe in fellow Section 3 grappler Gene Edwards of Central Valley Academy in the semifinals. Nevills had won via major decision in the first two encounters, but pinned his 3 minutes, 1 second into the match.
“I looked at it as just another person standing in my way of a state title,” Nevills said. “I know everybody is tough and there’s not a single easy match.”
Nevills’ state championship and a third-place showing by Tavian Camper at 145 produced a great weekend for the Golden Knights program. Both wrestlers will be back next season and looking for more accolades.
“Chase is a junior and Tavian is a junior and we’re excited for next year,” Russell said. “Tavian had a good weekend considering he pinned the kid (Colton Havens of Section 5’s Canisteo-Greenwood) that beat him in the quarterfinals.
Nevills said he’d enjoyed his state title, but he’s already thinking about adding a state title in his senior season. Russell said he believes that Nevills wants more crowns.
“I’m super excited we won a state title, but Chase said we’re not done,” Russell said.
Carthage’s Ryan Munn, Gouverneur’s Vandavian Way and Lowville’s Sean Kelly all fell in their respective semifinal bouts. Munn was beaten, 7-0, by eventual champion Cooper Merli of Section 9’s Newburgh Free Academy in the Division I 102 semifinal.
In Division II, Way was edged out by CVA’s Sixx Cook, 3-1, at 152, while Kelly was blanked by Greyson Meak of Section 8’s Cold Spring Harbor, 1-0, at 172.
Cook was victorious in his final while Meak was runner-up.
Indian River senior Manny Gonzales rebounded from his quarterfinal loss to get third place at 138 in Division I, while Munn was fifth at 102.
In Division II, Kelly and Way each recorded a fourth-place finish in their respective weight classes. Beaver River sophomore Derek Walseman (102) and Lowville sophomore Patrick Grimsey (132) each finished fifth.
n NOTES: Former Watertown High School standout and legendary Central Square head coach Bob Coppola was honored by the state for his contributions to the sport. Coppola was a 1968 WHS graduate and part of that team’s first undefeated season in 1968 when he was the Northern Region champion at 133. Coppola recorded more than 600 wins as coach of the RedHawks program and was named to state Hall of Fame in 2018.
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