PHILADELPHIA — Nothing was going to stop the Indian River wrestling team from winning another Lacey Jones North Country Invitational tournament title.
Manny Gonzales (132 pounds), Alex Booth (138) and Jake Whitmore (215) each won their respective divisions as the Warriors picked up another crown. Longtime Indian River head coach Jamee Call said winning the event is something the team wants to accomplish every season.
“Winning this tournament is one of the things we aim for every year along with the Frontier League division and tournament titles,” Call said.
Indian River finished in first with 213 points while Gouverneur placed second and Saranac was third. General Brown and Copenhagen rounded out the top five.
Last year’s event was not held due to COVID-19 and this year’s event had a smaller field than in previous years. This edition also dealt with winter weather, but the wrestlers took everything in stride.
“We just got to take everything one day at a time,” Gonzales said.
Last weekend’s General Brown Duals was the first varsity tournament held this season in the area, but the North Country Invitational is a destination for many schools each year. Gouverneur standout and four-time most outstanding wrestler Carter Baer was happy to have this event back on the slate.
“This tournament and the whole season is so much different than last year,” Baer said. “It’s really nice to be back.”
Fans were allowed to attend the tournament held at the middle school this year. Indian River competed Dec. 11 in the Red Ram Duels at Jamesville-DeWitt, but it was an odd atmosphere as only wrestlers, coaches and tournament officials were allowed in the building.
“It’s so much better having fans here because it makes everything so much better,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales won his match at 132 with a 7-4 victory over Camden’s Trey Campbell to win the outstanding lightweight wrestler award. The addition of the junior who transferred from Watertown has been a huge and helps round out a solid Indian River lineup that’s unbeaten at 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the Frontier League.
“He’s got a lot of heart and that was a big win for him,” Call said.
Booth collected the victory over David O’Neil of General Brown in the rematch of a great bout to open the 2019-20 season where Booth won 8-7.
“It was a one-point last match the last time I wrestled him, but I made some adjustments,” Booth said. “I felt like I was more aggressive and better on top.”
Baer (160). James Minckler (102) and Vandavian Way (152) won their respective weight classes for the Wildcats. Baer won the state title in 2019 at 138 and will get to test himself in upcoming tournaments.
“We’re going to Windsor Tournament on Dec. 29 because that’s a pretty tough one,” Baer said.
Saranac gained multiple victories, from Ashton Seymour (126) and Collin Clancy (145), as did Copenhagen, with Chase Nevills (118) and Adam Ortega (172). Other Frontier League individual winners included Keegan Crenshaw (189) of Lowville and Nick Rogers (285) of General Brown.