ADAMS — Heading into this weekend’s Section 3 wrestling championships, South Jefferson/Sandy Creek’s team showcases two undefeated competitors in Anthony Rasmussen and Tyler Mousaw.
While Rasmussen, who stands at 29-0 in the 182-pound weight class, is in the stretch drive of an already well-decorated career with the Spartans, Mousaw, who has forged a 28-0 record at 195 pounds, is a relative newcomer to the north country, as he hails from Pennsylvania.
Both have experience at a high level as Rasmussen placed fourth in the state tournament last year while Mousaw, whose family relocated from the Keystone State last year, competed in the Pennsylvania state championships the past two seasons.
“He’s very good,” South Jefferson coach Conners said of Mousaw. “So it’s nice to have somebody like that show up on your team the first week of practice. Anthony is a Section 3 champion and he took fourth in the state last year. Both of them, obviously their goals are to improve on what they’ve done in the past and obviously both of them have a chance to win a state title this year.”
Now Rasmussen and Mousaw, who quickly became friends as wrestling partners in practice, will lead the South Jefferson/Sandy Creek team into Saturday’s Section 3 Division II Championships, which commence at 10 a.m. at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena in Syracuse.
“We were about a week into the season, maybe a week and a half,” Rasmussen said on Tuesday during team practice at the team’s wrestling room at South Jefferson High School. “When he got here, we instantly became friends and it’s just been fun having him around.”
It didn’t take the two long to befriend one another early on in the wrestling season.
“He’s was one of the first kids I met when I came up here, so in wrestling he’s my partner and stuff, so I get along with him pretty well,” Mousaw said of Rasmussen.
“Definitely Tyler coming here is really good for me, he’s my practice partner,” Rasmussen said. “So we’ve just been beating each other up in practice, having fun and making each other better.”
Rasmussen claimed his fourth consecutive Frontier League title on Jan. 25 as he outlasted Carthage’s Fombo Azah in a 5-3 decision in triple overtime in the final.
“That was a long, tough match,” said Rasmussen, who scored on a reversal to win the match in sudden death. “Because (Azah’s) just short, stocky and super strong, so I can’t move him out of position and get moves on him. So it was just a really tough match.”
He went on to claim his second straight Class B sectional title as he recorded a pair of pins, including finishing off Hannibal’s Ethan Scanlon in 59 seconds in the 182 title match.
“I just look as it as another match,” said Rasmussen, looking ahead to this weekend. “I just go out, wrestle and get it done.”
Earlier in the season, Rasmussen also won four regular-season tournaments, at the Captain Bailey Memorial Tournament at Adirondack Central in Boonville, the Phoenix Round Robin Tournament and the North Country Invitational at Indian River, all in December, and the Port Byron Mid-Winter Classic in January.
Mousaw won the Captain Bailey Memorial, North Country Invitational and Port Byron tournament titles, and also won a Frontier League crown as he prevailed by technical fall over Brady Vosburgh of South Lewis in the final.
At the Class B championships, Mousaw recorded a pin and then secured the 195 title with a win via technical fall in over Central Valley Academy’s Andrew Bouck.
“It’s exciting,” Mousaw said. “But I don’t want to reflect on it too much because the season still has some time in it, so we’ll finish it out and just see how it goes.”
Mousaw, who is from who is from Kennett Square, Pa., in the southeastern part of the state, wrestled at the varsity level the past three years at Unionville High School. He competed in the state championships the past two years at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., finishing eighth in his weight class as a sophomore before finishing sixth as a junior.
“Wrestling is really competitive in Pa. and I guess that’s helped me become the wrestler that I am,” said Mousaw, who went 39-9 in his junior season with Unionville.
Mousaw’s family moved to the area to be closer to his grandparents, who reside in Watertown Center.
“It’s all right,” Mousaw said of wrestling in the north country. “It’s more sparsely populated, but there are some kids that are pretty good and know what they’re doing. So it’s good here.”
Rasmussen started out wrestling at varsity level as an eighth grader at Immaculate Heart Central, before transferring back to South Jefferson for his freshman year.
Since then, he was inspired by wrestlers such as South Jefferson’s Trey LaFlamme, who won a state championship in 2017, and Sandy Creek’s Joe Benedict, who finished second at states that year before winning a state title in 2018.
“It means a lot, because I’ve grown up with all the older guys and just hung with them and wrestled them (in practice),” Rasmussen said. “And seeing them do great things just pushed me to do better.”
Among Rasmussen’s 29 wins this season 20 have come by pin, and Mousaw has recorded 19 pins among his 28 wins.
“Both of them are very, very good on the top position,” Conners said. “When they get on top, they have a great ability to turn people and pin them. They’re both decent on their feet, it’s not their strong suit. But once they get on the mat, they’re really good.”
Rasmussen and Mousaw are both currently the No. 1-ranked wrestlers in their respective weight classes in Section 3’s Division II.
“They’ve got a lot of work to do, there’s a lot of great wrestlers to get through to even get to the states,” Conners said. “So, I’m cautiously optimistic, but I also know the matches get tougher in tougher. They both seem focused, they both seem ready to go, so I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Conners added: “Tyler’s about as laid back as they come, very polite and mild mannered. And Anthony is a great kid as well.”
Also competing from the team this weekend are Najuan Williams (113 pounds) and Sandy Creek wrestler Marshall Coe (160), who both won a Class B title last weekend, as well as Chase Lawton (99), who finished second, and Justin Thayer (170) and Aaron Briones-Cooper (126), who placed third and fourth, respectively.
“I’m really looking forward to see what they can do this weekend,” said Conners, who is in his 31st season coaching wrestling at South Jefferson. “They’ve worked all year and this is the reward, go down there and see if we can make some noise in sectionals.”