By Bill Toscano
Some wrestlers spend their entire high school careers working for a single opportunity to win a sectional title and a berth in the state tournament.
Zach Diekel has done it four times, and he’s got one more varsity season left.
Diekel, who is polite off the mat, spoke with definite authority as he methodically took Maple Hill’s Zach Bazan apart in the 189-pound finals of the Section II, Division II wrestling tournament Feb. 12 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Diekel had moved to the finals with a 44-second pin of Scoharie’s Harrison Proctor and a pin of Duanesburg’s Jeff Senecal 37 seconds into the second period in the semifinals, but he took a different approach in the final.
Starting with a quick takedown at the beginning of the match, Diekel took his opponent down and let him back up several times, turning him to his back enough to build a 19-6 lead after two periods and then scored a takedown seven seconds in the third for a 15-point lead and a technical fall.
“He’s good on his feet, and I think everyone knows that,” Railroaders’ Coach Bob Diekel said, noting that he chose this strategy against Bazan, who has an unusual style. “It was best for Zach to take him down and cut him loose. That way we weren’t taking any chances.”
Assistant Coach Paul Diekel, one of Whitehall’s three state champions, said he was proud of the way his son wrestled.
“He handled him well,” he said of the championship match. “He’s peaking at the right time.”
Zach Diekel spent the better part of the evening trying to stay loose for his bout, the 13th of 15 finals. For a time he sat with his father, then he bounced around the warm-up mat, his intensity clear.
“I was pretty confident, but you can’t overlook anyone, he said. “I just wanted to relax and wrestle. The anticipation kills you.”
The state championship meet is Feb. 25 and 26 at the Times-Union Center, and Diekel has the advantage of having been there before. He has a specific goal.
“I want to make it to the finals,” he said. “I want to be on top of my game.”
Painful finish for Gebo
Grant Gebo, the Railroaders’ only senior, saw his injury-shortened season end in disappointment.
Gebo, a 285-pounder who made four straight Class D, Sectional II titles and finally won a class title Feb. 5, missed much of the second half of the season after re-injuring his knee.
Friday, he aggravated that injury during his opening bout with Taconic Hills’ William Baker, but lost 9-7 in the final seconds.
“It’s always sad to see a senior go,” Bob Diekel said. “It’s even harder to see them go down with an injury.”
But Diekel was extremely proud of Gebo.
“I thought he showed a lot of courage and good character,” Diekel said. “It would have been easy for him to quit.”
Assistant coach Paul Diekel also praised Gebo, whom he has been working with for many years.
“He’s one of the most fun kids to work with, and he’s one of the most modest,” he said. “He’s a great kid to have around the wrestling room.”