The Granville Golden Horde has a place finisher in the New York State Wrestling Championships as heavyweight Eric Hastings took fifth place at 285 pounds.
Hastings was one of two Horde wrestlers to make the tournament with Karl Palmer gaining entry by claiming the Section II Division II title at 140 pounds.
Hastings fell short of a section title, falling to the eventual state champion 2-1 in the finals at the Glens Falls Civic Center, but advanced as a wild card.
As a result of the wild card berth Hastings was unseeded at the Times Union Center while Palmer earned a sixth seed in one of the most competitive classes in either division.
“Eric had an outstanding tournament. Often as a wildcard expectations aren’t too high but they were high for us; to place was the goal,” head coach Steve Palmer said.
“We looked at the field and felt confident,” Palmer said.
Palmer said Hastings lost close matches to wrestlers who eventually finished ahead of him, including the third and first place winners.
Against his nemisis from the section II final, Hudson Falls’ Luke Albrecht, Palmer said his wrestler was leading the match when Albrecht scored too late for Hastings to answer. “Albrecht made a good move and got a reversal right at the end with 13 or 14 seconds left there was nothing he could do,” Palmer said.
Hastings lost both matches to Albrecht by a combined two points this season.
Palmer said the strategy going into the match was to be more aggressive and take the match to an opponenet not known for his aggresion.
That strategy nearly paid off.
“He left everything he had on the mat against much bigger opponents, how much prouder can I be?” Palmer said.
Against Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George’s Jack Clark, a wrestler Hasting beat twice during the regular season, Hastings was physically exhuasted and still nearly pulled off the win with a first period pin.
Hastings missed the pin and fell in that match 10-7.
Palmer said he talked with Hastings after that match about how he wanted to end his high school wrestling career. “He had the chance for his final match to be a win and we talked a lot about that,” Palmer said.
“He just wanted it more, he refused to get turned… you could see his determination,” Palmer said.
“It’s a great accomplishment especially at that level. I’m sure it’s mixed feelings for him but he can sit back realize he did the best he could do and he held nothing back,” Palmer said.
In his second and final trip to the state tournament, Karl Palmer fell short of a place finish going 2-2 for the second year in a row.
Between returning place finishers and previous champions who moved up in wieght class from last year, Coach Palmer said everything he heard from other coaches painted 140 as one of the toughest weight classes.
“Others were saying it was a meat grinder of a weight class,” he said.
Returning place finishers at 140 pounds in Division II, small schools, were: top seed Derek Pfluger, Jr. from Sandy Creek in Section III (state champ at 135, third at 103 in 2008); second seeded Derak Heyman from Tioga in Section IV (second at 140 last season); third seed Lance Compton from Attica in Section V (second at 130 last year) and fourth seed Ryan Guynup of Saranac Lake in Section VII (placed fifth at 135 last year).
For a head coach and father Palmer said he was proud because Karl wrestled tough in an extremely tough weight class.
“He left it all on the mat too, but for whatever reason he didn’t get the little (breaks) that you need to be able to get the wins. It’s a missed goal, but to put it in perspective he lost to a guy that placed third and one that placed fifth and at that level – it’s a high end weight class. He can hold his chin up,” coach Palmer said.
The Golden Horde coach said he was pleased with the season overall because of accomplishments like this one: this was the first time in his memory
Granville has sent two wrestlers to the state tourament.
“It’s another bench mark for the program,” he said. In addition the team went undefeated in persuit of the Wasaren League title and had an undefeated dual meet season; the only Granville dual meet losses were in the Colonie Duals, an early season dual meet tournment. “I get a lot of satisfacton from this season, there were a lot of accomplishments and a lot of firsts,” Palmer said.