by Jeannine Alsous
Special to NFP
For the first time in Lewiston-Porter High School history, four students advanced to the New York State Public High School Sports Association Wrestling Championships at Times Union Center in Albany. Following an 18-3 overall season - a successful run for the team - Ryan Kromer, Dan Reagan, Joe Hill and Bashar Srouji represented Lew-Port at the Section VI wrestling tournament last weekend.
High school wrestlers from all over New York competed for the title of state champion. In order to qualify, all wrestlers had to place first at state qualifiers or receive a wild card in past weeks in order to advance.
Kromer, a freshman, made his first appearance in Albany with a wild card. With a strong record of 41-5, he was ready. Kromer started out for Lew-Port in the eighth match of the day in the 96-pound weight class. It was a tough loss, but that did not stop him. Kromer used that loss and won by decision in his second match. Unfortunately by the third match, Kromer had ended his journey with a one-point defeat.
Kromer is eager to begin training for next year. "I'm ready to come back next year, and it was a great experience," he said.
Reagan, a sophomore, made his debut appearance at the championship after receiving the 130-pound weight class wild card. With a record of 40-5, Reagan had the competitive eye for this type of event. A quick and unfortunate loss in the first match did not discourage him. Reagan entered his second match with the drive to conquer and won by decision. That drive was long extended when he triumphed in his last match of day one with a double overtime win.
Day two began with a huge win for Reagan with a pin in the second period. The next two matches did not go as planned. However, Reagan completed his weekend placing sixth in the state.
"States was an amazing experience for me, because I'm proud to place, but I want to keep working harder and harder for next year," he said.
Hill, a senior, received the 189-pound weight class wild card. This was Hill's first experience in Albany. With a record of 31-3, he proved himself worthy this season to the team. Unfortunately, the odds were not in his favor in the first two matches due to the amount of competition in his weight bracket.
"Making it to states is a dream, to finally accomplish something you've worked your entire career for," Hill said.
Srouji, also a senior, received the 215-pound weight class wild card. Advancing to states was not new for Srouji, as he advanced last year. With a record 32-3, Srouji was thrilled to be there for his final year of high school wrestling. A tough loss in the first match got him pumped up to win the second match by decision. It came to an end in the third match, but Srouji did not seem disappointed.
"It was a lot of hard work and dedication and all you can do is leave it all on the mat, no matter what, and that's what I did," he said. "I tried my hardest and I am proud of what I accomplished in my high school wrestling career."
The boys even got head coach Jon Hoover on the edge of his seat. When the first round of matches ended, Hoover stated, "I knew with the seeds that we had that we had to wrestle our absolute best to advance. It didn't turn out that way."
As the weekend came to an end, Hoover could not have been more proud of his boys. "We are very proud of how we wrestled this weekend," he said. "We showed tons of heart and desire and I believe we proved we are on the same level with the best in New York state."
Coaches Michael Antonelli, Dave Hockenberry and Craig Hoplight were side-by-side with Hoover the whole weekend and echoed his sentiment.