Senior Dylan Rifenberg will have his named added to one more list on the hallowed walls of the Pal-Mac wrestling room after supplying the Red Raider wrestling program with yet another New York State tournament place-finisher. Rifenberg earned a fourth-place finish at the 50th Annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Wrestling Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany on Saturday, Feb. 25, to become the 18th Red Raider to place at the state tournament in the last eight years.

Senior Dylan Rifenberg will have his named added to one more list on the hallowed walls of the Pal-Mac wrestling room after supplying the Red Raider wrestling program with yet another New York State tournament place-finisher. Rifenberg earned a fourth-place finish at the 50th Annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Wrestling Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany on Saturday, Feb. 25, to become the 18th Red Raider to place at the state tournament in the last eight years.

Entering the tournament as the sixth-seed in the 126-pound weight class, Rifenberg earned a 3-2 decision over Oyster Bay’s (Section 8) Ryan Arnel in the preliminary round before stretching out a 6-2 decision over third-seeded Drew Longo of Ardsley (Sec. 1) in the quarterfinals, capping off Friday’s action.

In Saturday morning’s semifinal round, Rifenberg squared off against seventh-seeded Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowaga (Sec. 6) who had defeated No. 2 seed Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich (Sec. 4) by an 8-6 overtime decision. Last December, Rifenberg earned an 8-7 decision over Rodriguez-Spencer during the Cheektowaga Duals Tournament and this contest proved to be just as tight. After an initial takedown by Rodriguez, Rifenberg gained an escape and scored a takedown to lead 3-2 after the first period. Rifenberg then chose the down position to start the second period and escaped again to take a 4-2 lead before Rodriguez won a takedown late in the period to knot the score at 4-4. A scoreless third period sent the match into overtime and Rodriguez managed a late takedown to pull out a 6-4 decision, sending Rifenberg into the consolation semifinals.

In Saturday afternoon’s consolation semifinals, Rifenberg scored a third period reversal and pinned Brooklyn International’s (PSAL) Abubokarr Sow in 4:07 to advance to the consolation finals against Lansing’s (Sec. 4) Corey Dake.

In a hard-fought match, both wrestlers battled to a 0-0 tie through two periods. Looking to score an escape or a reversal for the win, Rifenberg chose the down position heading into the final period. Following a number of close scrambles, Dake managed to turn Rifenberg, during which time Rifenberg suffered a dislocated finger, and earn near-fall points to take a 3-0 lead with under 30 seconds remaining. After having his finger attended to by the  trainer, Rifenberg went right back into the heat of the battle. With just seconds to spare, Rifenberg was close to getting a reversal and back points but the buzzer sounded and Rifenberg came up just short for a respectable fourth-place finish. Rifenberg finishes the season with an outstanding 46 wins (23 by pin fall) and 4 losses, bringing to a close a varsity career record totaling 126 wins and 33 losses. That record will ensure that his name will be added to yet another list on those hallowed walls of the scarlet and white.

Midlakes sophomore Sean Peacock gave head coach Steve Howcroft (a Pal-Mac alumnus and Raiders coach Brian Quick’s first Section 5 Champion) and the Screaming Eagles their first state champion after Peacock won the 113-pound weight class. Seeded fourth, Peacock shutout second-seeded John Aslanian, of Edgemont (Sec. 1), by a 5-0 decision to win the title. Peacock scored a takedown in the first period and an escape in the second to take a 3-0 lead. Aslanian chose the neutral position to start the final period and Peacock skillfully took him down and rode him out for the remainder of the period for the win. In gaining entry to the championship finals, Peacock defeated top-seeded William Koll of Lansing (Sec. 4) in the semifinal round by a 4-2 decision.

Teammate Tyler Smith, a junior, scored a late third period takedown in the 195-pound consolation semifinals to win a 3-1 decision over Saranac’s (Sec. 7) Ben Perry. Advancing to the consolation finals, Smith battled second-seeded Austyn Hayes of Phoenix (Sec. 3) and earned a fourth place finish after Hayes won a 10-2 major decision.
East Rochester senior Jeff O’Lena, a former Pal-Mac wrestler, squared off against top-seeded Lyndonville’s Sam Recco in the 120-pound championship finals. This was the second match in two weeks between these two wrestlers, having battled it out for the title crown during the Section 5 Super Sectionals on Feb. 11. Recco won that first contest by a close, 3-0 decision and the state final was even narrower. O’Lena, the second-seed, grappled Recco to a 0-0 tie through two periods before O’Lena chose the down position to start the third. Recco managed to turn O’Lena and score a two-point near-fall late in the period to take the win, while O’Lena finished in second place. In the semifinal match, O’Lena recorded a 2-0 decision over third-seeded Scott Stafford of Sidney (Sec. 4) to advance to the finals.