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Six set for mat title bid


ALBANY — Even on the verge of competing for a state championship, Nicholas Koelmel’s demeanor doesn’t change.

The 145-pound Immaculate Heart Central junior ran his unbeaten record to 38-0 during the Division II high school wrestling state tournament Friday, using a pair of 5-1 victories to advance to today’s semifinal round at the Times Union Center.

He is one of six area wrestlers to reach the semifinals, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. today. The finals are slated for 6 p.m.

Koelmel will represent the Frontier League along with Lowville senior Brandon Fayle (285 pounds) and Carthage senior Shayne Brady (182), the area’s only Division I wrestler still in the hunt for a championship.

The Section 10 semifinalists are Gouverneur seniors Dillon Stowell (113) and Hunter Ayen (195), along with Ogdensburg Free Academy 8th-grader Tanner Lapiene (99).

Koelmel, the area’s only undefeated wrestler, was calm and composed following a physical quarterfinal victory.

“I’m just going to try to relax, get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and just not get too caught up in all the hype that’s going on here,” Koelmel said. “Just keep a clear head and that’s about it.”

After defeating Robbie Bell from Gouverneur in the first round, Koelmel methodically built up points and frustrated his opponent, Mike Dusold of Locust Valley, to the point where he ended up receiving a head-butt.

“Nick was Nick,” IHC coach John Babcock said. “He was under control and he was mentally prepared for that match.”

Koelmel, competing in his first state tournament, could become IHC’s third state champion, joining Antonio Doldo and Derek Brenon, both of whom accomplished the feat in 2008. Nick’s brother, Bill, placed fifth at states last year.

Stowell and Ayen of Gouverneur will both face familiar opponents in their respective semifinal matches.

Stowell will be matched up with Austin Keough of Warsaw, whom he beat with a 4-2 overtime victory in a tournament early this season.

Ayen’s semifinal opponent, Tyler Smith of Midlakes, defeated Ayen in the first round of the state tournament last year.

“This will be a little bit of payback I guess you could say,” said Ayen, who advanced to the semifinals with two first-round pins. “But then I lost again after that so I was two and out last year. I was already done at this point last year, so I’m feeling good.”

Stowell has two third-place finishes and a fourth-place rank on his state tournament resume. Ayen’s 0-2 performance last year was his only other state appearance. Both are seniors.

“They’re the kind of kids you don’t replace,” Gouverneur coach Joel Baer said. “We’re going to miss them. I really hope that this weekend ends the way that, with the goals and aspirations that they have, I hope it ends on a high note for them. That would be awesome.”

Brady, who could become Carthage’s first state champion, is in the semifinals for the second straight season. He lost in the finals a year ago.

“I’m pretty determined to get a state championship and I don’t want to let anyone stand in my way,” said Brady, who claimed a 9-2 decision in his first-round victory and a 9-2 major decision in the quarterfinals. “I’m feeling strong going in.”

Fayle, competing in his third state tournament, is in the semifinals for the first time after winning each of his matches by pinfall. He is trying to become Lowville’s third state champion, one of which is his uncle, Randy Morrison, a 250-pound champion in 1984.

Lapiene, the area’s only underclassman still standing, won his first match with a 14-0 major decision before claiming a 3-1 victory in the quarterfinals. He went 0-2 in his state tournament debut last year.

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