When Senior Andrew Danzinger entered the finals of the , he carried an undefeated record and was the favorite to represent Section VIII in the New York State Wrestling Tournament in the 215-lb weight class.
That plan came to an abrupt end after his loss in the finals to Tom Hall of Wantagh 12-8.
“The coach and [Hall] had a good game plan against me in the match,” Danzinger said.
For most wrestlers, a second place finish in the county tournament is the end of the road, but Danzinger was given a second chance with a wild card berth in the state tournament.
“Life does not often give you a second chance like this,” East Meadow Coach Chris Critchley said.
The wild card was awarded to Danzinger due to his 35-1 record at the time. His quality wins during the season included a victory over county champ Tom Hall, and Danzinger has also been all-county the previous two years.
Given the rare second opportunity, Danzinger knew he needed to focus and take full advantage of his chance.
“I wanted to win and go as deep as I could," he said. "I wanted to be the smarter wrestler in each match. I saw the brackets and knew it was going to be a very tough tournament for me up there.”
Danzinger indeed had a rough road toward his fourth place finish in the state tournament. As a wild card entrant, he drew the top seed in his weight class in the first round of the tournament but he was able to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, knocking off the No. 1 seed, Jake Barnhart of Penfield, 4-3 in overtime. He was the only wrestler to defeat the top seed in the first round of the tournament.
“It was a really tough and close match," Danzinger said. "Coach Critchley told me he couldn’t remember the last time someone beat the top seed in the first round.”
Danzinger would end up losing in the quarterfinals of the tournament before wrestling his way back to the consolation finals, where he lost in a rematch against Barnhart 2-1 to finish in fourth place and earn all-state honors.
The finish concludes a season of the highest expectations for the East Meadow senior and he is very satisfied with the end results.
“I’m happy with it, it feels awesome to get all state,” Danzinger said. “It feels as if a big weight has been lifted off my chest.”
Danzinger finished his season with a 39-4 record earning both all-county and all-state honors. While his East Meadow wrestling career comes to a close, he will continue to wrestle next year at SUNY Binghamton and try to compete for a starting spot.