Cooperstown/Milford’s Leonard places second at Section III meet

GREG KLEIN | The Daily Star

Cooperstown/Milford’s Avery Leonard controls Central Valley’s Mason Bush during the 120-pound final of the Section III Division II wrestling tournament Saturday, Feb. 15, at Onondaga Community College.

SYRACUSE — Central Valley Academy’s Mason Bush came out on top of a scramble, getting a come-from-behind win by pinfall over Cooperstown/Milford’s Avery Leonard in the 120 pound finals of the Section III Division II meet Saturday, Feb. 15, at Onondaga Community College. 

Leonard, the defending section champion at 106 pounds, led 2-0 and 3-2 in the battle of class champions. However, Bush ended up in dominant position after the two rolled through a takedown attempt, and he squeezed Leonard into a pin with 22 seconds left in the second period. 

“I’m not worried about it, because Avery outwrestled him,” Cooperstown/Milford coach Mike Croft said. “Their kid got a little bit lucky.

“This will likely be the quarterfinal match at the state tournament in two weeks,” he continued. “So we look forward to getting him again.” 

Bush, the Class B champion, was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler for Division II (Classes B, C and D). He was the first of four Thunder wrestlers to take section titles, helping CVA win the meet by more than 50 points.

Cooperstown finished 24th.

Leonard, the Class D champ and top seed, got an opening-round bye, then two first-round pins to advance to the finals. He beat General Brown’s Nathan Snow in 1:32 in the quarterfinals and Homer’s Jacob Rice in 1:26 in the semifinals.

Croft said Leonard, a junior at Milford, is guaranteed an at-large bid to the NYSPHSAA wrestling tournament, which begins Friday, Feb. 28, in Albany. Leonard placed third in Division II at 106 pounds at last year’s state meet and is 43-5 this season. He increased his program record for pins in a season to 27 with the two wins Saturday.

Bush also dominated the field going into the finals. He beat Canastota’s Kyle Mucachio in 1:01 in the quarterfinals, and then won by technical fall, 16-1, over Beaver River’s Andrew Walseman in the semifinals. Bush placed third at 113 in the state meet last year, and is 51-2 this season. His only losses came Jan. 10 at the Eastern States Classic, including a 5-3 decision against Leonard. 

Saturday, Leonard took the lead by scoring the opening take down of the match, shooting to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. He maintained control and deferred the choice for the second period. 

Bush picked the down position and tied the match with a reversal, but Leonard rolled out to escape quickly and take a 3-2 lead. Leonard shot on Bush again, but Bush rolled through into the scramble, which ended in his favor at 3:38. 

Leonard got the only wins for C/M in the tournament. Milford eighth-grader T.J. O’Connor, the top seed at 113 pounds, was upset by CVA’s Hunter Cacciatore in the quarterfinals, 5-3, and lost a second match in wrestlebacks.

O’Connor, the Class D champion, finished his season at 36-9. He was 2-2 at last year’s state tournament, and although he did not make the final meet this year, he will enter high school just 19 wins away from 100 for his varsity career.

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