YORKTOWN, N.Y.-Yorktown senior captain Connor Thomas decided to wrestle at 152 pounds early this season, knowing Fox Lane All-American Matt Grippi was in his weight class.
Thomas knew it would be difficult to beat Grippi and he wound up losing to him in the Section 1 Division 1 championship match on Feb. 11.
“However, I felt that if I wrestled well enough, I might be able to earn a wild-card spot,” Thomas said. “My coach told me just two days ago that I earned a wild-card position. I was thrilled.”
Yorktown coach Eric Fama told Thomas on Feb. 14 that he earned a wild-card position to the 2018 New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships, which will be held at the Times Union Center in Albany on Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24.
Thomas said that he has wanted to wrestle at the state championship tournament since he was in seventh grade and continue the legacy of his idols, former Huskers Thomas Murray, Joe Mastro and Steven Sabella, who all went to the state championships.
“I wanted to follow in their footsteps, and I’m honored to have earned the right to compete at the highest level in New York in my senior year,” Thomas said.
Having success at the Eastern State Championships gave Thomas the confidence that he could earn his way to the state championships.
“I placed seventh at the Eastern States Championships this season,” Thomas said. “In doing so, I defeated a couple of all-state wrestlers. It was at this tournament that I realized I could compete with the best in the state. I had improved significantly since my performance there last season, when I didn’t win a single match.”
What also gave Thomas the belief that he could compete with the best in the state is wrestling in the tough Section 1 Tournament.
“Section 1 is one of the ‘power sections’ in the state,” Thomas said. “The competition here is fierce and my training at GPS Wrestling and the Rugged Wrestling Club has prepared me well for it. I’ve had the opportunity to test myself against some of the best wrestlers in the country over the past few years and it’s only made me better.”
Thomas said that his goal for the state tournament is to be an all-state wrestler.
“I will continue to push myself at the Section 1 practices to ensure that I can achieve this goal,” Thomas said.