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Five Shen wrestlers head to states

It was another big weekend for the Shenendehowa wrestling team.

Four Plainsmen won their weight classes, and a fifth reached the finals of his division to help Shen claim the Division I (large school) team title at last weekend's Section II championships in Glens Falls.

Lightweights led the way for the Plainsmen as Nick Kelly, Luke Popolizio and John Belanger all picked up Sectional titles and automatic berths in this weekend's state tournament at Albany's Times Union Center.

Popolizio claimed his third Sectional title by beating LaSalle's Connor Sutton 7-3 in the 112-pound finals. The senior will be looking to earn his first state title this weekend.

Kelly and Belanger won their first Sectional titles. Kelly, an eighth grader, pinned Queensbury's Zach Hamell to win the 103-pound title, while Belanger shut out LaSalle's Jon Clemente 5-0 for the 119-pound championship.

Belanger's stepbrother Austin Meys continued his march to a possible third state title. The senior earned a technical fall against Ballston Spa's Chris Ohnsman in the 189-pound final to win his fifth Sectional crown.

Seth Hazleton and Lee Smith also reached the finals for Shen. Hazleton lost to Scotia-Glenville's Dan Riggi 4-0 in the 125-pound final, but he earned a wildcard berth into the state tournament. Smith was pinned by LaSalle's Zach Clemente in their 145-pound title match.

The efforts of Shen's six Sectional finalists helped the Plainsmen run away with the team title. Shen finished with 204.5 points, 27 points ahead of runner-up Amsterdam. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was eighth with 83.5 points, and Ballston Spa placed ninth with 82 points.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Zeal McGrew came away from Glens Falls with a Sectional title after battling two tough opponents in the 215-pound weight class. McGrew defeated Shen's Mike Almaviva 8-3 in the semifinals and needed overtime to edge Guilderland's Devan Van Auken 12-10 in the finals.

Van Auken received a wildcard berth to states, as did fellow 215-pounder A.J. Monin of Colonie. Monin defeated Almaviva 8-2 in the consolation finals.

The New York State Wrestling Championships begin Friday at the Times Union Center."

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