While the Spencerport Rangers are expected to win wrestling meets, there are nights when the victories aren't handed to them.
The Rangers had to win the final four matches during their Section V Division I Dual quarterfinal Wednesday night to defeat Churchville-Chili 31-26 and advance.
Spencerport 285-pounder Taylor Sloley won the final bout by a score of 1-0 with the Rangers ahead by two points.
"He had to win the bout," Spencerport coach Dan Glover said. "Ultimately, it's good for the sport, not for my blood pressure, but good for the sport."
No. 5 seed Churchville-Chili led 26-12 heading into the 172-pound match. Jake Scherbyn began Spencerport's roll to a 14th victory in 15 duals this season when he pinned his opponent.
Joe Marcello was next at 189 for Spencerport, and won by major decision. Jackson Burns then won at 215 with a pin to give the Rangers a slight edge before Sloley's match.
"We were behind, but knowing my lineup, most of the time points are coming down the road," Glover said. "I was nervous, a little.
"We got it done."
No. 4 seed Spencerport faces No. 1 Pittsford and No. 3 Fairport takes on No. 2 Brockport during the semifinal round 2 p.m. Jan. 22 at Victor. The final is scheduled for 4 p.m., with the winning team advancing to the dual state championships Jan. 29.
Pittsford has an 8-1 record in dual meets before taking on Spencerport, a two-time winner of this sectional tournament.
The Panthers have won every team versus team matchup since losing their Monroe County league division opener to Fairport, 36-26.
"They outwrestled us," Pittsford coach Keith Pittinaro said. "In my eyes, we still could have won (without a missing starter). We just didn’t get the job done."
Nick Sanko, last season's Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Division I Wrestler of the Year, is 19-1 this season. A senior who has two top-six finishes at the individual state championships, Sanko can be found at 160 in Pittsford's lineup, most of the time.
Pittsford 215-pounder John Santowski is undefeated after 19 bouts. He was a finalist at the last SuperSectionals to take place in 2020, before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.
"They both are county champions this year," Pittinaro said. "They both won the Massapequa tournament and they both won the Bradshaw tournament (at Canandaigua)."
When asked what potential matchup could draw a lot of attention in the area, Pittinaro said Nick Smith versus Marcello at 189. Marcello defeated Nick Smith by a score of 3-2 during the finals of the Monroe County Championships.
"I think the last time we wrestled Pittsford in a dual might have been six years ago," Glover said. "We (could) have two rematches from the county finals. There's a lot of accomplished kids. Fans can expect outstanding matches.
"The way the last two high school seasons have gone, it can shake out one way or another. The field of teams, the playing field is pretty even. We can have these teams wrestle (the semifinals and finals) 10 times or five times and it could come out different."
Brockport vs. Fairport
Winning this tournament could really underline the name Brockport Blue Devils in Section V wrestling, the team's coach said.
"I think people know that we are a tough team but we kind of get overlooked," Tom Rispoli said. "After the Teike-Bernabi tournament, we kind of were put on everybody's radar.
"We just have to continue to wrestle like we have."
Rispoli said the Blue Devils wrestle as if they have "something to prove." The result is an 8-1 dual meet record, with eight wins in a row, including victories at Spencerport's Teike-Bernabi Tournament.
"We beat two state-ranked teams,' Rispoli said.
The Blue Devils face another in the Section V Division I Dual semifinals, No. 6 state-ranked Fairport, the No. 3 seed in this sectional tournament.
Rich Wood, a 102-pound freshman at Brockport, has won 20 of 23 matches and avenged one of his losses. Billy Wood, an eighth-grader at 110 pounds, is 16-5. These lightweights are brothers, and helped the Blue Devils remain formidable.
So has Brockport sophomore Dino Battisti, a sectional class finalist last season. He's wrestles at 132 pounds.
“He’s one of those guys we are depending on to score big points," Rispoli said. "He's been a good leader, even as a sophomore, a leader by example."
Fairport also has never won any of the three sectional dual tournaments.
The Red Raiders move into position this time with a 15-2 dual meet record. One of the losses was to Canisteo-Greenwood, which won the 2022 Section V Division 2 Dual Championships to become a three-time winner of the event.
Brockport gave the other loss to Fairport at Spencerport's Teike-Bernabi tournament.
"We're not a team with a ton of elite wrestlers that are going to win elite tournaments," Fairport coach Bob Arao said. "We’re solid all the way through."
Fairport's dependable, consistent path has led to a division title in the Monroe County league. Winning this sectional dual meet would be check mark No. 2 on a list of three events, including the Section V Class A1 Championships on February 5.
"This is a big deal," Arao said about the action on Saturday. "If the season were to end today, I would be thrilled (with our accomplishments), but we have other goals, we want to move on.
"We were 2-5 last year in a very short season. I know we had potential last season, but we lost the close ones. We graduated three kids, so it's basically the same team. It's a fine line."
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Section V wrestling: Division I Dual semifinals set after dramatic win