February 25, 2016
Marathon’s Searcy seeks podium spot
MARATHON — Shvunte Searcy becomes the latest in a line of Marathon Central wrestlers who have been good enough to reach the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II Championships.
The Olympian junior received an at-large bid and will head to the Times Union Center in Albany to compete Friday and Saturday for the 160-pound title.
Wrestling begins both days at 10 a.m. with the preliminary round and quarterfinals, plus wrestlebacks Friday. Saturday will be the semifinals at 10 a.m. and wrestlebacks. The consolation finals are slated for 2 p.m. with the championship finals at 6 p.m.
Searcy is the eighth seed and will face PSAL competitor Serjey Thomas who is a junior at Eagle Academy. The winner will move on to face either Section 2 champion Jason Hoffman, a junior from Hadley-Luzerne-Lake George, or at-large entry and Morrisville senior Josh Farrar (38-7) from Section 3 in the quarterfinals.
“I hope to place,” Searcy said of this opportunity. “I like to think that I can win, but it’s a dream just to make it to the state meet. I never really thought I would make it.”
Searcy really put a lot of off-season work in before the start of the season. He wrestled twice a week at Cortland High School.
“Most of the time I wrestled with teammates or coaches,” Searcy said, adding Purple Tiger matman Isaiah Brookman was another practice partner during the off-season.
When the 2015-16 season rolled around, it was more work with teammates — but someone else was usually involved with him at the start of practice.
“I usually wrestled six minutes with Coach (Tyler) Beckwith before practice. He really helped me stay more focused,” Searcy said. “I think my mat wrestling really improved this year. I was always quick and good on my feet, but not as strong on the mat.”
“I think he has a good shot at making the podium at the state tournament,” Coach Beckwith said. “A lot of wrestlers can get overwhelmed with his speed and athleticism. I think it’s hard for an opponent to prepare for those traits.
“His improvement is vast,” he continued. “I think the biggest thing that my assistant and I focused on this season with Shvunte was improving his mat wrestling. He is 100 percent better on the mat now as opposed to the beginning of the season.”
Beckwith knows a little about the State Meet. He was a three-time finalist and two-time state champion from Greene Central School. He first reached the final in 2008, but settled for second place at 171 pounds. He returned to the finals at the same weight class the next two years and brought home the state title.
“I think my wrestling history, along with my assistant who is a four-time state place winner, has helped us really develop Shvunte in the areas that some might over look,” Beckwith said. “Staying composed in tight matches. Not letting emotions come into play and going out and doing the things that were taught. With our experience I think we were able to really mold his attitude toward the sport and polish Shvunte to prepare him for the tough tournament ahead.”
That four-time state place finishers is Dan Gormley from Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton/Harpursville who was the 2011 state runner-up as a senior at 125 pounds. During his five years in state meet competition, Gormley was a place finishers in 2010 (3rd, 125), 2008 (6th, 112) and 2007 (5th, 96) while competing in 2009 (119) but not placing.
Searcy was the Interscholastic Athletic Conference runner-up at 152 pounds this season. With sectionals looming, Searcy and his coaches talked and decided he would move up to 160 pounds.
“The coaches really wanted me to move up,” Searcy said. “It was be tougher at 152 pounds. We all agreed 160 would give me a better chance of going to states.”
The move paid off.
Searcy won the Section 4 Class D championship and he placed second in the Section 4 Division II championships. That second-place effort earned him a shot at an at-large bid, which he received.
Searcy will join a select group of Marathon wrestlers to reach the state meet.
Devon Brown became the NYS Division I champion at 119 pounds during his sophomore year in 2007 and teammate Tyler Malmberg went to Albany at 125 pounds, but lost during the wrestlebacks.
Four years later another Malmberg made history as the second Olympian state champion. Lucas Malmberg became the first two-time champion for Marathon with back-to-back state champions at 96 pounds in 2011 and 2012.
Dillon Hurlbert went to the state meet in 2012 and 2013 at 220 pounds, but was eliminated in the wrestlebacks each time.
“It feels good to beat a part of this tradition,” Searcy said. “Not many have gone from our school, but it’s good to be one of those wrestlers from a small school that have gotten there.”
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