Thayer advanced to the semis with a 7-2 decision of Petrides senior Tyson Simon, but Halladay dropped a 6-5 decision to Addison junior Trey Duvall in the quarterfinals.
“I trained for weeks just to beat that kid (Halladay),” said Thayer, who glared at the scoreboard as he walked off the mat at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton on Feb. 9. “We would go to practice in the morning and practice in the afternoon just focusing on how to beat that kid. We were hoping we would see him again in states.”
Instead, Thayer ended up beating Duvall, 4-0, in the semifinals en route to the title match against Prior, who followed back-to-back decisions with a third-period pin of Eden junior Alex Smythe to reach the final.
“He wanted Halladay in the semis, but Halladay got beat,” Hamilton said. “Kevin just wrestled a great match in the semi — smart and solid.
“Kevin was so focused before (the final),” he continued. “I don’t think he was really feeling pressure so much. He was on a mission to win a state title. He wrestled it like any other match, like we were in the wrestling room at Unatego.”
That wrestling room also produced a fifth-place finish from sophomore Ryan Marszal, who made it to the semifinals at 182 pounds before falling out of the title chase with a 7-3 loss to Warsaw senior Tim Schaefer.
Section Four champion Marszal followed with a 2-1 loss to Frewsburg senior Austin Lynn in wrestlebacks before pinning his last opponent, Beekmantown senior Gage Bourdeau, in the fifth-place match.
“Ryan was the only sophomore in the bracket,” said Hamilton, who also sent seniors Codie Nichols (145 pounds) and Leland Slawson (160) to states. “We moved him up a weight class to 182 to give him a better shot to win sectionals and that worked out. He wrestles beyond his years.”