By Jordan J. Michael
QUEENSBURY –– Entering Sunday’s Section 2 State Qualifiers, two local wrestlers had a legitimate chance at state glory. In the end, Guilderland’s Josh LoGiudice was the master of the 99-pound class, and Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Joe Sprung was disappointed after dropping out of the 220-pound class due to a bad illness.
LoGiudice experienced epic highs while Sprung endured a crushing low.
“It feels really good, like my goal has been accomplished,” LoGiudice said this week of his victory. He pinned Anthony Sgorrano of South Glens Falls with seven seconds remaining in the first period with a cradle move. “But, now, I have a new goal,” he said. “I have a shot at a state championship.”
The state championships will be held at Times Union Center in Albany on Feb. 22 and 23. LoGiudice, a junior, is 38-1, his only loss coming at the hands of Huntington’s John Arceri.
LoGiudice said that Arceri was wrestling in his 99-pound finals match on Wednesday, but wasn’t sure of the result. LoGiudice would like to wrestle Arceri again.
“I need to score out of the positions that I didn’t last time,” said LoGiudice of his potential rematch with Arceri. “I couldn’t get off the bottom against him.”
The Section 2 State Qualifiers are usually held over two days at the Glens Falls Civic Center, but Friday’s snowstorm pushed the event to a single day –– Sunday –– at Queensbury. Section 2 Chairman George Chickanis said that moving the event was easy.
“Everyone was extremely hospitable and bent over backwards for us,” Chickanis said while watching the action on Sunday. “The seating is tight, like the old days, but we’ll get through it.”
At least 1,000 people –– wrestlers, parents, coaches, family, and friends –– packed Queensbury High School. Four mats were set up in the large gym and two mats showcased combat in the small gym.
“It was definitely hectic,” said LoGiudice, who bleached his hair to near-white blond for fun. His Dutch teammate, Andy Cummings, had bleached blond sides with a red Mohawk on top.
“I showed myself what I could do with all this chaos around me,” LoGiudice said. “I got a lot of congratulations on that day and the day after, but the focus quickly moved to States.”
LoGiudice trained the entire offseason, competing in tournaments every weekend over last summer. He’s not sure if he’ll grow anymore, but he never gets tired.
“Being a small wrestler is a different game,” said LoGiudice. “We’re strong, but things happen much quicker.”
Sprung pulls out
The biggest shock of Sunday’s tournament came when 220-pound Division 2 favorite Joe Sprung, who competed at States last year for the Bulldogs, pulled out of his semifinal match against Schalmont’s Marcus Romondo due to complications from an ear infection.
“I was so upset that I cried about it,” said Sprung, who was 32-0 heading into Sunday’s events. “I wanted to end my high school career with a bang. This was a tough one to chew.”
BKW Head Coach Jeff Vogel pulled a wobbly Sprung aside during the semifinal match, not thinking he could continue. “His safety is more important, so it was an easy decision,” he said. “You can’t take chances like that. Lightning struck on the worst possible day, but the reasons were known.”
Sprung had an all-star career for BKW, ending with 112 wins, tied with Matt Casullo for the most in the school’s history. “This hurts, a lot, but I just have to move forward,” Sprung said.
Sprung said he felt fine until he started wrestling on Sunday. He said he should have pinned his quarterfinal opponent from Ravena in 20 seconds, but he felt terrible and his ears hurt. “Wrestling sick is never fun, and I was dizzy,” he said. “I tried to push through the day, but it wasn’t going to work out.”
Looking ahead to college next fall, Sprung will wrestle for either Brockport, Cortland, or Ithaca while majoring in environmental science. His decision will be based on which school has the best education and opportunities for him.
Sprung was dealt a very tough card on Sunday, but Vogel says he’ll recover from the calamity and emerge as a better person. Life has its way of being adverse, but recovery is always on the horizon.
When Sprung was beside himself on Sunday, Duanesburg coach Joe Bena leaned in to give the senior some words of encouragement. Vogel said that plenty of coaches were sorry to hear of Sprung’s bad news.
“Bena told me that a champion isn’t just a person who wins all of the time,” Sprung said. “He said that a champion can overcome adversity, misfortune, and bad luck, and turn it into something great. I respect Bena highly, and what he said really lifted me up.”