SYRACUSE Kevin Paul, who had been down this path before, rolled to the top without a serious threat. Brian Honsinger, who was new to this, had to work extra-hard for his crowning moment.
Whatever the method, Paul and Honsinger are Section III Division I wrestling champions, earning their titles Saturday night at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena.
By winning, they also gained automatic bids to the Feb. 22-23 state championship meet at Albany's Times Union Center, where several teammates could join them as wild-card selections based on their records this winter.
Perhaps just as important was B'ville's ascension to the top of the Division I (large school) team standings. With 145.5 points, the Bees accumulated just enough to fend off long-time power Fulton, who was second with 143.5 points. CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt (111 points) took the third spot.
Paul was the top seed and favorite at 120 pounds, having prevailed at 106 in the sectional meet a year ago. He never let his first two opponents earn anything more than a single escape, beating Arsen Bagiryan (CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt) 8-1 in the quarterfinals and blanking Tyler Heggelke (West Genesee) 5-0 in the semifinals.
The title match, against Central Square's Blake Engebretsen saw Paul wait until the second period to strike, which he did with two takedowns. That was all Paul needed as he earned a second straight shutout, 4-0, improved to 38-4 on the season, and was a two-time sectional champion.
For Honsinger, the path at 220 pounds was going to lead back to Maurice Russell (Institute of Technology Central), who was undefeated until Honsinger, who had lost to Russell twice during the season, pinned him in the second period of the Class AA sectional final on Feb. 2.
There wasn't a pin here - just an all-time classic. Down 2-0 in the first period and 7-3 in the second period, Honsinger reversed fortunes both times, nearly pinning Russell late in the second period to roar to an 8-7 lead and just avoiding late takedown attempts to hold on for a 14-10 victory.