Empfield becomes third Redskin to qualify for states
Late in a tie match with a trip to the state tournament on the line, Empfield sure wasn't turning back until he reached his goal.
"I knew I had to get a takedown; I really wanted to win this match," Empfield said after posting a 7-5 decision over DeQuan Ralands of Niagara Falls to win the 195-pound championship. "I came this far, why give up now?"
Empfield picked up the winning takedown with 15 seconds left in the third-period of a wild match. He became the third Redskin to secure a trip to the state meet, following the leads of returning state-placers Steve Michel and Eric Lewandowski.
"James just works hard and does everything we ask," Lancaster coach Ron Lorenz said. "It just goes to show, when you do the right things, it pays off."
Empfield had a decent season as a sophomore and earned a spot on the podium at the Section VI tournament. He was expecting to climb that podium this season – but even he had no idea he’d get this high.
"At the start of the season, I wasn't expecting this at all," he said after claiming his sectional title on Sunday at UB's Alumni Arena. "I thought top-three maybe if I worked really hard. But this is just a lot of hard work; my team’s there for me always and my coaches – Coach (Chris) Dickson and Coach Lorenz have really helped me get better."
It marked the second straight week Empfield had survived a tough championship match against Ralands. He scored an 8-6 overtime decision over the Niagara Falls standout a week earlier at the Class AA tournament.
"I knew it would be a tight match," Lorenz said. "That was a real good win for James; I'm happy for him."
Empfield heads to states with a 37-5 record for the season. He also posted championships at the ECIC Championships, NFWOA Invitational and Penfield Tournament this season.
He’ll head to states looking for further success – but also with an eye on the future. He’ll be back next season looking to do more damage and he wants to continue to see wrestling victories beyond that as well.
It's my first year at states, I know it's an honor just to go there,” Empfield said. “My goal is go there, do my best, get a couple wins and hopefully place.
"I want to get to states the next couple years. I want to wrestle in college – this is a great start to my career.”