Riverside has set the bar for GISA wrestling excellence since 2003, winning five consecutive state championships, but in a transition year, the Eagles would not have been able to keep pace with Windsor Academy, which brought home six individual titles Saturday and also recently won the GISA state duals.
Still, the hosts proved that even an off year for Riverside wrestling is pretty good.
Senior Tersoo Uhaa (189 pounds) and freshman Doug Kellermeyer (119 pounds) won state championships and five other Eagles earned podium spots with top-five finishes.
"Windsor was just really strong this year," first-year Riverside coach Gary Papka said. "We really would have been battling it out for second place (if team points were officially tabulated), and that’s where we finished, behind Windsor."
Entering the finals, Riverside had already picked up third-place finishes from Diego Osegueda at 215 pounds and heavyweight Colton Keig.
Sebastian Mims (160) took fourth place and Josh Frey (145) finished in fifth.
Kellermeyer was the first Eagle to appear in the finals and roused the crowd with a thrilling 8-7 win over Adam Purvis of Mount de Sales.
Trailing 6-5 entering the third period, Kellermeyer took the lead with a three-point flurry with 1:10 remaining. Then, after surrendering a point, held on for 25 tense seconds.
"I was just trying to keep my position (in the final seconds) and try not to make a mistake," Kellermeyer said. "It feels pretty awesome."
His coach was almost as giddy.
"Doug’s the first state champ I’ve ever coached, so I was really happy and happy for him," Papka said. "I’m so proud of him, because he was probably the underdog coming in."
Riverside’s Bill Dearybury (171) fell short of completing an undefeated season and took second place in the state meet for the second straight year. The senior entered the championship match at 17-0, and was leading 1-0 in the third period, but Stratford Academy’s R.C. Brown tied the match early in period, then won with two points seconds before the buzzer sounded.
But Uhaa, who finished third at 215 pounds last year, helped send the Riverside fans home happy, winning his final match as an Eagle 24 seconds into overtime.
"(Winning state) meant everything to me," said Uhaa, who had lost twice in three previous matches against his opponent, George Walton Academy’s Zeke Wilson. "I feel like all my hard work and determination has paid off."