ALBANY – Tommy Askey looked toward his corner and gave coach Rich Ormsby a nod of confidence.
Askey had regained control of his 152-pound match over returning state champion A.J. Kovacs of Iona Prep, after giving up a takedown 22 seconds into first period. The Pine Bush senior was pushing the pace and in control for the final two periods.
And when Kovacs, a nationally ranked North Carolina State commit, attempted a desperation move, Askey denied him for a championship-clinching takedown with 12 seconds left and an 8-5 win in the Division I final.
Askey, who normally doesn’t show much emotion, cracked a smile when his hand was raised in victory. He shook the hands of Kovacs’ coaches and ran into the arms of Ormsby.
Askey can now be mentioned in the same sentence as Troy Bouzakis, a Section 9 all-time great, as a Pine Bush state champion, ending a 30-year title drought for the school. Bouzakis won his third state title in 1990.
“It’s surreal,” Askey said. “It’s like a dream.”
It’s a dream that Askey has envisioned since the third grade, one year after he started wrestling. In the biggest match of his career, Askey reversed fortunes on Kovacs, who had defeated him in the 145-pound state quarterfinals last year, and finished his season at 41-0.
“Tommy Askey has been the model citizen, the model student-athlete,” Ormsby said. “He's done everything right. You want a kid like that to reach his goals and capture his dream.”
Askey’s season included an Eastern States Classic title as the lone Section 9 champion. Askey met Bouzakis at the tournament. Askey edged Arlington’s Dennis Robin, his Eastern States finalist opponent, 4-3 in the quarterfinals Friday. Robin won his third state medal, placing third Saturday.
The focus for Askey has never changed since his fourth-place finish in Albany last season. He was driven with a work ethic that was unmatched.
“I wasn’t as nervous as last year,” said Askey, who has received recruiting interest from several high-level Division I schools.