JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) -- Since 1987, Johnson City has placed at least one wrestler at the state tournament in every year but two, 1990 and 2017. So the Wildcats are looking to get back on track this year at states thanks to 99-pound freshman Dante Rigal.
This past Saturday, Rigal won his first ever Section IV Division I title in a 14-4 major decision victory over Elmira's Donovan Smith.
"I just don't like to lose," Rigal said at practice Monday.
Rigal isn't lying. In just his second varsity season, the freshman is an impressive 39-1 with 32 pins.
"Having a guy who wins and wants to win and gets trophies, that's what I coach for," Johnson City wrestling head coach Jordan Glenn said.
Dante is every coach's dream. This year alone, the lightweight has placed first in five different tournaments. His only loss coming in the STAC championship against another Dante, Norwich sophomore Dante Geislinger.
"Pretty much just everything [Rigal] is able to do out on the mats, being able to win like that is not easy, and the fact that he gets so many wins makes it amazing," said teammate and fellow freshman Patrick Zara. "[Rigal] is understanding, and he knows how hard it is to do some of these moves, so he's patient with me, and he really takes the time to teach me how to do those moves."
Rigal started the sport when he was just three years old. Now 12 years later and the Wildcat is headed to states for the very first time.
"I'm pretty proud about it," Rigal said.
"As a coaching staff and community, we're excited to have somebody going back to states again," Glenn added.
Rigal says he's best on his feet, using speed to out-perform the competition.
Glenn says it's all about Rigal's unique learning ability.
"Sometimes we can just show him something, and if he's never done it before, he can pick it up," Glenn explained.
Quick on his feet and quick with his mind, a lot of excitement is surrounding Rigal's upcoming trip to Albany.
"I'm pretty confident about [states]," said Rigal. "I think I'll do pretty good."
"With the amount of pins that he has [this season], I see no reason why he can't compete for a state title this year," Glenn added.
Dante Rigal will be Johnson City's lone representative in the New York State wrestling tournament, which runs February 23-24 at the Times Union Center in Albany.