January 3rd, 2013–Those who know U.S. Military Academy Senior, Connor Hanafee, know that on any given day, the 141-pound native of Staten Island is capable of beating any opponent..So many times during his wrestling career, he has entered a match as the underdog on paper, but showed that when you sleep on him, he will make you pay. In 2008, he knocked off the #1 ranked wrestler in the nation during the Super-32 tournament; this past November, he came into the NYS Collegiate Wrestling Tournament unseeeded and rose to the occasion, knocking off the top-seed from Cornell in the second round. And still, despite his obvious track record, one gets the feeling that when the Southern Scuffle commenced on New Year’s Day, not a lot of people where picking him to end up on the podium last night. Those people are eating a huge bowl of crow right now as Hanafee had perhaps the finest collective showing of his college career over the course of the previous two days, going 7-2 to finish 5th at the 2013 Southern Scuffle on the campus of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Hanafee was one of only two Black Knight wrestlers to place, joined by fellow senior, Jordan Thome, who took home 8th place honors at 133 pounds.
Again, unseeded to begin the festivities, the former two-time CHSAA State Champion for Gotham powerhouse, Monsignor Farrell, Hanafee would split his first two matches of the tournament, knocking off Campbell’s Michael Dahlstrom 4-0, before dropping a round of 32 bouts to Matt Nelson of Virginia, 2-0…The defeat at the hands of the Cavalier student-athlete would be the last one Hanafee would suffer for quite some time. Wrestling like a man on a mission (more aggressive than I have ever seen him), the three-year Army starter, who missed a good portion of the 2011-2012 season with an injury, would employ a “refuse to lose” mentality, reeling off five straight victories on Tuesday and Wednesday to secure his spot in the top-8. Commencing this string of “ws” with a 7-4 decision over Air Force’s Carter McElhany in a battle of service academies, match after match, Hanafee would win a rubber match with Cornell’s Joe Stanzione (the #1 wrestler he upset at the aforementioned NYS College Tournament), 6-4. In his next consolation bout, the Operations Research major would have to overcome some adversity, giving up an escape in the closing seconds to send his match with Duke’s Brent Jorge to sudden victory. Rather than getting rattled by the lost lead, Hanafee would maintain his composure, striking quickly in the extra frame to earn the TD and advance to day #2 of the tournament. The win over the Blue Devil would also put Hanafee in the position of being one victory away from locking up placement against a field that included the top-3 teams in the nation.
Unintentional, but making his former coaches at Farrell sweat it out (they were watching from home), Hanafee would end up in the sudden victory period for the second consecutive match. But, this would turn out to be a case of new day, same result as the seasoned vet would eliminate teammate Tyler Rauenzahn, by an identical 6-4 score…Hanafee would finally cut his fans some slack and win one in regulation when he advanced to the consolation semifinals with a 4-2 victory over three-time SoCon Conference finalist/2x Champion Dean Pavlou of the host school…The winning streak would finally come to an end when Hanafee, despite dominating the action from the feet (was in deep on shots repeatedly in the 1st and 2nd periods), would drop a 2-0 decision to Old Dominion’s Chris Mecate, with the Monarch’s points coming via an escape in the middle stanza and the point for riding advantage, holding our protagonist down for the full two minutes in the third.
In the bout for 5th place, Hanafee would win a 7-4 decision that was closer on paper than it was in actuality. Scoring one takedown apiece in each of the three periods, the Black Knight wrestler would be in control of the match for the entire seven minute duration, cruising to the “w” and putting an impressive stamp on an unbelievably impressive two-day effort. He improves his 2012/2013 record to 14-8.