Banford third grader Landyn Clifford was recently crowned a New York State Wrestling Champion after topping the podium at the New York Wrestling Association for Youth Championships at the 59lbs. weight class on May 8.

Clifford, who has been wrestling for four years, said finally getting to stand at the top of the podium after his final victory will be the memory that sticks with him most. When asked what his favorite part of the state tournament was, the newest champ simply said, “Winning!”

Clifford said he knew he was going to need his best effort on the mat that day, especially after having a last-minute hurdle thrown in his way.

“It was a little challenging having to move up in weight last minute because I didn’t make weight and had to wrestle a heavier weight class,” Clifford explained.

Landyn’s parents, Randy and Shandelle Clifford, recounted the moments after his final victory in the state tournament with the utmost pride.

“When the match was over and he knew he had won he looked over at us with the biggest smile on his face and fist pumped the air!” Mrs. Clifford recalled. “Then gave us the biggest hug and said I did it! I am so beyond proud of him. We normally wrestle numerous tournaments per year and due to what’s going on in the world Landyn only wrestled two tournaments. When we got to states he was 1lb. over and he had to move up a weight class! Instead of being scared he said, I GOT THIS MOM!”

“He didn’t say much but his smile and fist pumps after the match said it all!” added Mr. Clifford. “It amazes me that this year with little training compares to the past years he was still able to win states.”

Clifford’s wrestling career began like many interests for young kids; his older brother, Randy, was wrestling and Landyn wanted to be just like his older brother. Mrs. Clifford said she believes the sport is a source of bonding for the brothers, and Landyn’s work ethic is in part due to his desire to make his older brother proud of him.

“I’m blown away every time I watch him take the mat,” she said. “It amazes me the determination Landyn has at 8 years old.”

The taste of victory has left a lasting impression on the young wrestler. Clifford said he now has two aspirations moving forward: be as good as Gouverneur high school wrestling standout Carter “Bebo” Baer, and win a state title every year.

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