“Pride of Schenectady:” Warren Crow, sectional wrestling champion, went on to NCAA titles
While a lot of attention went to future All-American Pat Riley and the Linton High School basketball team in the winter of 1961-62, there was another athlete, in another winter sport, who would go on to enjoy an outstanding college career.
“There were so many good athletes and so many good teams,” said Warren Crow, who had an undefeated season that winter to cap a three-year varsity wrestling career that included two Section II championships. “It was a great time for athletics in the city of Schenectady. Pat Riley was a year behind me, and Barry Kramer was two years ahead of me.”
Crow will take his place among the best athletes the city’s high schools have produced when he is inducted Monday into the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great honor,” said Crow, who went on wrestle in three NCAA University Division tournaments and win a pair of College Division national championships while attending Cornell and later Albany State. “I’m expecting to see a lot of old friends.”
Crow finished second in Section II as a sophomore, lost just one match as an 11th-grader and went 25-0 with 20 pins as a senior. He was honored as the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the sectional championships in both his junior and senior years under coach Pete Shulha.
Shulha was inducted into the Schenectady Hall of Fame in 1999.
“This is especially nice, since my high school coach is already in the hall, as is Larry Mulvaney, whose Mont Pleasant teams we competed against,” said Crow.
Crow’s interest in the sport came from his siblings, particularly older brother Clem.
“I was the fourth-youngest brother, and we all wrestled,” said Crow. “I was at Mont Pleasant, and I weighed 95 pounds, and I came home and told my parents I wanted to go out for wrestling.
“My mother said, ‘What?’ and I think my father told her to humor me.”
Crow had transferred to Linton by the time he was a sophomore.
“Linton was a three-year high school, so I never wrestled varsity until I was a sophomore,” said Crow, 66, a retired state data analyst. “I tried to make the most of the time I had to wrestle in high school.”
Joe DeMeo, another Schenectady Hall of Famer, was not surprised by the success Crow enjoyed.
“Warren Crow was a tremendous wrestler, and is an outstanding person,” said DeMeo, a 1960 Mont Pleasant grad who was also at Cornell the same time as Crow. “He comes from a great family.
“He and his brothers were all great athletes. Warren had phenomenal speed and quickness and great athletic abilty.”
The three years of success at Linton were just a hint of what would come.
Crow accepted a scholarship to Cornell and was the team’s MVP as a sophomore in his first year of varsity eligibility.
“We had such a great wrestling room, such good people to work with,” Crow said. “We had a great freshman team [freshmen were not eligible to compete on the varsity at the time]. We shut out Lehigh’s freshman team, which never lost.”
As a sophomore. Crow lost in the first round of the NCAA University Division Championships to eventual champion Fred Powell of Lock Haven.
“I was ranked No.1 by Amateur Wrestling News at 123 pounds midway through the season, but I lost in the Easterns,” he said. “I weighed 119 by the end of the Easterns, and I wanted to go down to 115 for the nationals. But coach had promised that spot to Chuckie Bush [a four-time unbeaten Section IV champ from Windsor], who was one of the people I wrestled with in the room. He ended up being an All-American.”
Crow left Cornell after his sophomore season.
“I decided I did not want to go into engineering,” he said. “I decided I was going to get a teaching degree.”
After placing fourth in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials, Crow enrolled at Albany State, where he struck up an immediate kinship with the late Joe Garcia.
“My brothers had wrestled for Joe Garcia, but I decided what I wanted to do so late that I couldn’t go until the second semester,” said Crow, who was a teammate of recently retired Salem coach Mike Poplaski. “I love Joe Garcia. Joe Garcia was great. He said as long as I kept winning, he’d take me to nationals.”
That journey included some strange side trips.
“At Cornell, we had beautiful training facilities, top-notch coaches, draw big crowds for dual meets,” he said. “When I was at Albany, it was before the new campus. We trained and sometimes competed at the Milne School. We’d go into an old boiler room and put down mats.
“One match I remember, we were at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. At Cornell, we’d wrestle in some noisy places. But here, the whole floor would shake. We didn’t know what was going on, until someone told us that every time the subway went by, the floor would shake.”
Crow went 17-0-1 in duals and 31-3-1 overall at Albany State, earning a spot in the University Division of the NCAA championships by winning the College Division tournament in 1966 and 1967. His 1966 College Division championship was highlighted by a win over Rick Sanders, the first collegiate loss for the future two-time Olympic silver medalist who was 103-2 as a collegian.
Crow finished fourth at 123 pounds in the 1966 University Division Championships, losing by two points to the eventual runner-up. Crow was eliminated from the 1967 NCAA University Championships, when he lost by referee’s decision.
“I only wrestled a year and a half at Albany,” he said. “I had a good short career there.”
Crow went on to work as a data processing manager for the state, and later worked as a consultant. He also taught at the high school level, both in Albany and in Hawaii, and coached at Union College, with current LaSalle Institute coach Jim Sutton as one of his athletes.
The first Albany State athlete to win an NCAA championship, Crow is a member of the University at Albany Hall of Fame, and was also among the initial inductees in the Section II Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“I played all the sports when I was growing up,” said Crow. “But at one point, everyone shot past me. I guess I still haven’t hit my growth spurt.”
But there is no denying his stature as an athlete, as his Monday induction attests.