For the first time since the 2002-03 season, Rob Weeks won’t have a Meys or a Popolizio in his Shenendehowa wrestling room.
“It’s time for other kids who have been overshadowed or had a complementary role to become main players,” said Weeks, of the Meys (Hunter and Austin) and Popolizio (T.J. and Luke) brothers, who combined for 18 Class A, 15 Section II and five state titles in helping the Plainsmen become the dominant team in Section II wrestling over the past seven years.
“We’ve had some very good kids in the lineup the past few years who would have played much bigger roles in a different situation.”
The Plainsmen will again be the ones to beat in Division I (Class A and B), led by state place finisher John Belanger, fellow state tournament qualifiers Nick Kelly and Seth Hazleton, and off-season national place finishers David and Mike Almaviva. Add Max Miller, a 2007 Section II champ who transfered in from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to a mix that also includes Class A place finishers Will Bryans and Casey Schnackenberg, and Shenendehowa has another team well equipped for both dual meets and tournaments.
Miller’s transfer is one of a handful involving sectional placers and contenders.
The DiCaprio brothers, Nick and Kyle, have left Schenectady High are now attending Albany Academy; Brendan Goldup, third in the state DII tourney at 96 last winter, has transferred from Schuylerville to LaSalle; and Tyrel White, sixth in the state at 103 in DII for Whitehall, has enrolled at a prep school in New England.
Four Suburban Council teams have also moved. Bethlehem, Mohonasen and Niskayuna have been placed with Shaker in an independent division, only counting matches against each other as league contests.
The other eight SC schools have been divided into two divisions: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa in the North; Columbia, Averill Park, Colonie and Guilderland in the South.
Burnt Hills, Guilderland, Queensbury, Ballston Spa, Columbia, Colonie, Amsterdam and LaSalle are the other top Division I teams.
Burnt Hills is led by state bronze medalist Zeal McGrew (285), Section II place finishers Joey Butler (fourth, 96) and Dylan Clarke (fifth, 152) and 189-pounder John Acors.
McGrew has recovered from an offseason knee injury, while Clarke is recovered from a back injury.
The Dutchmen bring back tough lightweights Kevin Bates and Travis Wolanski, as well as Eugene Sellie (6th at 160).
Queensbury returns Section II champ Josh St. John (96), runners-up Zach Hammell and Matt Lashway, fourth-place Section II finishers Tony Fusco (fourth at freshman nationals), Jesse Bolduc and Brandon Breault, and fifth-place finisher Dan Hanchett. Bolduc, Hammell and Hanchett are the only seniors in the group.
Class A champ Kyle Warmt (third, 140) and Section II finalist Chris Ohnsman (189) lead a veteran Ballston Spa team that includes three-time Section II placer Toby Barnes, sixth-place finishers Kyle Wojtowecz and Steve Paniccia and Bill Cook.
State bronze medalist Giuseppi Lanzi (204 career wins), Section II runner-up Brandon Lapi (96), placer Gaetano Lanzi, Dan Piasekci, Dan Palmerino, Tom Tatun and Mike Garrison are Amsterdam’s top returning wrestlers, while Colonie has four-time Section II placer
Jason Chudzinski back to lead a group that includes Zach Zovistoski (third, 160), Brandon Guthrie (fifth, 130) Steve Anson (fourth, 119), Lisa Anson Joe Shell, Haroon Sheikh and Usman Hafeez.
Bobby Fish (third, 171) and Evan Wallace (fifth, 119) placed for Columbia last winter. The Blue Devils also return Brandon Morgan, Lou Angelo, Luke Guild, Jory Hutchins, Angelo Kress, Alex Garrigan- Piela.
A.J. Rue (three-time placer) and Ford Plowman (fifth, 189) of Saratoga Springs; Albany’s Shawn Berman (sixth, 96) and Mike Depercin (sixth, 285); Averill Park’s Jeff King (two-time state qualifier); Class B champ Anthony Paturso, fifth-place Section II finisher Marl Hitchcock and sixth-place finisher Tyler Kraus of Mohonasen; lightweights Nick Leffler (sixth, 119) and Josh Colura (fifth, 96) of Scotia-Glenville; Lansingburgh’s Chad Obzud (second, 171) and Austin Schnapp (sixth, 189); and LaSalle sectional finalists Connor Sutton and Jon Clemente are also back.
Duanesburg, Whitehall, Watervliet, Hudson Falls and Salem look to be the best among the small schools.
State 171-pound finalist Vinny Gallo of Schalmont, bronze 189 medalist Nick Gwiazdowski of Duanesburg, fourth-place finishers Zach Diekel of Whitehall and sixth-place finishers Brian Walsh of Watervliet and Andy Lyman of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk all placed at the states last March.
Gwiazdowski followed his third-place showing at the state tourney with a silver at the sophomore nationals.
“Last season really helped me, confidence-wise,” said the 11th-grader, who begins the season with 100 wins. “The nationals showed me I could compete at that level.”
Three-time placers Evan Borst and Randy White are also back for the Eagles, as are runner-up Gus Clark and third-place finisher Curt Rowley, plus Ryan Brown and Tyler Waldon, both fifth last year.
Whitehall brings back two-time state tourney vets Diekel and Curt Thompson, as well as Grant Gebo, Travis Beyaon and Jon Diekel.
Zach Diekel took fourth at the states and had a tremendous offseason that included a sixth at the freshman nationals and sixth in the national Cadet Greco-Roman tournament. Thompson placed fourth in the state in 2008.
Hudson Falls has state qualifiers Noah Valastro and Aaron Dudley back, as well as sectional place finishers Nick Valastro, Zack Winney and Luke Albrecht.
Two-time state tourney qualifer John Delaney (96) and sixth-place state finisher Brian Walsh return for Watervliet, the defending Colonial Council champion. Salem’s David Northshield, Kevin Bardin and Kyle McKeighan all reached the Section II podium last February.
Schalmont’s Sammy Shields and Alberto Beltran were both sixth in the section last year; Fonda-Fultonville brings back placers Zak and Kody Shaw, as well as Erik Franklin; and Corinth’s lettermen are led by sectional placers Tyler Nicholson, Clint Dumoulin and Zach Marcel.
Mechanicville had a small turnout, but has four wrestlers back who placed in the DII event in Josh Harrison, David Kohls, Sam Chase and Adam Erno.
Other DII wrestlers in the championship picture include two-time champ Sarah Anderson of Schuylerville (injured last year); returning champs Jake Oswald of Tamarac and Jerry Clark of Voorheesville and his teammate, Taylor Treadgold; runners-up Karl Palmer of Granville and Dustin Hallock of Cohoes; and Warrensburg placers Abby Roth, Logan Winter and Donovan Santisteban.
Returning state place finishers, qualifers:
Josh St. John, Queensbury (96); Nick Kelly, Shenendehowa (103); Jeff King, Averill Park (103); Zach Hammell, Queensbury (103); Connor Sutton, LaSalle (112); Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (3rd, 96 DII); John Belanger, Shenendehowa (4th, 119); Seth Hazleton, Shenendehowa (125); Giuseppi Lanzi, Amsterdam (3rd, 140); Zeal McGrew, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (3rd, 215).
John Delaney, Watervliet (96); Noah Valastro, Hudson Falls (103); Curt Thompson, Whitehall (119); Evan Borst, Duanesburg (119); Andy Lyman, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (6th, 125); Aaron Dudley, Hudson Falls (130); Brian Walsh (6th, Watervliet); Jake Owsald, Tamarac (140); Jerry Clark, Voorheesville (152); Vinny Gallo, Schalmont (2nd, 171); Zach Diekel, Whitehall (4th, 171); Nick Gwiazdowski, Duanesburg (3rd, 189).
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Categories: High School Sports