CLIFTON PARK — Despite a lengthy list of wrestling credentials from some high-profile tournaments, Stevo Poulin was seeded No. 10 for the Super 32 Challenge last month in North Carolina.
“I was not happy about that,” the Shenendehowa sophomore said. “I thought there were some guys that I was better than.”
Poulin proved to be better than them all. He went from that double-digit seed to the top of the awards podium, rattling off seven wins in the 106-pound bracket in the final offseason event before his second year of high school wrestling.
That began Monday for all of the winter sport athletes in New York, and for Poulin, it began with a No. 1 national ranking.
“That’s arguably the top tournament for preseason rankings,” Shenendehowa head wrestling coach Rob Weeks said of the Super 32. “He is ranked No. 1 by Wrestling USA Magazine and by InterMat, which is a national wrestling organization.”
Poulin has that label, and that of a defending New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion, heading into the campaign. His teammates include senior Kiernan Shanahan, a two-time state runner-up, and sophomore Brock Delsignore, a South Glens Falls transfer who twice reached the state event while wrestling for the Bulldogs.
“At the end of the year, you look at your best kids going to the state tournament, and we’ve got some candidates [to win titles],” Weeks said. “We’ve got a handful of others who could sneak in there and have some success.”
Poulin’s state-meet success was nothing but spectacular in 2017 when he recorded three technical falls (by a 52-5 points margin) before scoring a 6-1 decision against Chase Liardi of Massapequa to cap his 41-1 season in the 99-pound class.
Poulin joined a Shenendehowa list of state champions that includes brothers Kevin and Greg Parker, Hunter and Austin Meys, Nick Kelley, Tony Fusco and Matt Stein. Before that, Poulin earned Section II Division I and Class A titles, and prevailed at the prestigious Eastern States Classic.
“I like winning. I’m pretty competitive. I want four [state titles],” Poulin said. “I’ve wanted that for years. Three won’t be good enough.”
Such a lofty goal comes as no surprise to Shenendehowa assistant coach Frank Popolizio, who also runs the Journeymen Wrestling Club of which the 16-year-old Poulin has been a member for half of his life.
“He’s been cultivated from an early age,” Popolizio said. “He’s been brought up in a high level of competition and a high level of training. It doesn’t happen by accident. When it doesn’t happen, he’ll assess it and tries to figure out why.”
Though Poulin added numerous wins to his ledger this offseason, it was a pair of thirds that stick with him.
“He was third at Fargo and third at the world team trials. Same guy from Oklahoma,” Popolizio said. “When he goes into an event, he expects to win. You’re dealing with an elite mentality.”
Poulin’s lone high school defeat last season came against Tim Levine of national power Wyoming Seminary in a 110-pound match at the Flo-Excaliber Tournament in Pennsylvania in mid-December. Poulin lost a 4-2 decision.
“They said I could go, but I would have to wrestle at 110 because that was the lightest bracket, and I was 93 [pounds],” Poulin said. “That loss didn’t bother me so much. I beat some really good guys there.”
Poulin wrestled back to place third at Flo-Excaliber, and never lost again that school season.
“I thought my season went pretty well,” Poulin said. “If I could replicate it, that would be great, and in the offseason, I want to win the stuff I placed third in – Fargo and the world team trials.”
Poulin has many scholastic matches to attend to first. He will compete this season at 106 pounds with his aggressive, constantly attacking style that often keeps opponents from mustering a counter.
“Since states I’ve gotten so much better,” Poulin said. “Maybe a little stronger, but my technique is so much better.”
Shenendehowa’s team goals include a return trip to the state dual-meet championships. Shenendehowa beat Ballston Spa and Columbia to get there last year but dropped its first two matches to Fulton and Hilton.
“One of our motivations is to get back to the state dual meet,” Weeks said. “We worked hard and got there last year, and we didn’t wrestle real well. It’s a lofty goal.”
“When I look at this team I see a lot of athletes who are ready to wrestle,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan is still on the mend after sustaining a torn meniscus during the football season. Upon his return, the North Carolina State commit will wrestle at either 152 or 160 after placing second in the state twice at 145.
“I can’t wait to get on the mat again,” Shanahan said.