NISKAYUNA — In Niskayuna’s first home wrestling match in front of fans in nearly two full years, the most decorated grappler on the Silver Warriors’ roster didn’t get to have a match.
And yet, Brody Johnson wasn’t bothered.
Johnson, a senior 145-pounder and the only wrestler on this year’s Niskayuna squad with a podium finish at the Section II Division I championships on his resume, collected a forfeit in Wednesday’s Suburban Council dual meet against Schenectady.
That handed Niskayuna six points, which just happened to be the margin of victory as the Silver Warriors notched a 33-27 decision for their first league win of the season.
“It was definitely difficult, because I had a few people out here, everyone was excited and I had a bunch of adrenaline running through me,” Johnson said. “But, team points are team points. Those six points are what decided the score.”
Though his action on the night was limited to a brief saunter onto the mat to have his forfeit acknowledged, Johnson — a Section II place-finisher in 2018 and 2019 — was impressed by what he saw from a number of teammates who are still adjusting to the varsity level.
“It’s really nice to see younger guys succeed,” Johnson said. “They’re getting better every day.”
Drake Brown collected the lone pin for Niskayuna (1-1 Suburban, 3-4 overall), needing just 48 seconds to finish off Schenectady’s Dominic Dimezza. Ben Dussault, Connor Reynolds and Austin Matson added decision wins on a night of closely-contested matches, while forfeit wins for Johnson, Drew Schiavo and Zach Ladopoulos completed Niskayuna’s scoring.
Niskayuna coach Shaun Neely left the dual meet pleased with how many of his younger wrestlers continued their early-season development.
Reynolds, an eighth-grader, toughed out a 4-0 decision against Schenectady’s Iain Wilson at 138 pounds, while freshman Nathan Wuttke impressed in a losing effort, bumping up from 189 to 215 pounds and pushing Schenectady’s AJ Paradine to the limit in an 8-5 decision. Wuttke fought off his back three times in the second period en route to falling down 8-2, and nearly pulled off a late flurry in the third period before Paradine held on to win.
“We have a lot of inexperienced kids who are kind of just learning the ropes,” Neely said. “We’re getting some valuable experience out there. Hopefully, we’ll look better every match.”
Jaheim Harris collected the lone pin for Schenectady (0-2, 0-2). E-sonne Ponzo, Paradine and Ayman Elsiddig won via decision, with forfeit wins for Xavier Vargas and Ryley Morris rounding out the Patriots’ total.
“They gave it everything they had. Really good effort,” Schenectady coach Chad Languish said. “I’m definitely not disappointed in any way in that form.”
Like Niskayuna, Schenectady is bringing a number of young wrestlers up to the varsity level for the first time this season. Veterans Elsiddig and Ponzo helped anchor the team, but Languish came away just as pleased with his newcomers who were able to fight through valuable six-minute matches and get vital early-season experience.
“That’s good for us,” Languish said. “We’ve got a lot of new, young kids. To be able to put together three periods was super valuable for us tonight. It’s very important for us to learn to do that and get those full matches together, work on our experience and get the kids more comfortable on the mat.”
132: Dussault (N) dec. Witko, 8-6. 138: Reynolds (N) dec. Wilson, 4-0. 145: Johnson (N) by forfeit. 152: Brown (N) pinned Dimezza, :48. 160: Ponzo (S) dec. Bogue, 8-2. 172: A. Matson (N). dec. Miranda, 2-0. 189: Ladopoulos (N) by forfeit. 215: Paradine (S) dec. Wuttke, 8-5. 285: Elsiddig (S) dec. Allen, 7-4. 102: Schiavo (N) by forfeit. 110: Vargas (S) by forfeit. 118: Harris (S) pinned M. Matson, 3:32. 126: Morris (S) by forfeit.