HIGH SCHOOLS – With the calendar turning to January, the shape of the area high school wrestling season is coming into focus.
The Section II classification tournaments will take place four weeks from Saturday, and the state qualifier are set for the following week in Glens Falls. In the interim time a host of major tournaments will take place around the area, including the Saratoga Invitational on Saturday and the Schenectady Invitational next weekend.
As the momentum builds toward the postseason, here are 10 wrestlers from 10 different schools — five each in Division 1 and Division 2 — to know.
VINCENT GRAULAU, MOHONASEN
A Section II runner-up and state tournament participant at 102 pounds as a junior last year, Graulau’s off to a strong start as a senior. After wrestling through most of December at 110 pounds, he was back down at 102 for last weekend’s Joe Bena Schenectady County Duals and went 5-0, improving to 14-1 on the season.
LIAM CARLIN, BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Defending Section II Division 1 champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is the area’s deepest team, with a litany of top contenders that also includes seniors Colin Carlin (13-3), Gabriel Goss (10-2) and Thomas Pawlinga (10-5). Liam Carlin, a sophomore 132-pounder, is 14-1 with five pins, his only loss coming to Chenago Forks star Tyler Ferrara, who hasn’t lost a match since February 2020.
DAVID ENSMINGER, SHENENDEHOWA
Last year’s Section II Class A champion at 145 pounds, Ensminger has actually been down at 138 to start this season. The senior is 8-3 with four pins, but his losses have all been to top-caliber opponents — Ferrara, and both Goss and Liam Carlin from Burnt Hills. He’s a contender at a deep weight class.
RENSO MONTALVO, AMSTERDAM
Fifth in the state at 145 pounds in Division 1 last year, Montalvo is off to a 21-2 start at the same weight class this year, including tournament wins at the Andersen Invitational and the Wrangle on the Plains. Over the holiday break, he was the runner-up at the Windsor Christmas Tournament with a 3-0 decision loss in the final to Attica/Batvia’s Casper Stewart.
DARRIEN INSOGNA, BALLSTON SPA
A powerful senior, Insogna has established himself as the best heavyweight wrestler in Section II’s large-school ranks. Floating between 215 and 285 — though 215 is his likely destination for the postseason — Insogna is 22-1 with 20 pins and two forfeits. He’s one of three Ballston Spa wrestlers off to a 22-1 start this season, alongside 110-pounder Ralph Keeney and 160-pounder Connor Gregory.
GABE ENGLISH, COBLESKILL-RICHMONDVILLE
The Division 2 state runner-up at 102 pounds as an eighth-grader wrestling for Berne-Knox-Westerlo/Middleburgh, English — up at 118 pounds this season — has lost just once this year, a 2-1 tiebreaker to Uniondale’s Angel Banegas at the Wrangle of the Plains in December. Gabe English, his twin brother Liam, eighth-grader Ashten Haley and senior Luke Yorke give the Bulldogs a formidable lineup.
DYLAN DEVINE, SCHALMONT
Devine pulled off one of the wildest wins of last year’s Section II championships, a 12-11 decision against Warrensburg’s Dylan Winchell to capture the Division 2 126-pound title. Devine’s current season includes a championship at the Mohonasen Invitational and a 5-0 performance at last weekend’s Joe Bena Schenectady County Duals.
OWEN HICKS, FONDA-FULTONVILLE/JOHNSTOWN
A Section II champion and fourth-place finisher at the state tournament last year, Hicks has dominated his competition this season. He entered the week 23-0 with 19 pins, earning bonus points in every match. Only one of Hicks’ matches — a 10-2 major decision against Burnt Hills’ Colin Carlin — went the full six minutes.
LUKE SCHIRMACHER, MECHANICVILLE/STILLWATER
A year ago, Schirmacher started his season with 23 consecutive wins en route to a 29-2 final record. This year, the senior 160-pounder is off to a 13-0 start with eight pins, and tournament titles at the Mohonasen Invitational and Coach Ken Harrison Memorial Tournament.
TRISTEN HITCHCOCK, WARRENSBURG/LAKE GEORGE
Hitchcock, the defending Division 2 285-pound state champ, has gone past the first period just twice in 18 matches this season. A powerhouse, who was also a star football player for Warrensburg/Lake George/North Warren, 11 of Hitchcock’s pins have come in less than a minute.