It was a rare opportunity for Amsterdam heavyweight Chris Rodriguez — he got to wrestle someone bigger than himself Wednesday.
The 285-pounder went up against Schenectady’s Emanuel Zamora late in an 85-0 Big 10 win for the Rams and had to deal not only with the size of his opponent, but also with some surprising agility.
“I was actually surprised when he was working from the bottom,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t think he would be so quick like that. I had to try to get used to his quickness.”
Rodriguez pushed his record for the season to 23-0 with a 9-4 decision over Zamora. It was the closest bout of the match and only the second that didn’t involve a pin or forfeit.
Amsterdam coach Ken Benton said he was glad to get Rodriguez some work against a larger opponent, and he was pleased with how smart Rodriguez wrestled.
“He’s very analytical when he’s on the mat. He calculates everything,” Benton said. “He’ll take shots, and he’s sizing the guy up, and it’s just a matter of time. He’s very persistent with his leg shots. He’s also throwing some cutting-the-corner, dimensional-type of wrestling with the bow-and-arrow cradle. I was happy to see him attacking tonight. That’s what I wanted to see. He wasn’t intimidated by the size of the athlete.”
Still, Rodriguez needed just a little prompting in the opening seconds from Benton, who said he wants him to continue to improve his technique and work more efficiently against larger opponents. Rodriguez went straight at Zamora for a two-leg takedown 20 seconds in, and the move carried both wrestlers out of bounds. Benton hollered from the corner to avoid going in head-on.
“Take an angle,” Rodriguez said as he recounted the advice. “Especially against these bigger guys, because they’re heavier and they fall faster. So I try to take an angle. It’s much harder against someone bigger than you to go face-to-face.”
He tried to tire Zamora out through the first period, and didn’t get his first point until there were about 10 seconds left after Zamora went for a one-leg, but Rodriguez was able to keep it away from him.
Zamora chose to work from the bottom in the third, trailing, 5-1, and walked out of Rodriguez’s grasp in 10 seconds. Then he showed just how tough it is to tire him out.
In a 15-second flurry of action late in the period, Zamora shot for a leg, couldn’t get it and was taken down, escaped, then Rodriguez earned another quick takedown, then Zamora escaped again, still unable to get that takedown.
“He’s been working real hard in the wrestling room, lately, this year,” Schenectady coach Chad Languish said of the first-year-varsity junior. “He’s stepped his game up, he’s been working hard, and I think with some time and effort, if he keeps working the way he is, he’ll definitely be able to compete with a lot of those tough guys.”
Rodriguez also has shown some improvement. Benton said a lot of it comes with a confidence he didn’t have last year, possibly gained from his time on the varsity football team in the fall.
It has him thinking about larger things than big opponents and an undefeated record.
“I think about it, but I just leave it in the back of my mind and focus on the next match that’s coming up,” Rodriguez said. “Records don’t matter for me. I just want to go for the biggest goal and be a state champ.”
Undefeated Amsterdam got pins Wednesday from Chris Velasquez (106 pounds), Erick Rizeras (113), Brandon Lapi (120), Marcus Torres (132), Gaetano Lanzi (145), Rob Santiago (160) and Mike Garrison (170). Lanzi finished his in 10 seconds, and all but Santiago stuck their opponent in the first period.
At 152, Jerrell White of Schenectady fought a near fall at the end of his bout against James Marquez, who took a major decision, 12-3.
It was one of several bouts that left an impression on Benton, who said he thinks Languish and his squad have something to build on.
“I was very impressed with the perseverence of Schenectady — their stick-to-it-iveness,” Benton said. “They were always attacking, they didn’t quit. They fought right to the end. I know they’re a little lean right now and are going through some growing pains with some of the athletes who are a little young. But I think they’re doing the right things here, and I think this squad has a lot of potential. They’ve just got to stick with it and keep working, polishing their technique and getting more mat time.”
Mason Rabideau, Joey Butler, Jake Ashcraft, Race Viedt and Nico Fragale all won by forfeit as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake topped Ballston Spa, 62-18, in the Suburban Council.
The Spartans finished 3-2 against North Division opponents. The Scotties got falls from Corey LeQue, James Ronca and Connor Hersh.
Peter Leal, Dan Matrazzo, Nick Drumm, Nick Gibbons and Jesse Spencer won by fall as Saratoga Springs topped Niskayuna, 57-24; and Bethlehem got past Mohonasen, 42-33, as Tristan Canova, Matt Morris, Gabe Naviasky and Pat Owens pinned between 103 and 120.
Robert Tobin, Dustin Humphrey and Kyle Eastman had consecutive wins to get Salem past Corinth, 54-27, in the Adirondack League.