One of the yellow championship banners on the Duanesburg High School gym wall is due for its annual update.
The Eagles wrapped up another Western Athletic Conference wrestling title Thursday with 55-24 win over a game, but badly outnumbered Galway. The win extended the run of success that the program has had since the league came into existence prior for the 2001-2002 school year, as the Eagles have lost only one WAC match in that span.
“This is one of the most successful sports at this school, and we’re aware of the history, especially since coach [Joe] Bena has been here,” said senior Mark Caulfield. “I’ve been on teams with [state champ] Nick Gwiazdowski and [state finalist] Brian Borst. I wanted to help provide the leadership those guys gave us.
“We want to keep the tradition. That’s one of the team goals for the season.”
“Oh yeah, we’re aware of the tradition,” said senior Henry Holmes, who started Thursday’s match with a major decision at 170 pounds. “We try every year to live up to it and win the WAC. We want to keep that run going.”
Duanesburg went 5-0 in its last two seasons in the Tri-Valley League, lost one match the first year of WAC competition then went unbeaten in 2002-03. Each year since Bena, the longtime Niskayuna coach, took over the program, the Eagles have won a league title — a perfect 10-for-10
“It’s a different team every year, but we do take pride in it,” said Jeff Senecal, a senior who returned to Duanesburg after living in South Dakota his junior year. “I didn’t wrestle last year. I played football and did some power lifting. I was one of the last guys to sign up for the team this year, but I did miss it.”
“This is a special group,” said Bena. “They’re good wrestlers and good kids. They work very hard, both during the season and in the offseason.”
Senecal, Caulfield, Holmes, Jason St. John, Andy Mollevik and sophomore Connor Lawrence give Bena an outstanding group from 145 pounds through 220.
“It gives us a chance to stretch things out with the bigger guys,” said Bena. “From 145 up, we’re pretty good. And they all have their own styles.”
“Connor is great technically, Andy has freakish hips, Henry is strong in the upper body,” said Caulfield of his workout group. “We all push each other, and
everyone does something better than the other. That really makes us better.”
Senecal, Colin Kenyon and Lawrence all won by fall for Duanesburg, which moves on to today’s first day of the Lansingburgh Duals. Caulfield added a 7-2 win over Ryan Pappalau at 152.
Galway actually won as many bouts as Duanesburg. But a rash of season-ending injuries forced Galway coach Mike Sartin to forfeit five weight classes and prevented the match from being the league showdown that Sartin envisioned. The Golden Eagles trailed, 34-0, six matches in, 18 of Duanesburg’s points coming by forfeit.
Jay Oakes (138) and Steve Culbert (145) both pinned, Nico Riccio scored a technical fall at 106, Jordan Sartin had a 14-0 win at 113 and Colyn Ainsworth won by decision at 132, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t overcome the 30-point hole caused by the empty weight classes.
“Our numbers were up when the season started,” said coach Sartin, whose team finished 3-1 in the league and should finish with close to 20 wins
overall at season’s end. “I thought we could give them a run with our full lineup.
“Then we started losing kids. I’ve never had a season like this, with the severity of injuries we’ve had — two broken legs, a broken arm, a separated shoulder. We lost one of our captains, Austin Izzo, before the season in an ATV accident.
“It’s been tough on the kids, especially the seniors, who were looking forward to this match with Duanesburg. But they understand our situation, they knew we were probably going to give them 30 points, and that’s tough to overcome. We just need to refocus for sectionals.”
“It’s not exactly how we thought it would be,” said Oakes, an
11th-grader who went to 20-0 this season with his pin. “But you have to keep working hard every practice, every match, to be an example for the younger guys on the team. We still have some guys who can do well in sectionals, and hopefully, get to states.”
The postseason is also on the minds of the Duanesburg wrestlers.
“Your goal is always to win sectionals and get to the state tournament,” said Holmes, who has a record of 23-8.
“You want to be as successful as you can, but, to me, it’s more important to wrestle every match as well as you can, so you don’t have any regrets,” said Sencal, who picked up his team-best 30th win with his pin at 220.
“Sectionals, states, that’s what we’re all going for,” said Caulfield.
DUANESBURG 55, GALWAY 24
99 — Brendon Van Vlack (D) by forfeit; 106 — Nico Riccio (G) technical fall over Devin Van Vlack, 16-0; 113 — Jordan Sartin (G) dec. Shane Barberis, 14-0; 120 — Dan Powers (D) by forfeit; 126 — John Nicolella (D) by forfeit; 132 — Colyn Ainsworth (G) dec. Austin Lown, 8-6; 138 — Jay Oakes (G) pinned Mike Sarbo, 2:47; 145 — Steve Culbert (G) pinned Ryan Cornelius, 1:02; 152 — Mark Caulfield (D) dec. Ryan Pappalau, 7-2; 160 — Connor Lawrence (D) pinned Devin Collins, 1:22; *170 — Henry Holmes (D) dec. John Mulligan, 10-0; 182 — Colin Kenyon (D) pinned Andrew Gilchrist, 1:51; 195 — Jason St. John (D) by forfeit; 220 — Jeff Senecal (D) pinned Seth Carter, 1:31; 285 — Jacob Karandy (D) by forfeit.