It’s been a week of significant numbers for the Columbia wrestling program.
Head coach Anthony Servidone got his 200th win in the course of the Blue Devils’ 8-0 run through the Ichabod Crane Duals last weekend. Senior Angelo Kress joined his coach at that level in Columbia’s Suburban Council win over Saratoga Springs on Wednesday night.
“It kind of snuck up on me,” Servidone admitted. “It means I’ve been fortunate to coach some good teams and some outstanding wrestlers.”
Servidone is in his second stint as head coach at the East Greenbush school. He was a co-head coach in 1988-89 when the Blue Devils went to a junior varsity schedule in order to revitalize the program, staying through the 1996-97 season, when Jim McHugh took over. When McHugh stepped down to take a job as a school principal in the district, Servidone moved back into the head coaching role.
Among the wrestlers on his current team are McHugh’s sons, John and Matt.
“We’ve got some guys who have been with us on varsity for five or six years,” said Servidone, whose team hosts a dual-meet tourney today. “Angelo Kress is a six-year varsity wrestler, John McHugh has been on the varsity for five years.”
Servidone doesn’t push younger wrestlers in the program to wrestle year-round at the pee wee level, something he feels keeps the athletes from overloading on the sport.
“We don’t push it. You can get to the point that by the junior or senior year, you get burned out,” Servidone said. “As they get older, there are clubs where they have the opportunity to train year-round.”
Servidone has also tried to get the Blue Devils as much competition out of section as possible.
Last season, Columbia competed in an event at Madison Square Garden. This year, the Blue Devils were entered in the Monsignor Farrell Ironman event last month, only to lose that tournament to the weather.
That cancellation was part of the reason Columbia found itself competing mainly against smaller schools last weekend.
“We had to scramble around,” Servidone said of the rescheduling. “I thought about the Shenendehowa tournament, but we’ve got a dual meet with them next weekend, then we’ll see them in the Class A and state qualifier.
“Those are the events we’re gearing up for. I always want us to peak at the most important part of the season.”
Servidone is quick to praise the efforts of his staff in helping the program turn into one of the best in Section II. Long-time Maple Hill coach Joe McCabe and Wildcats state champ Brandon Lapp have come aboard, joining veteran assistants Bob Crain (in his 15th year) and Joe Denisio. Recent Section II standouts Elijah Golding and Adam Hulett are also with the staff.
Joe DeMeo, who made the Adirondack Three-Style Wrestling Association a national power, is working with the modified team, along with former Guilderland assistant Ryan Johnson.
“The staff is a major reason for the success we’ve had,” said Servidone. “They’ve all known success, and the kids pick up on that.”
Kress, a two-time Section II champion, is the third Columbia wrestler to reach 200 career wins, joining Zach Crain (217) and Evan Wallace (214).
He is one of six Blue Devils with 30 or more wins this season. Seniors Jimmy Devine and John McHugh, seventh-graders Trent Svingala, freshman John Devine and 11th-grader Kyle Greene have also passed that mark.
Joining Columbia in today’s duals are Schenectady, Warrensburg, Section VII teams Beekmantown and Northern Adirondack, and Beacon of Section I.
Also today, the Ken Baker Classic is set for Granville; Colonie is at the Mountie Invitational in Williamstown, Mass.; and LaSalle heads downstate for the Wildcat Duals, where the Cadets will wrestle Pearl River, Pine Bush, Plainedge, Suffern and Warwick Valley.