Plainsmen find competition in their own practice room
Shenendehowa coach Rob Weeks cites a number of reasons for his team’s extended string of success.
There’s the large pool of athletes to choose from, a group of good coaches at each level and the increase in offseason competition. But he figures the main reason his team is shooting for a seventh straight sectional title today at Colonie is the work put in by the athletes each day in the practice room.
“Steel sharpens steel,” said Weeks, whose team finished off a seventh straight perfect Suburban Council season earlier this week. “We’ve got kids who really push each other in the room every day.”
The Plainsmen are deep at both ends of the lineup, but in 11th-graders Nick Kelley and David Almaviva, Weeks has two state quality wrestlers going head-to-head every day.
“It’s like watching a state tournament match,” said Weeks of overseeing as his 132- and 138-pounders work with and against each other. “They work very hard to make each other better.”
Kelley, a four-time champion, and Almaviva, a two-time finalist, are two of the Plainsmen’e eight top seeds for the Division I Class 1 (formerly Class A title).
The other programs in the Section II that do well on a consistent basis have the same good fortune.
Columbia’s lineup from 113 through 152 allows coach Anthony Servidone to get his wrestlers a variety of strong workout partners. Those seven — led by top seeds Matt Greene (126), Evan Wallace (145) and Brendan Morgan (152) — are all seeded in the top four in their respective weight classes.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has just two seniors on its roster, but the Spartans have a strong 1-2 middle of the lineup punch in 10th-grader Joey Butler and freshman Jake Ashcraft, both of whom have drawn No. 1 seeds for the Division I Class 2 (Class B) meet at Queensbury.
The hosts have the deepest lineup in the field — led by state finalist Matt Lashway at 182 — as they shoot for their 30th class championship since the format was adopted in 1972-73 season.
Lashway, Brandon Winchip (113), Casey Jones (120), Josh St. John (126) and Mike Hewitt (170) are all defending champs. LaSalle state champ Connor Sutton and teammate Brendan Goldup are both after their fourth titles, and Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi, third in the state last winter, is a two-time champ.
Duanesburg’s two big guns have sandwiched three-time champ John Diekel of Whitehall for the postseason. Two-time champ and four-time finalist Curt Rowley goes into the Division II Class 3 (Class D) event at the top seed at 132. Freshman Connor Lawrence has moved up to 145, where he is the top seed. Another Eagle, Jesse Mesick, is the top seed at 182.
Diekel’s cousin, Zach, is also a three-time champ with four Section II titles.
Host Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk is among the teams trying to unseat Hudson Falls at the Division II Class 1 event. Hudson Falls has won the last four years, and seniors Noah Valastro and Aaron Dudley have seven titles and 432 varsity wins between them.
Corinth has won the last two titles at the Class C — now the
Division II Class 2 event — led by senior Zach Marcel.
The top six finishers from each weight in the DI tourneys, and the top four from the three DII events, advance to next weekend’s Section II Championships.