School wrestling: Athletes look past injuries to compete for state title
Tape. Athletic wrap. Ice bags.
They are as musch a part of a wrestling room as the mats this time of year.
At a recent training session for this weekend’s state tournament, a handful of athletes were less than full strength, and more joined the list of the walking wounded.
“This time of year, it’s survival of the fittest,” said Shaker coach Dan Gibson, who saw his four-time Section II champ, Blake Retell, on crutches last week after turning his left ankle the first time the sectional team got together for a workout.
“You deal with it,” said Retell, one of three future Buffalo U. wrestlers who will represent Section II this weekend. “It’s not the way I wanted to go to my last state tournament, but you have to get through it.”
Columbia senior Angelo Kress has battled ankle and thumb injuries this season, but it didn’t stop him from earning a third straight trip to the states.
“You’ve got to do what you can,”he said. “I’ve been wrestling the whole season with my ankle injury. Sometimes, the aredeline is pumping so much that you feel it one second, and you don’t feel it the next second.”
Schalmont junior Nick Gallo, second in the state DII tourney last winter, has played all season with his hand wrapped after breaking it late in the football season.
“I don’t like seeing any of my teammates injured, and now, these guys are my teammates,” Gallo said as he looked at the other state title hopefuls in the room. “But at this stage of the season, there isn’t any one of us who isn’t nicked or banged up. It’s just the way it is.”
Schalmont teammate Marcus Ramunso, like Gallo a big part of the Sabres’ state finalist football team last fall, is also still carrying some effects of back-to-back long seasons.
“He had a groin injury from football that he probably never fully recovered from,” said Schalmont coach Brian Failisi. “That happens when you go right from one season to another, without much time to heal.”
Saratoga junior Dominic Inzana, an at-large entry at 120 pounds in the DI tourney, agreed.
“Nobody in here, probably not a lot of guys in the state tournament, doesn’t have something that hurts,” he said. “It’s a long season.”
Guilderland’s Mike Lainhart and Albany Academy’s Cam Milliken both missed a season during their careers because of shoulder injuries.
“I hated it last year,” said Lainhart. “Between my shoulder and trying to cut weight, I decided I wasn’t going to wrestle this year.”
He changed his mind, and both he and teammate Josh LoGiudice are in the state tourney.
“The only reason I wrestled this season was to help Josh win a state championship,” said Lainhart of his classmate and training partner. “Sure, I want to win a state title, but winning a sectional title meant a lot to me.”
Shenendehowa junior Jesse Porter missed the 2013 postseason with a bad hand infection. Fully healed, he powered his way to his second state tourney this winter.
“I was lucky enough to have recovered before my offseason,” said Porter, a three-time All-American at the Cadet or Junior level. “This is part of the plan. It’s my comeback year.”
Colonie 195 Wayne Burt and Cohoes 285 Nick Scott were the latest to get banged up, suffering ankle injuries in Tueaday’s workout at Shenendehowa.
“You’ve also got to have a little luck,” said Gibson, of injuries that crop up in the two weeks between the Section II and state championships. “For some kids, this is the only chance they’ll get.”