School Wrestling: Ashley's focus blocks out noise
CLIFTON PARK It takes some doing to get a strong reaction from Levi Ashley.
The Shenendehowa senior 195-pounder goes about his business on the wrestling mat in a bus-iness-like manner, turning aside opponent after opponent, more often than not with ease.
Ashley, who took a 28-0 record into Saturday night’s finals of his last home varsity tournament, gets into a zone that insulates him to the point that not even the noise generated from a two-thirds full arena at last year’s state championships can penetrate.
“I don’t hear that. You just get so into the match, that all you hear are the referee and your coaches,” Ashley said after advancing to Saturday’s final against Colonie’s Wayne Burt. “Even at big tourn-aments, like States, Fargo, I don’t hear anything else.”
Ashley may not be affected by the noise, but the noise he’s generated in becoming the favorite to win a state title next month has gotten him noticed.
Both Intermat and Flo Wrestling, two of the three major ranking publications, have Ashley in the top 12 nationally in his weight class.
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to that stuff. I don’t intentionally look into things like that. It can consume you,” Ashley said. “I try to keep it simple.”
Ashley and his teammates recently completed the toughest regular-season stretch of their season, competing in the Spencerport Tournament over the holiday break, getting to the finals of the Union-Endicott Duals, and competing in the Eastern States Classic.
Those events help the Plainsmen prepare for the upscoming sectionals, state qualifier and state tournament.
“It sets the tone for the rest of the season,” said Ashley. “How you do affects your attitude, your con-fidence, and that directly affects your performance.
“We’ve seen some of the best competition in the state the last month.”
Ashley picked up a pair of wins over Johnson City senior Reggie Williams, the No. 1 seed at 195 in last year’s state tourney, during that stretch, and also beat Trent Egenlauf of Spencerport. A 3-2 win in that match was the closest any of his foes have come to upsetting the Buffalo-bound senior.
While admitting those wins could work to his advantage in future matchups, Ashley said they also can be a learning tool.
“It lets me know what I have to work on,” he said.
Letting others know what they need to do to improve has also become part of Ashley’s resposibilities as one of the Plainsmen’s three captains.
He sees it as continuing a trad-ition.
“I like helping the younger guys, showing them how to warm up, how to eat, things that they might not think about,” he said. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes things that you have to do to get better.
”I learned from the best — [state champs] Tony Fusco and Nick Kelly. So, I’m just passing it down.”
While Ashley is taking nothing for granted, he does have one goal left before concluding his high school career. It has to do with the end of his junior year, which ended in a 7-4 loss to Dan Choi of Section VIII’s Syosett in the state final.
“I think about the end of last season every day,” Ashley said before smiling and adding, “It’s going to be a good year.”
MILESTONE FOR SERVIDONE
Columbia coach Anthony Serv-idone got his 200th win as the Blue Devils went 8-0 to win the team title at the Ichabod Crane Duals.
Reigning Section II champ Angelo Kress (152 pounds) had five pins, and freshman 182 Dylan Dubuque took MOW honors.
John Devine (106), John McHugh (138), Kyle Greene (132), Jim Devine (145), Matt McHugh (160), Fahmeed Islam (170), Cody Dubuque (220) and seventh-grader Trent Svingala (99) all went 8-0 in the event, which included Section III’s Adirondack, Cohoes, Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Green Tech.
INZANA sets RECORD
Saratoga Springs junior Dom-inic Inzana won six matches and became his school’s winningest wrestler, going 6-1 at the Lansingburgh Duals.
Inzana upped his career win total to 164 with three pins, a decision and a pair of forfeits as the Blue Streaks beat Mohohasen, Lansingburgh and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, and lost to Hudson Falls, Queensbury, Shaker and Amsterdam.
Richard Schrade went 7-0, all pins, and Max Kabanuk, Tristan Biviano, Matt Hollton and Drew Griskowitz all picked up five wins.
TITLE FOR NISKAYUNA
Eoghah Sweeney, Anthony Laniewski and Khaled Abdoun all went 5-0 as Niskayuna swept its five matches and successfully defended its title at the Tamarac Duals.
The Silver Warriors defeated Watervliet, Averill Park, South Glens Falls, Greenville and the host Bengals.
Thomas Minehan, Kenneth Chee and Dante Romanucci all picked up four wins for the Silver Warriors.