Back to the Mat

Fonda-Fultonvilleʼs Justin Kearns, right, looks for an escape during his 99-pound match with Albany Academyʼs Caleb Svingala on Jan. 14. Kearns is one of several returning wrestlers for the Braves this season. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)

With a mixture of returnees and newcomers, the area’s five high school wrestling teams have their sights set on solid seasons in 2016-17.

All five teams have multiple returning wrestlers, several of whom are sectional place-finishers or league all-stars.

Filling out the rosters will be a healthy crop of newcomers at all five schools.


Heading into the new season, the Sir Bills have nowhere to go but up after finishing last season 0-17 overall.

Johnstown returns nine wrestlers from last year’s team, having lost Joe Salatel and Josh LaLonde to graduation.

LaLonde was named a first-team Foothills Council all-star at 182 pounds last season. He went 31-7 overall in his senior season, placed third at the Section II Division II Tournament and third at the Section II Class CC tourney.

Returning for Johnstown are Mike Nourse, Na’jon Subik, Dom Lodestro, Jordan Snell, Cristian Esposito, Christian Davis, Chad Finch, Tristian Zito and Joe Stanton.

Newcomers Marquise Johnson, Caleb Smith, Brandon Laboy, Jared Ercolino, Michael Martindale, Adam Horan, Skyler Bronson and Marquis Cinelli round out the Sir Bills’ roster.

“I’m very excited to be back coaching again at Johnstown. I look forward to another exciting season,” Johnstown coach Jim Rodecker said. “The team has been working very hard and they are hungry for success. We just need to stay healthy as it’s a very long and tough season.”


The Braves head into the season with a new coach and a new league.

Rick Dufresne heads into his first season as coach with a team that includes returnees Nate Rose, Clane Newcomer, Josh Hemendinger, Kyle Gray, Chris Hernigle, Justin Newcomer and Justin Kearns.

The Braves will return to the Western Athletic Conference after spending several seasons in the Colonial Council.

FFCS lost Caleb TenEyck and Thomas TenEyck from last year’s team, which went 5-15 overall.

Newcomers Zach Port and Jaden Nole complete the Braves’ roster.

“All but two starters return with the potential to have four or five individual top place finishers in sectionals,” Dufresne said. “Our young and seasoned talent looking to make a splash in the upcoming season.”

Canajoharie-Fort Plain

After posting a 9-12 record last season, Canajoharie-Fort Plain is looking to improve on that mark heading into the new season.

C-FP will look to replace Ed Rolle, Rob Thomas and Ken Sullivan from last year’s squad.

Rolle was a second-team Western Athletic Conference all-star last season.

Returning for Canajoharie-Fort Plain will be Jerod Bentz, Derick Countryman, Adam Oertel, Orion Burke, Luke Sunderland, Isaiah Cechnicki, Jacob Montanye, Tangen Rush and Trent Logan.

DeBlock (182 pounds) was named a first-team WAC all-star for Canajoharie-Fort Plain, while Bentz (99), Burke (126), Congdon (160) and Rush (170) were named to the second team.

Newcomers Emily Oeser, Joe Feshett, Hayden Casler, Brian Christman, Chris Estep, Andrew Towse, Conner Bowden and Caleb Root complete the C-FP roster.

We will give up two or three weight classes, but we will put some quality wrestlers on the mat,” C-FP coach Clay Oeser said. “This is my last year of coaching and I have my grandson on the modified team and my niece is on varsity.”


Though it lost two key contributors from last year’s team, Amsterdam returns several wrestlers who were named Foothills Council all-stars last season.

The Rams lost Marcus Torres and Chris Garrison from last year’s team, which went 17-11 overall.

Torres was named a first-team Foothills Council all-star at 195 pounds, while Garrison was named to the second team at 285 pounds.

Torres ended his senior season with a 38-5 overall record. He placed second at the Section II Division I Tournament and won the Class B title.

Garrison finished second at both the Section II Class B and Division I tournaments and earned a wild-card spot for the state tournament. He finished his senior season 37-9.

Returning for the Rams this season will be Daniel Montalvo, Nick Rodecker, John Companion, Jon Santiago and Francisco Alejandro.

Nick Rodecker was a first-team Foothills all-star last season. He was third at the Section II Class B Tournament.

Alejandro was a second-team all-star, placed fourth at the Class B tourney and sixth at the Section II Division I tourney.

Newcomers Jacob Garcia, Anthony Kelly, Tyler Krackow, Brennen Rivas, Lucas H. Tepan Jr., Greg Pelosi and Damian Montalvo round out the Amsterdam roster.

“We are a young team, but have some very good talent and skill,” Amsterdam coach Ken Pfeiffer said. All have been working hard to condition themselves as dedicated athletes.”


Heading into the new season, the Blue Devils will be looking to replace three of their top competitors from last season.

Dolgeville lost Ryan Zawtocki, Noah Handy and Jon Handy from last year’s squad, which went 6-9 overall.

Noah Handy reached the state tournament for the Blue Devils and placed second at the Section III Division II Tournament. Jon Handy was fifth at 145 pounds at the Section III Division II tourney.

Dolgeville returns eight wrestlers from last year’s team. That group includes Justin Kopet, Anthony Chromczak, Mike Krasko, Justus Richardson, David Pierce, Tyler Foster, Sabbith Van Olst and Trent Hall.

Newcomers Bradley Lamphere, Riley Beaulieu, Jacob Null, Kyle Getman, Oscar Lozada, Jesse Dykeman, Treay Jaquay, Toby Weber, Cameron Manchester and Andrew Brado round out the Blue Devils’ roster.

“We have a lot of new guys in our lineup this year, but they look tough and I believe that they will only get tougher as the year goes on,” Dolgeville coach Jeremy Calkins said. “We will struggle with forfeits that we will give up in weight classes we cannot fill. We will be able to fill the majority of the weight classes and expect to be competitive in our league and will be a strong in Class D.”

By Chad Fleck

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