JOHNSTOWN — Since the Fonda/Fultonville and Johnstown wrestling teams merged for the 2017-18 season, the program has been making slow and steady progress.
With a win in tonight’s match at Berne-Knox-Westerlo/Middleburgh, another milestone will be met — a Western Athletic Conference title.
“I believe that winning the WAC would just further the positive direction that the program is currently heading and help us to continue to grow our number of athletes as well as support within the community,” Fonda/Johnstown coach John Paris said.
Fonda-Johnstown put itself in position to claim the crown with a 42-24 victory at Duanesburg/Schoharie on Jan. 5.
It was the first WAC loss for Duanesburg/Schoharie, which had won the last four league titles, since the 2017-18 season.
“It really meant a lot to the program considering the proud wrestling tradition of Duanesburg,”Paris said. “It was a great accomplishment and shows that the program here is moving in the right direction.”
In its only other league match, Fonda/Johnstown (8-11 overall, 2-0 WAC) notched a 60-17 victory over Canajoharie/Fort Plain on Jan. 10.
Fonda/Johnstown has just five seniors on its roster, but has had nine different wrestlers reach double-digit win totals this season.
Senior Owen Hicks (145 pounds) is 28-3 this season. Last weekend, he placed sixth at the Eastern States Classic. Hicks was fourth at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II Tournament last season.
Seniors Jonathan Cranker (172) and Jonathan Sammons (215) are 20-7 and 17-8, respectively, this season.
Junior Logan McCoy (138) has 18 wins this season, eighth-grader Jonathan Swartwout (110) has 16 wins. Eighth-grader Matthew Livington (126) has posted 14 wins, freshman Grady Hicks (102) has 13, and junior Owen Lewis (189) and freshman Colin Pickering (138) each have 12.
“So far the season is going very well. I have a great group of athletes and parents who have bought into the program, along with my goals and philosophy,” Paris said. “The team is relatively young, but have adapted to the sport along with our competitive schedule extremely well and are constantly growing every week.”
Though it lost, Fonda/Johnstown took Section II Division II dual-meet champion Cobleskill-Richmondville to the final match in a 42-34 non-league loss on Dec. 15.
Getting to that level is one of the many goals Paris said he is hoping to reach with his program.
“I have extremely high expectations/hopes for the program moving forward. My expectation and hope is not to just become a powerhouse within the section but at the state level with both team and individual achievements,” he said. “By having these expectations for the team, my athletes are starting to have high expectations for themselves, which is why I believe we have been able to grow and accomplish what we have over the past two seasons. I truly believe the future is bright for Fonda/Johnstown wrestling.”
Fonda/Johnstown is slated to compete in the King Bison Invitational at Shaker on Saturday before heading to Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk for the Section II Class CC Tournament on Feb. 4.
“My goal is to get the team as prepared as I can for the postseason and hopefully chase down a Class CC sectional championship as well as to send athletes to the state tournament,” Paris said.