Admittedly, Vestal wrestling coach Tony Policare’s expectations with regard to Pat Carlin’s performance this season were a bit tempered.
The senior had not wrestled since eighth grade. Despite his physical gifts as an all-state football and lacrosse player, Carlin figured to be fighting an uphill battle against wrestlers who have spent years honing their skills and grasping the nuances of the sport.
Policare thought Carlin might do OK, win some matches and not embarrass himself. Never did he imagine that Carlin would be undefeated heading into the Southern Tier Athletic Conference Championships, which begin 5 p.m. Friday at Union-Endicott.
“I knew he was very talented, I didn’t know he would be so quick to learn the skills. He is really fast at picking up things,” Policare said of Carlin, who has a 19-0 record this season competing largely in the 195- and 220-pound weight classes. “I truly believe this is his best sport — if he had been doing this throughout high school he would have been spectacular.
“He has all the intangible things — balance, endurance, and strength. And he has the nerve to try new things anytime he gets on the mat.”
Carlin acknowledged that Policare’s prodding was a factor in his return to wrestling. But the main thing was he simply missed the sport.
“It had grown on me, and I thought it was a pretty good idea to do it this year,” said Carlin, who is bound for Syracuse University next fall where he will play lacrosse. “I didn’t expect this success, I owe it all to Policare to teaching me the techniques.”
Policare was unsure which weight class Carlin would be competing at this weekend at U-E. Whether it’s 195 or 220, a reigning Section 4 champion could await, with three-time Section 4 Division I champion Reggie Williams of Johnson City at 195 or Union-Endicott’s Andrew Brinser — a Section 4 Division I champion at 285 last season — at 220.
“We don’t want him getting beat up, against guys with experience … he’s got a future in lacrosse,” Policare said of the indecision. “I do think he’s come along to the point, though, where I’m trying to have him take the next step up.”
Carlin is aware that a STAC title might be an improbability, stating that reaching the finals or even semifinals would be a pretty good achievement. That is not to say he will not do everything he can to win that title.
“No matter how this season turns out, it’s been great,” Carlin said. “I’m pretty competitive, though, so I’ll be pretty mad if I lose. But there’s not the same pressure as if I was a four-year varsity wrestler.”
Dietrich on a roll
A state title narrowly eluded him last season, but thus far this season, there has been nothing to dispel the notion that Greene sophomore Christian Dietrich is a strong bet to be at the top of the podium come late February at this year’s state tournament in Albany.
The 182-pounder is 31-0 this season, including championship-winning efforts at the Eastern States Classic, Windsor Christmas Tournament and Andersen Tournament. Only six of Dietrich’s matches have gone the full six minutes this season.
After a 4-3 loss in the Division II 170 finals to Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy’s Adis Radoncic at last year’s state tournament, Dietrich is expected to be the top seed at Division II 182 this year barring something unforeseen.
“I think that loss was a motivator,” Greene coach Tim Jenks said. “He’s paying a lot more attention to details on everything he does. In our room, he’s one of the hardest, if not the hardest, workers we have. He’s a lot better now in all aspects of wrestling, a lot better than last year. He’s a pinner now, even against decent kids, and he’s always been able to ride people out.”
Dietrich will not compete at this weekend’s Midstate Athletic Conference Championships at Deposit, along with several other Greene wrestlers who competed at the Eastern States Classic, due to New York State limits on the number of tournaments a wrestler can compete in during the season.
The Trojans did not figure to be a tournament title threat anyways, with host Deposit-Hancock and Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton/Harpursville figuring to duel for those honors. The MAC Championships begin 10 a.m. Saturday.
Cardinals ready for rebound
Even after a disappointing 34-32 semifinal loss to Vestal on Saturday dashed his team’s hopes of a Section 4 Dual Meet Tournament title, Newark Valley coach Eric D’Arcy believes his team is ready for this Saturday’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference Championships at Watkins Glen, which begins at 10 a.m.
The Cardinals entered the Section 4 Dual Meet Tournament unbeaten and the top seed and were vying for their first title in the tournament.
“They took it pretty hard on Saturday, but then we came back and wrestled Sunday against Hilton, a very good team, and I thought we wrestled pretty well,” said D’Arcy, whose team lost 53-24 to the Section 5 program ranked fifth in the state among large-school teams. “They seem in a good mood and ready to move forward and re-focus on the IACs and Sectionals.”
As for the IAC title race, D’Arcy figures it will likely to come down to his team and Tioga, with Waverly, Whitney Point, Watkins Glen, and Lansing all figuring to be in the mix for high finishes.
Last year, NV won the IAC title comfortably over Tioga, 205½-155. Vinnie Darpino (152), Derek Holcomb (160), Larry Kasmarcik (170) and Dan Geisenhof (195) all won individual titles.