About a month later than hoped, Chenango Forks senior Isaiah Zimmer is expected to finally make his season debut Thursday night when the Blue Devils visit Windsor.
A Section 4 Division I 170-pound champion a year ago, Zimmer has been sidelined with an ankle injury suffered in the waning moments of Forks’ 28-27 victory over Rye Neck in the state Class C football final on Dec. 1 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
“We’ve had several medical professionals looking at it,” said Forks wrestling coach Rick Gumble, who abstained from providing specific details of Zimmer’s injury. “We needed to an MRI to get an accurate indication of what exactly has been the problem.”
With the Section 4 Championships just over a month away, Gumble is hopeful there’s enough time to get Zimmer enough competition to sufficiently prepare him for another run at a Section 4 title.
“That is the challenge that we’re faced with, to get him in shape to be a sectional champion,” said Gumble, who believes the overlap between the fall and winter sports seasons in New York creates a problem with fall athletes being adequately prepared for the winter sports season. “Emotionally, physically and psychology, it’s very difficult.”
M-E’s Sisenstein impresses
Nearly a decade ago, Binghamton’s Wendy Casey, Oxford’s Toni Copeland, and Unatego’s Billie Jean Dill proved more than capable when competing against their male counterparts.
However, none enjoyed quite the success that Maine-Endwell freshman Cheyenne Sisenstein has enjoyed in her first varsity season. The 99-pounder has compiled a 14-3 record, including seven victories by pin.
“I knew what she could do coming up through, she’s wrestled since she was like 6 years old,” M-E coach Fred Garrehy said. “She had a good couple of seasons on the modified before coming up to varsity.
“She’s well-received by her teammates, she’s one of the best workers in the room, they know it and look up to her for that.”
Sisenstein’s lone loss to a Section 4 wrestler came against reigning Section 4 Division II 99 champion Dean Raymond of Deposit-Hancock, that by technical fall, 16-1, at the Windsor Christmas Tournament last month.
But it’s not inconceivable that Sisenstein could place at the Section 4 Division II Tournament next month.
“She should place well this year,” Garrehy said. “She’s still kind of small, she only weights 96, 97 pounds. “We’re really looking toward next year. This year is a learning year but she could place pretty high.”
So far so good for Baker
While Sisenstein has enjoyed a solid varsity debut season for M-E, Newark Valley seventh-grader Bennie Baker has been especially impressive in bolstering an already formidable Cardinals lineup.
Baker is 25-1, his first loss coming at last weekend’s Stan Elinsky Tournament in Deposit, and has already emerged as a serious Section 4 Division I title-contender at 99.
“We kind of new that he was going to be pretty good. We’re pleased with his progress throughout the year,” NV coach Eric D’Arcy said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s never satisfied, which is nice to watch in practice.
“We’re teaching something new the other day, and five minutes later we’re wrestling live and he’s trying something that he’s never done.”
Baker’s addition to a lineup that features high-quality veterans like Trevor Hoffmeir, Derek Holcomb, Larry Kasmarcik, Vinnie Darpino and Cole Ford has helped propel NV to a 13-0 dual-meet record and top-25 state ranking among large schools.
D’Arcy, though pleased with his team’s direction, knows potential pitfalls still need to be navigated, including an Interscholastic Athletic Conference dual meet against Tioga next week.
“They have solid kids at every weight,” D’Arcy said. (Tioga coach) Josh Roe is one of the top two or three coaches in Section 4, he gets the most out of his kids. That’s going to be a very tough match.
“There’s such parity in Section 4, I look at the top eight teams, to be honest, any of those top eight teams can beat each other.”
High aspirations for Deposit-Hancock
With a slew of high-quality returners, the Deposit-Hancock wrestling team figured to be one of the most improved in Section 4.
The Lumberjacks finished fifth at the Windsor Christmas Tournament and third at the Elinsky Tournament, which featured prominent Pennsylvania-based prep team Wyoming Seminary.
Led by reigning Section 4 Division II 99 champion Dean Raymond as well as veterans Dan Babcock (285), Stephen McKee (106) and Brandon Macumber (113), D-H figures to be a factor at the Midstate Athletic Conference, Section 4 Dual-Meet Tournament and — most important for coach Mike Daley — the Section 4 Division II Tournament.
“It’s probably the first time we’ve been in the position to be one of the teams that could be in contention for the overall (Section 4 Division II title),” Daley said. “That is obviously where you want to be at the end of the year.”
Williams, Rifanburg seek repeats
This weekend, undoubtedly the toughest tournament in New York — even tougher than the state tournament — will take place when the 13th annual Eastern States Classic is held at Sullivan County CC in Loch Sheldrake.
More than 132 teams from six states will have wrestlers competing in the two-day tournament that begins Friday. Last year, Johnson City’s Reggie Williams won an individual title at 195 pounds and Rifanburg likewise at 132, with Greene’s Christian Dietrich finishing second at 170.
Ten Section 4 teams will have wrestlers competing. They are Deposit-Hancock, Greene, Ithaca, Johnson City, Lansing, Newark Valley, Norwich, Oxford, Susquehanna Valley and Union-Endicott.