It’s that time of the year.
The time for tie-ups and takedowns. Pinfalls and pandemonium. Dual meets and medals. Competitors dreaming of having their arms raised in victory.
High school wrestling season is descending upon the mid-Hudson Valley, with competition going into full-swing next week. Although for some teams, like Red Hook and New Paltz, the season has already begun.
The Raiders and Huguenots started Wednesday with a dual meet against Liberty. Red Hook won 57-15 over Liberty, while New Paltz beat the Indians 45-27.
For Beacon and John Jay, the season begins with tournaments on Saturday. The Bulldogs are competing in the Bernie Miller Invitational at Rye, and the Patriots are participating in the Mike Nardone Memorial Tournament at Ossining.
The madness kicks up for the rest of the teams in a matter of days. And, it will bring a stockpile of talented grapplers for local fans to keep an eye on this winter.
Randy Earl, John Jay
Among the elite wrestlers in the 120-pound Section 1 Division I weight class last year, Earl captured a section title. He finished with a 57-4 record and placed fifth at the New York State tournament.
Bumping up to 126, Patriots coach Jamie Weaver expects bigger and better things from his top grappler this year.
“I don’t want to jinx myself, but I see him going far at (the state tournament in) Albany,” Weaver said of Earl, a senior. “We’re hoping for a shot at the state title, obviously.”
Weaver added that Earl stayed sharp in the offseason, competing in a number of tournaments. Among the tournaments Earl participated in were the Super 32 Challenge in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Journeyman Classic in Schenectady in the fall.
“I think the big thing is, his offseason wrestling — that really puts him above the other guys that are only wrestling for four months,” Weaver said of Earl. “He’s what I call a ‘365’er.’ He doesn’t take much time off from it.”
Isaac Matthews, Roy C. Ketcham
Matthews is one of three wrestlers — along with Riley Wilson and Jesse Pascale — who Indians coach Josh Shoemaker expects to be in the state tournament at the end of February.
Last year, Matthews took third at the Section 1 tournament at 152, and won a match at the state tournament. This season, he will be wrestling at 160.
“Some people get nervous. He’s driven,” Shoemaker said of Matthews. “I can tell he’s ready to go.”
Aiden Folster would have been another top-of-the-line wrestler for Ketcham, had he not suffered a knee injury during the football season. Folster underwent surgery on his knee at the beginning of November, and the injury cost him his wrestling season.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Shoemaker said of Folster’s injury.
Kyle Davis, Beacon
Described by Bulldogs coach Ron Tompkins as his “top contender,” Davis placed fifth last year in the Section 1 large schools tournament, wrestling at 170. It’s also worth noting Davis did not lose a match in Dutchess County a season ago, and finished with a record of 34-8.
Like most successful grapplers, he competes year-round, giving him an edge over his opponents.
“He didn’t quite finish where he wanted to last year, but he’s made big improvement,” Tompkins said.
Wade Harris, Red Hook
Harris enters the year making a leap from the 99-pound weight class to 106.
As a junior last season, he captured his second straight Section 9 small schools title, making an appearance in the state tournament. With a roster filled with youth, Raiders coach Nick Fredericks said Harris is going to be one of his team’s leaders this year.
And, have his usual success.
“He’s going to definitely going to be in the mix for section finals. He’s in a heavier weight class, but he’s got what it takes,” Fredericks said of Harris. “His hard work is paying off, he never gives up and we’re looking forward to another great season from him.”
Dennis Robin, Arlington
Coming from a familial line of prolific Arlington wrestlers, Robin is what one may call a young veteran.
Young in terms of age, but a veteran in terms of experience. As an eighth grader a season ago, Robin reached the Section 1 finals and earned a wild card in the state tournament wrestling at 99. With some fine-tuning in the offseason, Admirals coach Fred Perry has reason to believe there are bigger and better things in store for his freshman this season.
“He’s worked on everything. On his feet, on the mat, on top, on the bottom. He progressed an awful lot from last year,” Perry said. “He has experience now. He knows what the section finals are like, what the states are like. I expect big things from him this year.”
Other key returners:
Arlington: Ulises Olmedo (113), Chris Gresis (138), Jacquez Poole (285)
Beacon: Hayden Boehm (99)
Highland: Christian Canino (113)
John Jay: Tyler Albis (120)
New Paltz: Chris Massaro (126), Ben Cuppett (182)
Pawling: Alex Santana (99), Noah Fleischman (126), Carmine Pedoto (126), Jack Wrobel (132), Paul Bellucci (152), Matt Kuhlmann (160), James Bellucci (195)
Ketcham: Wilson (170), Pascale (182)
Red Hook: Tristen Schiafo (152), Jeff Kiluba (170), Ryan Hobson (182)