Heading into the season, several area wrestlers have their sights set on success.
Leading the group of talented returnees is Amsterdam junior Brandon Lapi who has three Section II Division I titles to his credit, a pair of top-six finishes at the state tournament and 164 career wins.
Also back this season are Dolgeville's Ben Nastovski, Triston Engle and Danny Fox who all placed in the top four at the Section III Division II championships.
Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi, top, works a hold on Shenendehowa’s Jesse Porter in the 113-pound championship match Feb. 11 at the Section II Division I?Tournament at the Glens Falls Civic Center. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Johnstown, Canajoharie-Fort Plain and Fonda-Fultonville also return several key contributors from last season for the 2012-13 campaign. Broadalbin-Perth, which started last season with just four wrestlers, won't field a team this season.
Lapi, who went 50-4 last season, will compete at 132 pounds this season.
In addition to Lapi, Chris Velasquez (106 pounds), Ian Alejandro (120), Dal Orengo (138), Marcus Torres (145), James Marquez (160), Rob Santiago (170) and Ken Garcia (195) also return for the Rams.
Velasquez and Marquez both placed fourth at the Section II Division I tourney last season, while Torres was fifth. All three finished last season with 35 or more wins.
Despite returning so many wrestlers from last season's roster, Amsterdam has just eight seniors on its 38-wrestler roster.
"This is the youngest team we've fielded in the last 10 years," said Amsterdam coach Ken Benton who is entering his 20th season as the Rams' coach. "We have a solid core of seasoned veterans combined with a subtle blend of talented, hardworking newcomers with an enormous amount of enthusiasm. It should suit us well as we approach a very challenging schedule."
The Rams lost Nick Bielawa, Gaetano Lanzi, Mike Garrison, Brandon Giaquinto and Chris Rodriguez to graduation. Lanzi and Garrison finished second at the Section II Division I Tournament, Rodriguez was fourth and Giaquinto placed fifth.
Last year, the Rams went 31-6 overall, finished second at the Class B tournament, fourth at the Section II Division I tournament and won its 19th Big 10 title.
Rounding out the Amsterdam roster will be newcomers Romeo Jones, Rafael Garcia, Nelson Quinones, Dan Banewicz, Jake Rodecker, Chris Garrison and Chris Lopez.
Amsterdam will open its season today at the Andersen Tournament at Cicero-North Syracuse.
After winning the Center State Conference Division II title last season, the Blue Devils have high hopes heading into this season with a roster full of experience.
In addition to Nastovski, Engle and Fox, the Blue Devils also return Noah Handy, Stephen Gross, Tyler Richards, Ian Nagle, Austin Frederick, Richard Lyon, Kacey Foster, Austin Burton and Jimmy Doolittle.
Handy, Lyon, Foster and Doolittle all finished last season with 20 or more wins.
"This season looks promising with 12 returners on the team," Dolgeville coach Jeremy Calkins said. "We hope to continue our great season from last year through this season."
Dolgeville lost Kaleb Smith and Travis Kopet to graduation. Kopet was fourth at the Section III Division II tourney, while Smith was sixth.
Rounding out the Blue Devils' lineup will be newcomers Troy Claus, Andrew Dillenbeck, Ben Doolittle, Greg Pelan and Colton Souza.
Dolgeville opened its season with a 47-30 win over Canajoharie-Fort Plain on Thursday.
The Braves also have plenty of experience returning this season.
FFCS lost only Cody Fisher to graduation and returns seven wrestlers from last season's lineup.
Jackson Simpson, Kelsey Gray, Ryan Parks, Dominic Mancini, Eric Moyer, Richard Bagley and Robert Bagley all return for the Braves.
Moyer finished third at the Section II Class C tournament last season.
"I am cautiously optimistic. We have some seasoned wrestlers and with some focus they can do some great things," Fonda-Fultonville coach Matthew Lewis said. "The newcomers should contribute nicely."
Rounding out the FFCS roster are newcomers Caleb TenEyck, Thomas TenEyck, Kyle Gray, Jake Boyer and Mike Murphy.
Fonda-Fultonville is off to a solid start this season, winning both of its matches in the opening week of the season.
The Braves topped Little Falls on Tuesday in a non-league match 57-24 and opened their Colonial Council schedule with a 43-28 win at Mechanicville on Thursday.
The Sir Bills head into the season with a new coach as former Johnstown standout Joe Morrison takes over the reins from Jim Rodecker.
Johnstown lost its top wrestler, Brandyn Ainsworth, to graduation. Ainsworth finished second at the Section II Division II tournament last season.
Also gone from last year's team are Phil Manchester and Troy Palmer.
Despite the losses, Johnstown returns several wrestlers from last year's team.
The group of returnees includes Austin Brand, Joe Nellis, Ethan Hale, Troy DeBlock, Jared Smith, Austen Manchester, Pat Morrison, Nate Dutcher, Josh LaLonde and Garrett Hadcock.
Nellis missed all of last season with an injury after finishing second in the Section II Division II Tournament in 2011.
Pat Morrison was third at the Section II Class CC Tournament last season.
Rounding out the roster is a large group of newcomers including Joe Salatel, Anthony Mowery, Peter Wilson, Ray Nellis, Nate Taylor, Patrick Flemming, Brandon Stevens, Adam Liss, Jeremy Meher, Anthony Schiavo, Danny Nellis and Jeremiah Robinson.
"Johnstown is looking to rebuild the program. We have many newcomers," coach Morrison said. "Hopefully, over the next couple of season we can keep the numbers up."
The Sir Bills opened the season Wednesday with a Foothills Council match at Scotia-Glenville and posted a 51-30 win over the Tartans. Johnstown went winless in the Foothills last season.
The Sir Bills will compete in the Mohonasen Tournament today.
Heading into his 36th season, Canajoharie-Fort Plain coach Todd Jones has several returnees in his lineup from last season's team.
That group includes Anthony Brock, Jordan Griswold, Noah Watson, Soren Hudyncia, Gordon Trahan, Gene Ryan, Ken Holland, Nathan Moshier and Josh Cechnicki.
Griswold and Trahan both placed fourth at the Section II Class CC tournament last season.
Newcomers Jason Brown, Josh Green, Tim Hazzard, Hans Hudyncia, Kory Mueller, John Payack, Tim Roberson, Dustin Rockwell, Edward Rolle, Ken Sullivan, Robert Thomas, Morgan VanAvery and Owen Yerdon round out the C-FP roster.
Canajoharie-Fort Plain, which went 5-16 overall last season, opened its season Tuesday with a 48-33 non-league home loss to Herkimer before dropping a 47-30 non-league decision at Dolgeville on Thursday.
C-FP will compete in the Mohonasen Tournament today.