Heading into the season, the area's high school wrestling team have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
Nearly all of the area's teams return plenty of wrestlers from last year's squads.
Leading the group of returnees is Amsterdam senior Brandon Lapi, who placed second at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championship in Division I (large-school).
Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi, left, controls the action during his 132-pound quarterfinal match against Minisink Valley’s Chris Truglio of Section IX on Feb. 22 at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany. (The?Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
Lapi, a four-time Section II Division I and Class B champion, went 48-4 last season to run his career win total to 212. Lapi also has placed in the top four at each of the last three state tournaments.
Also entering his final season is Amsterdam coach Ken Benton, who had coached for 34 seasons, including the last 28 at Amsterdam. Benton, who had 312 career victories, lost James Marquez, Josh Gonzalez, Rob Santiago, Dan Banewicz and Chris Lopez to graduation.
Marquez placed third at the state tournament, first at the Section II Division I tournament and second at the Section II Class B tourney last season. Marquez went 44-10 for the Rams last season.
Garcia, who went 38-11, won a Section II Class B title and placed third at the Section II Division I tourney
Santiago and Lopez were fourth at the Class B tourney, Banewicz was fifth Gonzalez was sixth.
"The 2013-2014 edition of the Rams varsity wrestling team features a wealth of experience and youth," Benton said. "The Rams are poised for another challenging season with their eyes set on a conference and sectional championship."
In addition to Lapi, Amsterdam returns several other sectional place-finishers.
That group includes Chris Velasquez, Marcus Torres and Chris Garrison.
Velasquez and Torres placed second in the Class B tourney last season, while Garrison, who was 23-18 last season, was third.
Also back are Jorge Rivera, Adam Tatun, Monty Carmona, Cody Haight, Jake Rodecker, John Rivera, Brailin Santana, Joe Kelly and Dom Santiago.
Rivera was 28-17 last season and was fourth at the Class B tourney, while Tatun was 21-15 and placed fourth at the Class B tourney. Kelly, a sophomore, was sixth at the Class B tourney and went 21-19 last season.
Rounding out the Rams' roster are newcomers Jiovani Orengo, Scott Moore and Adrian Siudy.
"We're a bit leaner in numbers than in past seasons, but I believe our competition schedule, daily training sessions, and team enthusiasm will speak well as the season unfolds," Benton said.
Amsterdam won its 21st Big 10 championship last season with a 4-0 league mark. The Rams also went 25-10 overall and placed third at the Section II Class B Tournament. The Rams also sent 14 wrestlers to the Section II Division I tourney.
After winning the Section III Class D title last season, Dolgeville returns several wrestlers from last year's team.?Austin Frederick and Tyler Richards were the only seniors on last year's roster. Richards, who was 17-20 last season, finished second in the Class D tournament.
However, state Division II (small-school) finalist Danny Fox and Class D finalists Andrew Dillenbeck and Jimmy Doolittle won't be competing for Dolgeville this season.
The Blue Devils, who had eight wrestlers reach the Class D finals a year ago, return four of those finalists to the lineup.
That group includes Noah Handy, Triston Engle, Richard Lyon and Kasey Foster, who all won Class D titles for Dolgeville.
Handy, who also placed third at the Section III Division II tourney, went 33-8 last season. Engle went 40-4 last season, while Foster, who was third at the Division II tourney went 32-11. Lyon went 31-11 last season for the Blue Devils.
Also back for Dolgeville are Justice Richardson, Ben Nastovski, Stephen Gross, Colten Souza, Ian Nagle, Troy Claus.
Nastovski, was third at the Class D tourney, and sixth at the Division II tourney. Nastovski finished last season 33-6, while Gross placed fifth at the Class D tourney.
"We look to have a good core of wrestlers, but we will struggle with the number of forfeits that we will give up in weight classes we cannot fill," Dolgeville coach Jeremy Calkins said. "Even with the forfeits, we expect to be competitive in our league and will be a strong in Class D."
Rounding out the Dolgeville lineup are newcomers Austin Laveck, Connor Maikranz, Seth Wilson, John Handy, Justin Kopet, Trent Hall, Ezira Lynch and Jimmy Rummrill.
Dolgeville, which will host the Section III Class D Tournament on Feb. 8, went 10-7 overall and 4-1 in Center State Conference action last season.
A new coach takes over in Fonda-Fultonville, where Brent Becker takes over for Matt Lewis.
Becker previously coached the Braves in the mid-1980's.
"We want to bring the program back to where it was when I coached it in the mid-1980's," he said. "I'm really excited about the season and really enthusiastic about the team and where we're going."
Becker inherits a team that lost just two seniors - Eric Moyer and Cody Fisher to graduation.
Moyer, who went 23-7 in his senior season, placed second at the Section II Class C Tournament and fourth at the Section II Division II tourney.
FFCS returns four sectional place-finishers from last year's team.
Dom Mancini, Ryan Park, Thomas TenEyck and Kyle Gray all posted top-five finishes at the Section II Class C Tournament
Park, who was 21-8 last season, placed second at the Class C tourney and sixth at the Section II Division II tourney.
Mancini was third at the Class C tournament for the Braves, Thomas TenEyck was fourth and Kyle Gray was fifth.
Kelsey Gray, Caleb TenEyck, Mike Murphy and Jackson Simpson also return from last year's team.
Last summer, Kelsey Gray was part of Team New York, which won the team title at the USA Wrestling Women's Junior Freestyle Duals in Fargo, N.D.
Gray won by technical fall during the championship match against Team California, which New York won 39-17.
Rounding out the FFCS roster are newcomers Zach Phillips, Mitch Hayes, Zak Shaw, Tony Angioli, Nathan Rose, Clane Newcomer, Santini Montanez and Eric Dancy.
Phillips, Hayes and Shaw all previously wrestled for the Braves, and return to the team for their senior seasons.
The Braves went 11-12 overall and 2-5 in Colonial Council last season, placing eighth at the Class C tourney.
Johnstown suffered the hardest hit from graduation, losing several key contributors from last year's team.
Joe Nellis, Patrick Morrison, Danny Nellis, Ray Nellis, Adam Liss and Jeremy Meher all were part of last year's team, which went 3-7 overall and 2-3 in Foothills Council matches.
Joe Nellis, who went 33-3 overall, won the Section II Division II and Class CC titles for Johnstown, which was eighth in the team standings at the Class CC tourney. Joe Nellis also placed fifth at the Division II state tournament.
Morrison finished second at the Section II Class CC tourney, Danny Nellis was fifth and Meher placed sixth.
Despite losing several key contibutors, the Sir Bills return a solid group that includes Austin Brand, Austin Manchester, Anthony Mowrey, Nate Dutcher, Josh LaLonde, Ethan Hale, Jeremiah Robinson, Peter Wilson, Garret Hadcock, Brandon Stevens and Joe Salatel.
Brand was fifth at the Class CC tournament last season, while LaLonde was sixth.
"We're still very young, and we're looking to build on last season," second-year Johnstown coach Joe Morrison said.
Rounding out the roster are newcomers Austin Dingman, Kyle Linart, James Day, Mason VanDusen, Steven Forker, Robert Darling, Jared Ercolino, Adam Frascatore, Austin Warn and Jordan Barnes.
While Johnstown lost plenty from last year's team, Canajoharie-Fort Plain returns nearly everyone after having no seniors on last year's team.
Anthony Brock, Josh Cechnicki Jordan Griswold, Tim Hazzard, Jon Payack, Ed Rolle, Gene Ryan, Ken Sullivan, Rob Thomas, Gordon Trahan, Morgan Van Avery, Kory Muller and Ken Holland also wrestled for Canajoharie-Fort Plain last season.
Hazzard and Payack both placed second at the Class CC tournament last season. Hazzard, who finished last season 26-13, also was sixth at the Section II Division II Tournament.
Trahan added a fourth-place finish at the CC tourney, while Griswold was fifth.
"It''s a solid group of returnees," Canajoharie-Fort Plain coach Todd Jones said. "Our practices have been very solid and the kids have been very focused.
C-FP's roster also includes a pair of transfers from Johnstown, Troy DeBlock and Trent DeBlock.
Rounding out the C-FP roster are newcomers Tangen Rush, Jerson Vasquez and Isaiah Cechnicki.
Canajoharie-Fort Plain went 8-9 overall and 1-3 in WAC dual meets last season. C-FP also placed 11th at the Section II Class CC tourney.
"The skill level is high and the kids have great attitudes and work ethics," said Jones, who is entering his 37th season. I expect good things to happen."