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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 18, 2008

High expectations for Guilderland wrestling

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– The Dutchmen wrestling team sent 10 athletes to the state qualifier last year. All but one of those wrestlers returns to the roster.

“I had six guys place in the sectionals and they’re all back,” said Coach Korey Rogotzke. “They’re going to take all the experience from last season and construct something bigger.”

Brendan Ruddy, Devan Van Auken, Matt Cubillos, and Eugene Sellie are back as captains. Greg Reinhart, Matt Hart, Travis Wolanki, Matt Miller, Ben Moon, and Kevin Bates are returning sectional entrants.

“All the varsity guys are good friends and that means the team chemistry is amazing,” Rogotzke said. “No one ever disappoints another out on the mat. Good spirits are always floating around the team.”

Rounding out the lineup is Ali Mehdi, Christian Kernozek, James Woods, Mike Morawski, and Zach Wacksman. The Dutch are missing David Talyor, a sectional wrestler from last year.

Rogotzke told The Enterprise that he would love to have eight senior starters someday in the future, but he’s happy with the five he has currently. “If this program could have seven to eight kids in every class that are passionate about wrestling, we would be golden,” he said.

Seniors Ruddy, Reinhart, Hart, Van Auken, and Cubillos are a combined 28-5 in matches so far this season. The team is 2-0 in the Suburban Council with victories over Colonie and Saratoga.

Guilderland has an overall record of 4-2 after the Duanesburg Duels on Saturday. The Dutch beat Duanesburg, 59 to 15, and Canastota, 45 to 30. It lost to Fairport, 43 to 23, and Holland-Patent, 48-28.

“We gave up 18 points in forfeits on Saturday because a few wrestlers were missing,” said Rogotzke. “I would have brought up some junior-varsity kids but they had a tournament, too. This was an out-of-section meet, so it’s no big deal.”

The Dutchmen had four pins in a 37-to-33 victory over the Red Raiders. It was the first match of the year. Cubillos defeated Colonie’s Brandon Barberi in under a minute. Van Auken had a 4-to-3 decision over Mike Wutzer.

Cubillos is ranked number one in New York State at 130 pounds after placing fourth in states last year. “He has amazing strength and work ethic,” Rogotzke said. “Most of his matches average under a minute.”

Guilderland glided over Saratoga with a score of 44 to 30 on Dec. 10. Bates had an 8-to-1 win over Trey Horne in a 112-pound match and Wolanski, Cubillos, Talyor, and Van Auken all had pins.

“Beating Colonie was huge because they’re our biggest rival in the league,” said Rogotzke. “My seniors are the key ingredient this year; they’ve been together since they were little.”

Rogotzke keeps a close eye on his wrestlers’ health and weight. “Training is just as important as winning a match,” he said. “You spend a lot more time practicing than actually wrestling someone.”

The team’s next match is today at Averill Park.

Building a family

Rogotzke spent six years under Regan Johnson as an assistant before moving to the top coaching position last year. He’s serious about building a “family atmosphere” within the Guilderland wresting program.

“Johnson taught me the system and I realized how historic this is,” Rogotzke said. “It’s my job to add to this history. I want a 5-year-old youth wrestler to be able to connect with a 60-year-old alumni.”

The team is hosting an Alumni Night next Tuesday during its home match against Mohonasen. Pictures and film from the program’s 40-year history will be displayed. The event starts at 6 p.m. and continues into the night with a social.

The Dutchmen youth wrestling league is alive and kicking and Rogotzke hopes that some of those young kids will wrestle for him one day. “Teams win state championships because they breed athletes from a young age,” he said. “We’re hoping to do something similar.”

The returning starters are on a leadership council and younger wrestlers look to them for advice.

“Varsity wrestlers have a huge responsibility and a role model position,” said Rogotzke. “They have to do well on the mat and in the classroom. All the athletes below look up to them.”

The relationship between Rogotzke and his wrestlers has been a long one and the coach-to-player trust is strong. “I know everything about these guys. It’s like having 15 more children,” Rogotzke said. “The trust makes coaching easier. I know that they’ll listen if I tell them to throw a move during a match.”

Guilderland is picked as one of the top teams in Class A, but the pressure doesn’t seem to bother the wrestlers.

“I try to keep the pressure off them as much as possible and they respond well,” said Rogotzke. “They are relaxed and experienced and they possess the confidence and mental toughness. Passing that stuff down is a good technical and mental boost for the program.”

The coach is worried about top teams such as top-10, state-ranked Shenendehowa and Burnt-Hills. After Guilderland’s success last year, the goal is a state crown.

“We’re definitely capable of winning a state title with all these returning faces,” Rogotzke said. “But it’s more than that. I want these kids to go on and be successful. My five seniors all want to wrestle in college. It shows their dedication and I think Guilderland wrestling has prepared them for that future.”

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