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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 9, 2010

BKW wrestling team is full of experience, Bulldog Invitational opens season

By Jordan J. Michael

BERNE –– Over 120 wrestlers from nine different teams packed the gym at Berne-Knox-Westerlo on Saturday for the fifth annual Bulldog Invitational. It was a good start to a season for the host team, which has a lot of expectations.

It was the first time the Bulldogs didn’t win the event because Head Coach Jeff Vogel decided to keep his five best wrestlers off the mat. Blake Whitbeck (130 pounds), Vince Pasquini (140), Matt Casullo (152), Josh Burgher (171), and Jesse Montasano (285) were saved for more important matches.

“I saved their tournament eligibility so they can be higher up later on,” Vogel said on Wednesday. “I’m thinking big scheme so every athlete can be in the best position. It’s a major priority. We gave up our own tournament, but that’s OK because we want to do better during sectionals. We’re looking at the big picture this time.”

Pasquini is a defending Class D champion and Montasano was a runner-up. Casullo is a two-time sectional place finisher and Whitbeck and Burgher placed as well last season.

“The younger guys got a chance to gain some experience,” said Vogel. “It was a win-win situation for the team.”

BKW placed third overall behind Amsterdam, which took second after Robert Santiago won a 152-pound match over Josh Richards of the Bulldogs. Burnt-Hills, a Class A power team, took first place.

Ben Becker (145 pounds) won his third straight Bulldog Invy title and Joe Sprung (215) won his weight class. Anthony Pasquini (119), Larry Staubach (160), and Alex Delong (171) all placed second; and Dominic Woodmanzee (130), Derek Struck (135), and Richards all claimed third place.

Eight wrestlers out of 11 placed in the top three for the Bulldogs, which is not too shabby, considering the number of athletes on hand. Teddy Wiederhold (189), Sam Gerardi (140), Harry Albright (125), and Woodmanzee all competed in their first varsity matches.

“Every starter I have has been around for at least a couple of years,” said Vogel. “We have a very experienced team, but we’re not too deep. Vince and Blake are my two very strong senior captains.”

BKW senior Tori Kocis (171), a female who has been wrestling with the junior-varsity for four years, had her first varsity win on Saturday. Vogel told The Enterprise that girls have a “huge” strength disadvantage when they wrestle over 115 pounds, but Kocis has seen her decent share of matches.

“Everyone was very happy that she got her first varsity win,” Vogel said of Kocis. “She’s been around for a while and she’s looking to wrestle in college. The law says that girls can wrestle with the boys, so why question it? We support her efforts.”

Most of the starters on the BKW roster this year finished sectionals in the top five last season. Vogel is hoping the same wrestlers can place in the top three in 2011. “I expect the same, if not better,” he said.

The Bulldogs have a huge match against Western Athletic Conference foe Duanesburg today. The Eagles haven’t lost a league match at home in the last 10 years, Vogel said. “This is our best shot to do it,” he said.

This is the sixth year for wrestling at BKW and the results just seem to progress with every match.

“I’m sure we’ll plateau at some point, but not quite yet,” said Vogel.

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