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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 20, 2011

Guilderland wrestling team shut out so far, Bates nears 100 wins

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– After a few years in a row with many seniors, the Dutchmen wrestling team has been left with a gap in 2011. Don Favro, the new head coach this year, is not sure why. But he’s focusing on individuals rather than team scores.

Guilderland dropped to 0-6 in Suburban Council dual meets this season after a 71-to-9 home loss to Columbia last Thursday on Senior Night. On Friday, Favro was thinking about the bigger picture.

“We’re trying to focus on the guys that we have,” said Favro, who took the place of Korey Rogotzke over the summer. Favro knows Rogotzke well after assisting him for three years. Rogotzke is now assisting Favro while running the youth wrestling program.

“We’re planning for the future and learning from the bad scores,” said Favro. “We had a few guys who didn’t come out this year, but it happens.”

The Dutch have been beaten badly at home by Suburban Council opponents –– 71 to 6 against Colonie on Dec. 8, and 56 to 9 against Shenendehowa on Jan. 5. Favro said that he does not have a dual-meet team this season because “there are holes in the line-up.”

“No full line-up means no depth. The focus has changed to the individuals,” Favro said. “There isn’t room for a lot of mat strategy when we only have one guy in each weight class. I’m looking for the positives. The team scores aren’t the focus.”

Guilderland has one dual-meet win over Little Falls, a non-league opponent, and the Dutch placed fourth at the Saratoga Tournament on Jan. 8. Seniors Kevin Bates (119 pounds) and Christian Kernozek (152), sophomore Nick Haluska (135), and freshman Michael Lainhart (103) all finished in second place, at the tournament.

“Sometimes you have a real tough team that wins all the duals, and sometimes you have a group that does better on an individual basis,” said Favro. “It’s hard to explain. Are these wrestlers improving?”

The overall score against Columbia isn’t a good indicator for an answer, but there were a few standouts for Guilderland. Bates, who is closing in on 100 career wins, pinned Zaire Stevens in 25 seconds, and Kernozek beat Jake Wronoski, 7 to 6.

Favro told The Enterprise that Bates is “progressing steadily,” while Kernozek has become “more focused and strong.”

“This is a big step for him,” Favro said of Kernozek.

The Dutchmen almost lost Lainhart to a severe shoulder injury this season, but he came back to beat Jesse Porter of Shenendehowa, a top-ranked wrestler in Section II. “We’re holding him until sectionals,” said Favro of Lainhart.

Haluska is wrestling “tougher and tougher,” said Favro, and junior Jimmy McLaughlin “finds ways to win” at 171 pounds. McLaughlin is one of 10 wrestlers on the varsity or junior-varsity teams who also play football for Guilderland.

Favro, a coach for the freshman football team, is fascinated by the compatibility of football and wrestling. He recently released a video that links the two sports to one another.

“Tackling in football and take-downs in wrestling are very similar,” Favro said. “Any athlete that plays both sports will agree with that. Both involve hand fighting and positioning of the body.”

Jason Speckor, a former football coach for the Dutch who recently moved on to South Glens Falls, was a great recruiter for wrestling, Favro said. Bill Schewe, the junior-varsity football coach, is now trying to fill the recruiting role. “He’s getting a lot of guys interested and that’s huge,” said Favro. “Wrestling and football used to be a great parallel at this school.”

Favro also tries to recruit some of his freshman football players. “It’s a good place to start,” he said. “Usually, they agree to try wrestling, but then football ends and they have a different approach.”

“Mixing philosophies”

When Favro was asked to take the head-coaching job for Guilderland wrestling, it was easy for him to accept. He had been an assistant under Rogotzke for three years, as well as an assistant under the previous coach, Regan Johnson, for another five.

Johnson, who currently is the assistant director for athletics at Guilderland, attended the State University of New York College at Brockport with Favro. The two men wrestled at Brockport and remain connected.

“I’m trying to mix the two philosophies of Korey and Reagan together,” Favro said. “Reagan and I share ideas from Brockport, and Korey has a wealth of wrestling technique. Korey is like a thesaurus of wrestling moves.”

Favro said that Johnson “raised the bar” for Dutchmen wrestling when he started coaching 16 years ago. Favro believes that Guilderland’s intensity in practice is higher than at most other high schools.

“That’s just the way it was and is right now,” said Favro. “Our athletes need to be in top shape. You have to break the ice and train past your comfort level.”

Have the Dutch lost wrestlers because the training program is too intense? “Absolutely, I know it,” answered Favro.

“Usually, when guys quit, they have a good excuse because they’re hurt or something and that’s fine,” Favro said. “But, some guys just come right out and say that it’s too hard, which is surprising. I don’t know when that became acceptable, but it did.”

Rogotzke, a true teacher of the wrestling art form, said that he had to “focus on being a dad,” but remains in an assistant capacity with Favro, while running the youth program. Rogotzke has two sons –– one on the modified team and one starting the youth program.

“I help Don out,” Rogotzke said. “Giving up the head-coaching spot wasn’t that hard because family comes first.”

“We share the same ideas and he’s close by if I ever need help,” Favro said of Rogotzke. “He told me that the paperwork bogs you down, and he’s right so far.”

Favro used to step back and talk to athletes individually, but now he says that being the head coach has made him more vocal. “I try to relate my experiences to these kids because I’ve been a wrestler longer than I’ve been a coach,” he said. “It’s like story time.”

The wall

Guilderland had one Suburban Council dual meet left and it came at Ballston Spa on Wednesday. The Dutch will compete at the Albany Big Ten Tournament on Jan. 29, the last event before the Class A championships on Feb. 5.

Favro says that his team will attack weaknesses and he’ll point out strengths.

“These guys don’t seem to be getting discouraged,” said Favro. “Also, you wrestle to get on the wall and to do well in sectionals. The wall of names is what really matters because your name stays there forever. That was the whole Brockport thing, anyway.”

Dual meets are good for the school, but not the main focus, Favro said. “You always want to win the dual meets, but we think down the road.”

The Dutchmen are getting a little better each week, he said.

“No one is getting tired,” Favro said. “That’s for sure.”

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