Few Birds flock to wrestling

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Bad ride: A Cohoes wrestler picks up Voorheesville’s Justin Lee last Thursday during the 170-pound match, which Lee lost, 10 to 3.  

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Head to head: The Voorheesville varsity wrestling team has only six athletes on its roster right now, and just three took the mat last Thursday during a home meet against Cohoes. Here, Troy Tracey, left, knocks foreheads with his opponent during the 126-pound match. Tracey lost by pin.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

No mercy? Voorheesville wrestler Justin Lee is put into a headlock during a 170-pound match against Cohoes last Thursday. Lee lost the match, 10 to 3, and the Blackbirds had only three athletes wrestle during the meet.

VOORHEESVILLE — There are 15 different weight classes in the sport of wrestling. Last Thursday, three Voorheesville wrestlers took the mat during a meet against Cohoes.

Currently, Voorheesville’s varsity wrestling team consists of six athletes. Head Coach Matt Robinson said this week that the roster has been in flux all season; the team had 11 wrestlers at one point.

Some wrestlers quit mid-season, Robinson said, for varying reasons. The Blackbirds have a very young line-up with just two returning wrestlers.

“It’s a tough sport,” said Robinson. “It’s hard to just join wrestling, and make the weight. When you win a match, it’s a great feeling. When you lose, it’s the worst feeling.”

Robinson, a former wrestler, was finishing up his master’s degree in teaching from Sage College last fall, so he couldn’t recruit as much as he usually does for Voorheesville. He says recruiting is huge for any sport, but wrestling takes some seeding of interest because the sport doesn’t get much exposure; kids aren’t raised on it.

“There are kids that want to wrestle, but they may be quiet about it,” said Robinson. “Some kids are just comfortable where they are, too. If someone is interested, I try to make that interest bigger, and I invite them to a match.”

Last Thursday, Troy Tracey (126 pounds), Justin Lee (170 pounds), and Caleb Hitt (152 pounds) competed against Cohoes. Tracey and Hitt got pinned, and Lee lost, 10 to 3.

Robinson told The Enterprise that losing wrestlers has been sad; some could have been really good. He says that the door is always open for newcomers or former wrestlers who want to join the team again.

Junior Nick Saccocio (138 pounds) and sophomore Alex Fisher (106 pounds) are the two best wrestlers for Voorheesville, but they didn’t go against Cohoes. Fisher had no one in his class to wrestle. Saccocio is 15-8 on the season, and Fisher is 6-7 after missing the first half of the year with an injury.

Fisher finished in the top four at Class C sectionals last year. Saccocio, who has been wrestling on varsity since eighth grade, added 10 more pounds of muscle since last year, Robinson said.

“If they both wrestle to their potential, they can do well,” said Robinson of Saccocio’s and Fisher’s chances at Class C sectionals, which are this weekend in Granville.

Since Voorheesville has so many empty weight classes, the team has been losing all of its dual meets, so Robinson has had to make his coaching more about each individual. He’s gotten help from assistant Taylor Treadgold, who wrestled for the Birds a few years ago.

“It’s hard for the team, but there’s more one-on-one time,” Robinson said. “We just have to make sure that everyone is improving.”

Looking ahead, Robinson hopes to get the varsity roster back up to 12 athletes. Assuming that the six current wrestlers stick with the sport, and two current modified wrestlers move up, that puts Voorheesville’s number at eight. Robinson hopes to recruit four more kids to make 12.

“Someone can step right in and fill a weight class, so there’s a guarantee for them to make an impact immediately,” said Robinson. “If some kids come out, then we can make it a good time.”

Robinson said that wrestlers are always the best athletes at any school. Wrestling is a sport for anyone who possesses strength, agility, and balance.

If someone refuses to wrestle, what does that person say?

“Usually, it has to do with making the weight or being uncomfortable with the uniform,” said Robinson. “I can understand that because it can make some people feel very exposed.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations requires wrestlers to wear tight singlets during a match; it prevents the clothing from being pulled.

“There was some talk about a two-piece uniform with shorts, but it never gained traction,” Robinson said. “It’s just the national code.”

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