Six area seniors will be heading to the Times Union Center in Albany for the New York State wrestling tournament beginning on Friday at 10 a.m. The tournament wraps up on Saturday night.
Rome Free Academy will have two representatives, Spencer Pisaneschi and Stephan Hildenbrandt.
At 285 pounds, Pisaneschi is a perfect 32-0 this season. Pisaneschi won the Section III Class AA crown by all pinfalls.
“I believe that reaching the state meet means that I’ve reached a certain amount of success in the sport,” Pisaneschi said.
“I do want to say that my coaches have brought me a long way. I attribute most of my success to them but I think they are the most important part of me getting ready for states.”
Pisaneschi said headed into Friday’s meet, that he’s not nervous; he’s ready.
“As some coaches say, ‘Be hungry for the win,’ and that’s what I can say that I am is hungry for the win.”
Hildenbrandt, who won the sectional Class AA crown at 152 pounds, has a record of 27-5.
“This means a lot,” Hildenbrandt said about going to states. “I’ve worked my whole varsity season with Coach (Mike) Madonia, and it just means a lot to get here my senior year.”
Hildenbrandt said that he is kind of nervous, but he has been excited and working hard the whole season. “I’m ready to go,” Hildenbrandt said.
Madonia said that having two of his wrestlers in the running for state crowns this weekend can only help the RFA wrestling program.
“This means everything, it’s what we’ve worked the entire four years that I’ve been coaching for,” Madonia said.
“It inspires the younger individuals coming up through the ranks, and the younger kids look at these guys as heroes.
“It lays down a good foundation for the younger kids to set goals and dream about. So it means everything to see that as a coach,” Madonia said.
Camden will also be sending two wrestlers to Albany.
Riley Gerber, 41-4, will be making his second trip to the state meet and he says, “it’s awesome. It’s my senior year and it’s my last time going. I’m just looking to go out on a good note. I’m excited.”
Gerber said he isn’t nervous and is going about the state meet as another tournament. “Hard work pays off. I just have to go out and wrestle the way I have all year.”
Gerber will be an at-large bid in the Division II 138-pound class after falling in the sectional final.
Devin Coleman (42-2) will be Camden’s other representative at 99 pounds. Coleman will also be an at-large bid in his first trip to the state meet.
“This is a big moment in my life,” Coleman said. “I’ve worked so hard in my six years of wrestling and I just want to end it with a bang.” Coleman said he doesn’t really have nerves and he’s “just taking it as any other tournament.”
“It’s pretty exciting,” Camden head coach Bill Sullivan said. “This is two years in a row with two kids going and we’re in a good position to have both of them on the podium. I’m excited and it just shows a lot for our program.”
Sullivan said as a coach he doesn’t have any nerves as his athletes prepare, but he said when they’re in the cage getting ready to go out there, he will have them. “The lights and everything can get to kids, so we try to keep everybody focused and mellow. But it’s nerve-wracking for sure.”
Kevin Spann will be representing Adirondack at the state meet at 126 pounds. This will be the senior’s third trip to the state meet.
Spann won the sectional title this year after being a runner up last season. Spann has a record this season of 38-1.
“The first two times, I didn’t place as high as I wanted to,” Spann said. “But I’ve been working hard all season to hopefully get higher on the podium.”
Spann said he has a lot more confidence going in as a champion this time and he hopes to get it done this year. Spann’s coach, Joe Galligan, says that they’re looking forward to the trip to Albany. “Kevin has a lot of experience and I think that he’s in the mix to get into the finals and I think that he has a real shot of winning a title this year,” Galligan said.
“It’s a big deal getting back there (states) a third time. This time he goes in as a champion rather than a wild card.”
Holland Patent’s TJ Philpotts (42-5) will also be making his fourth trip to the states.
Philpotts will be wrestling as an at-large bid at 145 pounds after losing in overtime in the sectional final.
“I just want to go out there and let it all fly,” Philpotts said. “It’s the last time to do my favorite high school sport and I’m just going to let it all fly.”
Philpotts said he’s not really nervous, he’s more excited than anything. “I’m excited and motivated, but I’m sure when I get there I’ll have some nerves. I have one last time to get it done and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“It’s been a pleasure coaching this young man,” HP head coach John Richard said. “He’s one of the hardest workers that’s come through the program in quiet a while.”
Richard went on to add that he knew that Philpotts was one of the top athletes in his weight class in New York State.
“Even though he lost a nailbiter in the section finals, I still know that he has a great shot to be in the finals and be at the top of the podium.”