At a recent practice, Saugerties wrestling coach Dom Zarrella was all smiles. It’s easy to figure out why: This team could quite possibly be the best the high school has produced.
For starters there is James Bethel, nationally ranked as a freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestler, who will also be a state-ranked folk-style (high school-style) wrestler, and Rob Cuomo, who will be state-ranked as well.
“We may place both in the states,” Zarrella said with a wide grin, something no other Saugerties team has done. “This is our year.”
There are also John Lerczak and Alex Munoz who, if everything breaks right, will be the top wrestlers in their weight classes, Zarrella said.
Other wrestlers who might just surprise a few opponents include Aaron Turner, Biko Skalla, Brian Bucci, Jamie Pulver and Chris LaTourette.
“There is not a hole in our lineup,” Zarrella said.
That is, except for at the very beginning. Saugerties has no one to wrestle at the lightest weight, 99 pounds, so the team will begin each meet with a forfeit, leaving it six points down before the first Sawyer takes the mat.
But the rest of the team should more than make up for it, Zarrella explained.
“We have 12 seniors leading this team. So we have experience and leadership. On the other hand that means next year will be a total rebuild, but this year we should be something special.”
To help ease next year’s rebuild, Zarrella coached the high school modified football team this year, which enables him to look for potential wrestlers.
Because of this, the modified and JV wrestling program has 40 kids this year, many of whom will be moving up to varsity next year.
But to really take their wrestling to the next level, the younger kids will need to supplement their training. Many of this year’s Saugerties wrestlers have gotten to this level by wrestling year-round, either through the Dark Corners’ wrestling club in Kingston or the Iron Man in Poughkeepsie.
“The coaches from the club teams are coming to me and asking what they need to work on during the spring and summer with the wrestlers,” Zarrella said. “So our kids are getting the coaching they need to win sectionals and get the state and national rankings.”
Because of this year’s talent level, Zarrella said he has scheduled some new opponents that are state-ranked. “Some of our guys will be wrestling in college next year and I want to get them the level of competition they need to help them at that level.”
The first match is Dec. 3 against Wallkill.