Wrestling team at Chester Academy racks up wins
School firsts: Summer Conetta is first female wrestler, team for the first time amasses more than 20 wins
Nick Conetta wins a second Section title (Photo provided by Coach Ehlers)
Brody Harris after winning his first Section title (Photo provided by Coach Ehlers)
Team photo, bottom row (from left): Mgr. Jared Pincus, Matthew Csernai, Andrew Salerno, John Kennick, Liam Bullock, Nick Conetta, Steven Bradford, Summer Conetta and James Long. Back row: Asst. Coach Blake Conti, Head Coach Jimmy Ehlers, Dean Trevisano, Justin Quiles, Brody Harris, Alex Upeslacis, Tyler Sooknanan, Cole Greco, Noah Riegelhaupt, and Asst. Coach Elijah Tuchman. (Photo provided by Coach Ehlers)
Team members that placed at the Monticello Tournament (Photo provided by Coach Ehlers)
By Ginny Privitar
CHESTER — The Chester Academy wrestling team pinned down a Division title and two Section winners in the two years since Jimmy Ehlers took over as head coach.
In the 2015-16 season, the team placed fourth in the Section tournament, the highest a Chester wrestling team has ever placed. Eight members of the team placed in the top four of their brackets. The school had three finalists and its first two champions in school history:
Liam Heslin, 160 pounds and a senior that year, placed sixth in New York State.
Nick Conetta, then a junior, won sections , qualified for state, and returned to the team for his senior year.
This season, the team delivered another win, bringing home the school's first-ever Section IX Division Title by defeating Liberty-Eldred-Sullivan West (39-38).
There was more to celebrate this season, which ended in February. For the first time in school history, three members of the team amassed 20 or more wins. Three members returned for the Section 9 finals, where two champions were crowned: Nick Conetta, 120 pounds and now a senior, won his second straight title and Brody Harris, a senior and 195 pounds, won his first.
The team had a successful season, posting a 6-3 record at dual meet tournaments, placing second as a team at the Monticello Tournament.
There's another first for the school. Team member Summer Conetta, Nick Conetta's younger sister, is the first female wrestler in school history.
"High school female wrestling is on the rise and talks of a female division in New York State are in the works," said Ehlers. "I know Texas has a female division and state tournament."
Ehlers added, "I feel we're coming along really well. We have a long way to go but we get better each year. Wrestling is a great charcter-building sport. We also really put a stress on academics and make sure kids are doing their work."
Next year, Ehlers said, "We are looking to expand our team and keep growing as a program." Younger students may be eligible for the varsity team, if they are skilled enough and physically mature. He is also planning to start a modified wrestling club for grades 6-8, next season, if parents and students are interested.
Nobody gets cutWrestling is very inclusive. Everybody makes the team, and nobody gets cut. If a student is cut from another sport, the wrestling club will be more than willing to accept them.
Administrators and students seem to agree: Ehlers is good for the sport and the sport is good for students.
"We've had a successful two years," said Rolando Aguilar, Chester Academy athletic director. "Jimmy Ehlers has done a fantastic job, sticking with the kids off season and on season, staying in touch, concerned about their well-being and their grades. He's really been a positive influence on the team.
"One of great things he's done — he organized a team-bonding activity with the kids and it ended up being a school-wide karaoke night. Students, teams, the whole school was involved. He's gone out of his way to make sure this program has grown."
Nicholas Conetta says thee wrestling team "is nothing short of a family."
"On and off the mat the team is always there to support you," he said. Even though you are out on the mat alone your teammates still feel the excitement of winning big matches but also the feeling of defeat when you lose one. The influence Coach Elhers has had on me and the team has been amazing. He taught us when it was time to have fun with team bonding events but also when it was time to work. He always supported all of us on and off the mat with whatever we needed. He made sure we were heading down the right track and made sure we had every opportunity to get better, not just as a wrestler, but as person in life. I could not thank him enough for everything he has done for the team, but for me as an individual."
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