Chester wrestlers are up for the competition

Chester. After COVID-19 cancelled the 2020-21 wrestling season, the Hambletonian mat men and women are prepped for the 2021-22 campaign.

| 12 Dec 2021 | 03:17

It would be a vast understatement to say that the Chester Academy High School wrestling program was looking forward to taking on the opposition on the mat this winter.

After losing the 2020-21 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hambletonians are continually getting ready for the strong challenges that await them at every turn this winter.

“Due to the pandemic, we were not able to compete, but able to have a two-week period in which the team could practice,’’ Chester Head Wrestling Coach Jimmy Ehlers said. “Unfortunately, we were not able to have a full month due to a school shut down.

“My heart goes out to the seniors (class of 2021) who worked so hard to get where they are and want to recognize Cole Greco (captain), Matt Csernai, Joaquin Lizarondo and Josh Schmoyer (captain).’’

Pre-Christmas match

Chester is scheduled to host on Ellenville on Dec. 22.

“I think we have a very competitive division this year,’’ Ehlers said. “Onteora is always at the top of the list of teams to watch. But I think the match on Feb. 2nd is on our radar as we compete against Eldred/Liberty/Sullivan West.

“We hope to stay healthy and competitive throughout the season and do not want to look ahead to anyone. We want to take each match on a weekly basis. I think this keeps the kids focused and ready.’’

Top returning athletes

Among the top returning student athletes for Chester this season are Nick Dicurcio (senior, 172 pounds), Teddy Szymanski (senior, 215 pounds) and Tyler Santangelo (sophomore, 152 pounds).

Nick Dicurcio

“Nick was a third place finisher at the Section 9 Tournament two years ago,’’ Ehlers said. “He was also chosen as a Second Team All Section last year during the COVID Season. He is a tremendously talented athlete and hopes are high for him this season. He was also an All Section football player for Chester as well.

Teddy Szymanski

“Teddy is a two-time All Section wrestler,” the coach continued. “He shows tremendous knowledge of the sport and is a true leader. When he isn’t working on his own, he is working with our assistant coaches on drills to better his skills or helping the younger kids in the room.

Tyler Santangelo

“Tyler has been on the team since eighth grade. He has been working out since the last day of the season two years ago in preparation for this season. He goes above and beyond by training, working out and was a part of the varsity football team the last two years. He has a tenacity that is definitely contagious to anyone that drills with him.’’


Promising newcomers looking to be of positive influence on the varsity lineup include Michael Franco (sophomore, 138 pounds), Akil Williams (junior, 172/189 pounds) and Ryan Farley (sophomore, 145/152 pounds).

“Michael is joining us after moving from Monroe,’’ Ehlers said. “He has been wrestling since he was born. He comes from an outstanding wrestling family and is hungry to test the waters out in Division 2. Akil is coming off a stellar football season after moving to Chester. He has amazing skill and focus which can be seen at practice when he will wrestle anyone in the room.

“Ryan isn’t new to the sport, but new to the varsity lineup,” the coach added. “Coming from a wrestling family in which both his cousin’s wrestle he has a lot of skill and focus that will help him in his first season in the lineup. Look for him to make an impact in big matches.’’

Goals and expectations

Chester has some lofty and seemingly reachable goals this season.

“Like any other season, we hope to be in the top five in terms of placing in the Section,’’ Ehlers said. “We hope to be atop our Division and make a trip to the State Tournament with an athlete or two. We have a record 34 kids on the roster this season, it is much tighter in the room, but this is outstanding for this program.

Two female athletes

“We have two female athletes on the team. We have had one other girl on the team in the history of this program, so we are hoping we can build on this and help promote the sport for girls. There was a Section 9 Tournament held for girls two years ago and hope they can compete at the Tournament as well. I commend Alma Astras and Faith Villanueva, they truly are inspiring girls in the school and show that they can compete.’’