In the unpredictable world of sports, including wrestling, staying focused and prepared throughout the season is vital for both individuals and teams. Regardless of what was thrown at them this winter, the Chester Academy High School wrestling program remained united and determined both on and off the mat.
The Hambletonians were 4-0 in Divisional matches and won six overall dual meets.
“This year has been absolutely insane,’’ Chester head coach Jimmy Ehlers said. “We went from having a full season two years ago, to two weeks of practice last year and now to be able to compete again was great for these kids. Though some matches were delayed, canceled or rescheduled, they endured the constant fear of not having the chance to compete on a minute by minute basis.
“We beat the eventual Section 9 Dual Meet and Tournament champions Port Jervis for the first time in program history. We lost to our rival Onteora by one point the first time, but were able to prevail the second time in our League match (37-36) to clinch the Division at the end of the season.
Senior student athletes on the roster were crucial to the success of Chester this year.
“Our captain Nick Dicurcio (172 pounds) did a phenomenal job day in and day out as a leader on and off the mat,’’ Ehlers said. “Another senior leader was Uriel Cazarez-Quinto (189 pounds), he was one of the toughest guys in the practice room and was the guy nobody wanted to wrestle because he always went as hard as he could with every repetition.’’
Improvements were seen all across the roster for the Hambletonians this season.
“Certainly, first year wrestler Tyler Csernai (126 pounds) was a huge addition to the team,’’ Ehlers said. “After years of asking him to try the sport, he finally tried and saw immediate success.
“Other wrestlers that showed immense growth from day one to the final match were Trent Edwards (102 pounds, seventh grade) and his wrestling partner Dylan Santangelo (102 pounds. eighth grade).’’
Chester certainly made a lot of noise in Section 9 this winter.
“We had four wrestlers receive All-Section honors, Nick Dicurcio (second place), Akil Williams (junior, 189 pounds, second place), Tyler Csernai (junior, 126 pounds, third place) and Michael Franco (sophomore, 138 pounds, third place),’’ Ehlers said. “We were able to be crowned Section 9 Division 2B champions for the third time in six years. We also had two girls qualify for the Second Annual Section 9 Girls Tournament. Alma Astras was able to place fifth at 118 pounds.
Coach Ehlers is optimistic, to say the least, for the 2022-2023 season.
“We’re only losing four seniors, but look to reload with a lot of interest from our seventh and eighth grade athletes,’’ Ehlers said. “We will be returning 25-plus wrestlers as well. This is the highest number of returning wrestlers we have had all time.
“We have our two girl wrestlers for their sophomore year. We really hope these two can inspire other girls in Chester to join the team on a serious level. Alma Astras and Faith Villanueva both saw growth during the season.’’
The success earned by Chester throughout their 2021-2022 campaign was a total team effort.
“My wife and I welcomed our first daughter in late January,’’ Ehlers said. “Coaches AJ Voelker and Nick Conetta were able to run the team without skipping a beat while I was on paternity leave. This was certainly evident when we were able to have such a great post season tournament.
“We want to continue to build as a program. Wrestling is such a rewarding experience and will help each kid develop during off-seasons of other sports.’’
“We’re only losing four seniors, but look to reload with a lot of interest from our seventh and eighth grade athletes. We will be returning 25-plus wrestlers as well. This is the highest number of returning wrestlers we have had all time.” - Coach Jimmy Ehlers