By Greg Klein
---- — In the winter of the 2009-10 school year, Cooperstown had six wrestlers. Last year, three years later, the Redskins had nearly as many wrestlers − five − qualify for the Section Three tournament.
“So from six overall to five making sections in three years, that’s a pretty good achievement,” Cooperstown varsity wrestling coach Micaiah Abts said.
Better yet for the Redskins, all five of those wrestlers will be back this year.
Included in that group are seniors Mikey Boyle (120/126 pounds) who placed fifth in sections last season and Jacob Miller (145 pounds) who placed sixth. Along with fellow co-captain Kevin Segit (190 pounds), the trio will lead the Redskins in what will be Abts’ fourth and perhaps final season coaching for Cooperstown.
“I think back to their freshman year with these current seniors,” Abts said. “While they were taking their lumps, you could tell that they were going to be good someday.”
Also returning is heavyweight J.P. Gertz and lightweight Jacob Russell, both sophomores, who also qualified for sectionals.
“They’re kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum there, in weight,” Abts said, “but they both had very good freshman years.”
Gertz had to miss the tournament at the end of the season with a knee injury, but he had very good success during the year, competing against older wrestlers.
“He’s did a very good job picking up heavyweight technique,” Abts said. “The biggest problem is we don’t have anyone his size to wrestle him. He works with Kevin or he will work with me. I can use heavyweight moves, but what I can’t do is be 280 pounds. So that is a challenge for us.”
Abts said he is also very impressed with his other sophomores, and with the freshman class below them.
“It seems like we are getting three or four good wrestlers each class,” he said. “We are beginning to build something very strong.”
The only senior last season for Cooperstown was William Murphy. Although he was not the team’s top wrestler, Murphy was a leader in practice and in working with the younger wrestlers, Abts said.
“We are not giving up too many wins from last year,” he said. “That’s the good thing. We have a lot of wins back.”
With Bud Lippitt taking over the modified program, Abts said that he feels like the feeder system is in place for continued success as well. Even if he bows out after this season, he believes he will leave a good program behind in Cooperstown.
“Looking past this year, the success should be sustainable,” he said.
Cooperstown placed second in its division last season to wrestling powerhouse Dolgeville. Dolgeville is in a different division this season, however.
The Center State Conference has added teams, including Whitesboro and Oneida, both of whom have good programs.
“The CSC tournament is going to be brutal this year,” he said. “There are going to be so many good wrestlers in the conference.
“I am placing more emphasis on the end of the year tournaments than the dual meet season,” Abts said. “We might lose a few meets depending on forfeits. We haven’t certified (weights) yet, but I think we will have about two thirds of the weight classes filled.”
Abts said CCS could lose to teams like Whitesboro or Oneida in a dual meet, but come tournament time, he thinks his wrestlers can place above them based on individual success.
The Redskins will start the season on Nov. 30 at the Clyde Cole Invitational in Oxford. Their first home meet is Jan. 30 against Poland.