GENEVA — As is the case most every year, there was plenty of talent in the Finger Lakes high school wrestling league.
And, one thing that separated wrestling from other sports: it was able to complete its state championships before the current stay-in-place order came down from Gov. Cuomo’s office.
Palmyra-Macedon was the class of the league in 2019-20, going 21-13 in dual matches and 5-0 in the Finger Lakes East, good for its first divisional title in 10 seasons.
“It feels great to win the Finger Lakes East title,” Pal-Mac head coach John Burgess said in a text message to the Times. “The team has worked extremely hard to accomplish this goal for a long time now. The Finger Lakes East is highly competitive and one of the toughest in Section V.”
Pal-Mac star Jace Schafer won a 106-pound Division II state championship to cap off a 54-2 campaign, following up on his 99-pound state title of 2018-19. Ethan Ferro was state runner-up at 145 pounds, finishing 52-4 overall. Kaleb Burgess took fifth place at 138, ending up 53-6 for the season. Dominic Affronti (44-12) was an at-large qualifier at 113.
Those four, along with heavyweight Josh Shafer, were named to the FL East’s first team. Three more Red Raiders made the second team, and four were named honorable mention.
“The Pal-Mac wrestling program is strong,” Burgess said. “It starts with our youth program. George Polissie and his staff that do a great job teaching the fundamentals of wrestling to their athletes while keeping their interest. Our middle school program has almost 40 athletes participating. Brian Quick does an amazing job promoting the sport and preparing the athletes to move to the JV and varsity level.
“Pal-Mac is looking to return next year even stronger.”
Also from the East, Midlakes 99-pounder Teddy Raes (33-8) wrestled at states after receiving an at-large bid.
East Rochester coach Andy Grammatico was named FL Central Coach of the Year after his Bombers won their first league title in the 10 years since they joined the league. ER 145-pounder Seamus Costello (27-5) received an at-large bid to the state tournament.
North Rose-Wolcott 170-pounder Jake Minier (37-8) and Marcus Whitman/Penn Yan 160-pounder Justin Smith (43-7) also wrestled at states, Minier by virtue of a victory in the Section V state qualifier and Smith by way of the at-large route.
South Seneca won its 10th FL West title in 12 seasons, finishing 12-9 overall and 4-0 in league duals. Fourteen Falcons were named either first team, second team or honorable mention, headed by 106-pound first-teamer Caleb Sweet (39-6).
“It’s not a simple formula,” South Seneca coach Ken Sweet said of his team’s perennial success. “I believe it’s my job to help parents in teaching their children how to become adults and go on to have a successful life. It’s just as important for me to develop a relationship with the parents, so we can develop a plan together.”
That is one of many tactics Sweet uses to create a successful environment around his program.
“I’m often asked what our record is,” Sweet added. “My answer never changes. It’s, ‘I don’t know.’ I really don’t. It doesn’t matter to me. That’s a reflection of me, and that’s not why I do this.”