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High school wrestling: Coach Babcock continues Spartans tradition

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ADAMS — Whenever a new coach takes over an established program, there are questions about how the team will react to this period of transition.

However, although the South Jefferson wrestling team made a change at head coach, it will have a familiar face leading the way. John W. Babcock, the Spartans’ former assistant and modified coach, now leads the program after taking over for longtime coach Pat Conners, who led the program for 21 seasons from 1992-2013, amassed more than 400 wins and guided his wrestlers to numerous individual and team crowns.

The Spartans last year went 28-0 and 8-0 in the Frontier League and swept major tournaments including the league, Section 3 Class B and Division II team championships. Babcock said he is relishing the opportunity to take over for the longtime coach.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’ve been part of the program for a very long time. It’s nice to have a chance to be the head coach.”

Senior wrestler Logan LaFlamme said that it’s great to have someone who is familiar with the program at the helm.

“We’re very comfortable with Coach Babcock.” said LaFlamme, who made the state tournament as a wild card at 182 pounds last season after taking second in the Section 3 tournament. “I’ve had Coach Babcock for four or five years now, so I know him well.”

“It helped that we knew who he was,” said senior Jared Carroll, who placed fifth in the Section 3 tournament at 99 pounds last year.

Besides Conners, Babcock can also draw from two other Hall of Fame coaches. His father, current Immaculate Heart Central coach John H. Babcock, coached the Spartans from 1983-84 until 1991-92 when Conners took over. The other Hall of Famer is program founder Stephen Jackowski, who started up varsity wrestling at South Jeff in 1960 and ran it until 1983. The younger Babcock said he’s fortunate to have learned from three great coaches.

“I think all three of those coaches are hall of fame quality coaches and I’ve taken a little bit from each,” Babcock said. “And like every one of them would say, I’ve added my own style to that.”

One date Frontier League wrestling fans should anticipate is Jan. 7 when the elder Babcock’s IHC team hosts South Jefferson. The younger Babcock said that his father is looking forward to the match.

“He’s ultra-competitive, so it ought to be interesting,” he said.

Another key date is Jan. 29 when South Jefferson hosts “B” Division rival, General Brown. The Spartans won 40-25 last Jan. 18 in Dexter as the win propelled them to another division title. Most coaches around the league have said both squads will be the best again.

Any program would be hard-pressed to repeat last year’s perfect season, but Babcock has set his sights on winning another league title.

“We lost a lot of quality veterans, but I think we should have a tough team,” Babcock said. “I’ve set some local goals for the Frontier League and some sectional goals as well.”

LaFlamme added, “We were good last year, we want to be better than last year and we’re expecting to win every match.”

“A” DIVISION

Outlook: Indian River will look to continue its string of six consecutive division titles. The Warriors bring back state qualifiers Nick Toutant and Sonny McPherson, along with high sectional finishers Tucker Amato and Stefan Colbert. Carthage has a young team, but figures to make a challenge for the division crown despite the graduation of state champion Shayne Brady, who is now wrestling at North Carolina State. The Comets will rely on state qualifier at 285-pounder Trevor Gibbons and improving wrestlers like Andrew McFarland and Bryce Reed. IHC has improved its numbers and has Nick Koelmel, who was undefeated until reaching the state semifinals at 145 pounds. Koelmel ended up fourth in the competition. Watertown figures to improve as it is already one win away from equaling last year’s win total after going 3-1 and placing second at the Dominic DeSiato Duels in Poland. Tristan Maldinado took most outstanding wrestler honors and could be in line for a good year.

Carthage Comets

Coach: Don Dorchester (5th year)

2012-13 record: 8-5 overall, 7-1 league

Wrestlers to watch: Trevor Gibbons, Bryce Reed, Andrew McFarland, Marcelino Aponte, and Kade Andrews.

Roster: Trevor Gibbons (Sr.); Dan Tobin (Sr.); Kade Andrews (Jr.); Aaron Bernal (Jr.); Elijah Galapia-Castillo (Jr.); Chris Garcia (Jr.); Michail Grannillo (Jr.); Alex Mueller (Jr.); Jon Mosley (Jr.); Bryce Reed (Jr.); Mark Wilson (Jr.); Isaiah Boaz (So.); Anthony Cortez (So.); Dylan Ellingsworth (So.); Caleb Hamilton (So.); Cody Hancock (So.); Keoni Jastillana (So.); George Lewis (So.); Andy McFarland (So.); Oden Rosenberg (So.); Tyrin Shupp (So.); Brandon Wright (So.); Marcelino Aponte (Fr.); Austin Arca (Fr.); Tony Campbell (Fr.); Timothy Murphy (Fr.); Caleb Null (Fr.); Courtney Simmons (Fr.); Austin Snyder (Fr.); Kameron Spencer (Fr.); Izick Intorcia (8th); Michael Lewis (8th)

IHC Cavaliers

Coach: John H. Babcock (11th year)

2012-13 record: 5-13, 4-7

Wrestlers to watch: Nick Koelmel, Cyrus Beckman, Tristan Phillips, Bailey Upton

Roster: Cyrus Beckman (Sr., 145); Nick Koelmel (Sr., 152); Tristan Phillips (Sr., 138); Spencer Sharlow (Sr., 160); Bailey Upton (Sr., 126); Calo Alteri (Jr., 160); Corey Grill (Jr., 160); Tanner Miller (Jr., 182); Michael Laverty (So., 138); Zach Reynolds (So., 138); Taylor Welch (So., 195); Peter Winkler (So., 113); Nello Alteri (Fr., 99.); Greg Cannata (Fr., 120); Shane Grill (Fr., 152); Will Hogarth (Fr., 120); Hunter Whitney (Fr., 132)

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Jamee Call (17th year)

2012-13 record: 18-6, 7-1

Wrestlers to watch: Tucker Amato, Sonny McPherson, Nick Toutant, Dylan Crowder

Roster: Alex Avery (Sr.); Ben Callaghan (Sr.); Dylan Crowder (Sr.); Shane Davis (Sr.); Tristin Blanchard (Jr.); DaQuan Brown (Jr.); Andrew Davis (Jr.); William Eichner (Jr.); Damian Ives (Jr.); Jonah Raydo (Jr.); Zachary Stone (Jr.); Devin Thornton (Jr.); Nick Toutant (Jr.); Tucker Amato (So.); Cody Caraccilo (So.); AJ Jewell (So.); Sonny McPherson (So.); Elvis Nunez-DeJesus (So.); Dylan Ashwood (Fr.); Stefan Colbert (Fr.); Christopher Davis (Fr.); Logan Infantine (Fr.); Sean Pilger (Fr.); Garrett Putnam (Fr.); Noah Rounds (Fr.); Brendan Spaeth (Fr.); Weston Gray (8th); Jeromy Henning (8th); Ethan Ruttan (8th)

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Chris Adams (4th year)

2012-13 record: 4-19, 2-6

Wrestlers to watch: James Lamson, Tristan Maldonado, Adam Striejewski, Anthony Morrison

Roster: Josh Fuller (Sr., 170); James Lamson (Jr., 126); Tristan Maldonado (Jr., 195); Trevor Marino (Jr., 152); Anthony Morrison (Jr., 160); Adam Striejewski (Jr., 152); Quinton Bayette (So., 106); Dallas Galloway (So., 285); Michael Grant (So., 285); Jalen Hill (So., 113); Zach Hunt (So., 132); Kam-Ryn Jones (So., 182); Nick Lavin (So., 145); Desean Williams (So., 138); Josh Deline (Fr., 99); Deontae Richey (Fr., 120); Tyler Woodard (Fr., 220)

“B” DIVISION

Outlook: South Jefferson changing its coach wasn’t the only switch in the division. Altmar-Parish-Williamstown/Pulaski moved back to the Onondaga High School League’s Patriot Division and Lowville returns to the “B” Division due to an increase in an enrollment numbers after a year in the “C” Division. Most coaches agree that the division title will be a hotly contested race between South Jeff and General Brown. General Brown has a lot of depth and state competitors Ryan Snow and Tyler Silverthorn. South Jeff will be boosted by wrestlers like state qualifiers Logan LaFlamme and Daniel Smith. The Red Raiders have a very young team after graduating many of their top wrestlers. AJ Thomas and Conner Steria will look to improve as they were Section 3 qualifiers.

General Brown Lions

Coach: Mike Hartle (5th year)

2012-13 record: 23-7, 10-1

Wrestlers to watch: Tyler Silverthorn, Ryan Snow

Roster: David Deihl (Sr., 135); Colton Erb (Sr., 185); Garrett Fields (Sr., 119); Tyler Silverthorn (Sr., 148); Ryan Snow (Sr., 127); Zech Pitre (Jr., 183); Scott Bluto (So., 124); Ricardo Dawkins (So., 179); Wyatt Dees (So., 115); Kris Deihl (So., 147); Cody Fields (So., 92); Jacob Joanette (So., 169); Justin Murray (So., 117); Kyle O’Connor (So., 141); Connor Schissler (So., 112); Dylan Bice (Fr., 165); Shane Cook (Fr., 136); Gavin Kovalik (Fr., 161); Ricci Natali (Fr., 134); Emma Silverthorn (Fr., 99); Trevor Snow (Fr., 142); Andrew Thilges (Fr., 125); Alex Wilcox (Fr., 103)

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Jake Steria (6th year)

2012-13 record: 16-9, 4-4

Wrestlers to watch: AJ Thomas, Conner Steria

Roster: AJ Thomas (Sr.); Clay Brouty (Jr.); Bradley Curry (Jr.); Jordan Ayers (So.); Joseph O’Brien (So.); Alec Rowsam (So.); Ray Spencer (So.); Conner Steria (So.); Josh Ward (So.); John Larkins (Fr.); Caleb Mayer (Fr.); Cory Mellnitz (Fr.); Ryan Sprowl (Fr.); Tyler Widrick (Fr.); Brent Millard (8th); Isaiah Roes (8th)

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: John W. Babcock (1st year)

2012-13 record: 28-0, 8-0

Wrestlers to watch: Logan LaFlamme, Daniel Smith, Jared Carroll

Roster: Nakita Bedore (Sr.); Jared Carroll (Sr.); Zachary Hickok (Sr.); Logan LaFlamme (Sr.); Cody Modlin (Sr.); Daniel Smith (Sr.); Griffin Charlebois (Jr.); Chris Lillie (Jr.); Matthew Okoniewski (Jr.); Tyler Bates (So.); Jesse Bedore (So.); John Duvall (So.); Gage Gordon (So.); Cole Hallett (So.); Jake Hawkins (So.); Holden Pelton (So.); Devin Perry (So.); Kyle Snyder (So.); Caleb Beach (Fr.); Adrian Briones-Cooper (Fr.); Ethan Geurtsen (Fr.); Miguel Harvey (Fr.); Trey LaFlamme (Fr.); Logan Nichols (Fr.)

“C” DIVISION

Outlook: Sandy Creek will look to add another divisional crown as it has a very experienced team with eight seniors and six sectional qualifiers. South Lewis has gained some experience and will look to improve from last year. Beaver River and Copenhagen are dealing with low numbers. The division will be less crowded as Lowville moves back up to the “B” Division.

Beaver River Beavers

Coach: Chris Roggie (6th year)

2012-13 record: 3-15, 1-9

Wrestler to watch: Travis Edwards

Roster: Cody Ardison (Sr., 220); Cody Simmons (Sr., 138); Travis Edwards (Jr., 106); Lane Zehr (Jr., 170); Cody Lavancha (So., 195); Greg Virkler (So., 132); Anthony Metzler (Fr., 106); Michael Rice (Fr., 170); Morgan Seller (Fr., 145); Logan Farney (7th); Wyatt Mullin (7th)

Copenhagen Golden Knights

Coach: Neil Freeman (16th year)

2012-13 record: 16-11, 4-4

Wrestler to watch: Travis Clarke

Roster: Travis Clarke (Sr.); Abraham Gingerich (Sr.); Brenden Jacobs (Jr.); Garrett Munden (So.); McCaffrey Carroll (Fr.); James Uhlinger (Fr.); Branden Weller (Fr.); Connor Carroll (8th); Dempsey Carroll (7th); Jake Galster (7th)

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: William Benedict (9th year)

2012-13 record: 11-7, 6-5

Wrestlers to watch: Jake Benedict, Zach Pfluger, Jared Williams, Zac Akey, Justin Bonney, Zach Brown

Roster: Jake Benedict (Sr.): Justin Bonney (Sr.); Zach Brown (Sr.); Bobby Cornell (Sr.); Hunter Delamater (Sr.); Victor Halverson (Sr.); Jacob Kirchner (Sr.); Zach Pfluger (Sr.); Jarod Williams (Sr.); Konner Ladoucer (Jr.); Josh Loccoco (Jr.); Tyler Wood (Jr.); Zac Akey (So.); Michael Carkey (So.); Isaac Eisch (So.); Alex VanRy (So.); Tryston Welch (Fr.); Ryan Wills (Fr.); Joe Benedict (8th)

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Joe Widrick (2nd year)

2012-13 record: 2-17, 2-6

Wrestlers to watch: Jacob Eisel

Roster: Lucas Kelly (Sr.); Nicholas Kraeger (Sr.); Shania Loomis (Sr.); Dominic Sabatini (Sr.); Jacob Eisel (Jr.); Nathan Osborne (Jr.); Connor Weiss (Jr.); Matthew Bush (So.); Brandon Griffin (So.); Nikolas Hughes (So.); Jacob Olmstead (So.); Thomas Randall (So.); Michael Youngs (So.); Dan Eisel (Fr.); Kyle Fitzgerald (Fr.); Dylan Spann (Fr.); Tyler Spann (Fr.); Kyle Greene (8th)

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