The Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club (MVWC) celebrated its 30th anniversary in style, capturing the Club Cup on Saturday at Chittenango High School with a 34-31 victory over defending champion Finger Lakes Wrestling Club.
As in the 2011 championship match, the title came down to the final bout at heavyweight. With the score knotted at 31 after the first 14 bouts, Brian Ervin, a senior at Vernon Verona Sherrill High topped Josh Dembell to earn the victory for his club.
“Brian’s match was the deciding factor and he was one of the seniors that stepped up for us,” McGee said. “Another was [Chittenango’s] Cody Carbery who won all of his matches during the tournament. He’s been competing in this event for so many years and was part of a bunch of teams that took second place. It was nice for these seniors to finish with the championship.”
Winning the Cup, signifying the top freestyle team in the state, is not uncommon for MVWC, which has captured the title 14 times in the event’s 24 year history. However, the 2012 crown ended a seven-year drought.
“I was really happy that we were able to win it,” said President Don McGee. “Shamrock dominated and won several times in a row and then Finger Lakes last year. It was great to have the championship back, especially in our 30th anniversary year.”
In 1982, the club was formed to advance the sport in the smaller schools in the areas around Syracuse. According to McGee, the original mission of the MVWC hasn’t changed in three decades.
“The goals of the club are the same as they’ve always been,” he said. “We’re strictly involved in the international styles of wrestling because in our theory, summer wrestling should be Freestyle and Greco. We believe that’s the pathway to creating a better wrestler. We’ve always been open to anyone that wants to come in and learn the international styles and is willing to compete with us, both nationally and internationally.”
The international nature of the club’s activity has set MVWC apart over the years. Travel, especially outside of the United States, is an integral part of the club’s identity and success, and has brought MVWC wrestlers everywhere from China to Turkey to various countries in Europe. According to McGee, MVWC targets at least one major trip per year, in addition to typical visits to Puerto Rico and Canada.
“Surprisingly, the most important things the kids get out of our trips don’t have to do with wrestling,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, we wrestle national teams, top clubs around the world and get great competition that we learn a lot from. But in essence, these trips broaden the outlook of our kids on the world and on life. We don’t take tourist trips or stay in hotels or do bus tours. We spend 10 days in the homes of wrestlers and other club members. We really see the culture of whatever country we visit and immerse ourselves fully in that culture.”
That was true of the club’s most recent voyage to Germany in April, where the team’s competitions with regional all-star squads and some members of the German National team were mixed in with exploring the area.
“We have a relationship with a small community outside of Stuttgart that has a wrestling club that’s been in existence for over 100 years,” McGee said. “We developed a relationship in the mid eighties and have been going over there and having them come to visit us since 1985. It’s like visiting family. The kids get treated like family and for me it’s like a second home. I walk into the shops and people know me by name.”
MVWC will spend some time in October in another familiar location – Puerto Rico – for the Copa Sparta. But before that, there will be some attention on a domestic event – the Freestyle and Greco championships in Fargo.
In early May, MVWC won the New York State team championship in both Freestyle and Greco in the Cadet division. Dan Smith (170) and Joe Nasoni (195) both earned double titles while Ben Honis (182, Freestyle), David Ciciarelli (88, Greco) and Ryan Snow (126, Greco) stood on the top of podium as well.
“It was encouraging to see our younger group win both styles and now the Club Cup,” McGee said. “A lot of times we don’t send large groups to Fargo. I believe it is probably the best tournament held in the United States, but there are a lot of opporutunities out there, and when you can go on one of our trips to Europe plus go to Puerto Rico for about the same money as it takes for Fargo, traditionally, a lot of our kids have chosen those other opportunities. This year we have encouraged Fargo a little more and we have as many kids going to Fargo as we have had in a long time. We’re excited to see what they can do. Their success rejuvenates me after 30 years.”
MVWC has seen a lot of success throughout the years, having trained Olympic team member Jason Gleasman in addition to a large number of college All-Americans in Divisions I, II and III.
“We have produced and worked with a lot of good wrestlers over the years,” McGee said. “It’s amazing that we’ve lasted as long as we have and we’re still relevant. People just keep stepping up and it’s nice to see that. We’ve rotated a lot of coaches and the quality of coaching has stayed consistent. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished and we’re excited celebrate 30 years. Winning the Club Cup was a great way to celebrate.”
Club Cup Finals (Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club 34, Finger Lakes Wrestling Club 31)*
100 Pounds: Ray Sorenson (MVWC) over Tyler Bronzki (FLWC), 2-0
106: Noah Handy (MVWC) wins by forfeit
113: Lucas Malmberg (FLWC) pin Deandre Norman (MVWC)
120: Cody Carbery (MVWC) over Kyle Kelly (FLWC), 2-0
126: Tyler Heggleke (MVWC) pin Zack Benedict (FLWC)
132: William Koll (FLWC) pin Nick Petroff (MVWC)
138: Barney Prince (MVWC) over Tyler Hall (FLWC), 2-0
145: Aaron Benedict (FLWC) pin Sean McKenna (MVWC)
152: Kevin Thayem (FLWC) over Tial Thang (MVWC), 2-1
160: Matt Fisher (MVWC) over Jordan Torbitt (FLWC), 2-0
170: Dan Smith (MVWC) over Connor Halliday (FLWC), 2-0
182: Mark Fisher (FLWC) pin Spencer Norton (MVWC)
195: Reggie Williams (FLWC) over Joe Nasoni (MVWC), 2-0
220: Josh Langley (MVWC) over Matt Abbott (FLWC), 2-0
285: Brian Ervin (MVWC) over Josh Dembell (FLWC), 2-0
- Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club
- Finger Lakes Wresting Club
- Matt Power
- Titan Albany
- Worldwide Titan
- Genesee Valley
*Information provided by Mohawk Valley Wrestling Club