Section 7 Preview: Fargo All-American Jordan Bushey, Former Top 8 Finisher Codie Gillette Among Those Looking to Break Through to the Podium in 2013-14

We have been posting previews for Sections around the state and today we continue with Section 7.  For links to previous articles, please see the end of this story.

A pair of All-State wrestlers from 2013, Troy Seymour of Peru and Gage Bourdeau of Beekmantown completed their senior seasons. And according to Peru coach Mike Hogan, Seymour’s teammate Nick Forget, who took fifth at 126 a year ago, has decided to graduate early and forgo his final season of high school wrestling.

But that doesn’t mean Section 7 won’t have contenders for state placement in 2014.

One wrestler who is likely to make an impact at the state level is Peru’s Jordan Bushey, who came within one win of the podium in Albany last season, with a 2-2 performance at 138 pounds.  Both of his victories were major decisions and his losses were to multiple-time state placers who are now freshmen at Division I programs (Connor Lapresi, Bucknell and Drew Longo, Lehigh).  Bushey had an impressive showing at the summer’s biggest event – the National Freestyle Championships at Fargo. He went 6-2 against some of the nation’s best competition, finishing as an All-American with a seventh place medal at 145 pounds.

“[Bushey] was close to placing at states – in the match to place he unfortunately wasn’t feeling well and it really held him back,” Hogan said. “At any rate, he put in the time this summer and did a great job in Fargo.  He could be at 152. He’s developed nicely and we’re pretty excited about his chances this year.”

Another Peru grappler looking to get back to the state capital is Ethan Feazelle, a sophomore who has won a match at the Times Union Center each of the last two seasons.   Hogan expects him to wrestle at 126 pounds.

While Tanner Phillips hasn’t taken the mat yet in Albany, he is a potential candidate to do so this time around after competing at Fargo this summer.  According to Hogan, the likely 160-pounder has taken second at the Section 7 championships three times.

[Another wrestler Hogan was excited about in the fall was 220-pounder Luke McKee, who made appearances at the Times Union Center the past two seasons and was the runner up in both Freestyle and Greco Roman at the New York States in May of 2013.  Unfortunately, according to the coach, McKee suffered a knee injury during the football season and will miss his senior campaign on the mat].

It isn’t just Peru wrestlers who are threats to make the medal stand.  In 2013, Matt Lashway of Northern Adirondack went 2-2 in Albany at 195 pounds to come within a victory of All-State honors.  After a 35-9 junior campaign, he’ll be one to watch in the upperweights.  Meanwhile, his teammate Austin Trombley got his hand raised in his initial contest at 106 pounds in 2013 at the state tournament before going 1-2 and will look for another shot in Albany.

That isn’t all.  Saranac also has some formidable wrestlers in the mix, including John Devins, who drew top-seeded Hunter Olena of East Rochester in the opening round of the state tournament at 99 pounds in 2013.  James Black of the Chiefs also had a tough test right away at the Times Union Center – nationally-ranked Burke Paddock of Warsaw.  Hogan also mentioned another strong lightweight from the Saranac squad – Jake Nolan.

“Devins was the Outstanding Wrestler in our section tournament last year,” Hogan said. “He’ll probably go 106. He’s very athletic and has wrestled since he was four.  He actually has generations of wrestling in the family – he’s definitely been around the sport.  He was only in seventh grade last year, but he was pretty tough.”

Also likely to represent Saranac at the last event of the high school calendar is Codie Gillette.  After making the top 8 as a sophomore in Albany, Gillette began strong with a major decision in the state capital this year before facing Norwich’s Frank Garcia, the eventual runner up, in the quarters at 145 pounds.  The match went to three overtimes before Garcia prevailed.  With his experience at the biggest event of the season, Gillette is a strong candidate to bounce back with a medal as a senior.

“Gillette is very tough,” Hogan said. “He won two matches at states before, but hasn’t put three together yet.  He’s a very hard worker who puts in time year round. He’s very close.”

A newcomer that could make some noise in Section 7 this year is Jay Oakes, formerly of Section II’s Galway.  According to Hogan, Oakes was undefeated a year ago and won his Class event before sustaining an injury in the Sectional tournament that effectively ended his season.

“He’s a tough kid who transferred in,” Hogan said. “I heard a lot of good things about Jay and he improved a lot this summer.”

From a team perspective, Peru has been the top squad in the Section and once again has a strong foundation with wrestlers such as Bushey and Feazelle.  But other teams, such as Saranac and Northern Adirondack have their share of talented wrestlers to potentially make things interesting.

“We should have a decent team and a good year,” Hogan said. “Saranac sent four kids to Fargo this summer like we did and when you do that, you’re training hard for at least a month and a half of the offseason.  Beekmantown always finds a way to put out a good team too.  I think we’ll have some good performances in Section 7 this year.”

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Thank you to the contributors to this article, especially Peru coach Mike Hogan.

 

Returning State Qualifiers from 2013

John Devins, Saranac (99)

Austin Trombley, Northern Adirondack (106)

Ethan Feazelle, Peru (120)

Nick Forget, Peru (126)**

Jordan Bushey, Peru (138)

Codie Gillette, Saranac (145)

James Black, Saranac (160)

Matt Lashway, Northern Adirondack (195)

Luke McKee, Peru (220)**

Scott Guerin, Northern Adirondack (285)

**Unlikely to compete according to Hogan

 

We will continue to post Section previews as the season approaches.  Here are some others already released:

Section 3

Section 10

PSAL

 

 

'Keep Calm and Fight On': Saranac's Sectional Champion Nathan Wood Battling Cancer

 
 
A year after making the top 8 at the 2012 New York State tournament, Saranac’s Nathan Wood hoped to be wrestling for the Section 7 title on February 9. Instead, he watched as two grapplers he defeated earlier in the season battled for a chance to go to Albany.

“It was really hard for him not to be on the mat,” Saranac coach Heath Smith said. “He was there rooting his teammates on, but it was tough for him, especially not knowing what was going on with his health.”

Courtesy of Saranac Wrestling Facebook

It had been a challenging time for Wood. After winning 16 of his first 17 bouts of the 2012-13 campaign at 195 pounds, including 12 by fall, he began to feel sick. Shortly afterwards, he began to have some issues with his leg, including severe pain. On top of that, he was losing weight.

“He went from winning and looking and feeling good in December to all kinds of problems within several weeks,” Smith said. “The doctors saw some enlarged lymph nodes in his leg and removed them. About a week after Sectionals, we found out that they found cancerous cells. It was shocking. We thought maybe he pulled something or had some type of injury. To go from that to something life threatening – you’re not prepared for that. You don’t expect a 17-year old boy to come back from the doctor hearing he has cancer.”

To receive his treatments for Ewing’s Sarcoma, Wood has been spending most of his time in a Vermont hospital. And while he fights, the wrestling and surrounding communities have stepped up to assist him.

During Saranac’s pee-wee tournament, a 50/50 drawing raised over $1000 for the Wood family. There have been sales of t-shirt and bracelets and multiple car washes to raise more for the family.

In addition, on May 5, a spaghetti dinner will be held at Assumption of Mary School in Redford. The event, which will begin at noon, will feature a raffle, bake sale, face painting, 50/50 and live music, among other things.

“We really want to help them out with the medical expenses and all the traveling back and forth to Burlington,” said Beckie Mann, an organizer of the event. “From what I know, it will probably be a lengthy stay in Vermont for him and we want to do what we can.”

Courtesy of the Benefit for Nathan Wood Facebook page

Whether or not Wood will attend the May 5 festivities is unknown. But he did make the trip back to New York recently, according to Smith, and hopes to do so on a periodic basis.

“It’s good that he was able to come back for a little bit,” Smith said. “I remember him as a little kid, coming up to the pee wee program and thinking how good he would be. He wanted to be on the mat – he gave it a shot in January before we knew what was going on and made it to the finals [of the Dan Wickham Classic]. But the pain was too much. As much as we think wrestling is important sometimes, it needs to be on the backburner now. Some things are much bigger.”

For more information on Nathan Wood’s fight and the efforts to assist him and his family, see this Facebook page.