'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.

Who Has Earned Spots in Albany? Sectional Championship Results

 
 
For the results of the Sectional Championships around the state (by Section), click here.

For the list of qualifiers by weight class, click here.

We will update these as information becomes available.
 
 

Peru All-American Troy Seymour Looks to End His Career Atop Section 7 Wins List and the NY State Podium

Troy Seymour vs. Nick Mitchell, Photo by Boris V

When Troy Seymour was five, he went to the New York state tournament for the first time and watched Peru heavyweight Nick Weaver win the championship.  He set a goal for himself then and there.

“Troy vowed he would be a heavyweight by the time he finished high school,” said Indians coach Mike Hogan.  “He started out as 103-pound seventh grader and dreamed of being a big guy. I might be able to get him in at 220 pounds this year, depending on his weight, but he’s not going to make it.  He’s not going to be a heavy.”

That might be the only unattainable goal for Seymour as he embarks on his senior campaign.  The Peru grappler has his sights set on a few other things this season, including a move up the podium in Albany at the end of February.

“My first priority is to be a state champ this year,” Seymour said.

Seymour finished fourth a year ago, placing for the first time at the state tournament.  Twice before he had come within one bout of a medal.

After beginning at the Times Union Center in 2012 with a 7-2 decision, Seymour met Burke Paddock, an opponent he had faced many times before.  However, this meeting was different, as Seymour came out on top 3-2 in double overtime, to punch his ticket to the semifinals.  He next faced undefeated Nick Mitchell of Frewsburg (now at Edinboro) and liked his chances as the clock wound down in the final period with the score deadlocked.

“I felt good about the match going into overtime,” he said.  “But then I had a hiccup with about 11 seconds left on the clock, made a mistake and got taken down.”

While he missed out on the finals in Albany (he came back to take fourth), he did make the finals of a significant tournament just a few weeks later – the NHSCA Junior Nationals in Virginia Beach.  Seymour won five straight matches to earn a spot in the title bout with Ethan Ramos of New Jersey, a contest that was tied late in the third before Ramos recorded the fall.

Seymour was far from finished with his offseason competition.  He wrestled at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City, at Fargo and other places in between.

“Troy is a year round wrestling guy,” Hogan said. “He likes wrestling more than 99% of the kids I’ve ever coached.  They tried to make him a linebacker in football and he played soccer for a year, but those things weren’t for him.  It’s all about wrestling.  He’s always doing something related to wrestling.  He’s never said no when I’ve asked him to go to a tournament.  We’re five hours away from many events.  He’s probably spent more time in a car than any New York kid his age travelling to tournaments, but he’s willing to go anywhere.  He’s really competitive.”

That competitive nature comes out when discussing the Section 7 wins record.  Both Seymour and Northern Adirondack’s Justin Kellett recorded their 150th victory last season as juniors.  Both have a chance to break the current Section mark of 183 triumphs.  Seymour wants to do that, break 200 and see his name at the top of the leader board when the campaign is over.

“I think Kellett is up by one or two wins right now,” Hogan said [before the season started]. “If Kellett is at 160, Troy said he’ll pull to 160 for a dual to wrestle Kellett there, to try to make sure he gets one less win.”

“It would be cool to wrestle [Kellett],” Seymour added.  “We’ve never wrestled in a real match, only at Sectional practices.”

Even if he does drop for a match, Seymour plans to spend most of his time at 170 pounds again.  And he plans to stay around that weight in the future, likely competing at 174 pounds at the next level.

“I think I’ve always wanted to be Division I wrestler,” Seymour said.  “It would be a great experience and I think I’m good enough to go.”

Hogan agrees.

“Troy will be a good one in college,” Hogan said. “He’s young for his grade and he’s gotten a lot more physical over the past year after weightlifting hard.  He’s always been good on his feet and on bottom and he could ride.  But the difference last year was that he could turn people.  He became a lot more effective on top.”

That’s been true in his senior year as well.  He has raced out to an 11-0 record with nine pins and two forfeits.

Two schools Seymour was considering as of the start of wrestling season were Hofstra and Rider.   According to Hogan, he won’t have much trouble becoming acquainted with the people wherever he chooses to go.

“Troy is extremely outgoing,” Hogan said. “We go to a tournament in a gym with 200 people in it and by the time it’s over, Troy knows everyone.  He’s like the mayor, hugging everyone.  He likes to be where the action is – a really outgoing kid.”

That quality is helpful to Seymour as he spends a significant amount of time coaching the peewee wrestlers in the area, and it also helps in his role as leader of the Peru team.

“I’d just like him to stay healthy and be a good captain for us this year,” Hogan said of his expectations for the season.  “I’m sure he’ll have a great year.  It always takes a little luck to win states, but Troy is definitely good enough to be a state champion.”

 

Section 7 Preview: Will Seymour or Kellett Become the All-Time Wins Leader in the Section?

The Section 7 wins record is in reach for a pair of seniors – Troy Seymour of Peru and Justin Kellett of Northern Adirondack.  Whether one or both of them finish the season atop the all-time victory leaderboard will be a story worth following.  Seymour is the only returning placewinner from the area. However, Kellett and a pair of Saranac wrestlers who came within one victory of the medal stand at the Times Union Center a year ago, Codie Gillette and Nate Wood, will be among those who could score points for Section 7 in February.

 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

 

Fourth Place: Troy Seymour (12) Peru, 170 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

 

99 Pounds: Ethan Feazelle (9) Peru

106 Pounds: Kyle Agoney (12) Peru

113 Pounds: Max Marte (12) Peru

120 Pounds: Codie Gillette (11) Saranac

126 Pounds: Jordan Bushey (10) Peru

138 Pounds: Nick Forget (11) Peru

145 Pounds: Hunter Carpenter (11) Northern Adirondack

152 Pounds: Jackson Sunderland (12) Northern Adirondack

160 Pounds: Justin Kellett (12) Northern Adirondack

182 Pounds: Nate Wood (11) Saranac

220 Pounds: Luke McKee (11) Peru

 

Wrestlers to Watch

Section 7 graduated three All-State grapplers from 2012 – sixth place finishers Jacob Goddeau of Peru (132) and Ben Perry of Saranac (195) and 285-pound state champion Hayden Head of Beekmantown.   However, 12 of last season’s Section 7 champions return with valuable postseason experience.

Leading the way is one of New York’s best – Troy Seymour. The Peru senior is a three-time state qualifier who took fourth place in 2012 at 170 pounds in a weight class populated by a current Division I wrestler (Nick Mitchell of Frewsburg) and two wrestlers who have won NHSCA National titles during their careers (Zack Zupan of Canastota and Burke Paddock of Warsaw).

Seymour came close to winning a national crown of his own this spring, as he went all the way to the finals of the NHSCA Juniors, finishing as the runner up to Ethan Ramos of New Jersey.  It was the third appearance on the national podium for Seymour, but for now, his focus is on getting to the top of the stand in Albany for Peru.

Who else is a medal threat in February?  There are quite a few wrestlers very capable of making the leap.  Among these grapplers are the Saranac duo of Codie Gillette and Nate Wood.  The juniors both were within one win of placing last season.  Gillette went 2-2 at 120 pounds in Albany after a 29-6 campaign for the Chiefs.  His teammate Wood, who also had close to 30 wins, drew eventual state and national champion Tony Lock of Pioneer in the first round at 182, but responded with a pair of victories in the consolations before dropping a match to Tyler Morris of Salem to end his run.

“Codie Gillette works his tail off,” said Peru head coach Mike Hogan. “He’s an awesome kid who works out with us quite a bit, goes to camps and does everything he can to get better.  Nate Wood is also tough – a street-tough type of kid.”

Like Wood, Justin Kellett of North Adirondack also met the top seed in his opening bout at the state tournament (Chris Nevinger of Letchworth Central).  Kellett came back to record a technical fall in his next match and after a 41-3 campaign, will look to grab a few more wins this year in Albany.  He certainly has compiled a large number of victories in his career – more than 150 – and the Section 7 record of 183 wins is within his grasp (and that of Troy Seymour).

“Kellett will be very hard to beat,” Hogan said. “He’s a bright kid with a high academic average and he’s also a very tough kid on the mat.  He had a difficult draw at states getting Nevinger first and it impacted him, but he’ll be back and he’ll be someone to watch.”

He’s not the only one to watch in the Northern Adirondack room.  Kellett has some tough workout partners, including Jackson Sunderland, who returns after a 30-4 campaign at 145.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Hogan believes a pair of Peru state qualifiers from a year ago, junior Nick Forget and sophomore Jordan Bushey, are candidates for breakout campaigns.  Forget, who went 32-5 at 138 a year ago, may move down to 132 after the graduation of multiple time state placer Jacob Goddeau.  Meanwhile, Bushey garnered a 27-9 mark as a freshman.  Both picked up valuable experience at Fargo this summer.

There are also wrestlers who didn’t step on the mat at the Times Union Center in 2012 who could make some noise in Albany.  Noah Phillips of Peru is one of them.  He won his first 38 matches a year ago at 145 pounds, including 31 by bonus points, before losing what turned out to be his last bout of the season – in overtime to Northern Adirondack’s Hunter Carpenter in the Section 7 final.  Phillips had defeated Carpenter twice earlier in the campaign – by fall and by seven points.  He will no doubt be on a mission to make his mark this season.

Scott Kellett of Northern Adirondack, who dropped a one-point decision to Gillette in the Section 7 title bout in 2012, could have a breakout season after compiling a 24-9 record as a freshman.

 

The Team Race . . .

Peru's Kyler Agoney, Photo by Boris V

In 2012, Peru won the Section 7 team crown by 25 points over Northern Adirondack.  The Indians are in the driver’s seat again.  In addition to the seven returning qualifiers mentioned above, the squad brings back 20 match winners Brandon Goddeau and Tanner Phillips, as well as junior Josh Wright, who captured 30 victories a year ago at 152 pounds.

Northern Adirondack will try to mount another strong challenge with their trio of returning champions (Carpenter, Sunderland and Justin Kellett) and four Section 7 silver medalists from a year ago Austin Trombley (99 pounds), Rusty Pombrio (106), Scott Kellett (120) and Dallas Page (195).

“I really like our team this year,” Peru coach Hogan said.  “We have a lot of kids returning who have been very successful.  But we know Northern Adirondack is a good wrestling town.  They’re tough farm kids and they’re workers.   There are only 30 boys per class and they still get good numbers for the wrestling team.  And Saranac will be tough too.  Those kids have worked like crazy this summer.”

 

Special thanks to those who contributed to this story, especially Mike Hogan of Peru.

 

More Season Previews:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 9 Preview

 

Season Preview Feature (more to come):

Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium