Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY — Tioga 8th-grader Gianni Silvestri became the youngest wrestler in the storied history of the four Valley programs to win a state title, and is the 2019-20 Valley Sports Report “Wrestler of the Year.”
Athens freshman Jake Courtney is the “Newcomer of the Year,” while Tioga’s Kris Harrington is the “Coach of the Year,” and Tioga senior Dom Wood is the “Most Improved Wrestler.”
A year after a runner-up finish at 99 pounds in the Section IV, Division 2 Championships, Silvestri posted a 40-1 record and won the 99-pound state title.
Silvestri was the top-ranked 99-pounder in the State when he suffered his only loss of the season, a 5-4 decision against Mount Sinai’s Brayden Fahrbach, who jumped from No. 2 in the state into the top spot with the win.
Silvestri avenged that loss with a 5-2 decision over Fahrbach in Tioga’s 31-29 loss to Mount Sinai at the New York State Division 2 Duals.
In the postseason, including the IAC Championships and the Section IV and New York State Duals tournaments, Silvestri posted an 18-0 record, with 10 falls, one technical fall, and two major decisions.
Silvestri also posted a 6-0 record against BGAH 8th-grader Darren Florance, who finished sixth at States.
Silvestri has a 68-17 record in two varsity season.
Harrington, in his fourth season at Tioga, directed the Tigers to their fourth consecutive Section IV, Division 2 title, and their second consecutive Section IV Duals title. Tioga advanced six wrestlers to the New York State Division 2 Championships, with five reaching the podium to earn the Tigers their second straight team title in Albany.
Courtney finished his first varsity season with a 13-9 record. He finished third at the North Section Tournament to advance to the District 4 Championships. During the regular season, Courtney finished fifth at the Oneonta Rotary Tournament, including two wins over New York State qualifier T.J. O’Connor of Cooperstown.
Last year, as a first-year wrestler, Dom Wood had a 12-22 record with six pins. He went 0-2 at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships. This year, as a senior, Dom Wood posted a 24-14 record with 17 pins, and finished fourth at 220 pounds at sectionals.
The 2019-20 All-Valley Wrestling Super 7 is:
Gianni Silvestri, 8th-grade, Tioga: See above.
Brady Worthing, senior, Tioga: A state champ as a junior, Worthing won his first 45 matches this season before dropping a 6-4 decision to Gouverneur sophomore Carter Baer in 138-pound state finals.
Worthing finished the season at 45-1 with 35 pins and three technical falls. He won the IACs, Section IV Qualifier A, and the Section IV, Division 2 Championships.
Worthing wrapped up his career with a 176-34 record, one state title, and two state runner-up finishes.
Gavin Bradley, sophomore, Athens: Bradley followed up one of the best freshman seasons in Athens history with an even better sophomore season. While his finish at States was seventh this year compared to sixth last year, Bradley posted a 39-4 record, improving on last year’s 34-12 mark.
Bradley’s two losses before arriving at Hershey came against Troy senior Sheldon Seymour, who went on win his second PIAA title, and Muncy freshman Scott Johnson. Bradley lost to Johnson in the District 4 finals, but averaged that loss the next week in the Regional finals, and again in the “blood round” at Hershey.
Bradley has a 73-16 record in two years on varsity.
Ethan Stotler, senior, Waverly: A year after posting a 36-6 record and a second-place finish at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships as a junior, Stotler put together a near-perfect senior season.
Stotler was 41-1 heading into Albany, including first-place finishes at the IAC Championships, the Section IV Qualifier, and the Section IV Championships. His only loss was to eventual 160-pound Division 1 champion Cooper Kropman of Pennfield.
At States, Stotler went 3-2 to finish fourth at 160 pounds, his losses to the second- and third-place finishers. He finished the season with a 44-3 record and 177 career wins.
Caden Bellis, 8th-grade, Tioga: After a fourth-place finish at 99 pounds at the Section IV, Division 2 championship as a 7th-grader, Bellis won a Section IV title and placed fourth at States this year with a 39-4 record.
Bellis lost just two matches during the regular season — both to Chenango Forks freshman Tyler Ferrara, who finished second at 106 pounds at the NYS Division 1 Championships.
Bellis went 3-2 at States, losing to the second- and third-place finishers. He has a 66-14 record in two varsity season.
Emmett Wood, sophomore, Tioga: Wood posted a 39-8 record and a seventh-place finish in the 152-pound bracket at the New York State Division 2 Championships. Six of Wood’s eight losses came at the hands of New York State place-finishers.
Emmett Wood won the IACs, the Section IV Qualifier, and the Section IV, Division 2 Championship.
He has a 116-55 career record.
Keegan Braund, senior, Athens: Perhaps the feel-good story of the winter season, Braund maintained his upward trajectory in his senior season and earned an eighth-place medal in the 285-pound bracket at the PIAA, Class AA Championships.
As a sophomore, Braund was 12-16. He improved to 24-15 as a junior, and finished this season with a a 33-17 record.
Braund’s career record was 72-60.
“The Second Seven”
Mason Welch, sophomore, Tioga: Mason Welch wrote one of the more interesting stories of the wrestling season, avenging four losses to teammate Donovan Smith with a win in the opening round of the 120-pound bracket at the New York State Division 2 Championships. He went on to finish seventh.
Welch finished the season with a 33-12 record, and has a 113-53 career mark.
Alex West, senior, Athens: West recorded more wins this season than he did in his first two varsity seasons combined, and also earned a trip to Hershey.
He finished the season with a 33-12 record, and a career mark of 59-33. He won the North Section Tournament, and placed third at Districts, and Regionals.
Donovan Smith, freshman, Tioga: Smith put together a tremendous freshman season, posting a 39-4 record, winning IAC, Section IV Qualifier, and Section IV Division 2 titles.
Smith was 1-2 at States, losing to the sixth- and seventh-place finishers. He has a 90-16 career record.
Gage Tedesco, freshman, Waverly: In his first full season of wrestling, Tedesco posted a 29-8 record and finished third at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships. His two losses in the postseason came at the hands of Susquehanna Valley’s Mitchell Knapp, who finished third at States, and Windsor’s Gabe Monroe, who was fourth at States.
Tedesco, who played modified basketball last year as an 8th-grader before sliding into the wrestling line-up at 182 pounds, has a career record of 37-19.
Garrett Skeens, sophomore, Waverly: Skeens posted a 32-12 record and finished third at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships for the second consecutive year.
Skeens’ career record is 74-40.
Jacob Welch, senior, Tioga: After a year away from the mats, Jacob Welch returned and posted a 26-6 record, and a third-place finish at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships.
Welch finishes his career with a 94-32 record.
Jake Bennett, sophomore, Sayre: Bennett was one of the most improved wrestlers in the area, improving from a 9-12 record as a freshman to 25-8 this season. He finished second at the North Section Tournament, after a fourth-place finish there last year.
Bennett has a career record of 34-20.
Wrestlers to Watch in 2020-21
Any of the underclassmen mentioned above, as well as those like Waverly junior Trevor Meyers (31-14), junior Kyler Setzer (20-10), sophomore Kaden Setzer (21-10), who enjoyed break-out seasons this year are wrestlers to keep an eye on, but there are more:
Aidan Garcia, freshman, Athens: Garcia posted a 15-13 record in his first varsity campaign. He could make a huge jump next season.
Nik Polzella, sophomore, Sayre: After consecutive 16-win seasons, Polzella is a prime candidate for a big improvement next year.
Justin Hopkins, sophomore, Tioga: Hopkins put together a 24-19 season, and a fifth-place finish at 145 pounds at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships, despite wrestling up two weight classes. Hopkins could have a big year wrestling at his own weight next year.
Levi Bellis, 8th-grade, Tioga: Bellis finished his first varsity season with a 16-12 record. He was 10-2 in his final 12 bouts of the season. If he can work his way into the stacked Tioga line-up, he could put up big numbers.
Bryce Bailey, freshman, Tioga: A highly-decorated youth wrestler, Bailey has spent the last few years playing basketball. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for him to get back up to speed.
John Woodcock, freshman, Tioga: Woodcock was another Tioga grappler who spent much of his season up a weight class or two. If he can wrestle at his own weight, Woodcock is sure to improve on his 8-15 mark.
Connor Stotler, freshman, Waverly: Stotler was 23-21 on the season, but lost five matches to state place-finishers and qualifiers, and four more to Owego’s Matt Laubach, who initially earned a state wild card, then was replaced. Don’t be surprised if Stotler takes a big step forward next year.
"Wrestler of the Year" winners:
2009-10 - David White, Athens
2010-11 - Derak Heyman, Tioga
2011-12 - Nick Talcott, Tioga
2012-13 - Ryan Wolcott, Waverly
2013-14 - Ryan Wolcott, Waverly
2014-15 - A.J Burkhart, Waverly
2015-16 - Brian Courtney, Athens
2016-17 - Brian Courtney, Athens
2017-18 - A.J. Burkhart, Athens
2018-19 - John Worthing, Tioga / Brady Worthing, Tioga.
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