WARRENSBURG - Local high school wrestlers performed well in the Class D Section II tournament held for the second time in recent history at Warrensburg Central School, and school officials said the tournament was a success due to an extensive staff of local dedicated volunteers.
Burgher standout Donovan Santisteban won the 119-pound weight class and his teammates Aidan Szabo and Beecher Baker placed second in Saturday's Class D Section II Wrestling Tournament, leading Warrensburg High School to a fourth-place finish Saturday among 12 teams at the day-long competition.
Santisteban, Szabo and Baker were aided by teammates Jon Vaisey, Zack Baer and Lucas Nelson who each placed fourth - and by Tony Auricchio, who pleased local fans by winning a consolation round heavyweight match to take third.
All these seven Burgher wrestlers are headed to the Section II tournament Saturday.
Warrensburg hosted the event, at which the Duanesburg Central team scored the most wins with 247 points, followed by Whitehall and Salem. Duanesburg captured titles in seven weight classes in the lower middleweight and heavyweight classes. Whitehall won the 103, 112, 160, 171 classes.
The crowd cheered Santisteban in his finals matchup against Duanesburg's Curt Rowley, who was top-seeded in the tournament.
Tied with Rowley with 30 seconds on the clock and unsure whether he could continue his dominance on the mat, Santisteban took a risk and allowed an escape, putting him one point behind.
The clock ticking down, Santisteban shot for several takedowns, and the two ended out of the ring several times.
Santisteban steered the action back into the center of the mat, and he charged in for a sudden snapdown with only 13 seconds left in the match, giving him the winning 4-3 margin for first place.
The local spectators erupted in cheers, Burgher Coach Mark Trapasso said Sunday.
"The crowd loved it," he said.
"It was a fabulous feeling," Santisteban said Sunday. "It was like my last match in the Warrensburg gym - I wasn't about to lose my last match in front of my home crowd."
Aidan Szabo and Beecher Baker also wrestled close, competitive matches.
Baker was tied with his opponent, the talented Al Aubin of Whitehall, when Baker made a single misstep of riding him a little high and Aubin caught his head, pulled him over the top and pinned him in 2:21. Aubin was the 2009 Class D runnerup, seeded second this year.
Szabo, only a seventh grader, also was close to winning, Trapasso said.
"Aidan came off the mat and said 'I could have beat that kid,' - and that's what you want to hear as a coach," Trapasso said. "Aidan was under a lot of pressure as a seventh grader, underneath the lights, with a big cheering crowd on a Saturday night -- he was a little nervous."
Trapasso said the event gave Aidan valuable experience.
"Next time the tournament comes around, he'll win it."
Also putting in a good performance was Tony Auricchio, who weighs 266, yet he's won his share of the matches this year in the 285-pound heavyweight class.
Auricchio and Zach Baer had not been seeded, but beat those who had. Auricchio won third place Saturday by pinning Bill Engelhardt of Cambridge, seeded second at heavyweight, with a time of 4:00.
Trapasso said Auricchio, a Junior, showed considerable potential.
"He's a gamer, he's going to win a lot of matches for us in the future," Trapasso said.
The top four placers in each weight class advanced to the Section II Division II state qualifier at the Glens Falls Civic Center this Friday and Saturday.
Trapasso said before the tournament that he hoped that Warrensburg would present a smooth-running tournament and extend a warm welcome to a large group of spectators.
This is indeed what happened, as dozens of volunteers, both adults and students, worked together to present the tournament to a capacity crowd, Trapasso said. The volunteers worked primarily on food concessions and in the kitchen, as well as on organizational details, he said.
"It was great - there were more volunteers than you can imagine, serving people all day," he said, noting that there were dozens of parents, even local people with no direct connection to the school, helping out, he said.
Those assisting included TD Bank Manager Marcella Powers, who sold T-shirts, Trapasso said, and WCS Honor Society members who sold food and cleaned up.
Former wrestling coaches Dave Beck and Chris Angell were announcers at the event, and their knowledge of the sport underscored their words.
"It turned out to be a very successful event," Trapasso said. "The stands were full of wrestling fans, and we had very good customer feedback."