This year at the Section 9 championships, Red Hook High School’s varsity wrestling team proved once more why they deserve the formidable reputation they’ve earned.
The team claimed their fifth straight section championship Feb. 10 and sent 11 of 15 wrestlers to the podium and three to the state tournament, ending their regular season with a Section 9 record of 6-2.
Head coach Nick Fredericks told The Observer, “This year we had an all-around team effort, having 11 guys place. It didn’t come down to champs and who was in the finals, it was about placing top four and getting enough points to beat Highland and Onteora.”
Each of the three section champs who went to the state’s Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships Feb. 22 in Albany—8th grader Taylor Benson(99), senior Luis Garcia (138) and Matt Rauch (126)—gave impressive showings against the reliably brutal competition, but only Rauch succeeded in progressing to the semi-finals on the second day of competition.
Rauch, a junior, with an undefeated single season record of 37-0 in Division II, lost his opening match against Laken Cook of Illion. But he rallied back, earning two wins against Matthew Jarvis of Carle Place and Daniel Vandyke of Salem. Having wrestled his way back into contention for the top six, Rauch was granted a short reprieve to wrestle the following day in the semi-finals.
In his final match, Rauch wrestled with the aggressive mentality he has cultivated throughout his career. The first round opened with a shot taken by Brandon Muntz of Falconer, Rauch reacted accordingly and regained position, closing the first 2-0. The second round was scoreless for both competitors, as neither could manage to change position from the initial referee position. Going into the third, Muntz shot on Rauch, he reversed this shot, holding dominant position until late in the period when Muntz reversed on Rauch and gained control, closing the match 2-7. Rauch will end his junior season with a record of 39-2.
Fredericks told The Observer, “I feel proud of these guys and they’ve wrestled hard; we had an eighth grader make it, Luis made it and they’ve got to experience great things, Matt is… getting ready for next year by being here. This is just a preview of next year.”