There are wrestlers who are single-minded at the state wrestling tournament, then there are those who are just happy to be there. Chenango County’s wrestlers fall into the former category.
Greene head coach, Tim Jenks, has guided wrestlers to the state tournament the past two-plus decades, and has four young men heading to the mats at the Times Union Arena Friday when preliminary action begins at 10 a.m.
“We’ve said all year that we don’t want to just be there,” Jenks said of his team philosophy. “We’re not there just to place, we’re there to win it. As a junior, of course placing is great. But if you’re a senior, you have to be thinking about winning it. Nobody remembers the runner-up, and it’s something you can always look back on if you can win it.”
Norwich coach Joe Downey has his kids thinking the same thing. Downey himself was a four-time Section IV champion who was a runner-up after his junior season. Downey was a clearcut favorite his senior year, but following his final sectional title, suffered an injury in practice a few days before his final state tourney that kept him from realizing his dream. He knows better than most that second chances are not always a given, and you must believe you can win the tournament before stepping on the mat.
“There are people who walk into the arena (for the state tournament), and they are overwhelmed,” Downey said. “You can’t have that attitude. You have to go in knowing you’re the best and that no one can beat you. You can’t let anyone intimidate you, and if you have that mindset, you’ll do just fine.”