S aturday’s Section II Class D wrestling tournament indicated the future of the Whitehall wrestling program is a bright one.
The Railroaders struggled at times this year, forfeiting as many as six or seven bouts in dual matches, but the performance by their underclassmen, three of whom were champions and three others who were place-winners, gives them a good deal of hope for the future.
Jake Gregory, a seventh-grader, was fifth at 125 pounds, grinding out a tough 10-9 victory over Harry Albright of Berne-Knox-Westerloo in their consolation match. Adrian Beebe, a sophomore, was sixth at 145, and Brandon Steves, a freshman, was sixth at 160. Chris Dudley, a sophomore 171-pounder, lost both his matches, but one of those was to eventual champion Dallas Mesick of Duanesburg. Julian Barber, an eighth-grader, wrestled at 130 for Whitehall.
Add to that the return of 189-pounder Zach Diekel, who will be the team’s only senior next season, and sophomores Al Aubin and John Diekel, who won at 112 and 119 pounds, respectively, and the Railroaders are looking good. Grant Gebo, the 285-pound champion, was the team’s only senior.
“I have said all year that these kids just keep getting better,” coach Bob Diekel said. “They have worked really hard.”
Gregory said he has felt a great deal of support all season. “The team and the coaches are on my side,” he said. “The coaches got me into the best spot they could.”
What do the Railroaders need to do to reclaim their spot atop the Class D ladder?
“We’ve got to practice harder and get better,” Gregory said. “And most of all we need to get more wrestlers to come out for our team.”
Success in the classroom
The school’s honor roll came out two days after the meet and both Diekels, along with Steves, made highest honors.
Aubin made high honors and Gebo and Barber made honors.
Three champs in the house
All three of Whitehall’s state champions were at the meet.
Assistant coach Paul Diekel is always there, of course, and the awards were given out by the Railroaders other two state titlists, Jamie Huntington and Dan Bishop.
Diekel, the state champion at 167 pounds in 1981 and the father of 189-pounder Zach Diekel, went on to an outstanding career at Lehigh and also wrestled at the national and international levels.
Huntington, the champion at 215 pounds in 1992, wrestled at Drexel, and Bishop, who won at 112 pounds in 2005, went on to a solid career at the University of Buffalo. Bishop, who was severely injured in his conference championship match last year, said he is back to at least 90 percent and is working out almost every day.