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Wellsville wrestling program established under Carman, no longer about tables and forfeits

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Wellsville wrestling coach Tyler Carman in the new wrestling-only practice room in Wellsville with modified coach Marc Agnello, center, and varsity assistant coach Trent Robbins, right. John Anderson photo.

By Chris Metcalf for the Wellsville Sun

WELLSVILLE – Wrestling is, and always has been, in Tyler Carman’s blood.

The son of legendary Geneseo High School wrestling coach Danny Carman has noticeably turned things around as the Wellsville varsity head coach since he took over prior to the 2018-2019 season.

In fact, this is the first season Wellsville has filled every weight class during dual meets and tournaments in quite some time, if ever.

Now in his fourth season, Carman has totally rejuvenated and changed the culture of Wellsville wrestling.

Over the decades, Wellsville wrestling would lose a lot of dual meets despite winning more matches. The team would lose on forfeits as the Lions could not fill a roster.

Part of the issue? The kids had to set up and tear down a make-shift wrestling room each night. In basketball, a player can enter the gym, lace up sneakers and start taking jump shots in 30 seconds to start practice.

Wellsville wrestlers had to go to the elementary school cafeteria and put up dozens of awkward folding tables with the seats connected. Then, you roll the tables to the side and unroll huge, heavy, bulky used wrestling mats that were purchased from a different school. Those mats had to be taped together, mopped and then practice could begin.

After practice? Rip up the tape and have the team roll the large bulky mats up again and get them to the corner. Of course, now you had to set the tables all back up for the cafeteria.

That has all ended.

Wellsville wrestling coach Tyler Carman running a practice in the new wrestling practice room. There are wrestling singlets of past Section V and New York State Champion wrestlers from Wellsville along with two banners listing Section V champions. John Anderson photo.

The wrestling team currently has its own workout room at the elementary school which is an old gym. The mats stay down, the walls are painted and there are wrestling signs and banners all over. The elementary students can use the room during the day to play as well.

“It was tough back then having to share with so many other sports for gym space,” Carman said. “The Wellsville administration really worked hard to accommodate us and we really appreciated their efforts back then. Athletic Director Erica Aftuck and her staff have been extremely helpful in our relocation process as well. We can’t thank her enough for all her support.”

The Wellsville Wrestling Room features Hunter Kurtz’s purple NYS Section V singlet hanging on the wall symbolizing a goal that others want to achieve.

Then there is a higher goal.

They also have the singlet of 1990 NYS champion Brian Gray hanging as well. Gray is the only wrestler in Wellsville history to win a state title. It wasn’t easy. Gray won states when there was only one division for all classes, AA to D.

Gray came back earlier this season and ran a practice for the team, and during Wellsville’s home match with Canisteo-Greenwood. In the stands every meet is Gray’s father Brian who has never stopped supporting the Lions.

Wellsville wrestling is not only building tradition, but honoring the past. The wrestling room has banners of each Section V champion dating back to Richard Mason in 1949.

One of two banners of champions.

Carman doesn’t look much older than the students he coaches and teaches as the technology education teacher at Wellsville. As a modified coach, he built up huge numbers and maintained them when he took over the program in 2018. He admits, it was a lot for a new teacher to take over a varsity program.

“I was nervous but super eager to get started,” Carman said. “I knew that Wellsville had the right kids for a successful program. I was willing and am still working on building that success. We had some high-level wrestlers but we were missing confidence and team chemistry and those were two crucial components I wanted to focus on to move the program forward. I wanted to create a culture where people were excited about wrestling.”

The turnaround has been visibly impressive.

Fresh off tourney titles at both their Wellsville Tournament and Arkport/Canaserega Duals Holiday Tournament, the Lions are off to a roaring start to the season.

They defeated always-tough Wayne at their own 12-team tourney to open their season Dec. 3 as Brayden Riley (138), Xander Outman (172) and Shane Davidson (215) all won individual titles.

At the tough Arkport/Canaseraga Holiday Duals, Wellsville finished a perfect 5-0 with victories over Hornell, Avon, Arkport, Fillmore/Keshequa and Cal-Mum, to win the crown.

And after a victory over Bolivar-Richburg, the community started asking, “When was the last time we beat B-R?”

The tables are no longer cafeteria tables.

Carman has several talented returning grapplers this season that are expected to make a run for the top of the Section V Class B2 podium this winter including senior Shane Davidson at 189 pounds. Senior Evin Rought  at 285 pounds was in the mix as a favorite to win sectionals until a foot injury sidelined him.

“Shane is a very competitive wrestler that has some goals for success this season,” coach Carman said. “He’s working really hard to achieve those goals. He’s a great teammate on and off the mat. And Evin is the backbone of our team. He is the anchor in our lineup and provides the team with great spirit and energy.”

Also, 160-pound freshman Xander Outman and 172-pound junior Noah Black bring high sectional expectations this season, says Carman.

“Xander is one of the hardest working kids in our room, he has really focused on wrestling this off-season to improve himself this winter. We’re looking forward to an exciting four years with him,” Carman said. “Noah works really hard on the mat and has also been working really hard on his nutrition. I’m really looking forward to seeing his hard work pay off on the mat these next two years.”

Carman and the Lions also have some top newcomers to the program this season including freshmen David Clark (118) and Matt Ritter (152) along with eighth-grader Landon Stratton (138).

Tyler Carman coaching during another Wellsville Lions victory this season. Chris Brooks photo.

“We’re a very young team with a heavy presence of ninth and tenth-grade wrestlers,” Carman said. ”Those three, in particular, have been key components in our lineup so far this season.”

To be a successful varsity wrestling program, top to bottom, you first need a successful youth program.

And Wellsville has one, says Carman, who also stresses the importance of knowledgeable coaches at the younger levels.

“Youth wrestling is a crucial component to making our program successful,” Carman said. “The young guys in our lineup are the first products of the most recent Wellsville youth program. It’s been quiet the past few years because of COVID but we are excited that the program will be back in full swing this year. My good friend, the late Tim Joyce, and a few community members, Bill Kurtz and Scott Cicerello, were able to get the program off the ground a few years ago. Some of our new key members in the youth program this year are the Brownell family (former two-time Section V champion Darrold Brownell and his wife, Doria) and Caitlin Bowen. We are thankful to them for being involved to keep this program running.”

With two tourney titles already in their pocket and an 8-1 dual meet record so far this season, coach Carman and his Lions have their sights set on a solid finish at the Class B2 sectionals in February.

”Every season our goal is to compete for a sectional title,” Carman said. “I think every competitive coach has that as a goal in the back of their mind. A personal goal that I’ve had for our program since I started was to win a tournament team title.  We’ve been close in the past few years but this group of wrestlers has achieved that goal twice already this season.”

Carman is assisted by Trent Robbins with the varsity program and the modified coach is Marc Agnello.

Everything Carman has accomplished is thanks to a blueprint from his wrestling past, and cemented with his own ideas.

As a wrestler, Carman was on Geneseo’s last sectional championship team back in 2011, coached by his dad, Danny, who is at every one of Tyler’s matches and tournaments, both home and away.

Whether it’s this season or sometime in the future, Carman would love nothing more than to hoist that sectional title with his program, and his father by his side.

“I am so fortunate and grateful to have grown up with a dad that was such a successful high school coach,” Tyler said. “I owe my excitement and drive to be successful in this sport to my dad. He cares so much about kids. One important lesson I value, that he always instilled in his wrestlers that I carry on to mine, is that we use wrestling to develop young men that can become great husbands, dads, employees and community members one day. It’s not always about what happens on the mat.”

Those words resonate with the students and the community which is why the Wellsville wrestling program is in great hands, and has a bright future.

(John Anderson contributed to this report)

Photo gallery of the wrestling room by John Anderson and some match photos by Chris Brooks:

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