IRVINGTON, N.Y. Kevin Degnan spent the first week of Irvington wrestling practice watching intently, waiting, impatiently, for his opportunity to step on the mat. The senior captain was not practicing, as per Irvington coach Steve Aufieros word, because Degnan was preparing for the Section 1 Football Senior Bowl. It was becoming the longest week of wrestling non-action Degnan could take.
Degnan was anxious to get going because Irvington is on the rise under Aufiero. Thirty wrestlers worked out under the watchful eye of Aufiero, a former Westlake standout, and former Irvington star, Ryan Pastore.
I was so pumped up for football, said Degnan, of the Senior Bowl. But I was thinking about wrestling. I wanted to strap on the headgear and get out there and wrestle with my buddies.
Aufiero had to contain his fiery, enthusiastic senior leader. Degnan was on the mat, but in an advisory role, working with his teammates.
Degnan, along with classmate Chris DiNardo, and junior Ryan Pastore are the leaders on an Irvington team that is continuing to see an increase in numbers. This is quite a difference from a few years back when Degnan was on the team with older brother, Sean, a former Section 1 Division II champion.
Its awesome and a great feeling having 30 kids, Degnan said. A couple of years before we had really low numbers, maybe 10 kids. Coach is bringing the program back on the mat.
Last year, DiNardo won the Division II 285-pound title, Pastore was the 130-pound runner-up to eventual state champion Ryan Osleeb of North Salem.
The numbers increase will result in Irvington becoming a better team in dual matches and tournaments.
It feels great knowing that now we will have all of the weight classes filled whereas we havent filled all of the weight classes in the past, DiNardo said.
Pastore, who has been wrestling on varsity since eighth grade, endured the rough years with few wrestlers. The infusion of wrestlers has made practice more challenging.
When you can fill the lineup. Like we can do, this will force wrestle-offs to earn starting spots, Pastore said. We want to get better every day and we feel we are doing this.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.