The reputation of the Johnson City wrestling program was forged over the course of decades of dominance that includes five teams that were crowned state champions, numerous individual state champions, and scores of sectional champions. When examining the history of the program, one that has reached the pinnacle of achievement in so many ways, it is an honor to even be in the conversation as the best team in school history. The 2002-2003 team wrestled its way into that conversation and, when considering all that it accomplished, may just be able to win the ultimate argument of which Johnson City team is the all-time best.
Entering the 2002-2003 season, the Wildcats wrestling coaches knew they had the potential to accomplish great things. Returning was a core of senior wrestlers and talented underclassmen who had grown up together on the mats. These seniors had already led the Wildcats to three consecutive seasons in which the team finished ranked in the top 5 in New York State, but 2002-2003 would turn out to literally be a year for the record books. The team got off to a great start in all dual meets, and they really began to build momentum in two prestigious dual meet tournaments. Locally, the Wildcats were crowned champions of the U-E duals which annually serves as the unofficial dual meet state championship. In the process of winning the title at U-E, the Wildcats avenged a loss in the previous year’s finals to a very tough Spencerport team. The team’s dominance continued at the national level by winning their division in the Virginia Duals, widely considered to be one of the best wrestling tournaments in the country.
When all was said and done, the 2002-2003 wrestling team ended the season with a perfect 26-0 dual meet record and were ranked 22nd in the year-end national high school wrestling rankings. They were voted the #1 team in New York State, and they also won the STAC, Class A, and Section IV tournaments. They had an amazing 9 wrestlers make the finals of the Section IV tournament, with three Wildcats being victorious. Jordan Glenn, assistant coach of the 2002-2003 team and now the head varsity coach, described section IV wrestling to be at its height in the winter of 2003. Of the 13 weight classes at the state tournament, seven were won by wrestlers from section IV. Within this context, it further accentuates how impressive it was for this team to have 9 of its wrestlers reach the finals amidst such stiff competition. Coach Glenn noted that he doesn’t believe another team had ever placed as many wrestler in the Section IV finals, nor did he believe another team would ever do so again.
In addition to the team accomplishments, there were also numerous individual performances that were noteworthy. Josh Glenn, one of the team captains, won the NYS individual title in the 152 pound weight class. Additionally, Nolan Robinson placed 5th in the 189 pound division. Six of the wrestlers from this team went on to wrestle at the Division 1 level in college.
There will never be a definitive way to determine the best wrestling team in Johnson City history, but one must consider ranking the 2002-2003 team near the top of the list. The Johnson City Athletic Hall of Fame is proud to welcome a legacy team that grew up together, stuck together, and toppled all of its competition together, the 2002-2003 varsity wrestling team.
RYAN MCCORMICK—PETER CAPONE—LEIGH TOBIAS—DAVE THONGRAVONG—STEVE WIKTOREK—BEN WHITBECK—JOEL GALINDO—RYAN FELTON—CHRIS GOYETTE—JOE SACCO—JOSH GLENN—JOE TOKOS—TOM VAIL—ADAM HARENDZA—RYAN KUZEL—NOLAN ROBINSON—JON COLGAN—BRANDEN COLE
PETE CAPONE—GREG LEHR—TODD PLACE—PAT BRUCE—JORDAN GLENN