NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- During Coach Jim Gucciones tenure, the New Rochelle wrestling team has been among the top teams in Section 1. The Huguenots annually have a winning record, win a league title and have numerous wrestlers place in sectionals. Last year, however, New Rochelle took a huge step into elite status. New Rochelle was the Section 1 Dual-Meet Championship runner-up and finished second in the Section 1 Large-School Championships. The Huguenots had a sectional champ -- 160-pounder Aaron Butler and its first wild-card recipient, 285-pounder Malcolm Allen, who also became the Huguenots first state champion. The outstanding season resulted in Guccione being named the Section 1 Wrestling Coach of the Year.
I think we kind of surprised ourselves on how well we did, said Butler, during a break in practice, Tuesday. It was amazing, though. We had a lot of juniors and I think it showed that it could be a great future for us.
New Rochelle will miss the presence of Allen and Hunter Jones in the room, but Butler, along with Tyler Lilly and A.J. Barbaria, are primed to keep the Huguenots among the best in Section 1. Barbaria missed the second half of last year with a concussion so the Huguenots return a veteran, experienced wrestler who would have placed in sectionals last year.
Last year, on the bus ride back from sectionals, we started talking about this year, Butler said. Doing what we did for one year was great, but now we have to keep it going.
Thirty-seven wrestlers occupied the steamy New Rochelle wrestling room Tuesday. Guccione, along with assistant coaches Eddie Ortiz, Ryan Velez and Mike Figueroa, made sure to keep the heavyweights away from the lighter wrestlers. Ortiz, a 2003 Section 1 champion and state place-finisher for New Rochelle, ran the wrestlers through a series of drills.
Butler is looking forward to seeing more of the promise shown by twin brother, Jordan and sophomore Jihad Brogdon.
New Rochelle faces another rough schedule, including tournaments on Long Island and in Albany, but the Huguenots are looking forward to it.
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