LAKE GEORGE - Three years ago, a group of athletes at Lake George seeking to keep in shape during the off-season for football, teamed up with Hadley-Luzerne to form a wrestling team.
Competing against well-established wrestling programs elsewhere, they had their work cut out for them.
In only two seasons, they made their mark, under the mentorship of legendary 40-year coach Jack LaBombard and the talented Larry Rounds of Hadley-Luzerne.
In February, the War-Eagles team placed an admirable fourth in the Section II Class CC tournament, competing against some established powerhouse teams.
On top of this feat, no less than seven War-Eagle wrestlers qualified for the Section II finals. Heavyweight Jack Clark, in the 285-pound weight class, placed third in Section II and qualified for the state tournament. Clark, Hunter Hamilton, Jason Yard and Dan Jardine all made it to the Glens Falls Civic Center. Clark was beaten only by the wrestler who continued on to become the state champion, LaBombard recalled.
"We shocked everybody," he said.
Clark, Hamilton and Yard are returning along with Kyle Bachem - these four have been active in the program for its entire existence - plus outstanding Hadley-Luzerne wrestlers Zach Olson at 130 pounds and Joe Plante at 125.
Bachem competes at 171 pounds, Clark at 285, Hamilton at 140, and Yard at 189.
These experienced wrestlers are joined by returning juniors Casey Bills at 112 pounds, Lee McCabe at 285 and sophomores Art Barber at 165 or so, and Dan Jardine at 119.
New to the program and showing promise are senior Curtis McCoy at 116, junior Robert Ford at 171, sophomore Jamie Dolan at 130, and seventh grade sensation Forrest Kubricky at 105.
LaBombard said he's expecting his experienced veterans to set the tone for the newcomers.
"Jack Clark is a powerful wrestler - he's built like a ox, and when the whistle blows, he comes out like a firetruck," he said.