PULASKI — Conner Shaw has set his sights on entering more exclusive company in the history of the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown/Pulaski varsity boys wrestling program.
The Pulaski senior recently captured his 100th career victory and is expected to be a top contender in the 160-pound weight class at the Section 3 Division II championships on Saturday at the SRC Arena in Syracuse.
Shaw is aiming to become the first sectional champion to represent Pulaski at the state championship tournament in 30 years, dating back to Dave Blodgett in 1993.
He is believed to be the fifth wrestler to reach 100 career victories between the two programs — which have operated as a combined team for the past 13 years — according to head coach Shayne Bogardus and assistant James Purdy.
“I was pretty happy, I wasn’t too emotional or anything, it’s just an achievement that I know I have under my belt now,” Shaw said of joining the prestigious 100-win club. “All and all, it’s a fun sport and it’s amazing when you can achieve your goals and accomplishments.”
Shaw reached the 100-win milestone on Jan. 21 during the Denny Wright Memorial Duals at Homer. He achieved the rare feat in his fourth varsity campaign.
Shaw initially moved up for a limited number of varsity matches in eighth grade and has improved every year since. There was no season held in his sophomore campaign in 2020-21 due to COVID-19 concerns.
“It meant a lot, just to be a part of that is extraordinary because not a lot of people can actually and achieve and obtain 100 wins, especially after losing my 10th-grade season because of COVID,” Shaw said.
Shaw is the first to reach the 100-win milestone for the APW/Pulaski team since his stepbrother and 2013 graduate, Travis Purdy, according to coaches, and at least four others are known to have surpassed 100 career wins.
Shaw’s career record currently stands at 114-25, per cnywrestling.com, with 74 pins.
“It’s a huge milestone, especially here,” said Bogardus, who has led the program since it combined and served as Pulaski coach for six years prior.
“That’s a pretty impressive part of his resume and it also says something about him because he did it in one less year, so it’s a pretty amazing feat for him,” Bogardus added. “You think if he gets that one year back, he has another 30 or 40 wins maybe, so it’s a real testament to his training and his work ethic.”
Shaw enters the sectional tournament with a 39-3 season record. He is coming off a second-place showing at 160 pounds in the Section 3 Class C Tournament last Saturday and won the Onondaga High School League Tournament on Jan. 28 for his third straight league title.
Shaw placed fifth at sectionals last year and third as a freshman in the 2019-20 season, establishing the mission of breaking through to his first state tourney appearance in his final attempt this year.
The top two competitors in each weight class at sectionals this weekend can advance to the state championship meet slated for Feb. 24-25 at MVP Arena in Albany.
“He’s a workout freak and he’s dedicated his time to make the state tournament this year,” Bogardus said of Shaw. “I’ve seen huge improvements, and when you put the extra time in like he does, that’s what you should see.”
Shaw has also played soccer, cross country, and track and field at various points but prioritized wrestling as his top sport after starting in peewees around age five.
For the past five years, he has honed his skills year-round at Grain House Wrestling Club in Watertown under trainer Kenny Courts, a former NCAA All-American wrestler at Ohio State. The club is owned by Rickey Martin.
Shaw traveled to tournaments in Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and credited the hours spent with Courts and his offseason club training for his recent success.
“He has trained me for the last four or five years and I’ve gotten exponentially better,” Shaw said. “I feel like you can see the progression throughout my few years on varsity.”
Shaw is interested in a future career in law enforcement and studies in the criminal justice program at Mexico CiTi BOCES.
He wants to extend his wrestling career beyond high school and has applied to Utica with the goal of helping the college launch its startup wrestling program, expected to begin in the 2023-24 season.
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