Monroe-Woodbury’s (NY) AJ Voelker is one of the most improved wrestlers not only in our club but possibly all of NY State. This has never been more obvious than during this off season as the accolades continue to roll in this off-season. AJ, a captain of this years MW Wrestling Team which finished ranked #8 in NYS with a 25-2 record, finished the season with a 42-6 individual record, a Section 9 Championship and 3rd in the New York State Wrestling Championships at 170lbs and just signed with the University of Buffalo. For his career AJ is 120-39.
AJ is a 4 time Section 9 medalist, he placed 2nd as a Freshman, 3rd as a Sophomore, and 4th as a Junior. After his junior year and with a respectable 78-33 career record AJ knew he wanted more. Always dedicated AJ changed the way he trained. He went from a part time member of Apex to a full-time member who never missed a practice. He started taking private lessons with Apex coach and 7X Bealrus National Champions Alex Karnitski. He traveled all around the country and was a key component of the Apex team that made it to the Eastern National Dual finals against X-Cel in Long Island. It was there that AJ beat several NY state place finishers and provided Dylan Palacio (Senior National Champion and NYS Champion) with his most exciting match of the tournament. He also dumped the old ways of making weight. AJ, a perennial weight cutter began a rigorous lifting program, joined Champion Athletes Sports Nutrition Program and went up from 152 to 170 his senior year.
At this years NY State Wrestling Championships AJ was on a tear when he suffered a horrible knee injury in the semi-finals of the tournament. Barely able to walk or move AJ found the will to continue to wrestle back, finishing 4th. After the state tournament AJ began fielding recruiting calls and visited Bloomsburg University. Not a fan of the school but a big fan of Head Coach John Stutzman AJ couldn’t settle on the right fit for him. Then a phone call came, Coach Stutzman had taken the Head Coaching position at the University of Buffalo. A long drive later and a positive experience on his visit, and AJ was happy to announce his attention to attend the University of Buffalo this coming fall. He is expected to start right away at 157 or 165 this year.
Congratulations to AJ on a great season and career!
- 4X Section 9 Place Finisher
- 2013 Section 9 Champion
- 4th in NYS in 2013
- Friends of Section 9 Wrestler of the Year
- Monroe-Woodbury High School Male Athlete of the year!
Here are some articles about AJ this season/post-season:
Article from New York Wrestling News: The Right Fit for Monroe-Woodbury State Placer AJ Voelker chooses Buffalo
AJ Voelker left his recruiting trip to Bloomsburg with an interesting dilemma.
“After visiting and meeting Coach Stutzman [at Bloomsburg], AJ felt the coach was the right fit, but not the school,” said Bob Voelker, AJ’s father.
So Voelker continued to look around, focusing on institutions such as George Mason until he heard that Stutzman was leaving the EWL college to take the reins of the Buffalo program.
“I started looking at Buffalo right away,” AJ Voelker said. “Once I saw the campus and talked to [Stutzman] again, that was pretty much it. The campus is unbelievable. It’s just what I wanted. The facilities are very nice. Coach Stutzman is very intense; his practices are very tough and give me the best chance of placing at Nationals. He reminds me a lot of my coaches now [at Monroe Woodbury].”
Voelker saw a lot of success for the Crusaders throughout his career, placing in Section 9 multiple times. But 2012-13 was a breakthrough year, as he made the podium at the Eastern States Classic, won the Sectional crown and took fourth in New York in his first trip to the state tournament.
That success came as a result of a lot of offseason effort. After missing out on a spot in Albany as a junior, Voelker wanted to make sure he was ready to make the most of his last chance. He said he worked out at Apex Wrestling, trained with Champion Athletes, lifted on his own and spent a lot of time with Coach Johnny Gartiser.
He also continued his move up in weight, going from 112 as a sophomore to 145/152 as a junior to 170 for his last high school run.
“I cut a lot of weight my freshman and sophomore years,” he said. “Since then, I grew a lot and my coaches recommended that I cut less weight because they thought I wouldn’t be as tired at the end of the season. It worked out. Size wise, I wasn’t the biggest guy out there at 170, but I felt strong and I thought I could wrestle with anyone.”
Times Herald Record Article: M-W’s Voelker Agrees to wrestle at Buffalo
By Sal Interdonato
Published: 2:00 AM – 05/22/13
A.J. Voelker has always wanted to wrestle at the highest college level. Voelker remembers setting that goal during his freshman season at Monroe-Woodbury.
A breakthrough senior year made the achievement possible, and a chance phone call by a college coach made it a reality.
Voelker recently gave a verbal commitment to wrestle at Division I University at Buffalo under new coach John Stutzman.
Stutzman coached at Bloomsburg (Pa.), where Voelker made an official visit two months ago.
“I didn’t really like Bloomsburg,” said Voelker, a 170-pounder who placed fourth in the state this season. “He was an amazing coach. Once he took the job at Buffalo, he called me and let me know he wanted me to check out the campus, and the campus was amazing.”
Voelker was looking to find a college team that matched Monroe-Woodbury’s practices. He thinks he’s found that at Buffalo.
Article from the Times Herald Record: M-W’s Voelker battles pain to finish 4th in state tournament
By William Montgomery
Published: 2:00 AM – 02/24/13
ALBANY — Monroe-Woodbury senior A.J. Voelker was leading his 170-pound Division I semifinal match against John Vrasidas of St. Anthony’s when he wrenched his knee early in the second period.
Vrasidas rallied to move on to the state championship bout, pinning Voelker in 4:53, but Voelker’s day wasn’t done yet.
Wearing tape wrapped around his right knee in a consolation semifinal against Franky Nassivera of Queensbury, Voelker had another injury timeout, but he fought through the pain to nearly pin Nassivera with one minute remaining in the third period. Voelker hung on for a 5-4 victory to earn a spot in the third-fourth place consolation final.
“It was my first time having something like that but my coaches really kept me calm and kept me going,” Voelker said. “I owe everything to them.”
Voelker lost his final match of the day, a 16-0 technical fall to top-seeded Dan McDevitt of Wantagh, but he added his name to yet another board in the Monroe-Woodbury wrestling room.
A Section 9 champion and a state qualifier, Voelker ended his high school career as a state place finisher, taking fourth place in the 170-pound Division I bracket.
“I’m happy with fourth in the state,” Voelker said. “I wish I could have done better, but I’m on three boards at the high school now, so I’m pretty happy.”
Voelker, who is unsure of his college plans, finished with a career record of 120-39.
He may have been the toughest wrestler at the Times Union Center on Saturday, as he could barely walk after his last match. Voelker limped up and down the stands, searching for his parents, Bob and Maureen, with whom he shared an emotional embrace.
“I tweaked my knee. We don’t know what it is yet,” Voelker said. “I’ll have to go get it checked out tonight. I fought through it to fourth in the state. Not bad.”