By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
The 201st victory of his varsity wrestling career couldn't have come any simpler for Amsterdam junior Brandon Lapi -- walk out on the mat, get his hand raised by the referee to accept a forfeit, walk back to the Amsterdam bench.
An intense competitor, Lapi probably would have preferred an actual match during Wednesday's dual meet against Schoharie, but after the first 200 wins, a little respite wasn't that far out of order.
Not that Lapi, who didn't even know that he'd won his 200th career match Saturday during the Lansingburgh Duals until the next day, is all that preoccupied with the numbers game.
"I didn't even really know my record until the next day," Lapi said. "I had no many idea how many wins I needed. It was just another match."
In joining Brian Benton and Giuseppi Lanzi as Amsterdam's third member of the 200-win club, Rams coach Ken Benton -- Brian's father -- said that Lapi joined some very elite company when he broke the barrier by pinning Queensbury's Dom Nassivera in his final match of the weekend.
The 200-win mark, Ken Benton said, is something that wasn't realistically attainable in high school wrestling until very recently. Expanding schedules -- including a heavy influx of two-day dual meet tournaments -- give today's wrestlers a far greater number of matches. For someone like Lapi, who started out on the varsity team as a 96-pounder in seventh grade, the possibility to reach 200 is now there, though Benton said it still takes something special to reach a mark like that.
"Getting to the 100 barrier was almost impossible at one time," he said. "Now, with the number of matches we wrestle, in the last 10 years it's a lot more viable to get that 100 number. Getting 200 is still a big push. You've got to be on the mat a lot, and you've got to win a lot. You've got to be accomplished to do that."
Now at 201 wins and still with four major tournaments left in the season -- the Big 10 Invitational this weekend, then the Section II Class B, Section II Division I at NYSPHSAA championships meets in February -- and a similar schedule on tap for his senior year, Lapi should have a strong chance of breaking Brian Benton's Amsterdam career record of 253 victories.
"He should be able to do that," Ken Benton said. "He's got to be able to stay healthy, be able to get on the mat, have his weight where it's got to be. We'll probably maintain a very similar schedule, so he should be able to do that."
Lapi's already remarkable career includes an incredible streak against Section II competition. Since dropping a one-point decision to Queensbury's Josh St. John in the 2009 Section II 96-pound final, Lapi has beaten every single Capital Region opponent he's come up against.
With 200 out of the way, Lapi can now turn to collecting a fourth straight Section II title and another bid for the only jewel missing from his crown -- a state championship.
"Now he can focus on the postseason," Ken Benton said. "We're really proud of him, and we put a display up at the high school today so they can see it and let people know what it takes just to get to that. It takes a lot of extra work, things you don't see behind the scenes, a lot of traveling and competing in big tournaments."
The big tournaments -- not the numbers or records -- are what Lapi said he puts the biggest emphasis on.
Still, it's nice to have the milestone out of the way with bigger prizes on his mind.
"There's really no pressure now," he said. "I can just go out there and wrestle."