We have a large number of video interviews with wrestlers from the state tournament that will be posted later in the week. Check back over the next few days to see what the wrestlers had to say!
Another New York state high school season is in the books. After two incredible days of wrestling, 30 champions were crowned and a number of other amazing performances were witnessed at the Times Union Center.
(This article focuses on the Division I tournament. We will post a Division II story as well).
Of the 15 gold medalists in Albany on Saturday night in the large school tournament, 10 were from Long Island. That part of the state didn’t just impress in the finals, however. The depth was definitely apparent, as Suffolk finished atop the standings with 312 points with Nassau in second with 222.5.
Representing Section 8 well was Wantagh, which completed a magical year in which the Warriors showed both their dual meet and tournament strength in capturing perhaps the three biggest events in New York – the Union-Endicott Duals, the Eastern States and this weekend’s championships. Head coach Paul Gillespie’s squad boasted a state titlewinner in 106-pounder Kyle Quinn as well as three other placers (James Corbett, Vinny Turano and Danny McDevitt).
Two other “sections” that made waves this weekend were the PSAL and the CHSAA. Richard Sisti’s 220-pound title for Monsignor Farrell was a highlight as was the run to the finals by Keanu Thompson of Grand Street, including an upset pin against the number two seed. The PSAL featured five medalists (in Division I), while the CHSAA had six. It seems that those numbers will continue to grow in the future. (The first ever PSAL champion was crowned, which will be covered in the Division II story).
Here are some more notes and observations from the state capital:
Diakomihalis, Photo by BV
Champion: Yianni Diakomihalis will need to continue to clear space in his room for awards. He’s won just about every tournament he has entered over the past year, and he has traveled all over the country to wrestle some of the best. The nationally-ranked wrestler picked up his first state title in the ultimate tiebreaker against another stellar eighth grader, Vito Arujau of Syosset. The two could do battle many more times, but whether they’re at the same weight in the future or not, they will be a treat for New York fans to watch for another four years.
And Also . . . We had Diakomihalis and Arujau atop the rankings the whole year, but also included three Suffolk grapplers for much of the season in the state’s top 8. They showed why on Friday and Saturday. Although top seed John Arceri, the Section 11 champion, didn’t medal, he holds wins over both the third and fourth place finishers, John Busiello and Jesse Dellevecchia, respectively. Those three will be contenders for quite some time.
In addition, when he was just beginning treatments for cancer in the spring, Vinny Vespa’s brother Michael said he was confident Vinny would not only return to the mat this year, but do well in the postseason. He was right, as Vespa overcame cancer and then some of the state’s top wrestlers in taking fifth place.
Quinn, Photo by BV
The Champion . . . Kyle Quinn came into the state tournament with just two losses. Both were to All-Stater Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle by two points. Quinn clearly took some lessons away from those contests as he avenged those results with a 7-1 win in the semifinals against the Section 1 wrestler before defeating top seed Alex Tanzman of Westhampton Beach by the same score to grab the state crown. The Wantagh wrestler looked dominant the whole weekend, including pinning his first two opponents (one of which was returning medalist Jimmy Overhiser).
And Also . . . Spencerport’s Jon Haas was unfazed after dropping his first bout of the tournament 4-3 to John Twomey of St. Anthony’s. He reeled off five straight victories, including two by bonus points, to take third. Haas also had a pair of overtime triumphs, including over Colonie’s Golan Cohen in the bronze bout. Cohen, who was a placer at the Eastern States, put together a very impressive season.
Piccininni, Photo by BV
The Champion . . . Nick Piccininni wasn’t just the gold medalist at this weight, he was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. It’s not hard to see why. The returning state champion was in control the whole way and won three of his four matches by bonus points. That included the title bout, in which Piccininni dominated the much-hyped clash with two-time champ Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks. The Ward Melville wrestler will be incredibly hard to stop over the next two years.
And Also . . . Steven Sewkumar didn’t get a ticket to Albany last year after taking second in Nassau behind state runner up Jose Rodriguez. He made his last chance in his senior year count, however, with a third place showing. The Section 8 wrestler lost only to Piccininni while twice beating third-seeded Bryan Lantry of Wayne as well as topping All-Stater John Stramiello of Pine Bush.
The Champion: Alex Delacruz was disqualified during the Eastern States semifinals against John Muldoon. He then took second in Section 1 to the Pearl River grappler. On the biggest stage, however, he came out on top by first knocking Muldoon off in the semifinals in an overtime match and then earning his spot on the top of the podium after an 11-7 triumph over #1 seed Steve Michel.
And Also . . . Weights for next season are hard to predict now. But it looks like there will be more intense competition in Sections 1 and 11 in the future around this class. Besides Delacruz and Muldoon (who was fourth), Section 1 features Blaise Benderoth (one match from medaling) and Nick Tolli, who placed at Eastern States but missed the postseason with an injury. In Section 11, Travis Passaro (third) and Mike D’Angelo (fifth) could see each other a number of times again in 2013-14.
The Champion: TJ Fabian wasn’t pleased about taking third at the Suffolk County tournament. He responded quite well – by outscoring his opponents 17-0 in his first two matches before notching pins in the semis and finals. He’s headed to Sacred Heart.
And Also . . . One of the loudest roars of the crowd came during the quarterfinals when the PSAL’s Keanu Thompson pinned two-time finalist Dylan Realbuto. Thompson was defeated soundly by Fabian on Saturday night but his run to the title bout was outstanding as he defeated the eventual third, fourth and sixth place finishers. That fourth placer was Chenango Forks senior Jacob Green, who after losing to Thompson in his opening tilt, won four in a row to finish his career on the podium.
Leshinger, Photo by BV
The Champion: After taking third at the Times Union Center last year and again at the Eastern States, Matt Leshinger ended his Sayville career in style atop the medal stand. The future Columbia Lion began with a pin and then methodically beat his next three opponents, including a 4-2 finals win over Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi.
And Also . . . Lapi made the top 8 in 2010. Since then, he has finished third, fourth and second. What’s missing? Well, a first place showing would complete the pattern. The Section 2 standout will no doubt be looking for exactly that as he enters his senior season.
Kelley, Photo by BV
The Champion: Nick Kelley has been a regular at the state tournament with appearances beginning as a seventh grader. He’s had a great career with over 250 victories but this weekend he got the most meaningful win of them all – the one in the state championship bout. The Binghamton-bound grappler took a 5-2 decision on Saturday night to leave as a champion.
And Also . . . Joey Butler of Burnt Hills pushed Kelley in one of their matches during the season, getting out to a big lead before the Shenendehowa wrestler came back to win. Butler earned third and will one to watch next year, as will Hilton’s Vincent DePrez, a silver medalist for the second consecutive year. DePrez, who was one of three brothers to compete in Albany, will be back on a mission for his first title.
Hernandez, Photo by BV
The Champion: Louis Hernandez came in as the favorite and left as the champion. After missing the podium a year ago while wrestling with a significant injury at the Times Union Center, Hernandez put together a one-loss season which included an Eastern States crown. While known for his excellence on his feet, Hernandez got a big reversal which propelled him to the title.
And Also . . . Eric Lewandowski made an appearance in the finals as a freshman, when he took second. After not making the medal stand as a sophomore and junior, the Lancaster wrestler once again earned a spot in the title contest as a senior. On his way there, he edged Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva 1-0 in the semis. Almaviva showed his toughness by once again wrestling back to third, as he did in 2012. Hernandez will return next season, and he will be the only placer in this bracket to do so.
Rasheed, Photo by BV
The Champion: Don’t blink when Corey Rasheed wrestles. You might miss it. Rasheed had a technical fall in round one and a pair of pins – both in less than a minute – over the weekend. That included a 56 second fall in the title bout. It was the Longwood junior’s third time in the finals and after two runner up finishes, he left with top billing. He should not only be on top of the New York rankings next year. He has the talent to represent the Empire State in the national polls as well.
And Also . . . Like Jon Haas at 106, Joe Mastro of Yorktown took third place the hard way. After losing to Konstantin Parfiryev (sixth place) on Friday morning, Mastro got his hand raised five times in a row. He didn’t just win, though. He did it convincingly, beginning with a technical fall and two majors (over the number two and three seeds). He finished with a pair of decisions.
Grimaldi, Photo by BV
The Champion: Tyler Grimaldi walked off the mat after taking second at this weight to Dylan Palacio in the state finals last year and vowed to do better in 2013. He got it done, including his third win of the season against Steven Schneider of MacArthur in the title bout. Next stop: Harvard.
And Also . . . Amsterdam’s James Marquez had a difficult draw, facing second seed (and eventual runner up) Steve Schneider in round one. Marquez dropped a tough 3-1 battle in overtime but then fought back with a string of close decisions (including three by two points) to reach the bronze bout. Once there, he finished his last match as a high schooler well, pinning Dale White to take third. White is worth mentioning as well. Despite an injury that kept him out for a lot of the campaign, he returned to win the Section 1 tournament and after injury defaulting to Grimaldi, made his way to fourth.
Toribio, Photo by BV
The Champion: Carlos Toribio had five losses as a junior, including three against the previously mentioned Tyler Grimaldi. This year, as a senior, he had just one (to Joe Piccolo), and he avenged it with two wins over Piccolo. In fact, in the Suffolk finals, he was dominant against the Half Hollow Hills West grappler and came into the Times Union Center with momentum that helped take him to the top of the podium. After a decision, a fall and a major in his first three bouts, Toribio picked up a tight 4-3 win over St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas to capture gold.
And Also . . . Vrasidas had a great tournament, including an upset of top seeded Danny McDevitt in the quarters. But McDevitt, the future Ivy League wrestler at Penn, rebounded by outscoring his four wrestleback opponents 33-1, including a technical fall in the bronze match.
Brady, Photo by BV
The Champion: Before the tournament began, it looked like Shayne Brady’s road back to the finals would be a tough one. The future North Carolina State wrestler faced a pair of returning state placers – James Benjamin and Gio Santiago in the quarters and semis – and beat both by bonus points. He then found a way to win in his final high school match with a 5-3 overtime decision over Wantagh’s James Corbett.
And Also . . . Corbett also navigated a challenging path to make the finals in his first trip to Albany. He suffered just three losses as a senior and will continue his career at Brown.
If you’re looking to see pins, find Gio Santiago. The Sachem North senior had three falls in the tournament (and was pinned by Brady) after recording 30 during the season. He earned All-State honors for the second straight year, this time in the third position.
Choi, Photo by BV
The Champion: We shared Dan Choi’s story a few weeks ago, discussing how the future Cornellian came from Korea without his parents just three years ago and earned a full ROTC scholarship to the Ivy League. Watching him this weekend, it’s hard to believe that he’s been wrestling for only three years. In a very difficult weight class, the Syosset senior looked aggressive and strong throughout the event, including a major decision over the top seed in the quarters.
And Also . . . When we asked what wrestlers could break out in Section 2 this year, the first answer from multiple coaches was Levi Ashley. He began the year at 182 and spent quite a bit of time at that weight, where he had plenty of success. However, when he moved up to 195 around mid January, he really took off. From there, he won 14 matches in a row entering the weekend. And he kept things going in the state capital. Being matched up with the third seed, Ben Honis, in the first round didn’t bother Ashley. He went out and majored the Section 3 wrestler 8-0 and followed with a pair of hard-fought decisions to make the title bout. With one season remaining at Shenendehowa, he’ll be among the favorites at whatever weight he chooses.
Sisti, Photo by BV
The Champion: At the Eastern States, one CHSAA insider told us that Rich Sisti, unable to participate in that tournament due to an injury, would win the state championship – guaranteed. It seemed bold at the time, but it was a good call. Sisti, commonly called the “manchild” by many of those at the tournament, indeed won and looked impressive in doing so. He certainly showed he is capable of capturing close matches against quality competition, as he notched 3-2 victories over a pair of Section 11 wrestlers, top seeded Nick Lupi and Steven Mills, in the semis and finals.
And Also . . . In the Division I tournament preview, we mentioned that there were some “under the radar” wrestlers in the field to watch in Albany. One of those was Steven Mills of Sachem North, who lost a squeaker to Lupi in the Suffolk tournament. Mills indeed made the spotlight as he competed for the state championship on Saturday night. He began his journey with a 5-1 win over second-seeded John Hartnett and then blanked his next two foes to make the finals.
The Champions: 42-0 with 39 bonus wins and a state title. That’s the season summary for Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes. The senior put an exclamation point on his campaign when he pinned Austin Coleman in the championship bout, his 31st fall of the year.
And Also . . . Remember the name James O’Hagan. The Seaford junior took third over the weekend with a pair of victories over top seeded El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia. The statistics above show that Mike Hughes only had three decisions all year. Two were against O’Hagan, including a 1-0 semifinal win on Saturday. After the tournament, Hughes said that O’Hagan gave him his toughest match and that he thought they should have been the state finalists. For O’Hagan, that will be the plan for 2013.
For all the brackets, see this link.
Congratulations to the Division I wrestlers on a great season.