Army Sweeps #25 Harvard, Brown on the Road


Daniel Mills

Daniel Mills

Jan. 28, 2012


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Army and Harvard split the 10 bouts right down the middle, but it was senior Daniel Mills’ pin in the heavyweight matchup that sealed the Black Knights’ 24-17 upset victory over the 25th-ranked Crimson in an EIWA dual match on Saturday afternoon inside the Malkin Athletic Center.

Army (7-5, 4-1 EIWA) began the match with a 12-0 cushion as Harvard forfeited the 125- and 133-pound bouts. Freshman Scott Filbert (125 pounds) and junior Jordan Thome (133) were credited with victories.

Black Knight junior Casey Smith extended Army’s lead to 15-0 following a 6-2 victory over Patrick Hogan in the 141-pound matchup.

Harvard (4-5, 1-3 EIWA) trimmed the Black Knights’ advantage to 15-8 following major decision verdicts in the next two bouts. Eighth-ranked Corey Jantzen took down Army sophomore Ryan Bilyeu, 11-0, at 149 pounds, while fourth-ranked Walter Peppelman blanked Black Knight senior Jimmy Rafferty, 12-0, at 157 pounds.

Army freshman Cole Gracey made it 18-8 after defeating Ian Roy, 8-2, in the 165-pound bout, but Harvard reeled off three consecutive wins to pull to within 18-17 heading into the final match of the contest.

That set the stage for a winner-take-all heavyweight bout, and Mills wasted little time securing Army’s fourth straight victory by pinning Davig Ng in 56 seconds.

Army returns to action on Sunday, Feb. 5, when the Black Knights travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to compete at the 18th annual All-Academy Championships.

Match Notes: Army improves to 23-11 all-time versus Harvard … it marks the Black Knights’ second victory over a ranked opponent this season … Army knocked off then-No. 25-ranked Iowa State on Nov. 6, 2011 … Jordan Thome improves to 20-7 following today’s action … it marks his second straight 20-win season … Thome is now tied with Jimmy Rafferty for the team lead in victories … Cole Graceyhas won nine straight bouts … Daniel Mills’ pin was his second of the season.

Army 24, #25 Harvard 17
125: Scott Filbert (A) wins by forfeit
133: Jordan Thome (A) wins by forfeit
141: Casey Smith (A) dec. Patrick Hogan, 6-2
149: #8 Corey Jantzen (H) maj. dec. Ryan Bilyeu, 11-0
157: #4 Walter Peppelman (H) maj. dec. Jimmy Rafferty, 12-0
165: Cole Gracey (A) dec. Ian Roy, 8-2
174: Josh Popple (H) dec. Eric Gobin, 9-7
184: Cameron Croy (H) dec. Michael Gorman, 8-2
197: James Fox (H) dec. Derek Stanley, 1-0
285: Daniel Mills (A) pinned David Ng, 0:56



PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Junior Jordan Thome registered a pin at 133 pounds, and three other Black Knights recorded major decisions to lead the Army wrestling team to a 24-15 victory over EIWA rival Brown on Saturday morning inside the Pizzitola Sports Center.

Junior Casey Smith (141 pounds), senior Jimmy Rafferty (157) and senior Daniel Mills (197) each picked up major decisions to help Army (6-5, 3-1 EIWA) to its third straight dual match victory.

Brown (3-4, 2-3 EIWA) took an early 3-0 lead as Billy Watterson edged Army freshman Scott Filbert, 9-7, in the 125-pound bout.

Army responded quickly with Thome pinning Beau Martino in 1 minute, 12 seconds at 133 pounds. Smith followed with a dominant 9-1 major decision victory versus Grant Overcashier in the 141-pound matchup to give the Black Knights a 10-3 advantage.

After Brown’s Ricky Bailey slipped past Army sophomore Ryan Bilyeu, 12-11, at 149 pounds, Rafferty delivered a 10-2 major decision opposite Max Lewin in the 157-pound bout to increase the Black Knights’ cushion to 14-6.

Army freshman Cole Gracey, who has been on fire of late, posted a 6-0 win versus Jeff Lemmer at 165 pounds, but Brown reeled off wins at the next two weight classes to pull to within 17-15 with two bouts remaining.

The Black Knights were able to hold off the Bears, however, with Mills taking down Ricky McDonald (11-1) at 197 pounds and senior Derek Stanley securing an 8-2 verdict against Marcos Aranda in the heavyweight bout.


Match Notes: Army improves to 17-5-2 all-time versus Brown … Jordan Thome’s pin was his ninth of the season … he leads the Black Knights with nine pins and 10 bonus-point victories … his nine pins tie his single-season career high, which he established as a sophomore last year … Thome has won seven straight matches … his 19 wins rank second on the team … Casey Smith’s major decision was the first of his career, and it marked the first bonus-point victory of his career … Jimmy Rafferty’s win was his 20th of the season … it marks his second straight 20-win season … Rafferty’s major decision was his second of the season … he has won eight of his last nine matches … Cole Gracey has won eight consecutive bouts … Daniel Mills’ major decision was his first of the season … Derek Stanley has won five of his last six matches.

Army 24, Brown 15
125: Billy Watterson (B) dec. Scott Filbert, 9-7
133: Jordan Thome (A) pinned Beau Martino, 1:12
141: Casey Smith (A) maj. dec. Grant Overcashier, 9-1
149: Ricky Bailey (B) dec. Ryan Bilyeu, 12-11
157: Jimmy Rafferty (A) maj. dec. Max Lewin, 10-2
165: Cole Gracey (A) dec. Jeff Lemmer, 6-0
174: Dave Foxen (B) dec. Eric Gobin, 8-6
184: Ophir Bernstein (B) pinned Michael Gorman, 4:28
197: Daniel Mills (A) maj. dec. Ricky McDonald, 11-1
285: Derek Stanley (A) dec. Marcos Aranda, 8-2


Columbia Takes Down Franklin & Marshall on the Road

LANCASTER, Pa. — Jake O’Hara won by technical fall and Robert Dyar and Kevin Lester recorded pins as the Columbia wrestling team took a 32-12 victory over EIWA foe Franklin & Marshall on Friday night at the Mayser Center.

Columbia improved its dual record to 4-2 and evened its EIWA mark to 1-1 with the win over the Diplomats (0-11).

O’Hara’s 22-7 technical fall victory in 5:59 over Eric Norgard was the highlight of the meet. O’Hara (21-9) has now won his last five bouts and is tied with Stephen West with a team-high three wins by technical fall.

At 125 pounds, Dyar (12-13) gave the Lions a quick 6-0 lead when he pinned Franklin & Marshall’s David Hershberger in 1:56. The pin was Dyar’s second on the season and first in dual format. Dyar improved to 5-1 over his last six bouts.

Senior captain Kyle Gilchrist notched his 20th win of the year at 133, improving to 20-9 after besting Robert Ruiz, 6-0. Gilchrist now has two seasons with 20 or more wins. Back in 2009-10, he went 24-12.

Franklin & Marshall climbed to within 9-3 following Richard Durso’s 3-2 win over Columbia 141-pounder Matt Bystol (18-12), but the Lions would take the next four weights to take command of the meet.

At 149, Steve Santos (14-5) defeated Andrew Murano, 6-1, to extend his match winning streak to six.

Adam Fondale (19-8) took a win at 165 by forfeit.

Stephen West (23-10) picked up his 23rd win of the season, edging Matt Fullowan, 5-2.

The Diplomats took some wins at the heavier classes, as Matt Latessa edged the Lions’ Shane Hughes, 11-9, at 184 and Colin Ely pinned Matt Idelson at 197.

Senior captain Kevin Lester continued his hot streak at 285, pinning Alexander Henry in 4:15. Lester (23-7) has won his last 13 bouts, a stretch that includes seven pins and one major decision. Lester now has a team-high 10 wins by fall this season.

Columbia opens Ivy League action on Feb. 4 when it heads makes its third trip this season to Ithaca, N.Y., to take on Cornell. The Lions return to the friendly confines of University Gymnasium on Feb. 18 when they host Brown and Harvard.

Columbia 32, Franklin & Marshall 12
125: Robert Dyar (C) pinned David Hershberger (F&M), 1:56.
133: Kyle Gilchrist (C) dec. Robert Ruiz (F&M), 6-0.
141: Richard Durso (F&M) dec. Matt Bystol (C), 3-2.
149: Steve Santos (C) dec. Andrew Murano (F&M), 6-1.
157: Jake O’Hara (C) tech. fall Eric Norgard (F&M), 5:59 22-7.
165: Adam Fondale (C) won by forf.
174: Stephen West (C) dec. Matt Fullowan (F&M), 5-2.
184: Matt Latessa (F&M) dec. Shane Hughes (C), 11-9.
197: Colin Ely (F&M) pinned Matt Idelson (C), 2:46.
285: Kevin Lester (C) pinned Alexander Henry (F&M), 4:15.

No. 24 Hofstra Rolls Over Rutgers; Gillespie Gets Win #100

New Brunswick, NJ – Senior Ben Clymer and junior Tyler Banks each posted major decisions and the Pride captured eight of the 10 matches as #24 Hofstra defeated Rutgers, 26-10 at the College Avenue Gymnasium Friday night.

Hofstra improved to 9-0 on the season and won its 14 thconsecutive dual match dating back to a loss to then-#1 Cornell last February. The Scarlet Knights slipped to 12-4.

Banks opened the match at 157 pounds against Dave Seidenberg and posted a nine-point second period to win, 12-0. Banks is now 9-8 on the season. Hofstra senior P.J. Gillespie, ranked 19th, gave the Pride a 7-0 lead in the match with a 2-0 victory over #9 Scott Winston at 165 pounds. Gillespie posted a third period escape and the riding time point to record his 20th win of the season. It was also his 100th career victory.

Rutgers got on the board at 174 as 18 th-ranked Greg Zannetti pinned Hofstra freshman Jermaine John in 2:25 to close the match deficit to 7-6. John is now 7-11. Clymer gave the Pride some breathing room with a 12-3 major decision over Dan Seidenberg. Clymer is now 21-5 on the year. The Scarlet Knights came right back at 197 as Dan Rinaldi rolled to an 11-3 major decision over Pride sophomore Tim Murphy (10-14), 11-3.

Clinging to a one point lead at 11-10, the Pride then reeled off five consecutive victories to win going away. First, junior Paul Snyder won his 15 th match of the season with a 7-4 decision over Carl Buchholz at 285 to boost the lead to 14-10. Junior Steve Bonanno then won his 20th match of the season with a 9-3 decision over Vinny Dellefave at 125. At 133, Jamie Franco, after being down 4-1 early in the second period, rallied for a 5-4 victory over Joe Langel on a third period escape. Franco is now 15-8 on the year. Sophomore Luke Vaith rallied from a 7-4 deficit in the third to post a 12-8 decision over Billy Ashnault at 141 pounds. Vaith is now 14-7 in 2011-12. Junior Justin Accordino closed out the match with an 8-1 decision over Anthony Perrotti at 149 for the 26-10 final. Accordino, who won his seventh straight match, is now 17-8 this season.

The Pride return home to the Mack Sports Complex on Sunday, January 29 when they host the Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania at 1 p.m. 



— Courtesy of Hofstra Athletic Communications

Off to an Undefeated Start, Hofstra Looks Forward

By Betsy Veysman

Hofstra, the 24th ranked team in the country in the latest USA Today/Division I Coaches Poll, is off to an 8-0 start, including victories last week over American and CAA squads Old Dominion, George Mason and Boston.  Dating back to last year, the Pride wrestlers have won 13 duals in a row.

This weekend, Hofstra puts that unbeaten streak on the line against two tough foes, Rutgers on the road and Pennsylvania at the Mack Sports Complex.

“We’ll be facing two very good teams,” said head coach Rob Anspach. “We know that in this sport everything is about March.  But you don’t do well in March if you don’t really challenge yourself during the season.  Rutgers had a great year last year with close to 20 dual wins and they have some very good individuals.  Penn has a returning All-American at 141 and a highly ranked 197 in Micah Burak. So we will definitely be challenged.  We need to continue to do the things we’ve been doing like dictating the pace and winning hand fighting battles and if we do, we should be able to come away with two more wins.”

One of the bouts Anspach is looking forward to this weekend is at 165 pounds where senior PJ Gillespie will face ninth ranked Scott Winston of the Scarlet Knights.  Gillespie, a returning All-American from nearby Long Beach High School, sports a 19-5 record and some strong placements in tournaments this year – first at the Binghamton Open, second at the Las Vegas Invitational and fourth at the Southern Scuffle.  Four of his five losses have come in his last 9 matches, however.

“PJ started off the year really well but hit a rough spot at the Scuffle and the Drexel dual,” Anspach said.  “Last weekend I was much happier with his performance.  He even dominated almost the entire match that he lost.  We just want him to use all of his tools. We rely on him to score bonus points in close duals and when he’s offensive minded, he looks great.”

The captain finished on the podium last year at the NCAAs in Philadelphia after entering the tournament unseeded.  Currently ranked #19, he may have to take a similar path this March.

“Wherever he winds up, even if he is unseeded again, PJ is capable of winning those matches at NCAAs.  His road may be a little tougher than we hoped, but he is certainly capable of placing high this year.”

Gillespie is one of the team leaders fueling the Pride this campaign, in addition to junior Steve Bonanno and senior Ben Clymer.

Bonanno has consistently gotten the team off on the right foot.  The Long Island product has gone 20-5 overall, including finishes of third and sixth at the Las Vegas Invitational and the Southern Scuffle, respectively.  In addition, he has racked up an 8-0 record in duals, including six bonus point wins.

“I’ve been really impresssed with Steve,” Anspach said.  “He’s been our most consistent wrestler.   We’ve been able to start at 125 in all but one dual and he gets things going the right way. It’s really nice to start off the dual 4-0 or 5-0.”

Anspach also added that Bonanno is a top student, with a grade point average around 3.8 in International Business.

“You don’t find too many guys like Steve,” he said. “He’s outstanding.  You never worry about him academically or in anything else.  He’s always doing the right things.”

Clymer, a two-time NCAA qualifier, has been competitive throughout his career.   However, the nation’s 11th ranked grappler at 184 pounds has raised his game, according to Anspach, to the tune of a 20-4 record.

“Ben has picked up his point scoring to the level he is capable of,” the coach said.  “He’s very strong and long and hard to score on, but he relied too much on his defense.  He’s had a lot of 2-1, 3-2 matches against good opponents in the past.  Now he’s working really hard on his feet and starting to put some distance between him and the guys he’s wrestling.  He’s also been working hard on top and has been able to ride some of the best in the country.”

Anspach pointed to Clymer’s fourth placing showing at the Southern Scuffle as a turning point.  The Pennsylvania native lost in the first round to Clarence Neely of Missouri, but rebounded to win six straight bouts, including victories over Jon Fausey (who eliminated Clymer from last year’s Scuffle), Luke Rebertus (who knocked Clymer out of the NCAA tournament in 2011) and Neely.

While Bonanno, Gillespie and Clymer have starred, any good dual team needs contributions throughout the lineup, and Hofstra has had solid performances from a number of wrestlers.

133: Lou Ruggirello was a nationally ranked wrestler throughout his four years in Hempstead and his graduation in 2011 left the 133-pound slot vacant.  However, Anspach has been pleased with his replacement.

“133 has been a win and often a pin for us for several years with Lou,” the coach said.  “But Jamie Franco might be the biggest surprise on the team.  He has gone out and done a great job for us.”  The Monroe, New York native is 14-8 in 2011-12.

141: Luke Vaith has been competitive all year (14-7) and is waiting for a breakthrough victory.

“Luke isn’t getting the recognition he deserves,” Anspach said. “He’s very strong and talented.  The problem is that he is losing to very good kids in tight ones.  He was beating [5th ranked] Jake Sueflohn of Nebraska the whole match and gave up a very late takedown.  He just had a good win against Justin LaValle from Old Dominion, who had beaten him at the Scuffle.  I’m hoping he can turn the corner and win some of these close ones.  He definitely belongs at nationals.”

149: Following Vaith in the lineup is 149-pounder Justin Accordino, who has taken a difficult path back onto the mat for the Pride.

“Justin suffered two torn ACLs, in back to back years.  Both times it was in the first half of the season,” Anspach said. “After the first one he put in an intense, long rehab and he was just getting the rust knocked off when it happened again.  You don’t know how a kid will react to that, but Justin rehabbed again and came back stronger.  His body isn’t fully where his mind is yet wrestling wise, but we’re starting to see him getting back to the wrestler he was.  If he can keep it going, he will be good come March.”

285: Anspach also mentioned the efforts of heavyweight Paul Snyder, last season’s CAA champion, who has registered a 14-7 mark.

“Paul has been working hard on his offense and his handfighting.  He’s run into some guys in the conference who weren’t here last year in [19th ranked] Kyle Frey and [12th ranked] Nick Gwiazdowski.  He’ll have to beat them to get back to the national tournament.”

174:  The head coach believes that recent CAA Rookie of the Week Jermaine John has made significant strides since the beginning of the campaign.

“Jermaine is coming along nicely,” he added.  “He had a great match with Te Edwards from ODU last week. [10th ranked Edwards won 7-6].  Jermaine is strong, quick and athletic. He has all the tools; he just needs more confidence. He needs to get that one win that triggers him to the next level.”

The next level is where the new, young coaching staff hopes to get Hofstra as a team.

While Anspach is in his first season as the head coach, he has been around the Hofstra program for most of the past 13 years, first as a student-athlete and then as a member of the staff.   In addition to second-year coach Zach Tanelli, Anspach added a pair of recent All-Americans, Gregor Gillespie and Dan Vallimont, before this campaign began.

“They are all young and bring great enthusiasm,” Anspach said. “We only have 22 guys in the room, so having coaches that wrestle with the guys every day really makes a difference.  They all come from very successful programs and have great minds for wrestling.  I think it’s been a good formula so far.”

Anspach acknowledged that ultimately success is judged in March and he believes he knows what it would look like for the Pride.

“We want to win our conference championship, which we’ve done 10 out of the last 11 years.  Binghamton has a really good team as does Old Dominion, but we feel like we’re the favorites,” he said. “When we get to nationals, we believe we have the potential for a lot of our guys to place.  From my perspective, three or four All-Americans would be a great success.”

*Rankings are from


Q&A with Wantagh's Hall of Fame Coach Paul Gillespie

By Betsy Veysman

Paul Gillespie has been deeply involved in wrestling for years, as a competitor and as a coach.  The National Coaches Hall of Fame member and two-time college All-American at Westchester State University in Pennsylvania, was the longtime leader of the Long Beach program and is now the head coach at Wantagh High School.  The 18-0 Warriors are the top-ranked team in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll.

Coach Gillespie talked with New York Wrestling News about the top ranking, the season to date, what’s left to come and the growth of the Wantagh program.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): Wantagh is ranked as the top dual team in the state for the first time.  What does that mean to you?

Coach Gillespie: It’s nice to have for the kids and I’m delighted with the way the team is wrestling.  We’ve really come together.  We have a bunch of good wrestlers and good young men. But the truth is, I don’t really believe in rankings as far as championships go.  You have to get it done at the end of the year.

NYWN: The 38-37 dual meet win on criteria over #2 Shenendehowa is a key reason for the #1 ranking.  What were the keys to winning that dual?

Gillespie: It didn’t start out good for us.  We were behind 22-0.  We have a really good kid, Chris Araoz (who wrestled in the dual at 126) and when he got caught and pinned, I thought we were in trouble.  But everyone hung together and we got great performances out of some of our lightweights, including Kyle Quinn at 106.  They have a great kid at 113 and, as you know in wrestling duals, sometimes just not getting majored or teched or pinned is basically like a win.  Holding them to a regular decision at 113 was huge for us.

NWYN: Was it a bigger win because of near misses against Shenendehowa in recent years?

Gillespie: I think so. We have been knocking on the door.  Last year was a very close match, so was the year before. Shenendehowa is a great program and we feel like we’re on the upswing, getting better.  We’re just hoping to keep improving.  We’ll definitely wrestle them again next year.

NYWN: Why has Wantagh been on the upswing?

Gillespie: I think the way our program is going now we should be really strong for a number of years.  It mostly comes down to hard work and lots of great people in the community who care about the program and are willing to help.  People here are interested in wrestling and people like winners.  Things are good on all levels – the Wantagh wrestling club is doing great things and Ray Handley Senior is doing an outstanding job with the kids program.

NYWN: In the revised brackets, Wantagh tied with Long Beach for third at Eastern States.  How did you feel about the team’s performance?

Gillespie: We ended up third, beating Hauppauge, Longwood and some other great schools with only nine kids wrestling for us.  We were only allowed to take nine because it was our first year in the tournament.  The other teams around us had around 15 kids.  So I think we did pretty well.  I think we could make a run with a full team there next year, although I’m not sure anyone is beating Wyoming Seminary.

NYWN: Jose Rodriguez dominated his way to the 99-pound championship at Eastern States.  What did you think about his tournament?

Gillespie: Jose Rodriguez is amazing.  He’s just a ninth grader and I think he’s one of the best around, pound for pound.  He actually beat the kids that finished first, second and third at 106 this summer.  He really reminds me of Al Palacio, a three-time New York state champ and an All-American in college.  He has that fire in him and he’s a great competitor.  He has an outstanding work ethic and is a good student too.  I certainly think he will make a run for the state title.  It will take someone with great talent to beat him.

NYWN: How do you assess the performance of the rest of your team at Eastern States?

Gillespie: Our other three placers, Steve English (fifth at heavyweight), Chris Loew (sixth at 170) and Chris Araoz (seventh at 120) did well and all were capable of placing higher. I think they are all potential state placers, but they have to get through our county first and that won’t be easy.  They are more than capable, but it’s a matter of how they perform when it counts.

Some other kids looked good too. Vinny Terano has been wrestling well.  Dan McDevitt is a very good wrestler.  They didn’t use head to head in seeding and he had beaten the two-seed James Dekrone earlier but was only seeded 10th.  We’re looking for big things from him in the future.

NYWN: What’s next for Wantagh?

Gillespie: In our county there will definitely be some challenges from teams like Long Beach and MacArthur, among others.  But I think we’ll be pretty tough to beat because we have good kids in all weight classes and I think that makes us a little bit of the favorite.  I think with the work we put in and the types of kids we have, it’s ours to lose.  I usually don’t speak that way, but these are such solid kids with great focus.

NYWN: What are your expectations for the state tournament?

Gillespie: We’re hoping to have several kids in Albany.  I think it will be a great tournament that will be won by the team that steps up to the plate.  There are a lot of teams that will have a bunch of kids there – teams like Shenendehowa, Longwood, Hauppauge, John Glenn, Eastport South Manor and some very good upstate teams too.  I’m sure I’m leaving teams out.  I would say Shenendehowa may have a bit of an edge because of some of their upperweights that are really good and Nick Kelley, who I think is one of the best wrestlers in the state as a junior.

NYWN: The top dual team receives an award in Albany as well.  What would it mean to receive that award?

Gillespie: I think it would be absolutely great for the kids and the program.  When you’re a successful program, you are able to get more and more people wanting to be a part of it.  It only gets stronger.  We want to be able to keep everything going.

NYWN: Quite a few recent Wantagh wrestlers have gone on to wrestle in college.  Who are some of the notable alumni?

Gillespie: We have a few guys at Hofstra: Steve Bonanno, Matt Loew and Joe Kavanaugh, who is redshirting.  Joe Barbato and Paul Liguori are at Harvard and John Greisheimer is at Edinboro.

Bonanno is having a great year and Greisheimer lost a close match in the All-American round at NCAAs last year.  We take a lot of pride in all of those guys.  The community in Wantagh understands that the key to everything is getting an education.  A very small percentage of guys are going to the Olympic level; there aren’t too many places to compete after college. So we stress the education and those kids are great examples of that.

NYWN: Have those wrestlers stayed involved in the program?

Gillespie: When they’re home, they always stop in.  With the new rules, they can’t wrestle at practice, but they talk to the kids and tell them about their experiences and college life.  It’s great to have them back to tell their stories.  They give our kids a lesson on what it will be like to be a college student-athlete.

NYWN: How would you sum up your time as Wantagh head coach to this point?

Gillespie: It’s really a pleasure for me to be here.   It’s a new and different environment.  It’s a great school district and a lot of the sports are on the championship level. The parents are so determined to see their kids succeed in sports and academics. They understand what I think is most important – that it’s all about the education.

After leaving Long Beach [High School] after a long time, I was sitting on the beach, since I’m the chief of the lifeguards.  A few guys came down to see me and asked if I would come and help develop the Wantagh program and then all of a sudden the coach left for personal reasons.  My wife wasn’t all for it at first because she knows the time and effort it takes, but I wouldn’t have done it without her blessing.  I thought my coaching days were over, but I guess I was wrong.  I’m glad to be back.

Top-seeded Wantagh returns to action on January 27-28 at the Nassau County Dual Meet championships.

Army Dumps Drexel, 26-12

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Junior Jordan Thome and freshman Scott Filbertpinned their opponents, and senior Michael Gorman and freshman Cole Gracey added major decisions as the Army wrestling team defeated Drexel, 26-12, in a non-conference dual match on Tuesday evening.

Army (5-5) clung to a tenuous 14-9 advantage before Filbert (125 pounds) Thome (133) reeled off consecutive pins. The Black Knights, who were coming off a first-place finish at last weekend’s New York State Championships, won six of the 10 bouts en route to the victory.

Drexel (4-8) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead as the Dragons’ Shane Fenningham took a 5-3 decision from Army sophomore Ryan Bilyeu in the 149-pound bout.

The Black Knights quickly responded, however, winning the next four bouts to surge in front by a 14-3 margin.

Senior co-captain Jimmy Rafferty began the Black Knights’ string of consecutive victories by posting an 11-4 triumph against Austin Sommer in the 157-pound bout. Gracey, who won his first career tournament title at last weekend’s New York State Championships, followed with a 13-3 major decision versus Anson Worrell at 165 pounds.

Junior Eric Gobin then recorded a 7-2 victory over Kevin Matays in the 174-pound bout to push Army’s advantage to 10-3. Gorman, who also won his first career tournament crown at the New York States, posted a 12-4 major decision opposite Drexel’s Bryan Sternlieb to make it 14-3.

Drexel halted Army’s run of successive wins in the 197-pound matchup as 20th-ranked Brandon Palik slipped past Black Knight senior Derek Stanley, 5-3. The three-point decision pulled the Dragons to within 14-6 with four bouts remaining.

Drexel trimmed Army’s advantage to 14-9 as Kyle Frey secured a 10-4 decision versus Black Knight senior Daniel Mills in the heavyweight bout.

The Dragons would get no closer, though, as Filbert and Thome posted back-to-back pins to snuff out any chance for a Drexel comeback. Filbert wasted little time in taking Mike Gomez to the mat in the 125-pound matchup, recording the pin in 2 minutes, 5 seconds. Thome needed less than two minutes to earn his pin at 133 pounds, dropping Drexel’s Paul Wampler in 1:52.

Drexel’s Frank Cimato closed out the match by earning a 13-7 decision versus Army junior Casey Smith in the 141-pound bout.

Army resumes its road swing on Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Black Knights travel to Cambridge, Mass., to face EIWA rivals Harvard and Brown.

Match Notes: Army improves to 7-5 all-time versus Drexel … the Black Knights have defeated the Dragons in each of the last two seasons … Scott Filbert ranks second on the team with six pins this season … Jordan Thome tops Army with eight pins and nine bonus-point victories this season … Jimmy Rafferty leads Army with 19 overall wins and eight dual match victories … Cole Gracey and Michael Gorman share the team lead with three major decisions apiece … Eric Gobin’s victory marked his first career dual match win (1-4).

Army 26, Drexel 12
125: Scott Filbert (A) pinned Mike Gomez, 2:05
133: Jordan Thome (A) pinned Paul Wampler, 1:52
141: Frank Cimato (D) dec. Casey Smith, 13-7
149: Shane Fenningham (D) dec. Ryan Bilyeu, 5-3
157: Jimmy Rafferty (A) dec. Austin Sommer, 11-4
165: Cole Gracey (A) maj. dec. Anson Worrell, 13-3
174: Eric Gobin (A) dec. Kevin Matays, 7-2
184: Michael Gorman (A) maj. dec. Bryan Sternlieb, 12-4
197: No. 20 Brandon Palik (D) dec. Derek Stanley, 5-3
285: Kyle Frey (D) dec. Daniel Mills, 10-4
* – Match began at 149 pounds

Courtesy of

Family and the Wrestling Mentality: The "Miracle" Story of Aaron Paddock

By Betsy Veysman

14 pounds may not seem too heavy.  50 feet may not seem too far.  The Paddocks would disagree.

When the winter holiday break ended in January, eighth grader Aaron Paddock returned to Warsaw Middle School with his classmates.

“I was pretty excited to go back,” he said.  “But it was a pretty normal day.”

After the events of the past five months, to the outsider it seems far from normal.  In fact, according to Aaron’s father Brad, one of the doctors at Buffalo Children’s Hospital said she “had never truly witnessed a miracle firsthand” before.

The story began at the end of August.  Members of the Paddock family were cutting down trees in their yard when a branch weighing about 14 pounds fell over 50 feet and hit Aaron in the head, crushing his skull.

After rushing him to the local hospital, he was quickly airlifted to Buffalo where the outlook appeared grim.

“There was a lot of brain swelling,” Brad Paddock said. “We just kept getting more and more bad news over those first few days.  First, they weren’t sure if he would even live.  But if he did, the doctors told us he may never walk again or ever speak again.  He was paralyzed on his left side and they thought that might be permanent too.”

The original plan outlined by the doctors was for Aaron to be in the hospital through November.  They removed part of his skull and inserted it into his stomach so it would regenerate.  At the end of the three months, the plan was to place the skull back into his head and then have him live in a full time rehabilitation facility in Rochester for 60 days to try to help him regain function.

The Paddock family, made up of Brad and his wife Jeanie as well their children Jessica (26), Nikki (24), Paul (23), Luke (22), Ian (21), Joey (18), Burke (16) and Ellen (12), decided that if Aaron was going to call the hospital home for months, he wouldn’t ever be alone.

“My mom and I stayed in the hospital pretty much the whole time,” Ian said. “We took shifts.  I did the nights, my mom did the mornings and everyone else came in at other parts of the day.  There was always someone holding his hand and encouraging him, 24 hours a day.”

For Ian, a scholarship wrestler at Ohio State University, the decision to stay by his brother’s side was an easy one.  The former four-time New York state champion had already decided to redshirt this season as a junior but was planning to go back to Columbus.  However, after the accident, he called Buckeyes head coach Tom Ryan, who immediately suggested that he stay in New York to help Aaron with his recovery.

Despite the original prognosis, Ian recalled some of the hospital milestones that suggested that Aaron was going to overcome the accident.

“The first day of real excitement came about two weeks in,” Ian said. “They had just taken the tube out of his throat and they were trying to wake him up out of the coma. I remember Paul and I were trying to get [Aaron] to follow instructions like ‘move your thumb, move your fingers.’ Pretty soon he did it.  He wasn’t moving for two weeks then there he was, following commands. It was so encouraging.  He was way ahead of where they thought he would be.”

And then there was the first time Aaron spoke.

“After he was out of the coma, I asked one of the nurses when he would be able to talk again,” Brad Paddock said.  “She told me I had to be more patient, it would take at least a month. Ian was in his face that day, talking to him and telling him he could do it.  [Ian] just wouldn’t let him off the hook.  Eight hours later, he looked at Ian and said, ‘Your breath smells.’  It was just unbelievable.”

“We both starting laughing,” Ian added. “It wasn’t the first thing I wanted to hear him say, but it was great for him to be able to talk again.”

34 days after entering the hospital, the day before his 15th birthday, Aaron Paddock was released from the hospital to his home in Warsaw.

“They thought it would take three months for the skull to be ready, but it went much faster,” Brad Paddock said. “The swelling in his head had gone down and the doctors were able to put it back successfully.  They said the recovery process was accelerated beyond what they had seen before.  Since he was already walking and talking, they decided he could skip the rehab facility altogether and just come back home.”

Aaron was supposed to slowly continue his rehabilitation when he returned.  But according to Ian, the first thing Aaron did when he entered the house was sprint up the steps as fast as he could.  Right behind him was Ian, which became a common theme.

Every day in the Paddock household for Ian, Jeanie and Aaron was busy, with both therapy and schoolwork.

“There were a few hours of homework each day,” Ian said. “He had his physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) for a few weeks. We did some light lifts and strength training.  We did other workouts too.”

“Ian went to every therapy session with Aaron and then doubled it and tripled it once they got back home,” Brad added.  “We all worked to stimulate him non-stop, whether it was bean bag toss, darts, Connect Four or checkers.  Ian stayed by his side the whole time and showed him love and support while pushing him hard.   Both he and Aaron used a wrestler’s mentality.”

“I don’t think I would have had the strength to fight through everything without the wrestling mentality,” Aaron agreed.

The Paddock family is full of accomplished grapplers.  Paul, a two-time state champion, competed at Edinboro.  Ian was an NCAA qualifier in both his true freshman and sophomore campaigns at Ohio State. Burke was a 171-pound state runner up as a freshman last year and is nationally ranked.

Aaron, however, had the best seventh grade performance of any of the brothers, going 50-5 according to the NWCA Scorebook and taking sixth at 103 pounds at the state tournament in Albany in 2011.

He has been cleared to participate in some team sports and plans to run track this spring and possibly play soccer in the fall.  Of course, there’s another squad he would like to join as well.

“I’m running two miles everyday and working out also,” Aaron said. “Wrestling is my favorite sport, though, and I really hope I can wrestle again by next year.”

Brad Paddock said that next month they are going to Washington D.C. to get a brain scan and see one of the top doctors in the country for brain injuries.

“We know it’s his desire to get back to wrestling,” he said. “But we can’t let him do it without knowing for sure that it’s not a greater risk for him than anyone else.  He was determined to start wrestling this January but we knew that wasn’t going to happen.  We will make sure we aren’t taking big risks.  The best doctors in the country will tell us what they think.”

In the meantime, Ian feels he has gained a new appreciation for the sport he and his family love. He is coming off a neck injury and is not yet able to fully train and practice.  However, he is working toward rejoining the Buckeyes lineup for the 2012-13 campaign at 133 or 141 pounds.

“[Aaron] might not be able to do something he truly loves ever again,” Ian said.  “It puts it in perspective for me. I have to give all I have for me and for him.  There are no excuses.  If I don’t feel good in practice or workouts, I think of him and how he doesn’t have the chance to wrestle and make myself go harder.”

Ian Paddock’s talent has never been in question.  He handed Cornell’s two-time national champion Kyle Dake his last high school loss, 9-4, in the 2008 130 pound state championship match when both were juniors.   According to Ian, he then beat Dake again a few months later in a freestyle event in Las Vegas.  The difference in college as freshmen, Paddock said, was mental.

“In high school, I never expected to be beaten.  When I came into college, I accepted that some kids could beat me.  I should have had the mindset that I had the ability to be the best and I would have had a better outcome.  It seems that Kyle Dake believed that no one could beat him from the very beginning. That’s one of the reasons for his success.”

Success is something Aaron Paddock has certainly achieved over the past five months.  Despite missing 17 weeks of school, he completely caught up and is doing well academically.  He is beating his father in darts and other family members in other games.  He is, in his own words, “back to my old self.”

While he will not have his hand raised on the mats this season, he will be receiving another honor.  Buffalo Children’s Hospital informed the Paddocks last week that Aaron has been named its Inspirational Patient of the Year.


For an update on the Paddock family from October 2012, see here.