Five Empire State wrestlers will wrestle for national titles on Friday, March 30 in Virginia Beach at the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) championships. Friday is the final day of competition in the Freshman, Sophomore and Junior divisions. Action in the Senior brackets just got underway on Friday morning and will continue through Sunday, April 1.
Former state champion and three-time placer Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich dropped a decision to Neal Richards at 126 in the championship bout in the Freshman competition. Rifanburg picked up five victories on his way to the finals, three by bonus points. He edged Michael Monica of New Jersey 3-2 in Thursday night’s semifinals.
UPDATE: In the championship bout, Richards came out fast in the first period, taking Rifanburg down for a 2-0 lead. The New York wrestler began the second period on top and worked for turns, but was unable to pick up nearfall. The grapplers started the third in neutral. Rifanburg looked to score but was countered by Richards for another takedown. Richards tacked on one more late in the third to earn a national championship.
A pair of Empire State sophomores will also wrestle on the biggest stage.
Corey Rasheed of Longwood followed up his strong 35-3 season at 145 pounds with a convincing run at Virginia Beach. After a 10-4 decision to start the competition, Rasheed registered three straight pins in the first period to reach the semis. He then defeated Josh Ortman of Pennsylvania 9-2 to move on to this afternoon’s finale against Larry Bomstad of Minnesota.
UPDATE: Rasheed and Bomstad traded shots early in the first, but no points were put on the board until late in the opening period when Bomstad hit a double, getting the takedown and three nearfall for a 5-0 lead. Rasheed started on bottom in the second and earned a reversal at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 5-2. The Minnesota wrestler chose top to begin the final period, but Rasheed was able to escape midway through. Bomstad stayed on the attack, earning a takedown as time wound down to earn the 7-3 decision.
Burke Paddock is no stranger to the finals at NHSCAs. Last year, he captured the 171-pound title in this event and he was third at the New York States this year at 170. Paddock moved down to 160 pounds and has breezed through so far, with his closest match being an 11-2 major over fellow New Yorker Tyler Silverthorn in the semifinals. He also has two falls and a technical fall. His competitor will be New Jersey bronze medalist (at 152) Jonathan Schleifer.
UPDATE: Paddock came out aggressive, but Schleifer got on the board first with a takedown off the Warsaw wrestler’s shot. After a quick escape, Paddock tried for a throw, but Schleifer countered for another TD. Paddock escaped again to trail 4-2 after the first. The New Jersey grappler took bottom and quickly widened his advantage to 5-2. Paddock was close to scoring on a single, but was unable to convert before the second ended. In the third, Paddock chose down but could not escape until less than 10 seconds remained. Schleifer grabbed a 5-3 victory.
There are also two juniors representing the Empire State in the title matches. Chris Araoz of Wantagh had a solid season for the Warriors with a 37-5 record but did not qualify for the state tournament. He has responded with five wins over the past few days, including an 8-3 decision over Deshun Brown of New Mexico to reach the finals against Georgia’s Philip Anderson.
UPDATE: Araoz got in deep on a shot late in the first period. Anderson fought it off briefly, but Araoz was able to finish and get the tilt for three nearfall with short time left to take a 5-0 lead after one. In the middle period, the Wantagh wrestler took top and tried for another turn. However, his opponent escaped to cut the lead. Anderson shot a deep double toward the end of the period, but Araoz was able to prevent the takedown as time expired to take a 5-1 advantage into the final period. In the third, the Georgia grappler selected top and was able to break Araoz down. Araoz was called for stalling three times, resulting in two points. With the score 5-2, Araoz escaped and the Long Island wrestler won the 120 pound title, 6-3. Great performance for the Wantagh junior.
The last New Yorker battling for a crown is Peru’s Troy Seymour at 170 pounds. Seymour took fourth in a deep class in Albany, in which he split matches with the aforementioned Paddock. Seymour finished the high school campaign at 40-2. He began the competition at NHSCAs with a technical fall but then demonstrated his ability to win close bouts, earning 3-0, 1-0 and 8-7 triumphs before beating Chris Moore of Ohio 5-2 in the semis. He will face Ethan Ramos of New Jersey on Friday afternoon.
UPDATE: Seymour and Ramos battled to a scoreless draw in the first period, during which Seymour fought off two deep shot attempts by his opponent on the edge. Seymour took down in the second and Ramos rode tough, not allowing the Peru wrestler to escape. After an injury timeout, the third period began with Ramos in the bottom position. Seymour worked for backs and was able to break the Garden State grappler down for a while. However, while he worked for a turn, Ramos was able to get the reversal and back points, leading to a fall.
For a list of New York placewinners, see below:
106: Eighth place Kyle Quinn (Wantagh)
113: Sixth place Anthony Orefice (Lockport)
126: Second place Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich)
132: Seventh place Jakob Restrepo (Sachem East)
138: Third place Thomas Dutton (Rocky Point)
152: Seventh place Nathan Schwab (Clarence)
160: Eighth place Nick Wentland (Minisink Valley)
182: Sixth place Garrett Duval (Sherburne-Earlville)
195: Eighth place Cody Marshall (Sherburne-Earlville)
145: Second place Corey Rasheed (Longwood)
152: Fourth place Michael Pistone (Sachem East)
152: Seventh place Derek Holcomb (Newark Valley)
160: Second place Burke Paddock (Warsaw)
160: Fourth place Tyler Silverthorn (General Brown)
160: Fifth place Franky Nassivera (Queensbury)
160: Eighth place Daniel Smith (South Jefferson)
195: Sixth place Reggie Williams (Johnson City)
285: Third place James O’Hagan (Seaford)
106: Fifth place Kyle Kelly (Chenango Forks)
120: Champion Chris Araoz (Wantagh)
120: Sixth place TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River)
138: Fifth place Dan McDevitt (Wantagh)
152: Seventh place Chris Koo (Great Neck)
160: Fourth place Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West)
170: Second place Troy Seymour (Peru)
220: Fourth place Nick Lupi (Huntington) vs. Eldon Valery (VA)
285: Fourth place Brandon Fayle (Lowville) vs. Joe Bexley (GA)
285: Sixth place El Shaddai VanHoesen (Columbia) vs. Jonah Aurelio (RI)
Way to go Schleifer. Impressive.
Update… Dane Heberlein from Darien N.Y. won the Middle School 80 lb bracket today down at the Va Beach Tourn!