Big Red Bound: State Champion Dylan Palacio Chooses Cornell

By Betsy Veysman

Before participating in the NY/NJ Charity Challenge in late March, Dylan Palacio was discussing his college decision-making process.  He said he was undecided but volunteered that “the Cornell coaches feel like family.”

With the importance Palacio places on family, it’s no surprise that he announced after a trip to Ithaca this weekend that he has chosen the Big Red for his academic and wrestling future.

“I felt like I belonged there,” he said. “There’s definitely a feeling that I won’t be just another wrestler.  I’m a family member.  All the coaches  – they care about me and want me to thrive. Besides, what’s not to love about Cornell?  It’s a beautiful campus with great academics and people.  It felt like home to me.”

The Long Beach senior comes from a long line of successful wrestlers.  His father Leo was a county title winner.  His uncle Al (a teammate of Rob Koll at North Carolina) was a three-time state champion and a two-time NCAA All-American for the Tar Heels, while his uncle Luis also earned All-State honors and was a multi-time league champion.

“I wrestle with them all the time and sometimes we don’t talk for weeks it’s so competitive,” he said.  “When I was in the state finals, I looked at my family.  That’s who prepared me; that’s who made me a champion.  I had to win for them.”

Palacio did a lot of winning in 2011-12.  In fact, he was an undefeated state champion, topping fellow Big Red recruit Brian Realbuto to win the Eastern States title in January at 152 pounds.

He steadily climbed the national rankings with a dominant campaign, going 41-0 with 37 bonus victories.  If his 11-4 triumph over Tyler Grimaldi in the 160 pound title bout in Albany wasn’t enough, Palacio followed it up with a pin over unbeaten New Jersey champion Raamiah Bethea in the Charity Challenge and then a National Title at the NHSCA tournament in Virginia Beach.

Now, Intermat’s #64 recruit in the nation will turn his focus to a new challenge – the Junior Nationals in Freestyle and Greco in Fargo, North Dakota in July.

While he has made the podium there in the past, he is looking to do more than that this time around.

“I’m humble about Fargo, but very hungry,” he said.  “I’m not going out there to place.  I want to be under the spotlight with New York on my back, adding championships in Greco and Freestyle to the one I won in Virginia Beach.”

According to a recent article in WIN Magazine, Cornell has the #2 recruiting class in the country this year (before Palacio’s commitment).  The Big Red will bring in highly regarded talents such as Blair Academy’s Mark Grey, four-time California state finalist Alex Cisneros, three-time Empire State victor Realbuto, and state champions from Illinois (Steve Congenie and Angelo Silvestro) and Michigan (Gabe Dean and Taylor Simaz).

Palacio is excited to be joining such a distinguished group.

“I think we’ll be like murderers row,” he said. “I think we’re the best class in the country and I’m not afraid to say it.”

The All-State soccer player will enroll at Cornell in the fall of 2013, spending the next year training with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club in Ithaca under the tutelage of coaches such as All-Americans Clint Wattenberg, Cam Simaz and Frank Perrelli and competing in open tournaments.

He came into his final high school campaign with goals of winning at both the state and national levels.  He accomplished those things and said he’s sure of what he hopes to achieve wearing a Big Red singlet.

“My next dream is to be a national champ in college,” he said.  “I know it’s a totally different world in college.  I know I’m at the bottom and I’ll need to climb back to the top.  I know I’ll have to earn every win I get.  But I’ve told myself, ‘don’t get bitter, just get better’ and I’ve lived by that. I believe I’ll outwork everyone.  I’m willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to get to my goals like I did this year.”

It’s unclear at what weight class he will attempt to make his mark.

“I never lifted weights in my life.  I could wake up next year and be wrestling at heavyweight,” he said with a laugh. “Who knows where I’ll end up?”

Whatever weight it turns out to be, Dylan Palacio feels confident that he will be spending his next several years among family.



Palacio was the second 2012 New York State champion to commit to a Division I program in the last week, with Phoenix’s Tyler Button making a pledge to Edinboro a few days ago.

Here are the college destinations of the graduating 2012 New York State titlewinners:

Buffalo: James Kloc (DI-145), Chris Nevinger (DII-160), Tony Lock (DII-182)

Cornell: Dylan Palacio (DI-160), Brian Realbuto (DI-152)

Drexel: Kyle Stanton (DII-220)

Hofstra: Jamel Hudson (DI-132), Dan Spurgeon (DI-170)

Indiana: Quinton Murphy (DII-138)

Edinboro: Tyler Button (DII-145), Sam Recco (DII-120)

Lehigh: Zack Diekel (DII-195), Ben Haas (DII-152)

Rutgers: Sean McCabe (DI-120), Maverick Passaro (DI-126)

Football: Tony Fusco (DI-195, Albany), Evan Kappatos (DI-285, Princeton)

Lacrosse: Nick Bellanza (DI-182, Jacksonville)


Video Coverage of the Suffolk vs. Nassau All-Star Freestyle Dual

Check out match videos and interviews from the 32-31 Suffolk victory over Nassau on Tuesday night at Bay Shore High School.


The videos can also be found at:


Tyler Grimaldi (S) vs Dan McDevitt (N) 160


Gio Santiago (S) vs John Luxmore (N) 182


Jose Rodriguez (N) vs Alex Tanzman (S) 106


Dan Tracy (N) vs Zak Mullen (S) 170


Chris Araoz (N) vs Connor O’Hara (S) 132


Mark Raghunandan (N) vs Eric Orellana (S) 120


Dante Salkey (N) vs Mike Hughes (S)


Krishna Sewkumar (N) vs Joe Calderone (S) 113


Jakob Restrepo (S) vs Quinn Knauer (N)


Chris Loew (N) vs Zach Connor (S) 195


Mike D’Angelo (S) vs Jack Reina (N)


Andrew Cole (N) vs Ken Drew (S)


Jesse Dellavecchia (S) vs Chris Donnelly (N) 100


Craig Vitagliano After the Dual


Alex Tanzman With the Big Pin


Tyler Grimaldi Excited for Fargo and a State Title Run


Dan Tracy Steps in and Gets the Win


Army-Bound Justin Paradiso Gets the Fall

Suffolk Edges Nassau in All-Star Freestyle Dual

By Betsy Veysman

When he was a student at Plainedge High, Craig Vitagliano remembers getting really excited for the All-Star dual between Nassau and Suffolk after the scholastic season.

“It was a premier event when I was in high school,” he said.  “We definitely all looked forward to getting out and wrestling the Suffolk guys.”

After an absence of a few years, the competition returned Tuesday night at Bay Shore High School as the Suffolk wrestlers edged their Long Island neighbors in freestyle action, 32-31.

Although the Section 8 team won eight of the 15 bouts, Suffolk was sparked to victory by a pair of pins courtesy of Westhampton Beach’s Alex Tanzman at 106 pounds and Sachem North’s Gio Santiago at 182.

The event began at 100 pounds where Jesse Dellavechia of East Islip got Suffolk out to a 3-1 lead with a three period victory over Chris Donnelly.

Then it was time for Tanzman and Jose Rodriguez to take the mat.

The two had met in the semifinals of the state tournament in Albany at 99 pounds, with the Wantagh freshman earning a 6-1 win on his way to a runner up finish.  After the loss, Tanzman rebounded to take third and he was excited about another chance against Rodriguez.

“I wrestled okay at states but I felt like I didn’t wrestle to my fullest potential and I could have done better against him,” Tanzman said.  “I really was looking forward to a rematch.”

Rodriguez asserted himself early with a quick takedown and exposure for a 3-0 advantage.  But Tanzman responded with a headlock and throw for a first period pin to give Suffolk an 8-1 lead in the team score.

Next up at 113 pounds was a pair of 2012 state placers, Krishna Sewkumar of Long Beach for Nassau and Joe Calderone for Suffolk.  After splitting the first two periods, Sewkumar took control in the final stanza, with a quick point off a duck under.  He added a takedown with less than 15 seconds to go to pull Section 8 within 9-4.

The score became 10-7 after former Fargo freestyle runner up Mark Raghunandan (Nassau) defeated Eric Orellana in two periods.  The Long Beach wrestler scored late in the first and fought off a late charge from Orellana to win 2-1.  In the second, Raghunandan got a go behind takedown and several turns to cruise 6-0.

The teams then alternated victories over the next four bouts.  For Suffolk, Mike D’Angelo won a tough three period battle over Jack Reina at 126 and Jacob Restrepo swept Quinn Knauer at 138.  For Nassau, Chris Araoz topped Connor O’Hara 3-0, 2-1 at 132 while Justin Paradiso pinned Thomas Dutton.

In that 145 pound bout, Dutton got on the board first with a 3-0 lead just 30 seconds into the match.  Paradiso, who was injured in Section 8 finals this year, answered with three to tie things up with a minute to go and then hit a big throw to get the fall and knot the team score at 17 apiece.

“I knew he was as a younger kid, so there’s a pride thing. I didn’t want to lose to him,” Paradiso said.  “He scored the first three points on me and I needed to step up. I felt him leaning and my last shot was just there.”

“Justin’s a competitor,” Vitagliano added. “He tore his ankle at counties and came back two weeks ago at the Wyoming Seminary duals and went 3-0.  Dutton’s a good wrestler. At the end of the day I thought Justin would win, but I wouldn’t have predicted a fall.”

So after eight matches, it was tied.  But thanks to James Dekrone, Suffolk took the lead for good at 152 pounds.  The John Glenn 138-pound state champion beat Lou Hernandez of Mepham in a tight three period match, which was followed by another Section 11 victory, this time by state runner up Tyler Grimaldi over one of his current training partners, Dan McDevitt, to make the score 23-19.

With the late scratch of Dylan Palacio, McDevitt moved into the 160 slot and Dan Tracy stepped in at 170.  Tracy, who agreed to participate the morning of the event, got Nassau back on track with a triumph over Zak Mullen, who took fourth at the state tournament.  Mullen dominated the first period, but Tracy responded in the last two stanzas.  He overcame a deficit in the third to win 7-2 and tighten the overall score to 24-22.

“Dan was literally a last minute fill in,” Vitagliano said. “He didn’t really practice this week because of other commitments and it was impressive that he went out and beat a state placer.”

Just two points separated the teams, but only briefly, as Gio Santiago made sure that gap widened quickly.  The Sachem North junior hit a big move for a fall to put Section 11 ahead 29-22.

It was the last win for Suffolk, however.  Chris Loew (195), Andrew Cole (220) and Dante Salkey (285) all earned victories for Nassau in the final three matches.

In fact, going into the heavyweight bout, Section 11 led 31-28 with Salkey taking on Mike Hughes in a rematch of the fifth place tilt in Albany.  Salkey earned the victory, as he did at the Times Union Center, but since Hughes scored during the match, he earned a team point as well, leading to the 32-31 final.

While he was disappointed with the outcome, Vitagliano felt that the level of competitiveness was high.

“I think for Nassau it’s a moral victory,” he said.  “It was so close and we actually won one more match.  Suffolk is the perennial champs; the best in the state.  But I think we’re closing the gap on them, breathing down their necks and [the event] is evidence of that.”

On top of the rivalry, Vitagliano felt that the event promoted the development of freestyle on Long Island.

“The goal is to create exposure for freestyle,” he said. “It’s all about getting the kids more matches and hopefully getting them out to Fargo.  Kids get better when they’re wrestling better competition.  It gives the kids a break from the grind of folkstyle and teaches new throws, new techniques. These days, if they want exposure to college coaches, wrestling freestyle is really important.”

Vitagliano wished to thank the many people who put the event together in a short two weeks, including Marcia Haise, Mike Leonard, Paul Gillespie, Ted DePasquale and several high school coaches in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Match-by-Match Results

100    Jesse Dellavecchia (S) over Chris Donnelly (N) in 3 periods

106    Alex Tanzman (S) over Jose Rodriguez (N) by fall

113    Krishna Sewkumar (N) over Joe Calderone (S) in 3 periods

120    Mark Raghunandan (N) over Eric Orellana (S)

126    Mike D’Angelo (S) over Jack Reina (N) in 3 periods

132    Chris Araoz (N) over Connor O’Hara (S)

138    Jacob Restrepo (S) over Quinn Knauer (N)

145    Justin Paradiso (N) over Thomas Dutton (S) by fall

152    James Dekrone (S) over Lou Hernandez (N) in 3 periods

160    Tyler Grimaldi (S) over Dan McDevitt (N)

170    Dan Tracy (N) over Zak Mullen (S) in 3 periods

182    Gio Santiago (S) over John Luxmore (N) by fall

195    Chris Loew (N) over Zach Connor (S)

220    Andrew Cole (N) over Ken Drew (S)

285    Dante Salkey (N) over Mike Hughes (S)


Dake Comes Through in the Clinch at the Olympic Trials

By Betsy Veysman

The winner of the ball draw wins a freestyle period more than 80% of the time, according to the announcers of this past weekend’s Olympic Trials.

When the draw doesn’t go his way, Kyle Dake believes he’s in that 20%.

“Kyle is so hard to score on, he’s not at as much of a disadvantage as most people in the clinch situation,” said Cornell assistant coach Jeremy Spates.  “Watching him this weekend honestly made me feel a little better because I can never finish on him.”

“I’m pretty good at defending my leg,” Dake added.  “I work on it a lot, even during the college season, just messing around with Frank Perrelli.  I have pretty good balance and that seems to help in those situations.”

It definitely helped last year at the World Team Trials when Dake faced NCAA champion JP O’Connor in the first round.  After splitting the first two periods, the Empire State grapplers ended the third scoreless, meaning the winner would be decided in the clinch.

O’Connor had the advantage, at least according to the statistics, when the ball picked out of the bag was his color, meaning he started the 30 second stanza holding one of Dake’s legs.

To capture the period, and the bout, O’Connor simply had to score.  However, with Dake, that wasn’t so simple.  Dake fought off the Harvard graduate’s attempts for the full 30 seconds, initially in a full split and for the last several seconds withstanding O’Connor’s throw attempts from a body lock.

This past Saturday at the Olympic Trials, Dake once again beat the odds (and almost did it twice) in his quarterfinal bout against third-seeded Nick Marable.   After a scoreless first period, Marable won the ball draw, but Dake stymied the Sunkist Kids wrestler’s attack for 25 seconds before Marable broke through to take the period 1-0.

Dake got another chance after a 0-0 third stanza when Marable again got the advantageous starting position.  This time, Dake not only warded off the former Missouri All-American’s scoring attempts, he also found a way to put a point on the board for himself, pushing his opponent out of bounds while hopping, to notch the 1-0 victory.

“Kyle pushed him all the way from the center of the mat while on one foot,” Spates said. “Marable’s a pretty strong kid.  That was just impressive.”

“I was pretty upset after the first period when he scored with just a few seconds left,” Dake added.  “In the third, I backhooked his leg and kept pushing him.  In that position, if he didn’t go backwards, he was going to his back.  It was a different situation that I found myself in, and it really worked out.”

While not in a clinch, the Saturday moment many wrestling fans were talking about also started from a compromising situation for Dake in a match with Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor.

Dake decisively took the first period, 5-0.  In the second, Taylor hit a low single and looked to be in ideal shape to either push Dake out or get the takedown.

However, as he has done countless times in his Cornell career, Dake found a way to turn a precarious scenario to his advantage.  While balancing on one leg, the Big Red grappler picked Taylor’s knee and drove him to the mat for a dramatic pin.

“I thought Kyle would win, but I didn’t think he’d do it in such dominating fashion,” Spates said of the highly anticipated meeting between NCAA champions.  “Beforehand, I don’t think Kyle was any more excited than if he was wrestling anyone else. But afterwards, he was pretty excited that he had the chance to show what he could do.  People were talking about that matchup quite a bit since NCAAs, and I think we were all kind of tired of hearing about it.  It was nice to have it happen on the mat.”

Dake agreed, noting that he was excited to wrestle Taylor, but “wanted to do it on the front side, not in the consis.”

Dake found himself in the consolations after dropping a three-period bout to veteran freestyler Trent Paulson.   He now hopes to get another chance against the Cyclone Wrestling Club grappler.

“I’d like to face him again,” Dake said. “He was really strong and has been on the senior level for a long time.  He’s been thinking freestyle for a while and that’s where his techniques are.  With a little more time to work and prepare, I feel like I could do better next time.”

A year ago, Dake was saying the same thing about Marable after dropping a bout against him in June of 2011.

“Kyle goes into every match with the mentality that he will beat whoever he wrestles,” Spates said.  “When he loses a match, he says, ‘I don’t think I’ll lose to that guy ever again.’  Last year he lost to Marable at the World Team Trials.  This weekend, he beat him twice – in three periods and then more convincingly the second time.”

That second victory earned Dake third place in the Challenge Tournament at 74 kg, a performance the fans seemed to appreciate.

“The funny thing is that people flock to [Dake],” Spates said. “Everyone wanted to congratulate him.  He handles it great.  He likes to interact with everyone. I told him we should throw a shirt over his head and walk him out like they do with the paparazzi.”

The attention on Dake won’t go away as he goes for his fourth national championship next season.  And when his college days are over, he showed this weekend that he will be a force to reckon with on the freestyle scene.

According to Spates, Dake’s smooth transition to freestyle comes from the solid base he developed when he was younger as well as his combination of explosiveness and great defense.

But Dake’s ability and belief that he can win the tiebreaking clinch no matter what ball is pulled out of the bag is significant as well.

“Kyle’s just ‘game time’,” Spates said.  “He likes those situations when his back is against the wall.  A lot of people might be nervous when it all comes down to that clinch, but he’s not.”

Alberti, Devlin Among Empire State Title Winners at Ohio Tournament of Champions

By Betsy Veysman

At eight years old, Carson Alberti knows how to take charge.

“Even though he’s young, he still likes to think that he’s running practice,” said Cobra Wrestling Academy Executive Director Keith Maute. “Even when we’re doing warmups with the high school kids, he calls out the routine and tells everyone what to do next.  It’s pretty funny.  He’s not at all intimidated by the older kids.”

He isn’t intimidated by his peers on the mat, either.

This weekend, Alberti added to his ever-growing trophy collection when he won the prestigious Ohio Tournament of Champions in the 52-pound Bantam division.

Alberti has become very familiar with the top of the podium after winning titles at the NYWAY State Championships, the Gene Mills Eastern Nationals and the Empire Nationals over the past month.  But despite all that success, he was targeting the crown in Columbus.

“One of his biggest goals was winning the Ohio Tournament of Champions,” Maute said. “He took third there last year.  The winner, Jake Craig from Smitty’s Barn in New Hampshire, was quite a bit better than him a year ago. With all the work he put in, he has moved up to another level.”

Alberti demonstrated that progress throughout the spring, but according to Maute, his improvement was most clear in his one loss.  Craig defeated him in the dual portion of the Empire Nationals, but unlike their three meetings last season (two pins by Craig), it was a nailbiter.

“Craig beat him pretty badly last year three times,” Maute said. “This time, he fell behind 5-0 and wound up losing 5-4.  He controlled most of the match, but there wasn’t enough time left.  Actually, Carson put [Craig] on his back and got a one-count as time expired.  One more second and he would have won the match.  It showed he’s come a long way.  It was a loss but it was actually a confidence booster for Carson.”

Alberti looked confident throughout the day in Columbus, taking his quarterfinal match by a 4-2 score but otherwise dominating the field.  Maute said Alberti notched major decisions in both the semifinals and finals.

According to Maute, this is only Alberti’s second full year of wrestling.  However, the coach marvels at how well the youngster soaks up the sport and picks up new skills with ease.

“You show him something and he understands it right away,” Maute said. “He just gets it.  Obviously there’s also a lot of natural ability there. He always seems like he’s having fun.  He trains hard and listens really well.”

One of the people he listens to is fellow member of the Cobra Wrestling Academy, eighth grader Kellen Devlin.

Like Alberti, Devlin took third the last time he competed at the Ohio Tournament of Champions, back in 2010.   In that tournament, Devlin lost a first round overtime battle with the eventual champion, Billy Bowlen of Pennsylvania, before winning at least eight matches in a row to grab the bronze.

This time, Devlin cruised through the bracket before winning a 2-1 bout in the finals over Kaleb Romero of Ohio.

“His matches weren’t very close until the last one,” Maute said.  “But he was in control of it. He got the takedown and the other kid wasn’t ever close to scoring.”

The victory continued a successful run for Devlin, who was the NYWAY State Champion at 120 pounds and the third place medalist at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals in Virginia Beach at 119.

“I knew he would do really well at nationals,” Maute said.  “To be honest, I was a little surprised he got beat because there aren’t many kids his age that can beat him.  That loss was the only one for him this season. He’s really gifted and really fun to watch.  When he’s in the room, I have him demonstrating the moves because he understands everything we’re trying to do.”

His spring success comes on the heels of a 34-5 campaign as an eighth grader for Amherst High School, where he won the Section 6 title and a bid to the State Championships in Albany.

“At states, he basically had his first match won but then made a mistake with about 20 seconds left on top where he got reversed to his back.  He controlled 5:40 of the match and wasn’t in any danger.  I almost felt that in his first time at states, he was a little nervous and it affected him.”

After that result, Devlin moved to the consolation bracket where he dropped a decision to top-seeded Mark Raghunandan, who had been upset in the first round.

“Kellen learned from it, I’m sure, and the next four years will be different,” he said. “He’s looked great.  He’s more than a great wrestler.  He is one of the idols for the little kids at our club.  They know he’s been there and they see how hard he works.  He’s really likeable and he plays around with the kids.  He and Carson have a good relationship.  I think Carson reminds Kellen of himself when he was little.  They’re pretty similar.”

Last Saturday, they were certainly similar in one way – both captured first place at the Ohio Tournament of Champions.

JR Colom of Dunkirk, new to Cobra, also took gold in the event in the Junior division at 90 pounds.

In addition, G2 Wrestling Academy was well represented in the Buckeye State, with Frankie Gissendanner (Junior 125 pounds) and Yianni Diakomihalis (Schoolboy 96 pounds) continuing their winning streaks with championships.  Stay tuned for more on them in the near future.

The Empire State put many wrestlers on the podium on Saturday.  See the full list below.



Carson Alberti (East Aurora) Bantam 52

Kellen Devlin (Amherst) Schoolboy 120

Yianni Diakomihalis (Rochester) Schoolboy 96

JR Colom (Dunkirk) Junior 90

DJ Giancola (Niagara Falls) Open 175

Frankie Gissendanner (Rochester) Junior 125

Jason Goldman (Binghamton) Open 135

Trevor Hoffmier (Newark Valley) Cadet 140

Stevo Poulin (Schuylerville) Midget 52


Second Place:

Tito Colom (Dunkirk) Schoolboy 104

Greg Diakomihalis (Rochester) Junior 56

Troy Keller (North Tonawanda) Schoolboy 92

Kelan McKenna (New Hartford) Cadet 92

Carter Schubert (Marion) Bantam 52

Jake Silverstein (Smithtown) Junior 82


Third Place:

Cooper Kropman (Rochester) Midget 80

Anthony Orefice (Niagara Falls) Cadet 115

Randy Sisenstein (Johnson City) Open 145

Darren Snead (Niagara Falls) Open 285


Fourth Place:

Tim Barnard (Tonawanda) Cadet 136

Brock DelSignore (South Glens Falls) Midget 64

Richie Jones (Tonawanda) Cadet 152

Donny McCoy (Niagara Falls) Cadet 100

Dillan Palaszewski (Galway) Junior 79

Travis Race (Fulton) Schoolboy 160

Logan Ramadan (Grand Island) Bantam 95

Trent Reid (Sanborn) Bantam 56


Fifth Place:

Jahad Ali (Niagara Falls) Open 135

Justin McDougald (Niagara Falls) Midget 70

Leonard Merkin (Brooklyn) Schoolboy 126


Sixth Place:

Jake Ashcraft (Glenville) Cadet 152

Tyler Benjamin (Candor) Midget 100

Zach Bierfeldt (Limestone) Schoolboy 116

Ethan Ferro (Whitney Point) Midget 64

Jordan Kayes (Olean) Schoolboy 126

Parker Kropman (Rochester) Schoolboy 92

Willie McDougald (Niagara Falls) Junior 82

Frank Shomers (Niagara Falls) Elite 285

Bryson Solomon (Niagara Falls) Midget 85

Anthony Stewart (Addison) Junior 64


Seventh Place:

David Berkovich (Brooklyn) Junior 79

Ethan Gallo (Slate Hill) Bantam 80

Bryce Rowe (Ripley) Junior 95

Derek St.  James (Rochester) Schoolboy 88

Ethan Stotler (Waverly) Midget 70

Charlie Tibbits (Chadwicks) Midget 92


Eighth Place:

Shane Broad (Alden) Junior 64

Trey Duvall (Corning) Cadet 160

Jonathan Earl (Fulton) Schoolboy 116

David Fales (Corning) Junior 56

Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport) Elite 112

Dake, Davis Take Third in Challenge Tournaments; Anderson Earns Third on Day 2

UPDATED: April 22

Results of Wrestlers with New York Connections on April 22, 2012

Carver Hawkeye Arena  Iowa City, Iowa


Jon Anderson (Army): 74 KG Greco

3rd Place

Win Marco Toledo (No Limit Soldier) 0-1, 1-0, 4-1

Win Andy Bisek (MN Storm) 0-1, 1-0, 1-0

Loss Ben Provisor (Sunkist Kids) 1-0, 1-0

Win Tanner Andrews (USOEC) Pin 0-4, 1:24

Win Jake Fisher (NYAC) Pin 1:54


Max Askren (NYAC): 84 KG Freestyle

Win Mack Lewnes (NYAC/Finger Lakes Wrestling Club) 1-1, 2-0, 5-1

Loss Jake Herbert (NYAC/Cliff Keen WC) 3-0, 6-0

Win Jon Reader (Sunkist Kids/Cyclone WC) 1-3, 2-1, 4-0

Loss Keith Gavin (LVAC) 2-1, 4-0


Mark Gillen (ATWA): 60 KG Greco

Loss Donavan Depatto (US Marine) 1-0, 0-1, 2-0

Loss Chad Vandiver (Sunkist Kids) 5-5, 1-0


Adam Hall (NYAC- Columbia Assistant Coach): 66 KG Freestyle

Loss Chase Pami (Sunkist Kids/Team OTC) 2-0, 3-0

Win Jordan Oliver (Gator) 1-0, 1-1

Win Philip Simpson (Army/Team OTC) 4-3, 2-1

Win Zack Bailey (Victory) 1-0, 0-1, 1-0

Loss Josh Churella (NYAC/Cliff Keen WC) 2-0, 2-0


Mack Lewnes (NYAC/Finger Lakes Wrestling Club): 84 KG Freestyle

Loss Max Askren (NYAC) 1-1, 2-0, 5-1

Win Quentin Wright (NLWC) Pin 1:27

Loss Raymond Jordan (Sunkist Kids) 2-1, 2-1


Mark McKnight (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club): 55 KG Freestyle

Win Danny Felix 0-1, 1-0, 1-0

Win Zach Sanders (MN Storm) 1-0, 5-0

Loss Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist Kids) 1-0, 1-0

Loss Obe Blanc (Gator) 0-1, 5-0, 6-0


Frank Perrelli (NYAC/Finger Lakes Wrestling Club): 55 KG Freestyle

Loss Ben Kjar (Kingdom Klub) 0-1, 1-0, 3-0

Win Michael Martinez (Gator/Wyoming RTC) 6-0, 3-1

Loss Matt McDonough (Hawkeye WC) 1-4, 7-0, 5-1


Philip Simpson (Army/Team OTC): 66 KG Freestyle

Win Kevin LeValley (MN Storm) 1-0, 2-1

Loss Teyon Ware (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) 8-6, 1-1, 3-3

Loss Adam Hall (NYAC) 4-3, 2-1

Results of Wrestlers with New York Connections on April 21, 2012

Carver Hawkeye Arena  Iowa City, Iowa


Kyle Dake (NYAC/Finger Lakes WC) 74 KG Freestyle 

3rd in Challenge Tournament

Win Colt Sponseller (NYAC/Ohio RTC) 2-0, 1-0

Win Nick Marable (Sunkist Kids) 0-1, 1-0, 1-0

Loss Trent Paulson (Sunkist Kids/CWC) 2-0, 0-1, 6-0

Win David Taylor (NLWC) Pin 5-0, 1:28

Win Nick Marable (Sunkist Kids) 3-0, 1-1


Kristie Davis (OCU/Gator) 72 KG Women’s Freestyle 

3rd in Challenge Tournament

Win Kendra Lewis (Lindenwood) 1-0, 5-0

Loss Stephany Lee (Sunkist Kids) Pin 0-1, 2-1, 1:08

Win Brittany Roberts (OCU/Gator) 2-0, 5-0

Win Julia Salata (King College) 6-0, 5-0


Dmitry Ryabchinskiy (NYAC/USEOC): 55 KG Greco

Win Mike Fuenffinger (MN Storm) 3-0, 1-1

Loss Max Nowry (NYAC) 6-0, 5-1

Loss Nathan Engel (Army) 2-4, 1-0, 1-0


Amy Whitbeck (NYAC): 55 KG Women’s Freestyle

Loss Michaela Hutchinson (OCU/Gator) 2-1, 4-0

Loss Randi Beltz (Missouri Valley College) Pin 2-1, 0:54

Empire Nationals 2012 Features Top Youth Talent in Individual and Dual Championships

Last weekend, over 800 wrestlers from more than seven states descended on SUNY Brockport for the Brute Empire Nationals.  On Saturday, champions were crowned in over 60 brackets in the individual tournament.  The following day, many competitors returned to the mats for dual meet tournaments in both the youth and high school divisions.

The list of individual champions spanned from New York state high school placers like Justin Corradino to NHSCA National champions such as Dane Heberlein and Jordan Torbitt.  Participants came from as close as nearby towns in New York and from longer distances such as West Virginia and Ohio.

“The level of competition and quality of wrestling were absolutely phenomenal,” said Adam Burgos, head coach of the G2 Wrestling Academy in New York, who organized Sunday’s events.  “A lot of really great kids who are used to winning took some losses because they faced great competition.”

Last year, four teams participated in both the youth and high school dual competitions. (It was the first time the event featured a dual component).  On Sunday, 12 squads from five states battled for the youth title.

The finals featured a pair of familiar foes.  At the NYWAY State championships a few weeks ago, G2 finished on top with Cobra Wrestling Academy taking second.  This time, the results were reversed as Cobra, from the Buffalo area, earned the championship.

“I was excited for our kids,” said Cobra Executive Director Keith Maute. “It was exciting that every kid on the team trains at our club, with the exception of one weight where one of our stars was on vacation.  It was a great event to win.”

But the path to the finals was anything but easy.  In pool competition, Cobra came into the final bout against Pennsylvania’s NEPA Posse with a just a two point advantage, but secured the victory with a pin.  Things were even tighter against eventual third place finisher Smitty’s Barn.

After the matches were wrestled against the New Hampshire squad, the score was tied at 24.  The first six tiebreaker criteria didn’t break the deadlock.  On the seventh criterion, Cobra was declared the victor.

“Those duals against NEPA Posse and Smitty’s Barn came down to the wire,” said Maute. “We didn’t wrestle our best down low against Smitty’s, but as the dual meet went on and we saw we could be in trouble, guys stepped up and got the job done.  It was so close – we both had eight wins, there weren’t any pins, techs or majors.   There weren’t any penalty points.  We won on the seventh criteria – most first points scored.”

Maute wasn’t sure how his team would react in the finals.

“I didn’t know if it helped us or hurt us that we wrestled those close duals before,” he said. “The kids definitely understood that every point really matters, but I thought we might be tired.  But it didn’t seem to affect us that much.  There were some close matches and we won them early to set the tone and make us feel comfortable.  We’re very familiar with G2 – we know what they have and vice versa.  The score wasn’t that close in the end, but it was intense.”

“It was a battle,” Burgos added. “I’ve been to high school duals with a lot of emotion and this was right there.  [G2] lost the close matches, but the competition was great.  The coaches were all heated because it was intense, but afterwards, we were all high fiving.”

Cobra also was a finalist in the high school dual event, despite having to forfeit four weights and essentially beginning every meet down 24-0.

“We lost to the Ragin Raisins by 18 points.  If we had all of our guys, maybe we would have had a shot,” Maute said.  “It’s hard to say, they were really good. I was proud of the way the guys wrestled despite missing some weights.”

Both coaches felt that the team competition improved the individual event … and vice versa.

“The dual meet environment really enhances the individual tournament because the teams bring their best athletes,” Burgos said.  “They get a whole weekend of wrestling out of the trip.  One of the referees was telling me that the talent this year far exceeded what he’d seen before.  I attribute that to the clubs bringing their studs and that will continue to make the Empire Nationals better.”

The organizers aim for the event to not only be better, but also bigger next year.  Burgos said the hope is that registration will top 1200 for the individual event with 16 youth teams and 10 high school squads joining the team competition in 2013.

Burgos also acknowledged the work of the many people who contributed to the success of the event in 2012.

“The staff and the support from SUNY Brockport was awesome,” Burgos said.  “Jay Haas, who runs the individual tournament, did an amazing job and coach Bill Jacoutot of Brockport was great.”

For videos of the tournament, see:

The following is a list of dual and individual results for the 2012 Brute Empire Nationals:

Individual Tournament, Championship Finals:

Division 1

43 Pounds: Ryan Devins (Saranac) pin Ethan Illerbrun (Independent), 2:34

48 Pounds: Colin Bradshaw (Pin2Win) dec Myles Gronowski (Cobra), 9-3

53 Pounds: Carson Alberti (Cobra) dec Carter Schubert (Superior Academy), 5-2

60 Pounds: Caleb Schaffer (Blackdog) pin Aidan Murtagh (Newton Braves), 0:41

70 Pounds: Jayden Scott (G2) dec Ethan Sanderson (Titletown Fight Club), 4-0

95 Pounds: Jacob Gates (Mexico) pin Jared Haers (Midlakes), 0:41


Division 2

50 Pounds: Jake Craig (Smittys Barn) pin Anthony Surace (Superior Academy), 0:33

55 Pounds: Ryan Crookham (Neshaminy) dec Stevo Poulin (Journeymen), 2-1

60 Pounds: Kelly Dunnigan (Olympic) over Jacob Deguire (Journeymen), 11-0

70 Pounds: Daniel Sheppard (Tyw) dec Brock Delsignore (Journeymen), 4-1

75 Pounds: Jake Evans (Btw) dec Dean Shambo (Mexico), 2-1

80 Pounds: Cooper Kropman (Penfield 162) dec Anthony Rasmussen (South Jefferson), 4-3

90 Pounds: Case Keagan (Adirondack) pin Ethan Zimmerman (C. Columbia), 0:54


Division 3

60 Pounds: Andrew Fallon (Smittys Barn) dec Myles Griffin (Mexico), 2-0

65 Pounds: Michael Gonyea (Journeymen) dec Nicolas Botello (Smittys Barn), 9-4

70 Pounds: Orion Anderson (Barnbrawlers) maj David Krokowski (Rock Solid), 8-0

75 Pounds: Caleb Johnson (Team Viper) dec Kyle Greene (South Lewis), 4-0

80 Pounds: Connor McGonagle (Smittys Barn) dec Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen), 7-4

85 Pounds: Matthew Cabezas (Smittys Barn) pin Najee Lockett (Shaker Raiders), 2:45

90 Pounds: Creighton Edsell (NEPA Posse) dec Hector Colom (Ragin Raisins), 1-0

100 Pounds: Eoghan Sweeney (Journeymen) dec Elijah Rodriguez (Gladiators), 5-4

110 Pounds: Jake Hendricks (NEPA Posse) over Matthew Martusciello (Wawc), 13-2

135 Pounds: Frankie Gissendanner (G2) maj Michael Leibl (The Edge), 16-7

160 Pounds: Ian Malesiewski (Ragin Raisins)

200 Pounds: Travis Kuttler (West Branch)


Division 4

73 Pounds: Trent Snader (Renegade Force) pin Timothy Wheeler (Ragin Raisins), 0:42

78 Pounds: Dylan Disano (Marcaurele) dec Cody Craig (Maine Mat Cats), 2-0

83 Pounds: Dane Heberlein (Cobra) dec Brian Courtney (Athens), 2-0

90 Pounds: Parker Kropman (Penfield 162) dec Jonathan Soto (Marcaurele), 2-1

95 Pounds: Jimmy Hoffman (NEPA Posse) dec Troy Keller (Cobra), 6-0

100 Pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis (G2) over Ryan O’Rourke (Adirondack), 2-0

115 Pounds: Brandon Desfosses (Smittys Barn) over Xavier Barber (Dallas), 10-0

135 Pounds: AJ Aerberli (Warwick Youth) dec Trent Kowalski (NEPA Posse), 2-0

175 Pounds: Joseph Messare (Aplea) dec Michael Daskavitz (Lockport), 4-1


Division 5

105 Pounds: Charles Lenox (Ragin Raisins) dec Houstin McCune (Calhoun), 5-1

112 Pounds: Jake Gromacki (Ragin Raisins) dec Jared Price (Pioneer), 6-0

120 Pounds: Kaleb Young (Ragin Raisins) dec Craig Delacruz (Jersey Fresh), 1-0

130 Pounds: Kyle Lukowich (Ragin Raisins) dec Jack Glasl (Brockway), 4-0

135 Pounds: Johnny Taylor (Calhoun) dec Sonny Simonetti (Garden State Fresh), 4-1

140 Pounds: Billy Barnes over Glenn Haines (Garden State Fresh), 11-0

145 Pounds: Connor Lawrence (Journeymen) dec Austin Leon (Angry Fish), 5-3

152 Pounds: Jordan Torbitt (Finger Lakes) pin Dillon Shaw (Vipers), 0:58

160 Pounds: Trevor Allard (Mexico) pin Josh Burge (Elmira), 2:51

171 Pounds: Ethan Barnes (Hughesville) pin Justin Sanders (Gridiron Train), 3:10

189 Pounds: Jeff Velez (Jersey Fresh) pin Joe Nasoni (Baldwinsville), 2:19

250 Pounds: Paul Herrera (Saranac) pin Austin Slocum (Ragin Raisins), 3:39


Division 6

112 Pounds: Bryan Damon (Olympic) pin Bryan Ruggeri (G2), 1:42

125 Pounds: Justin Corradino (Olympic) over Hobie Stranssner (Webster), 10-0

130 Pounds: Logan Everett dec Ryan Kromer (Super Six), 10-4

135 Pounds: Christian Stone (Ragin Raisins) dec Karl Lightner (Ragin Raisins), 4-3

140 Pounds: Danny Delgallo (River Valley Wrestling) dec Dan Reagan (Lancers), 3-2

145 Pounds: Nolan Barger (Ragin Raisins) dec Tim Wheeling (Ragin Raisins), 3-0

161 Pounds: Ryan Vanguilder (Ragin Raisins) dec Rowdy Prior (Pin2win), 2-0

171 Pounds: Cole Shirey (Ragin Raisins) dec Michael Green (Journeymen), 4-3

189 Pounds: Jeffrey Lake (Alden Cobra) dec Zacary Kousa (Olympic), 5-4

220 Pounds: Andrew Welton (Ragin Raisins) pin Reggie Williams (Johnson City), 2:49

275 Pounds: Sam Eagan (Empire State WC) dec Frank Shomers (Niagara Falls), 4-3

** Full results not available for the following weight classes: Division 2 65 pounds, Division 4 (105, 125, 150, 230 pounds), Division 5 (98, 125 pounds) and Division 6 (105, 120 and 152 pounds)


Youth Dual Meet Results 

  1. Cobra Wrestling Academy (NY)
  2. G2 Wrestling Academy (NY)
  3. Smitty’s Barn – (New Hampshire)
  4. Ragin Raisins (PA)
  5. NEPA Posse (PA)
  6. Finger Lakes Wrestling Club (NY)
  7. Journeymen Wrestling Club (NY)
  8. West Virginia Elite (WV)
  9. Superior Wrestling Academy (NY)
  10. 10. Brockport Youth (NY)
  11. 11. Newton Wrestling Club (NJ)
  12. 12. X-Men (NY)

High School Dual Meet Results

  1. Ragin Raisins (PA)
  2. Cobra (NY)
  3. Superior Wrestling Academy (NY)
  4. Team Empire Nationals (NY)
  5. New Jersey Outlaws (NJ)
  6. Garden State Fresh (NJ)

–Betsy Veysman

Like Father, Like Son: Mark Gillen "Comes From Nowhere" to Qualify for Olympic Trials

By Betsy Veysman

It was a pretty good weekend to be named Mark Gillen.

On March 31 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mark Gillen Sr. achieved a goal he set over 20 years ago when he won the Veterans Folkstyle National championship at 152 pounds.  On the same day, his son Mark Jr. punched his ticket to the 2012 Olympic Trials at 60 kg in Greco Roman with a second place finish at the Last Chance Qualifier.

For many, Mark Jr.’s runner up finish came out of nowhere, as other than an open tournament in Canastota earlier in March, he hadn’t competed since taking third at the New York State championships in 2009 as a senior for Johnstown High School.

Those who know the Gillens, however, weren’t overly surprised.  They may simply suggest that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Rewind back to 1989, when after three full years without any wrestling following a car accident, Mark Sr. decided he wanted to test himself on the mat again.  He worked on an exercise bicycle for a month and then drove to Topeka, Kansas with his wife for the USA Wrestling Greco Senior Nationals.

Gillen Sr., who had been training for the 1988 Olympics before his accident, beat the alternate for that Olympic team in overtime in the quarterfinals and then, in great pain, left the tournament with no losses and a sixth place medal.

“I really wanted to do it one more time,” he said. “I didn’t wrestle before going, I just biked because my back was really bad.  People called me the ‘phantom wrestler’ because I snuck up out of nowhere. It was a lot like what my son just did.”

Over the following six years, Mark Sr. underwent four back surgeries.  The discomfort was significant, but he longed for another chance on the mat.

“I said that if my back healed and I could get back into shape, I would do it again,” he said.  “I wanted a Hail Mary, a last hurrah. I decided that when I turned 50 I would wrestle at the Veteran Nationals with a goal of winning in all three styles.” (The championship he won on March 31 was the first part, in folkstyle).

To reach that objective, he knew he needed a training partner.  He didn’t have to look too far to find a good candidate – Mark Jr.

So, the pair began to work out, with an eye toward getting Mark Sr. on top of the Veterans Nationals podium three times.  But there was another, albeit longer term, goal in mind.  Mark Jr. had dreams of making an Olympic Team in Greco, as his father had dreamed years ago.  Believing that the window of opportunity to make a run at the 2012 squad had closed, the Gillens saw the training as the first step in Mark Jr.’s preparation for the 2016 Olympic Trials.

But then something unexpected happened.  When Mark Sr. was in the process of signing up for the Veterans Nationals, he saw the Last Chance Qualifier listed on the website.  He realized that his son could attempt an Olympic berth four years earlier than anticipated.

“We thought we were training anyway, so why not do it?” Mark Sr. said.  “We wanted to see where he would fall against the best competition.”

So, Mark Jr. registered, at first preparing to wrestle both Freestyle and Greco.

“Mark and I have always been the same.  We both would rather do Freestyle, but we’re just better at Greco,” the father said.  “I always wished I was at the same level in free as I was in Greco.”

A few weeks before their big events in Iowa, father and son competed in an open tournament at the Mohawk Valley Festival in Canastota in both styles.  Mark Jr. took first in a small class in Freestyle while Mark Sr. was sixth against a much younger group of challengers.

“I don’t think I had wrestled Freestyle since before anyone else I wrestled in the tournament was even born,” Mark Sr. said.  “It was fun though.  The next day was Greco and my son went up to 152 pounds and beat everyone, including most of the guys who had beaten me the day before in Freestyle.  It was great to be avenged by my son.”

Even with that successful foray into Freestyle, there was a change of heart as the Last Chance Qualifier approached.

“[Longtime coach and friend] Joe DeMeo suggested that Mark just wrestle Greco,” Mark Sr. said.  “He thought Mark could be a real contender for a spot in the Olympic Trials if he stuck to Greco.  Mark listened and really believed he could do it.”

That belief showed as he began the Last Chance Qualifier event with a pin in 1:30 against Eric Miller of Southern MN Wrestling Club.  He next earned a three period decision over Julian Gunnels of Warrior Wrestling Club before upsetting eighth-ranked Jimmy Chase of the NYAC to guarantee a bid to the Olympic Trials.  [Chase was granted a wildcard].

“I think it was a good thing that I had no idea who [Chase] was before the match,” Gillen Jr. said.  “I just went in and wrestled my match and it seemed to work out well.  I was able to score off my headlock and I felt like I controlled the match for the most part.”

“My expectations were that he would be competitive but if I’m being honest, I didn’t think he would make the finals,” Mark Sr. added.  “The win over [Jimmy] Chase was great. Chase was saying afterwards that he couldn’t believe he got beat by that ‘no-name.’”

In the finals, Gillen Jr. lost in two periods to Chad Vandiver of Sunkist Kids.

“I think after I qualified, it hit me where I was and I got extremely nervous,” Gillen Jr. added. “I got caught up in the moment.  But in a way it’s better that I lost in the finals.  It gave me the motivation to come out and train and push on.  It was definitely a wake up call that there was a lot to do before the Olympic Trials.”

It also was hard for Mark Jr. to be too disappointed in his finals loss after realizing what his family had achieved.

“Probably the best part of the weekend was watching my dad win,” he said. “We were both training together and I watched him win his final right before I wrestled.  There wasn’t enough time in between his match and mine, so he coached me still wearing his singlet.  It was really cool to both reach our goals.”

It wasn’t the first time Mark Jr. had beaten the odds with little preparation.

The younger Gillen had what his father called a “spotty” career for Johnstown High.  He medaled at states as a junior and senior, but in an earlier campaign missed weight by a tenth of a pound and watched grapplers he had beaten place at the state tournament.

In his final season, he tore his meniscus in his fourth match.  He didn’t compete again, even at practice, until the Eastern States, where he aggravated the injury.

“At that point I didn’t think he’d be back,” said Mark Sr., who was the Johnstown head coach at the time. “He couldn’t run to get his weight down, so he went up a weight for sectionals.  He went to states still without practicing and lost one match, to the eventual champion, on a technical violation call.  It was incredible.”

Many would describe his Olympic Trials berth the same way.  Since qualifying, he has been preparing at the USOEC in Michigan.  He knows he’s a bit of a dark horse, but is excitedly awaiting next weekend’s event in Iowa City.

“I would like to at least win a couple of matches and get my name out there a little bit more,” he said. “I believe it myself and winning it would be nice.  We’ll see what happens.”

Mark Jr.’s move to Michigan has temporarily left his father without a workout partner.  But Mark Sr. marches on, getting ready for the final two parts of the Veterans Triple Crown. The Freestyle and Greco competitions are in early May in Arizona.

After that, Mark Sr. will look for a new target.

“After I finish the wrestling in May, I want to do the Ironman in Lake Placid,” he said. “I know that if I don’t keep a goal in front of me, I’ll be a couch potato.  It’s difficult to get into the Ironman, but I said I’m going to do it and I believe I will.”

Based on past experience, it’s hard to question him.   But in addition to working towards the many miles of swimming, biking and running involved in the Ironman, Mark Sr. will undoubtedly be assisting his son in his journey toward the Olympic goal that he also longed for before injuries derailed his chances.

“It’s been a great ride and it will continue to be,” Mark Sr. said. “I’ve been living my own dream and now I’m watching my son live his.”

Cornell's Frank Perrelli Does "Dirty" Work as Olympic Trials Approach

By Betsy Veysman

Frank Perrelli took care of business on the mat at the NCAA tournament in St. Louis, earning his first All-American honors with a fourth place showing.

But when he returned to Ithaca, there was still a lot of business left to do.

While the senior captain poured most of his focus into wrestling and academics at Cornell over the past year, he also spent considerable time on the business he co-owns with sophomore teammate Brett Henderson.

Henderson founded Dirty Surf & Skate, a company that produces all types of apparel, several years ago but took a break until he decided to re-start operations this past fall with Perrelli.

“I was really interested in the company, so when the opportunity arose, I hopped on board,” Perrelli said.  “Brett’s from California and I’m from New Jersey and spent my summers at the Jersey Shore. We’ve both spent a lot of time around the surf and skate community, so we’re using our roots and producing clothes for that community.”

The grapplers, both students in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell, are responsible for nearly all aspects of the business at this point.

“We’re doing all the grunt work and the designing, producing, marketing and promotion right now,” Perrelli said.  “There isn’t that much that we aren’t taking care of.”

The Hackettstown, New Jersey native admits that the venture took a bit of a backseat during the Big Red’s season.

It has likely done the same in recent weeks since late March, when Perrelli was granted a wildcard to the Olympic Trials, which will take place next Sunday, April 22 in Iowa City.

While the former University Nationals champion attained success in folkstyle for the Big Red, it’s no secret that freestyle, which takes advantage of his strengths in neutral, is his favorite type of wrestling.

“I really feel like freestyle complements my wrestling well,” he said. “I’ve done pretty well in competition the past couple of years while training only two months a year or less in freestyle.  Now that I’ll be able to dedicate all my wrestling time to freestyle rather than folk, I feel like I can make the big jumps and improve the way I want to.  When I can focus on freestyle, I think I’ll be among the best in the country, if not the best.  But I’m actually hoping to make that kind of statement next week at the Olympic Trials.”

He won’t enter the event as a favorite, but he is unlikely to be overlooked.  In the past few years, the two-time EIWA champion has defeated Nick Simmons (fifth at the 2011 World Championships) and former World Team Member Obe Blanc, while taking fifth at the 2011 US Senior Open.  In short, he has demonstrated that he can compete with the best the USA has to offer.

“Having beaten those guys definitely gives me confidence,” he said. “I know that I’m right there with them. Obviously, whoever has the best day next Sunday will make the Olympic team. I think that if I have a good day, I’m one of the guys that can make the team.”

He has had a lot of help in his preparation.  Big Red teammates Kyle Dake and Mack Lewnes have also been training for the Trials.  Dake received an at large bid after his third NCAA title in three years and Lewnes qualified in December of 2011 at an event in Las Vegas.   Many members of the Cornell staff have significant freestyle experience, as does Finger Lakes Wrestling Club head Clint Wattenberg.  Experienced freestyle coach Steve Knight of Excel Wrestling has also been in town assisting.

“There a ton of people for me to train with here,” Perrelli said. “We all try to help each other out.  Kyle and I had to make the switch from folkstyle pretty quickly and I think we have been able to do it in a short period of time because of our great staff.”

In addition to the great staff, Perrelli will be bringing a little Dirty Surf & Skate with him on his quest for London.

“We’re producing some Olympic Trials shirts for Mack, Kyle, and me.  We’re going to wear the shirts and my family is as well.  Obviously, the first priority for all of us is wrestling.  But we might as well promote the business as well on that stage.”

No matter what occurs in Iowa City, Perrelli is committed to the sport for the long haul.   He will remain in Ithaca next year, along with fellow senior Cam Simaz, to coach at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club.

“I’m definitely not ready to leave Cornell yet,” he said.  “I call Ithaca home now.  And I really believe it is the best training situation for me, so it works out perfectly.  I am focused on the here and now, but no matter how much success I have this year, I see myself wrestling at least until 2016, if not longer.”

While competing in the sport will remain tops on his list, Perrelli is also glad that he will be able to continue his “Dirty” work.

“Wrestling will still come first, but I will have a lot more time to dedicate to the company,” he said. “It will definitely be a big part of my life.  Brett has a few more years around here, so we’ll have time to grow and build the company, which is really exciting.”

Also exciting to Perrelli is the opportunity to achieve more in the sport he loves.  While he was proud of making the podium this season, he said he wasn’t really satisfied.

“I honestly haven’t given too much thought to NCAAs since coming back,” he said. “Both losses I had were really close and in overtime.  There’s nothing I can do about that now, so I don’t dwell on it.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to be an All-American, but I was really close to more than that and it’s disappointing.  I guess I’ll have to make up for it in freestyle.”


For more information on Dirty Surf & Skate, see the website at: