NYWAY Providing $$$ For Out of State Trips: Any New York Team Can Apply

Looking for some assistance for your team to travel to an event outside New York?  NYWAY (New York Wrestling Association for Youth) may be able to help.

G2 World Wrestling Academy co-owner Adam Burgos has been all over the Empire State as well as Ohio and Virginia this spring for various competitions, but although he was interested in attending the Grand River Rumble in Michigan in July, an event that boasted over 45 teams from 10 states a year ago, it didn’t seem viable.

However, Burgos will indeed be heading to the Wolverine State in the summer with an All-Star Empire State squad with the help of NYWAY, which offered to subsidize the trip.

“Because of NYWAY the trip will cost $225,” he said.  “That’s for two nights of hotels, a singlet, t-shirt, shorts and entry into the dual meet and individual tournaments.  NYWAY is making a significant contribution – it would probably cost several hundred dollars more otherwise.”

About to enter its second year, NYWAY said from the start that one of its main objectives was to reinvest funds within the Empire State to enrich wrestling locally.   Part of that process is opening up more opportunities for New York grapplers to see both new competition and new surroundings with trips outside of the state.

“Our goal is to take the money raised through membership and tournament fees and put it back into New York wrestling,” said State President Clint Wattenberg.  “One way we’re doing that is supporting kids that want more experience in the offseason; who want to travel and represent New York and NYWAY in areas they might not be able to go to otherwise.  We’ll be able to make things more affordable and remove some of the barriers for the kids to get this experience.”

To that end, NYWAY has set up a form on its website (nyway.org) where any club team can apply for up to $500 in funds to take a team trip.  Wattenberg’s desire is for every applicant to receive some assistance from the organization.

“I hope that any club that is trying to arrange a trip goes to nyway.org and applies,” Wattenberg said.  “The form is very short, and we have a committee of board members that will be taking a look at all the applications. We’re trying to give every team that applies some funding and if a team is taking several trips and there are funds left over, we’ll definitely take a look at that as well.”

Michael Laporte and his son Matthew were beneficiaries last fall when Laporte led a team of New Yorkers on a subsidized journey to Northern California for a dual meet event and an individual tournament.

“The excitement the kids felt about getting on that plane and going to California was amazing,” Laporte said. “Getting to wrestle seven or eight matches on top of that just made it even better.”

Then-11-year old AJ Burkhart was a member of that team as well.

“It was an overwhelming and incredible experience for AJ that we are so glad to have been a part of,” his mother Dana Harbst-Burkhart said. “Wrestling that caliber of competition was incredible.”

Burkhart will be part of the team Burgos will be coaching at the Grand River Rumble, a squad that represents at least six different clubs and several areas around the state.   He believes the benefits on the mat will be significant, as they were for the California trip.

“From a wrestling perspective, traveling to events like these gets rid of the big fish, small pond atmosphere,” Burgos said.  “You can have a ton of success locally, but at national events, you see talent you wouldn’t normally see and you can better see how you’re developing and what you need to do to reach your individual goals.  At the youth level, I think it’s more about experience than wins and losses but getting those experiences against the best competition is imperative.”

But both Harbst-Burkhart and Burgos emphasized that these trips have advantages that go well beyond the wrestling mat.

“The friendships that AJ made on the trip to California are what it’s really all about,” Harbst-Burkhart said.  “Even though it was a New York team, he didn’t know a lot of the kids before.  After the wrestling was over, we were able to see some of California and it was pretty awesome.  We saw Alcatraz.  We have a picture with the whole team in NYWAY singlets with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. AJ still talks about the trip and he will for years to come.”

Burgos agreed.

“There’s a camaraderie built with the kids and the families,” Burgos said.  “And you see new places and have a vacation that builds memories you take with you for a lifetime.  That’s so much of the value of these trips.”

While the team going to the Grand River Rumble is comprised of many of the top placers at the NYWAY State championships in March, Wattenberg emphasized that the opportunities for travel will not be limited to only the most successful grapplers.

“We will be sending some of our top level kids to national competitions,” he said.  “For example, we will have a team going out to California like we did last year.  But we are looking to get our not-yet-elite wrestlers out of state experience in places like New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio and we might do some exchange programs with Canada in some of the Olympic styles.  We are also working on our novice division as we want there to be chances for kids across the spectrum to compete in ways that will challenge them appropriately.”

Those who have been through these travel experiences before believe others should take advantage.

“It’s great to get kids more involved and provide opportunities that they might not otherwise have,” Harbst-Burkhart said.  “We feel privileged to have been a part of it and I hope NYWAY can continue to provide these opportunities so that many other kids can benefit the way we have.”

To view the Travel Team Application form, please visit: http://www.nyway.org/nyway-travel-team-funding-application/

Please contact Clint Wattenberg at clintwattenberg@nyway.org with any questions.

Listen to Clint Wattenberg talk about NYWAY’s funding for clubs


–Betsy Veysman


More Interviews from Cornell Regional Training Center Clinic: Nick Arujau and Clint Wattenberg

At the Cornell Regional Training Center clinic on Memorial Day weekend, Nick Arujau talks about his first year with the Big Red and his thoughts about going 125 or 133 next season.  Clint Wattenberg discusses the growth of the Cornell Regional Training Center and the new freestyle coaching coming on board.

Nick Arujau


Clint Wattenberg

The Newest Member of the Wolfpack: All-American Nick Gwiazdowski Discusses His Transfer

When Pat Popolizio took the head coaching job at North Carolina State in April, freshman Nick Gwiazdowski, who reached All-American status in his first season with the Bearcats, started mulling his future options.  In early May, the Delanson, NY native got his full release from Binghamton. 

On Saturday night, while on a visit to the Raleigh campus, Gwiazdowski announced that he was transferring to the ACC school.  He answered a few questions for New York Wrestling News from the airport on his way back to the Empire State.

New York Wrestling News: What has happened over the past few weeks since Binghamton gave you your release?

Nick Gwiazdowski: I received some calls from other schools – some were coming after me pretty hard. I wasn’t that interested – you can’t jump on the ship after it sails. It came down to a small chance of staying at Binghamton or going to NC State.

As far as NC State goes, I needed to come down and look at the school, meet with the academic advisors and straighten out some financial things.  On my visit this weekend, everything fell into place and I knew NC State was where I wanted to be.

What were some of the things you really liked on your trip to Raleigh this weekend?

This place is awesome.  It felt like a vacation with the warm weather.  I had fun with all the people I met.

The coaching staff was the biggest factor for me.  I know [Popolizio] and Frank Beasley really well and they know me.  They were so important in helping me be an All-American this year. I just met Jamill Kelly this weekend and he seemed like a great guy.

The facilities were great.  Everyone I talked to said that [Athletic Director] Debbie Yow is all about winning and she’ll do whatever it takes.  People told some stories.  Like about her letting go a strength coach that had been around for a while but who wasn’t getting the job done; wasn’t putting winners out there. The coaches said that she’s basically put every coach on campus on notice. She’s serious about winning and that type of commitment to winning is exciting.

I also thought academically it would be a good fit for me. (Editor’s Note: Gwiazdowski made the NWCA All-Academic team this season).

What are you interested in studying?

I didn’t declare a major yet at Binghamton. My meetings with the academic advisor here were good. NC State has some programs I’m interested in like sports management and a parks, recreation and tourism major.  I spoke with some people who were in those areas.  One wrestling alum talked about his experiences after college with minor league baseball teams, USA Baseball and now as a young athletic director.  There are a lot of good opportunities for graduates.

Did you meet a lot of the team?

I met a few of the guys who were on campus. I hung out with [Long Island native] Ryan Fox who committed to Binghamton but switched to NC State a little while ago.  I plan to go back to NC State in July and I’ll probably meet more guys then as everyone adjusts to how [Popolizio] runs things.

What’s next for you this summer?

Honestly, I’m a little out of shape.  I won’t be going to the University Nationals.  I’ll be working out and getting back into shape.  My next thing is the Adam Frey Classic where I’m supposed to wrestle Ryan Tomei.  I was excited that Josh Liebman asked me to participate.  It will be great to wrestle for a cause like that in front of a lot of people. Then, I’ll head back down to Raleigh.  Right now, the plan is for me to redshirt next year.

Congratulations on your decision.  Is there anything else you want to add?

Thank you.  I will miss my family and friends in New York. It’s a little hard to leave and it will be an adjustment, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.  I felt good about NC State for the last few weeks but after visiting this weekend, everything came together. I knew I liked the coaching staff but everything else is there too – the academics, athletic department, the campus, financials.  I’m sure that it’s the place I want to be.


Gwiazdowski went 30-9 as a true freshman at heavyweight for Binghamton.  He was the CAA Rookie of the Year after capturing a conference championship and earned All-America honors after taking eighth place in St. Louis.

Columbia's Wyatt Baker Earns Spot on Junior World Team; Richardson and Howes Take Second

Columbia’s Wyatt Baker earned the 120 kg spot on the Junior Greco World Team when he beat Parker Betts of the Minnesota Storm in Colorado Springs on Saturday night.  Baker topped Betts in the first bout 1-0, 1-1 and then followed with a 1-0, 0-4, 1-0 victory to clinch his berth on the United States team headed to Pattaya, Thailand in September.

Baker, an Anaheim Hills, California native, recently completed his freshman year at Columbia where he compiled a 13-5 record at 285 with seven falls.

Two other wrestlers with ties to the Empire State were finalists at the event in freestyle.  Caleb Richardson of the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club was the runner up at 55 kg.  The Virginia native, who will be a freshman at Cornell in the fall, won the challenge tournament in the morning to earn a meeting with Joey Dance, the victor at the FILA Juniors in April.  Dance won a head to head battle with Richardson at that event and did the same this weekend, taking the first match 5-0, 1-0 and the second 1-0, 1-0.

Colorado’s Dwight Howes, a future upperweight for Hofstra, won the 84 kg challenge event on Saturday and then faced Patrick Downey in the finals.  Downey, representing the NYAC, defeated Howes in three periods in their first bout and followed with a 2-1, 5-4 result.




Vougar Oroudjov Reflects on his World Cup Experience with Team USA

A little over a week ago, Vougar Oroudjov returned from Baku, Azerbaijan where he was on the staff of the United States team that finished third at the FILA World Cup.   The two-time World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist talked to New York Wrestling News about his experience with the USA squad.

What was your role with the team?

Zeke Jones called me about two weeks before the tournament and asked if I could come.  I was a Team Leader.  I was born in Azerbaijan and speak the language there so I translated when we needed it, dealt with hotels, referees and things like that.  I was also at practice and the matches.  I did what I could to help the guys. It was great to be a part of it with everyone on the team and the great coaches – Zeke Jones, John Smith, Mark Manning and Brandon Slay.  It was my first time with the US Team and I didn’t feel like an outsider at all.  We all wanted the same thing – to win.  The atmosphere was great.

What did you think about the team’s performance?

The team was very good.  The United States keeps making big improvements in freestyle.  You saw it at the World Championships and again at the World Cup.

We lost to Iran 4-3, but I wouldn’t say they were much better. Maybe a few tactical things made the difference. In the first match, at 55 kg with Nick Simmons, there were a couple of situations where there were calls that could go either way and they went Iran’s way.  Same thing with [Keith] Gavin’s match at 84 kg.   It was a good learning experience.  I think everyone understands that we have some work to do to be the best team in the world, but we’re getting closer.  There is time before the Olympics to focus on our mistakes and fix them.

Who impressed you individually for the United States?

Jordan Burroughs, Coleman Scott and Tervel Dlagnev were all undefeated and wrestled really well.

Burroughs showed why he is the World Champion.  He knew exactly what he needed to do against the competition.  Dlagnev has the experience on this level and it showed.

It was the first time I saw Coleman Scott wrestle and I was amazed. He was really tough and mentally ready. He wasn’t intimidated about wrestling for the national team, he just went out to win. He never stopped moving; was all the time attacking.  I really like his style – he always showed offensive wrestling.  He beat some very good wrestlers.  I thought 60 kg was one of the toughest weights overall at the tournament. If I were the coach, I’d want him on the Olympic team.  Of course, I’m not the coach.

Honestly, there weren’t any guys who didn’t compete well.  Take someone like Jake Varner.  He lost some matches, but he still wrestled pretty well.  He lost to some World finalists.  I still think he’s good enough to do very well in London. The  Olympics are different than the World Cup. I have several friends who never won anything until they put it together and won the Olympics.

What do you think of the freestyle wrestling you saw at the tournament?

The rules just keep changing.  I know I learned a lot because things are different than when I wrestled freestyle.  To me, it’s getting so much more tactical.  In folkstyle, it’s all about intensity; guys going all out the whole match.  In freestyle now, it isn’t like that.  A lot of it is getting one pushout or taking one shot or grabbing the right ball out of a bag.  I don’t like that.  Just go to overtime and see who scores to get the real winner. There also seems to be a lot more questionable calls.  But we all know the rules.  There are no excuses.  We need to train for those rules and those types of matches.

You had a New York wrestler on the team in Cornell’s Kyle Dake.  He didn’t compete in the dual competition, but how did he look in training?

Kyle was there to be the training partner for Jordan Burroughs and to possibly give Burroughs a rest if we could during the tournament.  That didn’t wind up happening.

But even though he wasn’t in the tournament, I saw Kyle wrestle a lot. Each practice, I was in his corner, watching him.  He’s really good and getting better and better in freestyle. The best thing is that he listens.  You say something to him and he appreciates it and makes the changes.  He was impressive. People would be surprised how good he looked and how he looks against Burroughs.

We also had matches before the tournament where he was wrestling the guys from places like Azerbaijan and Russia.  He did very well against them.  I definitely think Kyle will make the next Olympics.  He’s really progressing in freestyle.  He will be a big surprise for everybody in the next Olympic cycle.

What’s next for you?

I will be working with the kids in my club [Vougars Honors Wrestling in Syosset] on freestyle to prepare for Fargo.

Then, we’ll see.  The USA coaches invited me to come with the team to the Olympics.  It was really hard for me to leave my family for the two weeks for the World Cup, so it would be hard to go for a longer time to London.  I missed home.  I missed my wrestlers and my club.  My son Vitali won the NY Freestyle States while I was away.    That’s one of the reasons the decision to go to Baku was so hard – I knew I would have to miss that and the other New York States for Cadets and Juniors.  I’m probably 50/50 right now on going to London.  I am honored that I was asked and it would be an honor to be there and help and give back to America.

Either way, I wish everyone luck.  I’m hoping for some Olympic championships.  We definitely have several guys who have shown that they are good enough to do it.

NYS Cadet Freestyle Team Looking For Wrestlers

The NYS Cadet Freestyle team is looking for interested wrestlers to wrestle on the National Duals Team in Daytona, Florida June 15-16. There are weight classes that need to be filled (88, 84, 113, 120, 182, 195 & 220)

Please contact Coaches asap:

Anthony Servidone (aservidone@yahoo.com)
Dean Zenie (rdzenie@aol.com)
Larry Cantor (LCantor2@schools.nyc.gov)

SUNY Cortland Signs Acclaimed Recruiting Class, Including Beckwith and Dierna Brothers

By Betsy Veysman

What do the recruiting classes at Cornell, University at Buffalo and Division III SUNY-Cortland all have in common?  It may surprise some, but all boast multiple Empire State wrestlers ranked by Intermat as Top 100 recruits nationally.

Tyler Beckwith, one of the most highly regarded grapplers in the Class of 2010 and Bobby Dierna, a top 100 recruit in 2011, headline a remarkable group of 13 joining Brad Bruhn’s squad in the fall.  The group collectively owns five national crowns, four state championships and a bevy of other state placements and accolades.

“We’re really happy with this class,” Bruhn said.  “We were thin in the lightweights for one of the first times ever and I think we’ve added depth with some very good kids there as well as throughout the weights.  We return nine of our starters from last year and I think the quality returners will be pushed and challenged by this group of guys coming in.”

One wrestler expected to push for a key role early at either 174 or 184 pounds is Beckwith.  The four-time champion at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach attended Binghamton following his graduation from Greene High.  According to Bruhn, he redshirted his first campaign and then continued to attend the institution last year, although he was not a member of the team.

“From my conversations with Tyler, he didn’t feel like wrestling at Binghamton was the right fit for him,” the coach said. “He knew some kids on our team and one day, one of my guys told me a friend of his was interested in wrestling at Cortland.  When he told me who it was, I was pretty excited.  Apparently, one of Tyler’s high school coaches also suggested Cortland to him as a place to look. It’s really exciting for me to know that our program is highly thought of by coaches around the state.”

Those kinds of connections within the high school wrestling world helped Bruhn land the Dierna brothers, Bobby (141/149 pounds) and Alec (125/133).  The Dierna pair has combined for eight medals at the New York state tournament, including a championship for each.

“One alum of our program is an assistant at Webster Schroeder,” he said. “He mentioned that Al Dierna was a good, hard working kid.  He was considering some D-I programs, but started talking to us as did his teammate Josh Reed (174) and his brother, who redshirted at Mercyhurst last year.  They were all excited to be able to wrestle at the next level together.  That doesn’t happen for us without having an alum at the right place at the right time.  That’s one of the great parts of being part of an education school and having so many graduates out there in the communities and schools.  I feel like I have eyes everywhere now and it has helped a lot.”

Al Dierna is one of nine incoming grapplers projected to compete in the lightweights from 125 to 141 pounds.  Another accomplished wrestler in that group is Chittenango’s Wes Blanding, a two-time state placer who took third at 132 pounds in Division 2 in February.

“I really liked Wes the first time I saw him,” he said. “He wrestled up at 138 in the beginning of the year and I saw him beat [Canastota’s state runner up Anthony] Finocchiaro, who was one of the better guys in the state.  He has very sound fundamentals, solid hand fighting and is good in all three phases.  His coaches talk about what a quality kid he is.”

Also taking third this season was Port Byron’s Mitch Janes, who projects at 149 pounds.

“The sleeper in that group might be Mitch Janes,” the coach said.  “Very talented, strong, super smart and very driven.”

He used some similar adjectives to describe Joe Cataldo (165/174), an impressive student and wrestler from MacArthur High, who came into the Times Union Center as the number three seed, but suffered an injury early in the state tournament and had to injury default out.

“I find that sometimes the kids who don’t finish with state titles or the places they want come in hungrier or with more of a chip on their shoulders,” Bruhn said.  “Of my 20 All-Americans, around half never even qualified for the state tournament.  My thought is to keep bringing in quality kids and some will find that next level in college.”

He has without a doubt brought in a lot of quality kids this time, but he isn’t penciling them into the lineup yet.  Cortland has plenty of familiar firepower to work with.  The Red Dragons finished 10th at the Division III nationals in 2012 with three All-Americans and six other starters returning.  Only one regular, 184-pounder Carl Korpi, will not be back. But Korpi’s departure didn’t quite leave a hole in the lineup, as his backup Will Parks sported a 17-2 mark a year ago.

“We have nine guys back and a bunch of seniors next season,” Bruhn said. “The guys coming in have great credentials and talent, but they could still have a hard time getting on the mat.  It’s actually a great spot for them to be in.  There isn’t too much pressure to win the job right away.  They’ll go into the room, train hard and we’ll see who rises to the top.  If they’re the best guy, they’ll wrestle.  If not, they’ll benefit from the great competitiveness in the room.”

Adding to that competitiveness are additional newcomers Tyler Hall (125), Tony Battista (133), David Occhipinti (133), Anthony Padulo (141), Nick Falco (149) and Mike Bosco (174).

Leading the charge for the Red Dragons in 2012-13 will be Jared Myhrberg, who went 33-1 at 197 pounds last season, taking third at nationals. Rising junior Brian Bistis joined Myhrberg as an All-American, grabbing eighth place at 141 after a 26-9 campaign.  Bruhn expects he could do more damage in the future.

“Bistis worked harder this spring than I’ve ever seen him work before,” the coach said. “Getting on the podium gave him a taste of success and he told me he knows he’s better than the eighth best guy in the country.  He’s determined to do better this year.”

The third Cortland All-American, Joey Giaramita, was the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference’s Rookie of the Year after placing eighth at nationals.  However, he will be in a battle with Corey James for the heavyweight role, according to the coach.

“Corey had some family issues that slowed him down last year,” Bruhn said. “His head was sometimes someplace else.  Joey won the spot, but before conferences, Corey started doing really well in the room, even dominating at times.  I wasn’t always sure who my best heavyweight was. It will be an interesting situation to see who represents us.  We have two great options.”

The coach also looks forward to the return of talented lightweight Nigel McNeil (125 pounds, 22-4 last season).  McNeil burst on the scene as a freshman, winning two Most Outstanding Wrestler awards in his first three college tournaments, according to his coach.

“Nigel started out really well,” Bruhn said. “He placed in a Division I tournament and then didn’t lose a match until he tried to come back from a shoulder injury.  He was ranked in the top three in the country and was dominant.  In one stretch he was 18-0 with 16 wins by bonus points. He came in as a complete wrestler with a high level of intensity.  He’s having surgery soon and we’re hoping to see him back to form.”

With the return of McNeil and 133-pound starter Sean Kempf, the influx of freshmen and the “addition” of Max Miller, who attended every practice last season despite not being able to wrestle due to injury, Bruhn said he is very excited about the lightweight depth.

However, the coach’s excitement isn’t restricted to the lower weights.  He’s enthusiastic about the squad from top to bottom.

“I think we have potential qualifiers or even All-Americans at just about every weight,” he said. “At some weights, I don’t know who the guy will be, but I know we have great guys to choose from.  If we can stay healthy, we think we have the talent to make a run at a team trophy at nationals.  It’s been a long time coming to really put the amount of depth in the room that I wanted.  With this class, I think we’re just about there.”

Cortland’s Postseason Lineup* in 2011-12

125 Nigel McNeil (22-4 overall)

133 Sean Kempf (20-10)

141 Brian Bistis (26-9)

149 Andre Berry (17-10)

157 Troy Sterling (17-7)

165 Jonathan Conroy (32-11)

174 Lou Puca (21-10)

184 Carl Korpi (28-9)

197 Jared Myhrberg (33-1)

285 Joey Giaramita (24-11)

* All records according to team’s website


Cortland’s 2012 Recruiting Class*

Tony Battista (133) Cicero-North Syracuse HS

Tyler Beckwith (174/184) Binghamton/Greene HS

Wes Blanding (133) Chittenango HS

Mike Bosco (174) Nassau CC/John Glenn HS

Joe Cataldo (165/174) MacArthur HS

Alec Dierna (125/133) Webster Schroeder HS

Bob Dierna (141/149) Monroe CC/Mercyhurst/Wayne HS

Nick Falco (149) Nassau CC/East Meadow HS

Tyler Hall (125) Marathon HS

Mitchell Janes (149) Port Byron HS

David Occhipinti (133) Croton-Harmon HS

Anthony Padulo (141) Baruch College HS

Josh Reed (174) Webster-Schroeder HS

* Provided by Cortland

X-Cel is for Excellence: Long Island Team Captures Pop and Flo National Duals Championship

By Betsy Veysman

The most nervous moments for Team X-Cel coach Nick Garone this past weekend, during which the squad captured the championship at the Pop and Flo National Duals, didn’t take place on the mat.  Instead, his most nervous moments took place on the water during the team’s celebration.

“The guys dove into the lake after the event,” he said.  “It was pretty great to see how excited they were.  I took the easy way out, paddling out in a boat.  They were messing with me, telling me they were going to tip me over.  I begged them not to. It was a lot of fun, which is what the weekend was all about.”

It was also about winning, something the team did in all five of its duals, concluding with a 25-24 triumph over New Jersey’s Apex in the title match.  The squads ended the meet deadlocked at 24, but X-Cel earned the crown by virtue of capturing eight of the 15 bouts.

It was a victory that the team felt was for more than just the wrestlers and coaches that made the trip upstate.

“We weren’t just trying to win it for the guys who were there,” said heavyweight Dante Salkey, who went 5-0 on the weekend.  “We went out to make a statement about Long Island wrestling.  We knew that we were in Lake Placid, a place where history was made.  We wanted to bring some of Long Island’s best, upset the top seed (Apex) and win it all.  We wanted to show how tough our wrestling is.”

Some of Long Island’s best started things off on the right foot in the finale.  A pair of state champions from Section 11, Sean McCabe (130) and Maverick Passaro (135), propelled the squad to a 6-0 lead.  McCabe controlled his bout with Apex’s Matt Caputo (an Empire state resident) in a 9-3 decision.

Passaro followed by notching a takedown with less than 30 seconds to go to garner a come-from-behind victory over Richie Lewis.   Passaro’s late heroics didn’t go unnoticed by his coach, especially since the Eastport South Manor senior rebounded from a bonus point loss in the previous round.

“That kid’s a champion,” Garone said. “In the semis, he was beaten by a high score.  Some guys can’t let that go.  It’s like a fighter who gets knocked out – their next fight is the hardest of their life.  Maverick got over it.  He showed fortitude and heart to bounce back and wrestle with confidence and get that late score.  What a great match he wrestled.”

Apex responded with a pair of victories, a decision at 140 and a pin at 145, to take a 9-6 advantage.

In stepped John Glenn’s James Dekrone against a familiar foe, NHSCA National Champion Lenny Richardson.  The two have had some tough, close matches in the past and this was no different.  After neither competitor scored in neutral in the opening stanza, Dekrone rode his opponent for the entire second period.  In the third, it looked like Richardson might return the favor, but Dekrone broke free for an escape and got his hand raised in a 1-0 result, knotting the score at 9.

“It was an unbelievable match,” Garone said. “I knew it would be exciting.  Richardson is so dangerous and scary from every tie up and James is a pressure wrestler that keeps coming after you.  James just wrestled a perfect match when we needed it.”

X-Cel continued putting points on the board with victories in the next two bouts.  At 160, Nicky Hall topped Brandon Keena and at 170 Dylan Palacio bumped up to face All-American Tony Pafumi and came away with an overtime triumph.

“We changed things around a little bit because I thought it gave us an edge,” Garone said. “I knew Nicky Hall was capable of winning at 160 and I thought Palacio could win at either 160 or 170. Obviously, it could have backfired because Pafumi is tough and hardnosed.  Dylan’s match came down to OT and we were biting our fingernails.  But both Nicky and Dylan got the job done.  I thought Dylan might be upset about the change, but he told me it was fine; he’d do whatever it took for the team to win. They were both team players.”

It was a short-lived 15-9 lead for the Empire State group.  Apex came out on top in the next three matches and moved ahead 18-15 as the 285 pounders took the mat.

Dante Salkey attacked his opponent, Mike Spencer, almost immediately, scoring off a low single to move ahead 2-0.  He extended his lead early in the second with an escape and another takedown before withstanding a comeback attempt by his opponent, New Jersey’s fourth place finisher in 2012, for a narrow victory.  After Salkey’s fifth win of the weekend, the score was tied again.

“I knew going in that we were down by the three and I had to get the win,” Salkey said. “I didn’t want it to come down to the last few guys; I wanted to make sure I did my part.  I felt that I was a lot quicker than [Spencer], so I went to my offense for the first half of the match.  It got closer than I wanted late in the match, but it worked out in the end.”

“Dante was unbelievable the whole weekend,” Garone added. “I get a big grin on my face when I think about it because he’s so funny.  He was the team jokester, keeping everyone loose and relaxed by making everyone laugh.  On the mat, he wrestles like a lightweight, taking a lot of shots and moving well.  I think he could be very, very good at the next level because he’s really nimble on his feet for a big guy.  He made huge contributions to the team.”

Also making big contributions were lightweights Jay Rodriguez (105) and Nick Piccininni (113), who came through with wins over Nick Suriano and Joe Travato, respectively to push X-Cel’s lead to 24-18.

Apex fought back, however, capturing the matches at 120 and 126 to deadlock the score until criteria declared the Long Island squad the winners.

“Going to criteria – that’s a true testament to what kind of dual it was,” Garone said. “That’s what you pray for, a battle like that.  The Apex coaches had to like how they fought back and tied it by winning the last two matches.  My hat is off to those guys over at Apex.  They do a great job with those kids every year.  They’re a great club.”

Garone also tipped his hat to several others he said played important roles in X-Cel’s achievement.

“Finally we can tell people that Long Island can compete with the best in the country and have proof.  I really want to thank Darren Goldstein, my right arm, who would do anything for us and Steve Hromada for helping us train.  Anthony Abidin really helped us out, getting the guys warmed up, which is harder for us old guys,” he said, laughing.  “All the coaches who had someone represented should be appreciated – they do a great job with the wrestlers for most of the year.  Most importantly, I need to thank the guys we brought.  Every one of them is great.  But they put their egos aside and were willing to do what was best for the team. That’s not typical for a bunch of studs. We had a great time.”

That was a sentiment echoed by everyone involved.

“It felt amazing,” Salkey said. “We had so much fun, celebrating in the lake and on the ride back home.  We knew we were good coming in and we thought we could win it, but the competition was good too.  We wrestled our best and walked away with the title for us and for Long Island wrestling.”

Team X-Cel, 2012 Pop and Flo National Duals Champions

105 –   Jay Rodriguez

113 –   Nick Piccininni

120 –   Pat Skinner

125 –   Travis Passaro

130 –   Sean McCabe

135 –   Maverick Passaro

140 –   Tommy Dutton

145 –   Louis Hernandez

152 –   James DeKrone

152 –   Sam Schwartzapfel

160 –   Dylan Palacio

160 –   Nick Hall

170 –   Zac Mullen

182 –   Dylan Seybolt

182 –   Colin Gironda

195 –   Nick Weber

220 –   Kenny Drew

285 –   Dante Salkey


Finals: Team X-Cel Over Apex (NJ), 25-24

130 Sean McCabe decision Matt Caputo, 3-0 NY

135 Maverick Passaro decision Richie Lewis, 6-0 NY

140 Jason Estevez decision Thomas Dutton, 6-3 NY

145 BJ Clagon pin Louis Hernandez, 9-6 NJ

152 James Dekrone decision Lenny Richardson, 9-9

160 Nicky Hall decision Brandon Keena, 12-9 NY

170 Dylan Palacio decision Tony Pafumi, 15-9 NY

182 Brian Loughlin decision Dylen Seybolt, 15-12 NY

195 Tyler Rios decision Colin Gironda, 15-15

220 Eric McMullen decision Ken Drew, 18-15 NJ

285 Dante Salkey decision Mike Spencer, 18-18 NY

105 Jay Rodriguez decision Nick Suriano, 21-18 NY

113 Nick Piccinnini decision Joe Travato, 24-18 NY

120 Luis Gonzalez decision Pat Skinner, 24-21 NY

126 Joe Oliva decision Travis Passaro, 24-24 NY

NY Wins on Criteria*, 25-24

*(Most matches won, X-Cel 8, Apex 7)


Semifinals:  Team X-Cel Over Dark Knights (PA), 42-22

105 Jay Rodriguez tech fall Tyson Klump, 5-0 NY

113 Nick Piccininni major Tyrone Klump, 9-0 NY

120 Zach Valley Valley major Pat Skinner, 9-4 NY

126 Travis Passaro dec Mason Bryne, 12-4 NY

130 Sean McCabe dec Chase Zemanak, 15-4 NY

135 Tyson Dippery tech fall Maverick Passaro, 15-9 NY

140 Chris Vasser pin Thomas Dutton, 15-15

145 Shyheim Brown dec Louis Hernandez, 18-15 PA

152 James Dekrone dec Zach Ross, 18-18

160 Dylan Palacio dec Garrett Peppelman, 21-18 NY

170 Elliot Riddick maj Zac Mullen, 22-21 PA

182 Dylen Seybolt pin Nick Sevi, 27-22 NY

195 Colin Gironda win by forfeit, 33-22 NY

220 Ken Drew win by forfeit, 39-22 NY

285 Dante Salkey dec Dawson Peck, 42-22 NY


Earlier Round Results


Round 1: Team X-Cel 65, Apex II (NJ) 0

Round 2: Team X-Cel 66, Iowa Style (NY) 3

Round 3: Team X-Cel 42, Triumph (NJ) 13

Josh Antoine Wins Double Titles at Northeast Regionals; Full List of NY Placers

New York top four placewinners at the Northeast Regional Freestyle and Greco championships in Bloomsburg, PA.



106 – Alpha Diallo, Champion

113 –  Josh Antoine, Champion

126 – Trey Aslanian, 4th

145 – Quinton Murphy, Champion

195 – McZiggy Richards, 3rd


Soslan Gularov, Champion

David Farr, 2nd

285 – Elvin Gervacio, 3rd



95 – Christopher Cuccolo, 2nd


Ian Lupole, 2nd

Zachery Bendick, 4th


Isaiah Zimmer, 2nd

Daniel Smith, 3rd



65 – Logan Gumble, 2nd

75 – Daniel Butavicius, 3rd

120 – Andrew Grechko, Champion




Luca Errico, Champion

Nikita Nesterenko, 3rd

80 – Deshawn Herber, 3rd

100 – Matthew Grippi, Champion



120 – Scott Rodrigues, 2nd

128 – Leonard Merkin, 3rd

136 – Joseph Clemente, Champion




100/106 – Alpha Diallo, 2nd

113 – Josh Antoine, Champion


Rocco Russo, Champion

Brandon Diaz, 3rd


Justin Boone, 3rd

Nigel Williams, 4th

152 – Brendan Goldup, 3rd


David Bunn, 3rd

Kevin Rodriguez, 4th

182 – Cedrick Stephens, 3rd

195 – McZiggy Richards, Champion

285 – Elvin Gervacio, Champion



94 – Christopher Cuccolo, Champion

106 – Donny McCoy, 4th

113 – Matthew Morris, Champion


Freddie Dunau, Champion

Austin Acquard, 2nd

Ian Lupole, 4th

126 – Ryan Snow, 4th

152 – Nikolas Hansen, 4th


Daniel Smith, 2nd

Isaiah Zimmer, 3rd

Bradley Perry, 4th


65 – Logan Gumble, 2nd

70 – Clint Baker, 4th

75 – Daniel Butavicius, Champion

80 – Landon Sibley, Champion



Nathan Lehr, Champion

Nikita Nesterenko, 2nd

80 – Deshawn Herber, 2nd


84 – Maksim Pasichaik, 4th

120 – Ryan Moore, 3rd

128 Leonard Merkin, Champion

136 Joseph Clemente, 2nd