Check out Videos and Results from the Journeymen Wrestling Classic

On Sunday, Niskayuna High School hosted The Journeymen Classic, which featured some of New York’s best wrestlers as well as competitors from 17 other states in a round robin format.

Check out some videos from the event (more will be added).

RESULTS are at the bottom of the page.


Nick Kelley (Fargo All-American, 2x NYS Placer) vs. Gary Dinmore (NJ State Placer) – 140 Pounds


William Koll (NY State Champion, NHSCA All-American) vs. Travis Passaro (NHSCA All-American) – 125 Pounds


David Almaviva (Fargo All-American, NYS 3rd) vs. Thomas Dutton (Fargo All-American) – 145 Pounds


Vincent DePrez (NY State Runner Up) vs. Scott Delvecchio (NJ State Champion)


Yianni Diakomihalis (Ranked #5 Nationally among Jr High wrestlers) vs. Jesse Dellavecchia (Sachem East)


Louie Hernandez (Section 8 Champion) vs. Brad Drover (New England Runner Up)


Yianni Diakomihalis (Ranked #5 nationally among Jr High wrestlers) vs. Tommy Aloi (All-American)


More videos to come . . .



103A:  Champion: Yianni Diakomihalis (G2)  Second Place: Jesse Dellavecchia

Diakomihalis dec Dellavecchia 8-1

103B: Champion: Vitali Arujau (VHW) Second Place: Josh Logiudice (Journeymen)

Arujau dec Logiudice 7-0

113A: Champion: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) Second Place: Joseph Trovato (Apex)

Piccininni dec Trovato 7-0

113B: Champion: Bryan Lantry (Wayne) Second Place: Nick Barbaria (Ascend)

Lantry dec Barbaria, 3-1

113C: Champion: James Szymanski (X-Cel) Second Place: Benjamin Defronzo

Szymanski dec Defronzo, 5-2

113D: Champion: Ben Lamantia (VHW) Second Place: Jim Slendorn (Triumph)

Lamantia dec Slendorn, 12-5

120A: Champion: Brent Fleetwood (Tyrants) Second Place: Ryan Pomrinca (North Hunterdon)

120B: Champion: Blake Retell (Journeymen) Second Place: Josue Beltran Jr (Mountain View)

Retell dec Beltran Jr, 3-1

120C: Champion: Craig DeLaCruz (Bound Brook) Second Place: John Amato (Timber Creek)

DeLaCruz pin Amato, 1:33

120D: Jean-Luc Lemieux (Pinkerton) Second Place: Dylan Lafountain (Mount Anthony)

Lemieux dec Lafountain, 7-0

125A: Champion: Sal Profaci (Monroe) Second Place: Travis Passaro (631 Elite)

Profaci dec Passaro, 4-2

125B: Champion: Justin Cooksey (VHW) Second Place: Joseph Ghione (Brick Memorial)

Cooksey dec Ghione, 8-5

125C: Champion: Connor Muli (Shore Thing) Second Place: Michael Raccioppi (Minisink Valley)

Muli dec Raccioppi, 4-2

125 D: Champion: Kyle Fletcher (Catamount) Second Place: Blaise Rufo (Monsignor Farrell)

Fletcher pin Rufo, 2:17

130A: Champion: Anthony Giraldo (North Bergen) Second Place: TJ Fabian (X-Cel)

Giraldo dec Fabian, 7-1

130B: Champion: Jared Staub (Elite) Second Place: Patrick Lacroix

Staub dec Lacroix, 6-4 (OT)

135A: Champion: Scott Delvecchio (Hercules) Second Place: Geoffrey Verallis (NMH)

Delvecchio dec Verallis, 6-4

135B: Champion: Michael Pongracz (Delaware Valley) Second Place: Miguel Calixto (Silverback Wrestling)

Pongracz dec Calixto, 9-3

140A: Champion: Nick Kelley (Journeymen) Second Place: Corey Stasenko (Triumph)

Kelley dec Stasenko, 5-3

140B: Champion: Fritz Hoehn (Doughboys) Second Place: Daniel Reagan (Lew Port)

Hoehn dec Reagan, 2-1

145A: Champion: Maaziah Bethea (Elite) Second Place: David Almaviva (Journeymen)

Bethea dec Almaviva, 4-3

145B: Champion: Jake Spengler Second Place: Christian Labrie 

Spengler dec Labrie, 9-8

152A: Champion: Chad Walsh (Camden Catholic) Second Place: Louie Hernandez (Ascend)

Walsh dec Hernandez, 3-1 (OT)

152B: Champion: Dylan Painton (Triumph) Second Place: Jimmy Ryan (Doughboys)

Painton maj Ryan, 12-2

160A: Champion: Jonathan Schleifer (Triumph) Second Place: Jake George (Long Branch)

Schleifer dec George, 6-1

160B: Champion: Joe Mastro Second Place: Andrew Psomas (Monsignor Farrell)

Mastro pin Psomas (SV)

160C: Champion: Mikey Amorando (Atlas Wrestling) Second Place: Dan Tracy (Ascend)

Amorando pin Tracy, 5:00

170A: Champion: Chris Chorzepa (Northeast Elite) Second Place: Dan Wojtaszek (Shore Thing)

Chorzepa dec Wojtaszek, 3-0

170B: Champion: Austin Weigel (Journeymen) Second Place: Daesean Brown (Triumph)

Weigel dec Brown, 5-3

170C: Champion: Johnny Vrasidas (St. Anthony’s) Second Place: David Bunn (Copiague)

Vrasidas pin Bunn, 1:41

182A: Champion: Peter Renda (Brandywine Heights) Second Place: Joe Balboni (Apex)

Renda dec Balboni, 4-2

182B: Champion: Stephen Suglio Second Place: Levi Ashley (Journeymen) 

Suglio over Ashley, 9-1

182C: Champion: Giovanni Santiago (VHW) Second Place: Austin Price (Mount Anthony)

Santiago pin Price, 4:11

195: Champion: Leonardo Trindade (Doughboys) Second Place: Bryce Mazurowski (Avon)

Trindade pin Mazurowski, 2:58

225 Champion: Richard Sisti (Monsignor Farrell) Second Place: Joe Sprung (Journeymen)

Sisti dec Sprung, 7-3

285 Champion: Jesse Webb (Catamount) Second Place: Matt Montesanti (Medina)

Webb dec Montesanti, 4-2



Lansing State Champion Connor Lapresi Chooses Bucknell


Connor Lapresi couldn’t stand it.  After suffering a high ankle sprain during his state championship victory at 132 pounds in February, the Lansing grappler was forced to take some time off from wrestling.

“It’s simply the greatest sport in the world,” he said. “I love it and it’s a huge part of me.  If I don’t wrestle for more than a week or two, I feel like something’s wrong.  When I was out after states, I was emotionally distraught.  It’s kind of unhealthy.  It was a good thing it was the NCAA tournament so I got to watch a lot of matches and afterwards, I watched a lot of youtube videos.”

He also continued mulling his college options.  He’s had a strong connection with Cornell for a long time.  In fact, he said he thought about attending the Ivy League institution since he was in sixth or seventh grade.  But after a parent of a teammate, a Bucknell alum, started talking about the Pennsylvania-based school, he slowly began to consider leaving the Ithaca area.  And after taking an official visit and making a detailed pros and cons list, Lapresi recently gave his verbal commitment to Coach Dan Wirnsberger and the Bison.  He hopes to compete at 141 or 149 pounds without redshirting the first year.

“If I’m not putting on a singlet and stepping out on the mat to represent my team, I’m not happy,” he said. “I can’t just practice.  Cornell was the only college I cared about for a long time.  I’ve been wrestling in the Friedman Center with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club for years – a lot of the guys there watched me grow up.  But I was surprised when I visited Bucknell how much I liked it. It’s an awesome place. I really liked the coaches and the campus.  The biggest factor was that I think I have the opportunity to be a four-year starter at Bucknell while at Cornell there are highly ranked guys everywhere.  Unless you’re Kyle Dake, you may have to sit.  I love wrestling and competing and I want to be where I can wrestle.  That’s what will make me happiest.”

Lapresi was often happy during his 41-1 junior campaign in which he earned the state crown.  The highlight moment for him, however, took place in the state semifinals where he faced Chittenango’s Wesley Blanding, the top seed in the bracket who had handed Lapresi his only loss of the season in overtime.

The rematch in Albany also went to an extra session.  But this time, it was the Lansing wrestler that came out on top, notching a takedown with just three seconds remaining to earn a 3-1 decision.

“Blanding beat me in the Windsor Tournament.  It was heartbreaking, but I knew I could beat him if we wrestled again,” Lapresi said. “With very little time left, I did a snap down, go behind.  It was like a peewee move; it was amazing.  As the referee was putting his hand up to show the two [points], the time expired.  After a big win like that, I believed I could do anything.  I felt like the sky was the limit at that point.”

That confidence showed when Lapresi came out and immediately took control of the title bout against Duanesburg’s Curt Rowley.  With 20 seconds to go in the second period, Lapresi took his opponent down to take a 5-0 lead, but suffered a third-degree high ankle sprain in the process.  He said it was extremely painful but he knew he still had more than a full period to go to achieve his goal.

“It actually still hurts now,” he said.  “I did absolutely nothing the entire third period.  I could barely stand.  I spent the entire time thinking that I wasn’t letting this injury stop me from getting that championship, but every single movement hurt.  Every third period seems like the longest two minutes of my life, but this one was really long.”

The physical pain was intense but almost as painful was the fact that he gave up a takedown in the final stanza on his way to a 6-3 victory.  It was the only time Lapresi gave up offensive points the entire season.

“It was a little annoying to give up a takedown after not allowing anyone to take me down all year,” he said. “But it gives me something to aim for this year.  State champion.  Undefeated.  No takedowns or back points allowed. That’s about the best you can do and that’s what I want to do.”

He also wants to be part of what he calls Lansing’s “dynamic duo” with junior teammate William Koll, a state champion in 2011 and third place finisher last season.   Lapresi wished to thank his parents and the rest of his family for all of their contributions to his success and he also credited a large portion of his achievements to Koll and a few others in the Bobcat room.

“I wouldn’t be half the wrestler I am without William Koll, Corey Dake and coach Doug Dake,” he said. “The three of them have helped me get so far ahead of where I used to be.  [Lapresi moved to Lansing before his sophomore year]. Part of it is the mentality and just being with people who want to win every bit as much as I do.  They’ve been like a family for me.”

With that family still behind him, Lapresi looks forward to his final season as a Section 4 star.  However, he first will finish up his defensive duties for the football team before getting back to his favorite sport full time.

“In football, it’s fun to tackle but then they blow the whistle and you have to wait another play to try to do it again.  But in wrestling, you take a kid down, get a big mat return, smash their hip on the mat, get a tight tilt and watch the referee award back points.  Nothing beats that.  I can’t wait for wrestling season.”

He said he hopes to be a key player in the continuing rise of the Bucknell program.  But he isn’t losing sight of more immediate goals.

“A lot of seniors fade after they make their college decision,” he said. “They lose the drive and get upset at states.  I want to do great things in college. But I’m focusing on one day at a time.  November 8 is the day it all gets started again.  And on February 22 and 23 [the state tournament] I want to finish high school wrestling the right way.”

Binghamton 2012-13 Season Preview With Assistant Coach Jasen Borshoff

Binghamton had a terrific 2011-12 season, winning 15 dual meets and earning the best NCAA finish in program history (14th).  The Bearcats boasted two All-Americans (Donnie Vinson at 149 and Nick Gwiazdowski at 285) and had three other wrestlers win at least two bouts at nationals.  The team has undergone change over the past several months, as head coach Pat Popolizio and assistant Frank Beasley moved to North Carolina State and Matt Dernlan and Teyon Ware came on board to replace them.  (Gwiazdowski joined the Wolfpack as well).

Assistant coach Jasen Borshoff is back and he spoke to New York Wrestling News about the upcoming season, beginning with a weight-by-weight look at the lineup.

125 Pounds  – Last year’s starter Derek Steeley returns, but he’ll be challenged by two accomplished wrestlers — former 125-pound Junior College national champion Patrick Hunter (who manned the 133 spot for the Bearcats in 2011-12) and Army transfer David White, who placed at the EIWAs in 2011 as a true freshman.

Coach Borshoff:  “We have a three-way race for 125.  Right now, I’m not sure who will win the job.  Steeley is back and White has three years left after coming in from Army.  He beat a handful of Top 25 guys last year before transferring and redshirting.

Pat Hunter may have been the smallest 133 pounder I’ve ever seen in my entire life.   When [Hunter] came in to Binghamton, he had a lot on his plate.  We wanted him to focus on starting a new school, meeting new people and wrestling without having to worry about weight. But he’s really matured a lot in the year he’s been here and he’s ready to be back at 125.”

133 Pounds – Two years ago Dan Riggi filled the 133 slot and after a redshirt campaign, he’ll try to earn the nod again.  But he’ll have competition from another wrestler who took a redshirt last year – Tyler Pendergast.

Coach Borshoff:  “Just like at 125, it’s not clear who will win the spot.  Riggi had a pretty good year last season and he’s a goer who always wrestles hard. Tyler wrestled in the second half of the season and got hurt.  He was a three-time Delaware state champion and a Beast of the East finalist.  So, he has a very good pedigree and has the chance to show it in college.”

141 Pounds:  Joe Bonaldi and Derak Heyman know each other pretty well.  The Empire State natives wrestled in high school and now they will compete for the Binghamton starting job. Another potential contender is junior college national runner up Vinny DiGravio, who transferred in from Mercyhurst Northeast.

Coach Borshoff: “There will be a lot of competition at this weight.  Joe Bonaldi wrestled as a true freshman and I think he faced more ranked opponents than anyone else on the team.  He’s ready for the next step.  Derak was injured last year but he did wrestle at the Penn State Open and placed as a true freshman.  Those two are very close in the room – they really battle it out and make each other better.  It’s possible that Vinny may redshirt.”

149 Pounds – While the first three weights are undecided, 149 isn’t in question.  Donnie Vinson comes off a third place finish at NCAAs in which he won seven matches in a row following a first round loss.  He also captured Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at the CAA tournament and compiled a 40-5 record overall with 28 bonus point wins.  He will be among the favorites to stand on top of the podium at nationals in 2013.

Coach Borshoff:  “Donnie’s the man at 149.  He’s taken ownership of being a team leader, which is great to see.   He’s been working on some little things like head and hand position. He’s so aggressive and explosive that he opens himself up sometimes.  The third place match at NCAAs was a perfect example. He took it to his opponent but made little mistakes at crucial times. Last year, he thought he was good enough to win nationals.  The difference this year is that he knows he’s good enough to win.”

157 Pounds/165 Pounds – Justin Lister and Matt Kaylor were two very successful multi-year starters for the Bearcats in the middleweights.  Three candidates are in the mix to replace them – Joe Chamish, Vinny Grella and Adam Lepkowsky.

Coach Borshoff:  “It will be interesting to see how these weights play out for us.  Joe Chamish spot started for us last year at 157.  Vinny and Adam are both redshirt freshmen.  They’re all young and none have ever been there.  It’s a new frontier for them.  They have to go out and work hard and capitalize on their opportunity to start.”

174 PoundsCaleb Wallace (11 wins in 2011-12) and John Paris (the 2011 CAA Rookie of the Year) squared off for the spot last season at 174 and they’ll do it again.

Coach Borshoff:  “Last year, the guys were so close and Caleb actually won the wrestleoff.  But it was such a close match and John had such a great season the year before, we were planning to start whoever did better in competition.  Then in his second match of the year, John tore his ACL and was out for the year.  Caleb stepped in and did very well.  He took third in the CAA and showed a lot of improvement. Now, John’s back and healthy and they’ll battle it out.  They’re very different wrestlers.  John’s more explosive from the outside and Caleb likes to roll around. Both wrestle hard and are young and improving.  This is a weight where we’ll be more mature and better than last year.”

184 PoundsCody Reed, who has racked up 47 victories while starting at 197 pounds the past two seasons, will move down to 184 for the upcoming campaign.

Coach Borshoff: “Cody Reed was an undersized 197.  He was trying to keep his weight up during the season.  Cody had a great end of the year, upsetting the #4 seed [Maryland’s Christian Boley] at the NCAAs.  It was a huge confidence builder for him.  He saw that he was good enough to compete at the national level and he’s been working on a lot of little things to get better.  I think he’s good enough to be an All-American but that’s up to him.  He’s very strong and explosive for the weight.”

197 Pounds – After three seasons of wrestling well and qualifying for nationals at 184, Nate Schiedel moves up to 197 for his senior campaign.  He sported a 30-10 mark in 2011-12.

Coach Borshoff:  “Nate’s a leader and a captain and guys really respect him.  In hindsight, he was too big for 184 last year.  He’s a house right now.  When [head coach Matt Dernlan] got here, he couldn’t believe Nate made 184.  Honestly, we were contemplating having him go heavyweight.  Last year, he was always in great shape, but you could see him hurting at times.  He sucked it up and won matches because he’s a winner, but it was tough.  He’s had a good career so far where he’s been ranked in the top 10 several times.  At 197, we’re expecting a huge, huge year from him.”

285 Pounds – With the departure of All-American Nick Gwiazdowski to North Carolina State, New York native Tyler Deuel will step into the heavyweight role.

Coach Borshoff: “Tyler spot started last year at 197 but he’s a big-sized heavyweight now, probably around 250.  Starting in May, we put him on a weightlifting program and he’s put on a lot of good weight.  He’s doing pretty well so far; his body is getting used to carrying around the extra weight.  The spotlight will be on him and we’ll see how he handles it.  He’s young and inexperienced, but he’s talented and capable of doing a great job.”

A Few More Things . . .

Tell us a little bit about being part of the new coaching staff.

Coach Borshoff:  “It’s been awesome. We’ve meshed really well.  We have the same philosophies and are focused on working hard but working smart.  We want to make sure guys are enjoying competing.  Sometimes you get to the national tournament and guys are done. They’re sick of the season and the grind.  Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen and that’s the philosophy and training [Dernlan] brought in.

One thing I thought was cool was to see the guys who competed at the Olympics call [Dernlan] to thank him for helping them reach their goals.  When you see the guys who are competing for World and Olympic titles, you realize there’s another level out there and that winning national titles isn’t the biggest thing.  It takes some pressure off the guys and it lets them see that [Dernlan] has impacted very high level wrestlers.”

What are the team’s goals for this year?

“We were excited about last year, but we’re not satisfied with being 14th in the country.  There were 13 teams ahead of us and every year we want to plug away and get better and better.

We want national champions and All-Americans.  But the goal setting is the job of the guys on the team.  Ultimately, if our goals as coaches are bigger than theirs, it won’t matter. Binghamton is on the map now and I think everyone wants to keep Binghamton moving up the totem pole.”

Who are some of the freshman entering the room this year?

“One of the main reasons Coach Dernlan took the job was that he believes New York State is untapped.  There’s so much talent here.  We believe you can do really big things with New York kids and we brought in a lot of good ones.

Tristan Hamner (Medina) never won a state title and that’s surprising when you see how talented he is. We also have state runner ups Brady Baron (Pittsford) and Dylan Cohen (Williamsville East) as well as Dylan Caruana (Kenmore West), who took fifth.  Nick Mauriello (Hauppauge) was fourth in a tough weight last year and Jack McKeever was third in New England.  All the guys are pretty talented and they’re all good, hard working kids.  They’re real student-athletes who are here to compete in the room but also understand that they need to work hard in school because wrestling doesn’t pay the bills for most people.”

What else should we look for from Binghamton this season?

“We can’t wait for the season to start.  We’re ready to start practice and get the guys in the room.  They worked all summer and we’ll see where we are.  We’re excited for another great year.”


Big 10 Bound: National Champion Anthony Abidin Talks About His Commitment to Wrestle for Nebraska

Anthony Abidin will face top-notch competition when he takes the mat in the Big 10 for Nebraska, at 133 or 141 pounds, beginning in 2013-14.  But it’s unlikely that he’ll be intimidated by the impressive credentials of his opponents.

Last year, while wrestling for Nassau Community College, he finished the season ranked 12th at 133 pounds, but defeated several higher-seeded foes to reach the NJCAA national championship bout against Brandon Wright of Iowa Central.   When it came time for the introductions, Abidin listened while the announcer seemingly went on and on about Wright’s achievements.

“I had a good laugh about that,” Abidin said. “My intro was pretty quick, a few tournament results and a New York state championship.  And then with Wright, it was all these national championships, multiple state championships, open tournament championships.  It was like, is this over yet?”

When it came down to it, resumes didn’t matter.  The match was knotted at 4 in the third period, but the Long Island native earned the key takedown and rideout to prevail 7-4.  He was a national champion.

“I am always in it to win,” Abidin said. “I wasn’t expected to place by most people, but I came into the tournament with a goal of at least being top three.  I promised myself that I worked harder than anyone else in the bracket and if I lost it simply wasn’t meant to be.  I was on my game that whole weekend and I didn’t give up an inch.  I surprised myself in the end.”

His impressive showing a year after completing his high school career atop the podium at the New York States at 125 pounds got the attention of several Division I programs.  In fact, he first was interested in attending nearby Hofstra.  However, after a trip to Cornhusker country this past weekend, he gave his commitment to Nebraska.

“I realized that I don’t want to stay home for college.  I want to get away and experience new places and new things,” he said.  “On my visit to Lincoln, I fell in love with the atmosphere right away.  It was a perfect fit for me.  The coaches were nice and straight shooters.  I got to see the football game, wrestling practice and spent time with the team.  I really like how the team was – everyone’s focus was on getting better and helping the rest of the guys get better.”

There have been several people who have helped Abidin get better over the years.  He mentioned Steve Hromada, who played an integral role in transforming him into a state champion at Half Hollow Hills East High.  And he said he has spent countless hours working with Vougar Oroudjov, both in high school and while at Nassau, improving all aspects of his wrestling.

“I can’t thank Steve Hromada enough for all he’s done for me,” Abidin said. “And I feel the same way about Vougar.  I think I’ve developed so much.  I finally picked up the college wrestling style – being aggressive but being smart and knowing how to wrestle well on top.  I’ve gotten better at all of those things.”

Abidin will redshirt this season at Nassau and have three years of eligibility left with the Huskers.  He will no doubt put the next year to good use, including spending time on an activity that was foreign to him until recently.

“I finally started to do something called lifting,” he said with a laugh.  “I never did it in high school.   I really just started lifting this summer.  I will put in another good year of hard work and will do everything I possibly can.”

He’s known for that.  In his semifinal match against Martin Gonzalez at the NJCAA National Championships, Abidin trailed 7-2 late in the second period.  He was frustrated by his opponent backing up and the fact that there was a 20 minute stop in the action as the referees and coaches tried to sort out a dispute.

“That match just about gave me a heart attack,” he said. “After the long break, I was really aggravated because I felt like my conditioning advantage was going away.  I was down by five and I knew I had a lot of work to do.  I kept attacking and even though I wasn’t scoring off my shots, I got three stalling points.  Finally, I hit a throw-by with one second left and scored two points to win it at the buzzer 8-7. It was amazing.”

Amazing.  Just like going from sixth in the county as a high school sophomore to a scholarship athlete in the Big 10 in just a few short years.

Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Photos by Boris V

Over the next few weeks, New York Wrestling News will previewing New York’s high school Sections. We begin in Section 1 with a look at two of the top lightweights the Empire State has to offer.


The 113-pound finals at the state tournament in February presented a bit of a pleasant challenge for Section 1 fans.  Two of the area’s best, John “Trey” Aslanian of Edgemont and Dylan Realbuto of Somers, were on the mats at the same time, each battling to win the championship against a Section 5 opponent a year after finishing second in Albany.

Having both wrestlers make the title bout at the Times Union Center two years in a row wasn’t an accident.  In fact, they helped each other get there.  Although Edgemont and Somers are at least 30 minutes away from each other, the two wrestlers have trained together since fifth grade and have continued to work out quite a bit, often at the Askren Wrestling Academy.

“I feel lucky because it’s such a good situation for both of us,” Aslanian said. “Dylan’s one of my best friends.  Since he’s big school and I’m small school, we know we won’t have to compete with each other at states, so it’s ideal.  Dylan is incredibly hard to score on with his funk, so if I can score on him, I feel like I can score on anyone in the state.  I think we push each other so much because we’re such different wrestlers and seeing a totally different style is never a bad thing.”

Not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it’s a really good thing, according to coach Max Askren.

“They are almost exactly opposite in their styles,” Askren said. “But it’s totally complementary.  Both are very, very technical wrestlers. But Trey wrestles from ties, likes to control things that way.  Dylan really wrestles from out in the open. So it works to have them train together.  If these guys want to wrestle in college, they should be wrestling together.”

Both Realbuto and Aslanian do plan to compete at the Division I level, with Aslanian considering Penn, Princeton and Harvard.  However, they first have some business to take care of at the high school level.

For Aslanian, that means a first state title.  He took fifth as a freshman and second the last two seasons at 103 and 113, respectively.

“Finishing second the last two years was obviously disappointing,” Aslanian said. “I go into every year wanting to win a state championship and when you come so close but don’t get it, it’s really difficult.  Last year, I was more confident because I had already been in the finals before, so I think I was that much more disappointed not to get the job done.”

Aslanian felt he dropped the title bout to Sean Peacock of Midlakes because he was focused too much on his opponent and not on himself.

“I didn’t get to my gameplan and most importantly, I didn’t get to my offense,” he said. “I needed to force my offense – my shots and my takedowns – and instead I was thinking too much about what he was doing and lost sight of what I do well.”

Since stepping off the mat in Albany, Edgemont coach Peter Jacobson believes Aslanian has made significant improvements, partially due to his offseason wrestling.

The outstanding student made a smooth transition to freestyle, getting his hand raised often. At the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City, Aslanian went 7-1 for Team New York and he won four matches at Fargo. (He was an All-American in North Dakota in 2011).

“There’s great translation from strong freestyle skills to folkstyle skills and Trey has taken that to heart,” Jacobson said.  “He wrestled some really strong matches at the Junior Duals and at Fargo went up against some very high level competition.  I know he feels that he didn’t wrestle as well as he could have, but I can see already that the experience has made him better.”

“I think I grew a lot as a wrestler,” Aslanian added. “I got to wrestle some of the best kids in the country and I think I grew, just getting to see that national competition. I hoped to place or possibly win Fargo and I didn’t have my best performance.  But I know I’ve gotten better.”

In addition to the top-notch opposition and additional practices in places like Vougar’s Honors Wrestling on Long Island, Aslanian’s improvement stems from significant time invested in video study.

“I love watching John Smith,” Aslanian said of the multiple-time NCAA and World Champion who now coaches at Oklahoma State. “He’s always attacking and pushing his offense. I also watch a lot of Ben and Max Askren.  They’re so entertaining with their funk.  Not too many people use the techniques they use.  I learn so much by watching.”

“I think Trey’s biggest strength is the amount of time he puts into honing his craft,” Jacobson added.  “He’s very much a student of the sport.  He watches films of himself and standout wrestlers from around the world.  If you line him up against the best in the state, he won’t be the strongest kid or the best natural athlete.   He’s achieved what he has by working hard to play to his strengths.”

Helping him do that are two other members of his family and team – younger brothers Tyler and Kyle.  Tyler, a junior, was one match from placing a year ago in Albany, while Kyle competed at 99 pounds as an eighth grader.

“It really benefits them to be pretty close in weight.  They can work out at home or can drill whenever and wherever they want,” Jacobson said of the three Aslanians.  “It’s not like the 190-pound older brother wrestling the 120-pound younger brother and expecting it to be beneficial.  Having them all in the room couldn’t be better – they’re supportive of each other with totally different personalities.  Tyler has the ability to make the podium this year and Kyle will make a huge jump.  He’s the best natural athlete of the group and most of the matches he lost last year were size and strength related. He’ll be a full-sized 99 pounder this year and will see more success.”

Trey Aslanian believes more success is in the cards for all of the Aslanian brothers in 2013. (A fourth brother, Wyatt, is in elementary school).

“Last year’s Sectional tournament was probably the most memorable moment for me in my career, with Tyler and I both winning titles,” he said. “That’s probably the best I ever felt in wrestling.  The plan for this year is for all three of us to win.”

But that’s only part of the plan.  Trey Aslanian said he hopes to go undefeated after a 39-2 campaign in 2012, but even that isn’t most important.  There’s one thing he can’t get out of his mind.

“I want to be a state champion,” he said.  “I’ve wanted that ever since I started in this sport in fifth grade.  I think about it every second of every day.”

He’s come close twice before and he knows this is the final opportunity before he heads off to the Ivy League.

“This season is the last of a lot of things,” he said. “I really enjoy wrestling with my brothers and it’s the last time to compete with them.  It’s such a unique situation and I’ll miss it. I want to win states and I know there’s a lot of pressure because it’s now or never.”

Now or never was the situation Realbuto was in during last year’s state finals bout. He trailed by a point with just a few seconds left and it looked like he was going to get the silver again.  But in dramatic fashion, he took Hilton’s Vincent DePrez down as time expired to win.

“I thought it was over just the same as everyone else thought it was,” Askren said. “Some people said Dylan was lucky, but if that’s true then he put himself in the position to be lucky.”

Realbuto and his frequent training partner Aslanian will try to put themselves in that gold medal position in February.  Realbuto will make another leap in weight, according to Askren, going either 126 or 132.  Aslanian, according to Jacobson, is still growing and will be at 120 or 126.

If both are at 126, Section 1 fans hope to have to divide their attention between the mats during the state finals, as they did in 2012, to watch Aslanian and Realbuto both try to complete their careers with a state championship.

Cornell's First Class of 2013 Recruit: FloNationals Champion Jacob Taylor Commits to the Big Red

Courtesy of Bald Eagle Area High School website

When Jake Taylor decided it was time to look at colleges, he approached it like he does everything else.

“Jake goes all out with everything he does,” said his father Doug Taylor. “He put a pin on a map within a certain radius of home and got to work, figuring out all the options.  Cornell stood out right away.  It’s a fantastic educational institution and the wrestling speaks for itself.  It turned out to be a pretty easy decision.”

That’s saying something for Taylor.  While he looked at Harvard, Lehigh, Virginia and Virginia Tech, he gave very strong consideration to West Virginia, a school that has been a part of his family for much of his life.

Jake’s father Doug was an All-American for the Mountaineers.  Two of his uncles also competed for the squad and his older brother Nicholas is a member of the West Virginia team now.

“I feel like Cornell is the right place for me,” Jake Taylor said. “I like the coaches and what they’re doing with the program. I love the area. I’ve been impressed with how the guys perform in the postseason. You can’t beat the mix of academics and wrestling and I know that there’s life after wrestling, so education is very important.”

Indeed, the academic component was key for Taylor, who according to his father “has never gotten anything other than an ‘A’ in high school” and has aspirations of being a dentist.

“24 guys have gone on to become doctors and dentists under [Cornell head coach] Rob Koll and that’s something that was very appealing,” Doug Taylor said.

The Big Red’s wrestling success was appealing as well.  Taylor, Intermat’s #50 recruit nationally, will fit right in.  After compiling a 33-3 record in his sophomore campaign for Bald Eagle Area High School in Pennsylvania, Taylor began his junior season with a fourth place showing at the ultra-competitive Super 32 tournament in North Carolina at 170 pounds.  He followed with a 38-2 mark during the high school campaign, taking third at the state championships.

Taylor kept the momentum going in the spring and summer, winning the FloNationals title at 170 pounds, besting a field of nearly 40 grapplers.  That championship run included an overtime victory over Zach Nevills, a California state champion (and four-time Golden State placer) now at Stanford.  For good measure, Taylor also defeated some highly touted foes at the Disney Duals while wrestling for Team Young Guns, including nationally-ranked Brett Harner of Norristown Area High.

With his college decision made, Taylor is focused on winning his first state title.  He said he will likely wrestle at 182 pounds. (He is currently ranked sixth nationally at that weight).

“States are always important and I didn’t quite do as well as I hoped last year,” Jake Taylor said.  “I’m focused on winning this year.  I’ve wanted to be on top of that podium since elementary school and it would mean a lot to finish that way.”

And when that’s over, he is looking forward to beginning the next step in Ithaca, at a weight that will be defined later.

“One of the first things every coach we visited said to Jake was, ‘wow, you’re tall’,” Doug Taylor said.  “I was recruited as a 126 pounder and wound up at 158, so it’s hard to say where Jake will be.  He may start at 174 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up at 184 or even higher.”

Wherever he ends up, he’s excited to be joining the Big Red.

“I’ve liked watching the Cornell wrestlers on TV the last few years – obviously Kyle Dake, Mack Lewnes, Cam Simaz and a lot of others,” Jake Taylor said.  “They wrestled well when it counted. I can’t wait to be a part of it and see where I stand.”

All-American David Almaviva of Shenendehowa Discusses His Commitment to Binghamton

After dominating his way through the Section 2 championships, Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva came to the state tournament in February with hopes of a 138-pound title.  When he dropped his first bout against Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi, 4-1, he quickly turned his disappointment into motivation.

“At first, I was pretty upset,” Almaviva said. “But then I realized I couldn’t be upset because it wouldn’t help.  I knew I needed to wrestle back tough and take third.”

Photo courtesy of Anthony Almaviva

He took care of business, winning five straight matches to earn the bronze.  His path wasn’t easy, as he faced the bracket’s top two seeds.  However, he was in control most of the way, outscoring his opponents 21-3.

“I thought the way I handled it could be the deciding factor on whether colleges would look at me,” Almaviva said.

That might have been the case.  Several Division I programs were excited about Almaviva, including Binghamton.

This past weekend, while Almaviva was on his official visit to the CAA institution, he became the third top 10 senior in New York State to commit to the Bearcats.  While he enjoyed playing paintball and participating in other team bonding activities on the trip, he listed many other reasons for his decision.

“I really like the campus and it’s not too far from home,” he said. “I know I’ll get a good education there.  I also feel like I have a pretty close relationship with the coaches and the team feels like a family.  I know the team is working hard to be national champs and that’s what I’m looking to do.”

Helping Almaviva reach for those goals in Division I wrestling will be his longtime teammate Nick Kelley, who committed to Binghamton a few weeks ago.

“We’ve been workout partners since fourth grade.  [Kelley’s commitment] was definitely part of my decision to choose Binghamton,” Almaviva said, adding that he also strongly considered North Carolina State. “We’ve always been around the same weight and we’ve always pushed each other to get better.”

That was true this summer when both wrestlers became Freestyle All-Americans at Junior Nationals at Fargo.  Almaviva took eighth at 145 pounds in North Dakota after defeating eventual national runner up Quinton Murphy at the New York State Freestyle championships.

With those victories behind him, Almaviva is now focused on ending his senior season on a high note.

“I’m looking to be a state champ this year,” Almaviva said. “My high school coaches [Rob] Weeks and [Frank] Popolizio work with me every day to make sure I’m the best I can be.  That’s true for my teammates too – we push each other.  I think if we keep working hard and stay focused our team can win states this year.  And I won’t stop working so that I can finally finish first individually.”

Joe Heskett Previews the 2012-2013 Season for the Army Black Knights

Jordan Thome, Photo by Boris V

In Joe Heskett’s second year as the head coach at Army, the Black Knights sent three wrestlers to the NCAA tournament and had six placers at the EIWA championships. Two of last year’s national qualifiers, Jordan Thome and Coleman Gracey, are back and the return of three starters whose seasons ended early due to injury a year ago make Heskett and his staff enthusiastic about a successful 2012-13 campaign. 

Coach Heskett talked to New York Wrestling News about the upcoming season, starting with a weight-by-weight look at the lineup.

125 PoundsHunter Wood will be the starter at this weight for the Black Knights, taking over for Scott Filbert, who won 21 matches and was seventh at EIWAs.  [Filbert won’t be wrestling this year.]

Coach Heskett: “Hunter and Scott went back and forth last year – Hunter was right there.  We think Hunter will step in do a good job.”

133 PoundsJordan Thome returns after winning 28 matches a year ago, including a victory over All-American Chris Dardanes of Minnesota.  Thome won a pair of bouts at the NCAA tournament and led AJ Schopp 5-0 going into the third period of his fourth match at nationals.  However, the Edinboro wrestler turned Thome for back points twice in the final stanza to earn a close decision.  The Ohio native returns, looking to take the next step onto the medal stand.

Coach Heskett: “I think last season was one of gradual growth for Jordan.  He was wrestling as well as he could have at the right time.  I was very proud of his NCAA performance.  His second loss against Schopp was heartbreaking, going into the third with a solid lead, but he has a chance to redeem himself.  The fire that invigorated him after he took seventh at EIWAs led him to have a good NCAA tournament.  Now he’ll use the fire from NCAAs last year to finish up his senior year on the podium.  We’re expecting a lot from him.  He’s definitely looked up to by the guys on the team, especially with the light-hearted, jovial spirit he brings.  He’s fun to be around but he’s also focused on doing great things.”

141 Pounds – A two-man race has emerged between Connor Hanafee and Ryan Bilyeu for the nod at 141.  Hanafee won 12 bouts a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury that required surgery.  Bilyeu is making the move down from 149 pounds.

Coach Heskett:   “This will be an interesting weight.  Connor’s season was cut short – he had to stop wrestling in January.  We’re glad to have him back.  Bilyeu is a grinder who came out of nowhere.  He was fourth on the depth chart last year at 149 at one point, but kept pushing to get on the mat.  He had some very good matches, including a 6-5 loss to Steve Santos of Columbia that was extremely controversial. Those two wrestlers and some others will have the opportunity to shine.”

149 PoundsDaniel Young began last season 11-4, including 5-1 in duals, with a pin over Iowa State’s Trent Weatherman and a major decision against EIWA runner up Kevin Tao.  His season came to an end in December, however, when he required surgery.

Coach Heskett: “Daniel was on pace to be at the national tournament and it looked like he would be doing some damage there before he got hurt.  He took Donnie Vinson down at least four times in their match before losing 16-10.  He’s athletic and looking really strong now.  He’s also one of our team captains.  We’re looking for big things from him.  We’re also excited to see how John Belanger and Javier Rodriguez wrestle.  149 will be a nice, interesting weight class for us.”

157 Pounds – Some young guns, Chandler Smith and Brian Harvey will look to make an impact at this weight after the departure of Jimmy Rafferty.

Coach Heskett: “I’m looking forward to seeing Chandler develop.  He’s done a phenomenal job and is so athletic.  Brian Harvey is another guy to watch.  He went 7-0 at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City this year.  We have some really young, tough guys scrapping it out.  With the youth we have, we should be solid here for years to come.”

165 Pounds – With NCAA qualifier Cole Gracey likely moving up to 174, Ryan Marble and Patrick Marchetti are looking to step in at 165.

Coach Heskett: “Marble is a freshman who took an Olympic redshirt last year in freestyle.  He spent the year at the Olympic Training Center and is looking really tough.  He’s definitely one of the frontrunners.  We also have Marchetti, who is a seasoned veteran.  Between 157 and 165, we probably have 12 guys trying to win spots, so we feel like we’re in a good place.”

174 PoundsCole Gracey began his freshman year 7-11.  He went 18-4 the rest of the way to take third at the EIWAs, win a match at the NCAAs and capture EIWA Freshman of the Year honors.  Another rookie to look out for is Pennsylvania placer Austin Wilding, who Heskett said has already shown dramatic improvement in his short time at West Point.

Coach Heskett: “Coleman is one of the most enjoyable young men I’ve ever been around.  He is extremely coachable and he has the special ability to learn and be open-minded, on top of being a really hard worker.  Those are strong attributes to succeed on the wrestling mat and in life.  The exciting part is that he’s still finding himself as a wrestler.  He’s unorthodox and is working on solid fundamentals to incorporate into his style.  His upside is huge because he still can become more fundamental in the sport. He has a style that’s entertaining and really fun to watch.  We’re focused on getting him on the podium because he has the ability to get there this year.  He’s a winner and he’s resilient.”

184 PoundsCollin Wittmeyer, the third grappler who had season-ending surgery a year ago, is back.  He’ll battle with freshman Travis Mallo to represent the Black Knights at 184.

Coach Heskett: “Collin had two top 10 wins in the first week of the season – Boston’s Hunter Meys and Rider’s Jim Resnick.  He was looking great but then he was injured.  He’s a team captain and leader.  Mallo is a very tough young man who went to MAPS last year.  We’re really expecting big things out of 184 with those guys.”

197 Pounds – Derek Stanley was an NCAA qualifier a year ago at this weight.  Who will step in?  It looks like it will be Bryce Barnes, who had a very good year at MAPS, according to Heskett.

Coach Heskett: “He has been exceptional in his first few weeks back here at West Point. There’s something different about the way he trains, fights and leads out there.  I’m really excited to see him compete.  He’s very athletic and loves to scramble.”

285 PoundsStephen Snyder saw some time at heavyweight and will try to secure the job, as will Curtis Garner.

Coach Heskett:  “Snyder came to me after last season and told me he was on mission.  He’s been working like an animal.  He had a rough year, but his mentality and his effort were very good.  He’s working to become one of the best conditioned heavyweights in the country to meet his goals.  Garner will fight for the spot as well as a junior.”

A few more questions . . .

You’ll be going into your third year.  Where do you see the program going?

Coach Heskett:  We feel like we’re making a lot of progress.  When I took over the program, we didn’t have returning national qualifiers or high EIWA placers.  Last year we had three qualifiers and we’re in a situation where we have freshmen coming in and taking starting spots away.  That’s something we need to have happen to build a top 15 program.

We also felt we needed some other things to be a top 15 program and there are so many people behind the scenes who are helping us get there.  I can’t thank LTC Todd Messitt and the Staff of the Officer Representatives enough for all they’ve done.  We’re excited about things like the West Point Wrestling Club, money for a volunteer coach and a Regional Training Center.

We also have a coaching staff that I’m really excited about. Paul Young and Danny Mitcheff are outstanding.  They’re all in for what we’re trying to build.  They have a huge impact on the guys and their mentalities.  I can’t thank them or the administration enough for their support.

We’re also happy with what we’re doing off the mat.  We were proud to be honored for our APR scores last year.  [Army was one of eight Division I programs honored by the NCAA for their Academic Progress Rate]. It was awesome for our program and our institution to get recognized because it’s so important for us to enhance these young men in all aspects of life.”

What are your goals for the team this year?

Coach Heskett: “We look for an incremental growth in fight and the rest takes care of itself.  We have to be known as fighters and our Cadets have to know themselves as fighters.  We need to be resilient.  When we do that consistently, we’ll get to the places we need to go.  Our everyday goal is to train with that ferocity and fervor and mindset that I am the guy that is going to be the toughest guy on the planet.”

Shenendehowa's David Almaviva Makes Verbal Commitment to Binghamton University

The commitments keep coming for the Binghamton wrestling program.

After landing Canastota’s Zack Zupan and Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley, the Bearcats picked up another of the Empire State’s top seniors over the weekend when David Almaviva gave his verbal pledge to the CAA school, according to an e-mail from his family.

Almaviva earned All-America honors this summer in freestyle at Fargo when he took eighth at 145 pounds.  That performance followed a standout showing at the New York State freestyle championships where he defeated Fargo runner up Quinton Murphy, who is now a freshman at Indiana.

The Shenendehowa senior, who projects at 141 or 149 pounds, has twice made the medal stand at the New York high school state tournament, taking third at 138 pounds this season and sixth as a sophomore in 2011.

For more on Almaviva’s commitment, check back later in the week.

Buffalo Head Coach Jim Beichner Discusses the Lineup, Schedule and More for 2012-13

NCAA photos by Boris V

Buffalo featured a young team a year ago, as 10 freshmen took the mat for the squad in dual meets during the season.  At the end of the campaign, the Bulls sent two wrestlers – Max Soria (125) and Mark Lewandowski (165) to the NCAA tournament.  Both qualifiers will be back, as will former NCAA participants who redshirted a year ago (John-Martin Cannon and Andrew Schutt).  With the addition of some impact transfers and a solid recruiting class, Coach Jim Beichner and his staff are looking for big things in 2012-13.

Beichner talked to New York Wrestling News about his team’s outlook, beginning with a look at the potential lineup.

125 PoundsMax Soria returns after his NCAA appearance a year ago.  But he has some competition – notably from his twin brother Mike, as well as Ryan Howes, a Division III transfer.

Coach Beichner: “Max is the frontrunner based on last season, but his twin brother Mike is also there.  Both are very talented and train together all the time.  We’ll have to see how that shakes out when the UB Invitational comes about.  It’s interesting with them – they’re what they call ‘mirror twin’ brothers, which is extremely rare.  If you look in the mirror, everything about them is exactly opposite.  It probably would confuse some people – one wrestles with a right leg lead, one left leg lead. I expect both to see time on the mat and Howes may as well.”

133 PoundsJustin Farmer is back after holding the 133 job in 2011-12 but he will be challenged by former 125 starter Sean Walton and Pittsburgh transfer Erik Galloway.

Coach Beichner:  “Justin Farmer would probably tell you that he didn’t have the kind of year we expected.  He’s a great kid and a really hard worker who is easy to root for.  We’ll have to wait and see because two other guys are vying for the spot.  Walton will certify at 125 but will be up at 133 at least at the beginning of the season.  He’s been a starter for us and won some matches, including a big match at the Binghamton dual meet.  He cut a lot of weight in the past and we want to see what he will look and feel like up a weight.  Galloway is a redshirt sophomore who is talented and may turn out to be the guy.  It’s a good situation to have.”

141 Pounds – One of Buffalo’s most successful all-time wrestlers, Kevin Smith, graduated after manning this spot a year ago.  However, the Bulls will once again be strong in this class with the return of 2011 MAC champion Andrew Schutt, who redshirted last season.  Freshmen such as Tyler Newton and John Northrup may wrestle at this weight (or 149).

Coach Beichner: “Kevin Smith was a great soldier for us. He cut weight for four years and we wanted him going for his doctorate in physical therapy last year feeling healthy. So we made the decision for him to go 141 and we were fortunate to be able to redshirt a guy like Schutt.  Schutt is a guy we expect to do extremely well.  He’s very dangerous.  That’s worth repeating – very dangerous. He’s probably one of the strongest kids in the program and with the power he has, he can pin you in a number of different ways. We’re really happy to have him back.”

149 PoundsBlake Ruolo, a four-time champion at the NHSCA Nationals while in high school, went 22-13 in his first season at the college level.   Another accomplished recruit, two-time New York state champion Jimmy Kloc from Iroquois, could push to get on the mat as well.

Coach Beichner: “Blake had a good offseason.  Like a lot of freshmen, he had a difficult transition to college, but he seems to have made a lot of adjustments.  His progress over the summer puts him as the guy to beat this weight class. I think he should be ready to step up.  Jimmy Kloc is one of the most talented kids we’ve ever recruited.  He’ll need to make the transition to the grind, the training with a group of athletes that are better.  It’s so different from being the king of the room, where you can beat everyone, even when you’re a small guy.  We’ll probably wind up redshirting Jimmy to let him get a year under his belt, but if he’s the best guy, he’ll be in the lineup.”

157 Pounds – This will be another competitive weight for the Bulls with a few experienced wrestlers and a young standout in the mix. Wally Maziarz, who captured 13 wins in 2012, will be a sophomore for the Bulls.  He will try to hold onto the spot while former RIT transfer Dom Montesanti, Massachusetts native Matt Dehney, Oklahoma transfer Clay Reeb and rookie Chris Nevinger, a three-time New York state champion, enter the fray.

Coach Beichner:  “I consider Wally Maziarz to be a workhorse.  He didn’t achieve what he wanted to in high school.  In fact, he he didn’t qualify for the states even though he was good enough to be there.  He became such a driven athlete because of that. Last year, he did whatever he could for the team.  He had some flashes of brilliance and he had some flashes of not so great too.  He needs to stay toward the brilliance.

Montesanti is a competitor – wiry, gangly and kind of unorthodox.  You never know what you’ll get, but he’s very capable.  We also have guys like Matt Dehney and Clay Reeb, who have wrestled some good matches.  And there’s Nevinger.  He’s a perfect fit for this weight class — great credentials and very strong.  He’s at the beginning of the learning curve, acclimating to Division I wrestling.  He has all the talent and abilities and it’s a matter of time before he’s out there competing for us.”

165 Pounds: Mark Lewandowski made the Round of 12 in 2011 at NCAAs, leading eventual national champion Bubba Jenkins late into the third period of their match.  He won 32 bouts while dealing with injuries in 2012, and looks to finish his career on a high note.  Jeff Palmeri may see time at this weight or at 174 and freshman Ryan Therrien is doing some good things in open rooms, according to Beichner. Former Top 100 recruit Jake Waste, who wrestled at 174 and 184 last year and went 24-9, is making the transition to 165 as a redshirt in 2012-13.

Coach Beichner: “Lewandowski has been an extremely good leader for us.  He’s a solid student, a hard worker and a good person. I can’t say enough good things about him, but I would like to be able to add “All-American” to his description because he’s good enough.  He had Bubba Jenkins beat two years ago in the Round of 12 match.  With about a minute left, he got cemented and pinned right on the edge. He moved up a weight last year and had some injuries that kept haunting him.  We hope he’s through those injuries because a healthy Mark Lewandowski can beat anyone.”

174 PoundsJohn-Martin Cannon took a redshirt for Buffalo and had a lot of success, including a fourth place finish at the Midlands and around 35 wins, according to Beichner.  Expectations are very high for his final college season.

Coach Beichner:  “[Cannon’s] redshirt year was phenomenal.  He finished higher at Midlands than any athlete we’ve ever had and I think I would say it was the best redshirt year we’ve seen.  When we looked at last year’s rankings and the wins he had, we think he would have been seeded in the top 7 at the NCAAs last year.  I know quite a few other coaches were talking about how impressed they were with him.  We have complete confidence in him.  Working with [assistant coach] Matt Lackey has been a big difference maker and we believe he’s capable of placing high this year.”

184 PoundsTony Lock completed his career at Pioneer High School with an undefeated state championship season and then topped it off by capturing the title at the NHSCA Senior Nationals.  A Top 100 recruit according to Intermat, Lock will suit up for Buffalo as a freshman.

Fellow first-year grappler Jarred Lux, a Pittsburgh native who has impressed the staff, may see time at 174 or 184 while Justin Lozano, who competed as a rookie last season despite some injuries, will take a redshirt.  Beichner raved about Lozano’s work ethic and expects him to make an impact in the future.

Coach Beichner:  “Tony Lock is a great kid and he’s deceiving for a big guy. He moves like a small guy when he’s tested and pushed. He’s also a really smart wrestler with great mat sense.  There will be a transition but we expect him to do well.  He came in during the summer, took a course and trained for six weeks.  He came a long way even during that time.  We’re really excited about him.”

197 Pounds – Virginia Tech transfer Angelo Malvestuto will fit in immediately at 197 after winning over 20 matches for the Hokies a year ago.  Zach Ward will compete as well although he also may see time down at 184 pounds.

Coach Beichner: “We struggled a little because of youth at 197 last year.  I’m happy to say that we picked up Angelo, who will be a sophomore.  We think he’ll be an impact player for us right away.  The nice thing is that he can go out and score bonus points for your team and we consider 197 to be a critical weight class for bonus points.”

285 Pounds – Three wrestlers are in the mix to start at heavyweight – veteran Jedd Mason, sophomore Justin Heiserman and Joe Manna.

Coach Beichner:  “Jedd Mason has been a starter and while he hasn’t had the kind of career he wanted, he has the opportunity to step up and make a difference.  Heiserman had good credentials out of high school but throwing him into a schedule like ours at 197 was a challenge.  He’s up around 250-255 pounds now.  He looks like a heavy and wrestles like one.  Joe Manna transferred in after playing football.  He’s working his way back, but isn’t ready for the starting lineup yet.”

A few more questions . . .

You’ve had successful Takedown Cancer events in recent years.  This season’s Takedown Cancer dual will feature Buffalo against Iowa. How did that come about?

“Coach [Tom] Brands and I had been swapping calls for a while.  We were scheduled to go out there to Iowa this year but something happened and it wasn’t going to happen.  Brands is true to his word, though, and since the change happened on their end, he decided to bring his team to our place this year.  We’re looking forward to having the Hawkeyes here in Western New York.   It continues a recent trend that we want to keep of having top teams come into our facility.

We’re also really happy Iowa will be here for the Takedown Cancer dual.  We hope the community shows up in large numbers for that match.  It won’t only be a great day of wrestling but it will be raising money for one or two families who have a child with cancer.   We’ve been able to give thousands of dollars to families in the past so that they can afford to support their child as the child goes through cancer treatments.  We want people to embrace the cause – fill the stands, buy tickets and raffles.  Doing the Takedown Cancer fundraisers has changed my perspective on life and I think if people come to the Iowa match they will feel extremely good knowing the money they spent allowed them to see great wrestling but more importantly went into the pockets of people who really need the help.”

What are some of the other highlights of the schedule?

Coach Beichner: “In the past, critics said our schedule wasn’t strong enough, but we’ve changed that.  I think it’s the most challenging dual meet season we’ve ever put together.  We want our guys to embrace it and win with this schedule and we believe we can.

We’re looking forward to the UB Open, which we’ve turned into an invitational. We will run it like Midlands where redshirts are allowed to pay their own way and transportation, but we will have a team score. It’s new for us and exciting.

We’ll be taking five guys to Midlands while the rest will go to the Lock Haven Invitational.  We want our studs to be at tournaments like the Midlands and after that we’ll be at the Virginia Duals.  We were eighth and seventh the past two years at Virginia Duals and we think we can do a lot better.”

What are some of your team’s goals this year?

Coach Beichner:  “Our goals really don’t change that much from year to year, truthfully.  We want MAC champions and we want All-Americans.  We haven’t had enough All-Americans.  I’d love to see a guy like Cannon on the stand this year, right up to the #1 spot.  I’d love to see the same for Mark Lewandowski and to see Schutt as an All-American.  We have four returning national qualifiers and an awful lot of young, talented guys who are ready to go.  I think with the transfers we’ve added, we have the potential for a great season.”