Every year, late in the fall, the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina features huge brackets full of some of the nation’s top high school wrestlers. This past weekend, a number of New York competitors qualified for early entry into the event by placing in the top four at the Super 32 Qualifier in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Talent from numerous states, including Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia took the mat and at the end of the day, the Empire State boasted three champions (Nick Piccininni, Travis Passaro and Conor O’Hara) as well as several other placewinners.
Piccininni, a 2012 undefeated state champion from Ward Melville, cruised through his five matches, none of which were close, to win the 113 pound title. Representing 631 Elite, he opened with a 11-2 major over Eric Hunt of Pennsylvania and proceeded to win his next four bouts by the combined tally of 35-1. He blanked Tanner Shoap, a multi-time state medalist in Pennsylvania, 10-0 in the final.
In the same bracket, St. Anthony’s Ben Lamantia also placed, taking fourth. The Friar wrestler earned victories in his first three contests before dropping a one-point decision to Bryan Damon of New Jersey to move into the consolations. Lamantia recorded a fall and two shutout wins in the wrestlebacks before losing to Damon again by a point in the bronze medal bout.
Piccininni wasn’t 631 Elite’s only champion. Also winning a title from the Long Island club was Travis Passaro, who earned his crown with a 2-0 triumph in sudden victory at 120 pounds. The Eastport South Manor wrestler was in control throughout the day, yielding only two points in his five matches, while scoring 18 and registering a pin. Passaro was joined on the podium at 120 by Technical Edge’s Freddie Dunau, whose four victories included a major and a fall.
The third Empire State champion was Sachem East’s Conor O’Hara. The Suffolk County grappler won his finals bout handily, 9-0, over Dixon Myers of Pennsylvania to top off a 5-0 day in which he won three bouts by two points or less.
Also making the finals was Journeymen’s Austin Weigel, who outscored his first three foes 14-3 before being edged 5-3 in the title bout by nationally-ranked Garrett Peppelman of Pennsylvania at 170 pounds.
The last New York wrestler to make the top four was Christian Briody of Chaminade and he put in quite an effort to get there, winning eight matches to take third at 106 pounds. He began his day with a 5-4 victory and followed up with another decision, this time 8-1 over Alex Zangrilli of New Jersey before dropping a 5-3 bout to Triston Law of Pennsylvania. Briody then faced a long road to make the top four and spent little time getting to work, pinning his first wrestleback opponent in 34 seconds before reeling off five more victories in which he outscored his opponents 25-9.
New York Top Four Placers – Super 32 Qualifier
106: Christian Briody (Chaminade), 3rd Place (8-1)
113: Nick Piccininni (631 Elite), 1st Place (5-0)
113: Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s), 4th Place (6-2)
120: Travis Passaro (631 Elite), 1st Place (5-0)
120: Freddie Dunau (Technical Edge), 4th Place (4-2)
132: Conor O’Hara (Sachem East), 1st Place (5-0)
170: Austin Weigel (Journeymen), 2nd Place (3-1)