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.”
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.”