Cliff Keen Invitational Updates – Las Vegas

The semifinal round of one of the nation’s top in-season tournaments, the Cliff Keen Invitational, begins on Saturday.  Here are the matchups for the remaining Cornell and Army wrestlers, as well as a few other New York natives.


125: Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) vs. Josh Martinez (Air Force)

141: Mike Nevinger (Cornell) vs. Hunter Stieber (Ohio State)

165: Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs.  Zach Toal (Missouri)

285: Pete Capone (Johnson City HS, Ohio State) vs. Chad Hanke (Oregon State)


Saturday Consolations:

141: Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River, Harvard) vs. Travis Himmelman (Boise State)

149: Chris Villalonga (Cornell) vs. Tanner Hiatt (Northern Iowa)

Daniel Young (Army) vs. Derek Valenti (Virginia)

165: Paul Hancock (Army) vs. Holden Packard (Boise State)

174: Duke Pickett (Cornell) vs. Bryce Hammond (Cal State Bakersfield)

184: Craig Scott (Cornell) vs. Mason Bailey (Navy)

197: Jace Bennett (Cornell) vs. Matt Lenagh (Nebraska Kearney)

285: Stryker Lane (Cornell) vs. Evan Knutson (North Dakota State)




125: Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) dec Tyler Cox (Wyoming), 11-4

141: Mike Nevinger (Cornell) pin Tim Box (Cal State Bakersfield), 2:05

Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) dec Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River, Harvard), 9-3

165: Kyle Dake (Cornell) major Holden Packard (Boise State), 12-1

174: Blake Stauffer (Arizona State) dec Duke Pickett (Cornell), 6-2

184: Ryan Loder (Northern Iowa) pin Craig Scott (Cornell), 2:35

197: Dustin Kilgore (Kent State) pin Jace Bennett (Cornell), 1:05

285: Connor Medbery (Wisconsin) dec Stryker Lane (Cornell), 5-2

Pete Capone (Johnson City HS, Ohio State) dec Levi Cooper (Arizona State), 4-3


Friday Night Consolations:

125: Brock Banta dec Billy Watterson (John Jay HS, Brown), 7-5

149: Daniel Young (Army) dec Kevin Tao (American), 5-3

Chris Villalonga (Cornell) over Joseph Garner (North Dakota State), 8-0

157: Adam Fierro (Cal State Bakersfield) dec Chris Dowdy (Cornell), 8-3

165: Paul Hancock (Army) dec Austin Wilson (Nebraska), 5-3

197: Jackson Hein (Wisconsin) dec Bryce Barnes (Army), 8-3


Weekend Watch: "Battle at the Beach" Goes on Despite Severe Hurricane Damage, Plus Andersen Tournament and the Cliff Keen Invite in Vegas

While the first tournament of the season is always something to look forward to, it’s a little more special for some of those headed to the Lynbrook High School this weekend.

“The start of competition is exciting every year,” said Long Beach head coach Ray Adams. “But this year, it’s definitely a little more exciting than usual.”

That has a lot to do with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, as Long Beach was one of the many communities devastated by the storm.

“Every kid was impacted in one way or another,” Adams said. “We had kids whose homes were destroyed, who lost cars, clothes, heat and so much more.  Families were displaced.  Not a good situation at all.”

Long Beach High School also suffered significant damage to the gym, wrestling room, team uniforms and much more.

It was unclear whether the ninth annual Long Beach “Battle at the Beach” would be held.

“We knew we couldn’t have it at our school,” Adams said. “But we really still wanted to keep the tournament going to start off the season.  We knew a lot of teams would be looking forward to coming.  We are thankful to Lynbrook coach Richie Renz and Athletic Director Tom Graham who have done so much.  They stepped up and offered to run it there.”

While the tournament will be in a new location, it will still have the same tough competition.  In addition to Long Beach and Lynbrook, a number of Long Island squads will be in attendance, including one of the state’s best teams – Wantagh.  They will be joined by East Meadow, Clarke, South Side, Syosset and Hewlett. Representatives from the PSAL will also make the trip, including Eagle Academy, Wingate and a PSAL All-Star team as well as the CHSAA’s Kellenberg.

The full entry list hadn’t been submitted at the time of the interview, but Adams pointed to the 113-pound class as one that would feature many accomplished wrestlers.  Adams mentioned the possibilty of Long Beach’s Steven Sewkumar, Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn and Syosset’s Nick Rondino competing in that bracket, among others.

“Practice has been really good for the kids after everything that happened,” Adams said.  “It helped get everyone back with their friends and into a normal routine again. We’ve been traveling about 20 minutes to Calhoun every day to practice and everyone is working really hard.  We’ve been trying to make the best out of the situation.  We can’t wait to get the season started.”

In addition to the Battle at the Beach, there are a large number of high quality high school tournaments taking place this weekend as wrestling season kicks into high gear, including one not too far away at MacArthur which will include teams from Sections 1, 8, 9, the CHSAA and PSAL.

In fact, there are too many events to mention.  However, one to keep an eye on is the Andersen Tournament at Cicero North Syracuse High in Section 3, featuring not only several strong programs in that Section, such as the host school, Canastota, Fulton and South Jefferson, (among many others), but also squads from Section 2 (Amsterdam), 4 (Chenango Forks, Greene, Windsor, Elmira), 5 (Canandaigua, Rush-Henrietta) and 10 (Massena, Canton-Potsdam).

Zack Zupan, Photo by BV

Among the many storylines will be tournament debut of defending state champions Kyle Kelly and Zack Zupan at new weight classes and the start of a new era at Fulton under Chris Stalker after the departure of longtime coach Mike Connors.  In addition, fans will have a chance to watch Christian Dietrich of Greene, who accomplished a rare feat when he was All-State as a seventh grader in the middleweights (152 pounds).  After missing a full year due to injury, Dietrich made a successful return this week up at 195 pounds, with a pin against Dryden in just over a minute.

College Action

On the college scene, the biggest tournament of the weekend takes place in Nevada.  Two of the Empire State’s squads, Cornell and Army, will participate in the 32-team Cliff Keen Invitational, which features close to 70 ranked wrestlers this year.

Kyle Dake was the champion in Vegas a year ago at 157 and will look to repeat at 165.  In the 2011 version of the competition, the Big Red also had finalists at 125 (Frank Perrelli) and 184 (Steve Bosak).

Cornell’s new starting 125 pounder, Nahshon Garrett, is off to a 13-0 start in his freshman campaign and will look to go deep into the tournament in a class featuring six of the nation’s top 20.  With Bosak not ready to return to the lineup yet, former Palmyra Macedon star Craig Scott will look to keep the Big Red on the podium at 184 and improve upon his 10-2 rookie record.

Both Mike Nevinger and Chris Villalonga have placed at this event in the past and will aim to do so again, at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively.  The Big Red captured the tournament title in 2010.

Army will take part in the Cliff Keen for the second consecutive year.  The Black Knights will be led by nationally-ranked 149 pounder Daniel Young and 184 pounder Collin Wittmeyer, who has compiled a 10-5 record to date.  In his rookie campaign, Bryce Barnes has picked up nine wins at 197 pounds, matching the victory total of 165 pounder Paul Hancock.

In other Division I action, both Hofstra and Binghamton will be looking for their first ‘W” of the season when the Pride take on Penn, Lehigh and Drexel and Binghamton faces Oklahoma.  Meanwhile, Buffalo will participate in the Nittany Lion Open in Pennsylvania.


To report results of weekend events, please contact:


Section 6 Preview: 10 All-State Wrestlers from 2012 Return, Led by Finalists Hull and Rodriguez-Spencer

Division I

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

Anthony Orefice, Lockport, 106 Pounds, Fifth Place

Steve Michel, Lancaster, 120 Pounds, Sixth Place


Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Tyler Hartinger, Lancaster

113 Pounds: Ron Duguay, Kenmore West

113 Pounds: Kellen Devlin, Amherst

120 Pounds: Rocco Russo, Frontier

132 Pounds: Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster

160 Pounds: Jake Weber, Clarence

170 Pounds: Anthony Liberatore, Williamsville South


Seniors to Watch

Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster) – Lewandowski, who took second in New York as a 96-pound sophomore in 2010, had another strong year in 2011-12, registering a 43-10 record at 132 pounds.  He captured the Section 6 title with a 7-1 victory over eventual state runner up Dylan Cohen before going 2-2 in Albany with losses to champion Jamel Hudson and fourth place finisher Nick Mauriello.  He will look to return to the podium as a senior.

Anthony Liberatore (Williamsville South) – The senior cruised through Sectionals with a pair of falls and a major decision at 170 pounds.  In Albany, he picked up where he left off in his opening match, earning a first period pin against Cody Smith of Section 10.  He went 2-2 overall to cap off a 40-5 season, coming within one win of making All-State.  That will clearly be on his to-do list for 2013.

Ron Duguay, Photo by Boris V

Ron Duguay (Kenmore West) – After taking second in the Section, Duguay notched an impressive upset in the first round of the state tournament, defeating top-seeded Mark Raghunandan by a 5-3 score.  The road didn’t get much easier after that victory, as Duguay next took the mat against All-State wrestler Robert Person and number two seed Corey Jamison to end his run.  However, Duguay has a lot to build on, including his big victory and a 39-5 overall season.


Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Of course, the conversation has to start with two wrestlers who were on the medal stand in 2012 in the state capital – Lockport’s Anthony Orefice and Lancaster’s Steve Michel.   Orefice is very familiar with the podium.  In 2011, he took fourth at 96 pounds and last season he was fifth at 106 on the heels of a 40-2 campaign.  Orefice had wins over All-State wrestlers Drew Marra of Olean (twice), Freddie Dunau (a 2011 medalist from St. Anthony’s) and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush.  His only losses of the season were at the Times Union Center — 11-8 to state gold medalist Nick Piccininni and to Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser (by default).  Orefice’s accomplishments stretch beyond the Empire State.  He has been an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals multiple times.

Meanwhile, Michel began the state tournament with a pair of victories over Section 1 champion Jake DiMarsico and PSAL representative Keanu Thompson before losing to state champion Sean McCabe of Section 11 and forfeiting to sixth.  He will be looking for more in 2013.

Although he was a state placer, Michel didn’t win the Section 6 crown in 2012, dropping the title bout to Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Russo went 43-3 with his only regular season setback coming against Michel.  In Russo’s second appearance in Albany, he went 1-2 but stayed active in the offseason, including a trip to Fargo.

Jake Weber (Clarence) – As a sophomore, Weber was 35-6 at 160 pounds.  At the state tournament, he drew eventual runner up Tyler Grimaldi of Section 11 in round one and dropped his first wrestleback match.   However, he demonstrated the ability to put opponents on their backs, with 21 pins and just five regular decisions.  And he also has national credentials, having placed at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  With that experience, he can be expected to get his hand raised in Albany this year.

Austin Acquard (Iroquois) – Acquard won a match in Albany in 2011 at 96 pounds however he didn’t get a return trip back to the Times Union Center after a fourth place Sectional finish at 113.  According to Niagara County Community College coach Keith Maute, he was a small 113 pounder who was caught between weight classes.  Having grown into the weight more, he will have a chance to go back to the state capital.


Kellen Devlin had a lot of success as an eighth grader.  Who are some of the other young guns to watch?

Nate Schwab has to be near the top of the list.  As a freshman at 152 pounds, he went 38-9 with seven of his losses to seniors.  At the Section 6 tournament, Schwab lost to state qualifier Luke Falzone 1-0 and then came back to take third.  He has also made his presence felt beyond the New York borders, taking seventh at 152 pounds at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals tournament this past spring. Also worthy of mention is his teammate Ryan Burns, also a sophomore, who recently demonstrated his skills at one of the most challenging tournaments on the high school calendar – the Super 32 in North Carolina.  In a loaded 106-pound bracket, he compiled a 4-2 record after his 40-5 ninth grade campaign for the Red Devils.

Matt Kloc of Iroquois, another sophomore, took third in a tough 120-pound weight behind Michel and Russo.  He lost his first bout 1-0 and then captured three consecutive victories for third to complete a 33-10 season.  The younger brother of two-time state champion Jimmy (now wrestling at Buffalo), will look for his first bid to the state tournament.

Tyler Hartinger of Lancaster racked up a 36-9 mark as a freshman 99-pounder.  He had a difficult first match in his opener in Albany – losing to two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, but he came back to earn a victory in his next bout.   Hartinger was joined by a number of talented youngsters at 99 pounds a year ago, including fellow sophomore Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls, who was second in the Section and 34-7 overall (1-3 against Hartinger).

Hector and Tito Colom of Dunkirk are likely to both be at 99 pounds this year.  The brothers have earned some quality results, both making the finals at the Ohio Tournament of Champions while Hector took seventh at the Middle School Super 32 Classic. According to Maute, both will make an impact this year, with Tito having the potential to not only make it to Albany but win several matches there.


A Few More to Keep an Eye On . . .

Luke Catalano (Lake Shore) – As a tenth grader, Catalano was second in Section 6, compiling a 31-7 mark while splitting time between 220 and 285 pounds.

Marshall Taylor (Lockport) – As a 195 pounder a year ago, he was third in the Section, racking up close to 30 wins and recording over 20 pins.

Danny Graham (West Seneca East) – Graham has placed third in the Section multiple times.  He sported a 34-5 record in 2011-12, defeating All-State wrestler Cody McGregor and topping former state qualifier Austin Acquard three times.  According to Maute, Graham has a very good chance to make the trip to the state tournament this year, possibly up several weight classes at 138 or 145.

Jose Pagan (Lockport) – Pagan took second at 145 pounds in the Section 6 tournament last year, losing the title bout to two-time state champion Jimmy Kloc of Iroquois.  The Lockport grappler won over 30 matches a year ago and the wrestlers who handed him more than half of his losses (Jake Baer, Michael Roman, Luke Falzone and Kloc), all graduated.  Look for him to make an impact in the middleweights in his senior season.

William Brady (Williamsville East) – Brady is the highest returning placer in the 220 pound class after taking fourth as a junior.  He notched over 30 victories in 2011-12, including 21 by fall, and was mentioned as a wrestler to watch in the upperweights in the upcoming campaign.


Team Race:

Kenmore West won the title in 2012 by an eight-point margin over Lockport, with Clarence not far behind in third.  Those three squads look like they’ll once again be battling for the Division I crown.

While Clarence was the bronze team in February, Maute believes they may have the upper hand this time around, especially with seven returning team members that finished in the top 6 in the Section tournament a year ago.  While the Red Devils said goodbye to several placers, they return 160-pound runner up Jake Weber, 152-pound bronze medalist Nate Schwab, fourth placers Ryan Burns and Nate Ward as well as Brandan Glauber (fifth at 120), Austin Czaja (sixth at 113) and Austin Krawczyk (sixth at 126).

But, of course, last year’s top two teams, Lockport and Kenmore West, both bring back plenty of firepower.  Lockport has three finalists on the roster, led by All-State wrestler Anthony Orefice.  Section silver medalists Brad Feeney (126) and Jose Pagan (145) will look to move one step higher on the podium while Marshall Taylor (third at 195) and Marcellus Hinton (fifth at 285) will be threats as well.  Wrestlers such as Josh Steinman and Seth Anderson didn’t get on the medal stand a year ago, but will look to pick up some points to compensate for the losses of Mike Feeney (champion at 138) and Joe Sansone (third at 182).

While Lockport will miss Feeney and Sansone, Kenmore West will be without the services of graduates such as Section champions Dylan Caruana and Brandon Lathrop as well as second place finishers Zach Skiba and Nicolas Burgos.   Leading the way in 2012-13 will be 113-pound runner up Ron Duguay, fifth place medalist Christian Bauman (106) and sixth placers Anthony Argentieri (99) and Mark Stucke (138).   Adding some experience will be Shane Currey and Jon Szurczynksi in the upperweights.

Iroquois brings quite a few top notch wrestlers to the table, especially in the light and middleweights.  Returning placers Jacob Slade (third), Austin Acquard (fourth), Matt Kloc (third) and Eric McEvoy (fourth) will lead the charge for the Chiefs in the postseason.


Division II

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

106 Pounds: Drew Marra, Olean, Fourth Place

113 Pounds: Cody McGregor, Tonawanda, Fifth Place

120 Pounds: Dakota Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

126 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga, Second Place

138 Pounds: Dan Reagan, Lewiston-Porter, Fourth Place

138 Pounds: Jude Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

145 Pounds: Drew Hull, Royalton-Hartland, Second Place

285 Pounds: Matt Montesanti, Medina, Sixth Place


Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Dylan Lundmark, Southwestern

113 Pounds: Pat McCarthy, Fredonia

113 Pounds: Ryan Kromer, Lewiston-Porter

120 Pounds: Andrew Lazickas, East Aurora

160 Pounds: Zach Buckley, Fredonia


Top Seniors

There’s no question that there are a large number of impact twelfth graders in Division II this year, including four returning All-State wrestlers.

Drew Hull, Photo by Boris V

Drew Hull has twice been on the podium in Albany.  Last year, he went all the way to the state finals, dropping a one-point decision to Tyler Button at 145 pounds.  He followed that up by competing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach where he was an All-American in the past.  Hull has been active in the offseason and is capable of not only making his third appearance on the medal stand, but standing on the top step.

Dan Reagan and Jude Gardner aren’t strangers on the mat.  They went 2-2 against each other as juniors in the midst of highly successful seasons.  (Gardner was 46-9 overall, while Reagan was 45-6).  They met twice in the postseason with Gardner winning by fall in the Section 6 championship bout and Reagan capturing a 4-1 victory at the state tournament on his way to fourth place.  Meanwhile, Gardner took sixth.   The two could battle a few more times in 2012-13.

Matt Montesanti, Photo by Boris V

Matt Montesanti was 30-3 with 17 pins entering the Times Union Center, where he won his first two bouts at 285 pounds.  The Medina senior then lost to eventual state champion Hayden Head of Beekmantown and forfeited his remaining two matches to take sixth.  One of only two placers to return at heavyweight, his sights are set on a title.

Fredonia teammates Zach Buckley and Pat McCarthy both went 1-2 in Albany to conclude seasons in which they won over 40 bouts and registered some quality victories over state qualifiers.  Joining them at the Times Union Center was East Aurora’s Andrew Lazickas, who also notched a win.  Can they end their careers with a few more wins in Albany?


Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Like in Division I, there are some obvious answers to this question as Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cody McGregor, Dakota Gardner and Drew Marra already demonstrated their ability to place last year.

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by Boris V

Rodriguez-Spencer was the silver medalist in a difficult weight featuring past state champions like Nick Tighe and Tristan Rifanburg as well as multiple-time placer Corey Dake.  He showed resolve, winning both his second round and semifinal matches in overtime (including an 8-6 win over Rifanburg).  He also shined in the spring and summer in the international styles, which he has done for years.  In 2012 alone, he placed in a number of elite Greco-Roman events, including Junior Nationals in Fargo, FILA Cadets and FILA Juniors.

Marra went 3-2 at the Times Union Center to cap off a 42-7 sophomore campaign in which he was fourth in New York at 106.  Cody McGregor, a fourth place finisher in 2011 as an eighth grader at 96 pounds, made his way onto the medal stand again, this time taking fifth at 113.   He’ll go for his third All-State showing this season, looking to climb his way up the podium.

An opponent McGregor was very familiar with is Lewiston Porter’s Ryan Kromer.  Kromer went to Albany as the Section 6 winner after beating McGregor 1-0 in the semifinals.  They met again at the Times Union Center and McGregor came out on top in the ultimate tiebreaker by the same 1-0 score to eliminate Kromer one victory shy of the podium.  It was Kromer’s second trip to Albany.  He’s looking for the third time to be a charm.

Like McGregor, Dakota Gardner was ready to wrestle some of the state’s best, capping off a strong season by grabbing sixth in the final tournament of the season. He followed that performance off with a third place showing at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals at 127 pounds.

As an eighth grader, Kellen Devlin of Amherst was impressive, notching a 34-5 record, including a dominant performance at the Section 6 tournament on his way to the title (in Division I).  He outscored his opponents 18-1 and defeated Duguay in the championship bout.  It looked like he was on his way to victory in his first match at the Times Union Center against All-Stater Robert Person of Nassau County, however, he was reversed to his back with less than 30 seconds left.  Devlin quickly rebounded after his 0-2 showing in the state capital, winning a number of spring and summer events, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.   He will be a lightweight to track closely this year, but according to Ross Conti, it will be in Division II this time.

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

DJ Marshall (Lewiston Porter) – Marshall went 33-10 at 120 pounds with a number of his setbacks at the hands of Section 6’s top wrestlers (Dylan Caruana, Dakota Gardner, Andrew Lazickas).  He rebounded from a loss to state qualifier Lazickas in the semifinals to take third place in the Section.

Eddie Hutschenreuter (Alden) – The junior enters the season as a two-time state qualifier who won a match at the state tournament in both 2010 and 2011.  However, he didn’t have an opportunity to make it three years in a row in Albany after he suffered a season-ending injury in December of 2011.  According to Maute, the Alden wrestler has returned to the mat and “is definitely a threat to place; in fact, I think he should place this year.”

Alex Smythe (Eden) – Smythe is familiar with the medal stand on the state level.  He took fifth at 125 pounds in 2011 at the Times Union Center.  Last year, he was fourth in the Section at 145 pounds after amassing a 31-7 mark, with two of the losses to an out of state wrestler and three others to All-State opponents.  Smythe will look to return to Albany.

Zach Bickle (Royalton Hartland) – Bickle is a two-time state qualifier, who came within one win of making All-State in 2011 at 103 pounds.  He will look for his third journey to Albany as a senior after winning more than 30 matches as a junior.  Bickle registered quality wins over Kellen Devlin, Pat McCarthy and Ryan Kromer a year ago.

Austin Lynn (Frewsburg) – Frewsburg’s Nick Mitchell had a terrific season a year ago, with his only loss coming in the state finals at 170 pounds.  Lynn is another Bears upperweight who is primed for a strong season.  He went 33-8 as a junior, taking second in the Sectionals at 182 pounds.

Andrew Shomers (Lewiston Porter) – Shomers, who wrestled at Niagara Falls last season, was second behind Anthony Orefice at 106 in the Section.  In fact, four of his six losses came against Orefice with one other against qualifier Bryan Ruggeri from Fairport.  Shomers certainly knows how to finish a match – he notched 29 victories with 21 of them coming by pin.  He should be an impact player for his new team.

Kyle Blake (Falconer) – Blake was 31-9 in 2011-12 at 99 pounds with a second place showing at the Section 6 tournament.

“He was really impressive last year,” said Ross Conti.  “He lost by a point in the [Section 6] finals and he really came on as the season went on.  He’s a kid that has the look of someone who will definitely do really well.”

Brandon Dallavia, who racked up a 35-4 record at 132 pounds for Lewiston Porter as an eighth grader, has left the Empire State for Blair Academy.  However, there are other young grapplers to watch, including Depew’s Philip Calandra, who according to Maute, has a good chance of winning Division II this year in the lightest weight class.  


Team Race

Lewiston Porter won the Division II race a year ago by an incredibly slim margin of 1.5 points over Fredonia.  The two teams look poised to be at the head of the class again with a slew of returning placers.

Fredonia’s lineup looks very tough heading into 2012-13 as the Hillbillies bring back six Section 6 medalists, including champions Dakota Gardner (120), Jude Gardner (138) and Zach Buckley (160).  In addition, Pat McCarthy returns for his senior year as do fourth placers Tyler Cassidy (132) and Christian Saden (195).

Dan Reagan, Photo by Boris V

Lewiston Porter will challenge, however, with 113-pound champion Ryan Kromer back, along with All-State wrestler Dan Reagan and Section bronze winner DJ Marshall (120).  Garrett Rath (fifth at 285) will look for a move up the podium to help offset the lost production of graduates Jason Kromer and Kevin McMurray and the departure of Brandon Dallavia.  The addition of Andrew Shomers will add another top wrestler to the mix.

Royalton Hartland, third in 2012, will put a number of wrestlers on the podium as well, beginning with Drew Hull who was the runner up in the Section as well as in the state.  Taking third a year ago were Garrett Baugher as an eighth grader at 99 pounds (who has since departed for St. Joseph’s of the CHSAA) and Alex Jensen at 220.  Cameron Swick and Zach Bickle also took top 5 spots for the Raiders.

According to Ross Conti, there are a few other teams to keep an eye on in Division II.  Conti said Falconer was the top ranked small school dual team a year ago and will be worth watching again.

“[Falconer] usually has a good wrestler in every weight class, although they don’t have a lot of stars,” he said.  “Fredonia sent four to states and had other kids on the bubble, yet Faulkner beat Fredonia in a dual meet.  They lost a few guys, but they always have solid numbers and a very good coaching staff.  Those kids seem to get better in a hurry.  They’ll be tough, especially in duals.”

Another team Conti mentioned was Ripley.

“I think Ripley might have been the smallest wrestling school in the whole state,” he said. “For years, Ripley’s been a good team with state representatives and placers.  But it’s hard to have depth as such a small school.  Now that they are merging with Westfield and Chautauqua Lake, I think they’ll be a team to watch out for.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Keith Maute and Ross Conti.


More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 10 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview


Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak

Triple Threat: Hilton's Vincent, Anthony and Lou DePrez Looking to Collect Titles in 2012-13

In 2011-12, when Hilton’s 113-pound wrestler finished his bout and the 120-pounder took the mat, you couldn’t blame opponents for doing a double take.

After all, 2012 New York state finalist Vincent DePrez and his twin brother Anthony look extremely alike.  In fact, some who know them pretty well claim that they can’t always differentiate them.

“I still can’t tell the difference,” said their father Jason DePrez, laughing.

Adam Burgos, co-owner of G2 World Wrestling Academy who has worked with the twins for years, agreed.

“For me, I either look at their wrestling shoes or their smiles,” Burgos said.  “One has a more noticeable smile than the other, but if you look quickly, it’s tough to tell.  Usually, I just say one of their names and see who looks.  It’s a challenge at times.”

Besides the way they look, the brothers have another thing in common – winning.

Vincent DePrez had one of the best seasons in the Empire State last year on his way to the silver medal at 113 pounds.  He won his first 49 matches, including victories over Division II state champion Sean Peacock of Midlakes and other All-State grapplers such as Pat Skinner, Robert Person and Cody McGregor after taking fourth at 103 pounds the previous season.

He came within one second of the state title, dropping a one-point decision as time expired against Dylan Realbuto of Somers.  What many observers didn’t know was that DePrez suffered an eye injury with less than 30 seconds remaining and was forced to spend several hours after the tournament was over in a nearby emergency room.

“I cut my eyelid and it split and I needed stitches,” Vincent DePrez said. “It really wasn’t that bad, but I had to take a couple of weeks off from wrestling to heal.  It was a little tough because I’m used to wrestling every day.”

When he was able to get back into the swing of things, he started work with Anthony, who also had a successful campaign.

Anthony came close to competing in Albany as well, losing by a point to New York state second place finisher Brady Baron in the SuperSectional title bout to cap off a 41-6 season.

“I think my season went alright,” Anthony DePrez said.  “I took second in a lot of tournaments.  I got closer and closer to Brady [Baron] during the year.  The first time, I got pinned. The second time I only lost by a few points.  The last match, I needed to turn him on top but couldn’t.  I felt like I should have been able to, but I lost 4-3.  This year, I am looking to get to make it to states and place high.”

Vincent’s goal is, not surprisingly to earn his first state title.  Both twins said they will make significant jumps in weight, with Vincent potentially wrestling at 138 and Anthony at 145.

“Being up a few classes, there will be different challenges and different competitors for them,” Burgos said. “But with hard work and determination, they can achieve their goals.  They have a built in workout partner right down the hall.  They don’t even have to call anyone or go anywhere.  They’re competitive to the point of pushing each other really hard.  One never wants to be outdone by the other.”

That’s for sure.  As would be expected with brothers, things can get a little chippy.

“We fight a lot during practice,” Vincent DePrez said. “It can get pretty bad.  But we’re all good when practice is over.”

The twins aren’t only competitive with each other.   Younger brother Lou DePrez, an eighth grader, also participates in a lot of their training, along with Yianni Diakomihalis, currently ranked the sixth-best junior high school wrestler in the nation by Intermat.

“We have Vincent and Anthony working and Louie and Yianni working.  There’s a dynamic in the room where both of the groups are trying to outdo each other,” Burgos said.  “It makes everyone better.  I think Louie might be a little bit better off than the twins at this stage because of the environment he’s able to train in.”

Lou DePrez’s looks and smile set him apart from his twin brothers.  His voice during the interview conducted for this story was different enough to be recognized. But the winning gene is still there.

In his seventh grade season on Hilton’s varsity squad, he compiled a 29-15 mark at 106 pounds.

“I just focused on trying to get better throughout the season,” Lou DePrez said. “Most of the guys were bigger than me at 106 so it was sometimes tough.  But having Yianni as a partner is great.  He pushes me hard and always raises the bar high. I’m shooting to make it to the state tournament this year and place.”

“[Lou] will turn some heads this year,” Burgos added. “He’s really starting to come into his own.  He’s very aggressive on his feet and with the way he trains, I expect really big things out of him.”

That will make a triple threat of DePrez grapplers for opposing teams to deal with this winter.  And then another year down the line, current sixth grader Sam DePrez, who has been wrestling since he was three or four years old, will join the mix.

“The family loves the sport,” Burgos said.  “I feel strongly that they will have success individually and as a family.  It’s extremely exciting as a fan of wrestling in our area to see all of these brothers that could be at the top of the podium.”

It could happen this season.  It’s possible that the DePrez name will be announced many times at the SuperSectionals and in Albany in February of 2013.

Even if most people won’t be able to tell the DePrez twins apart.


More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 10 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview


Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak

Northeast Duals Recap: From Cornell Victories to Standout Performances to Celebrating Jeff Blatnick


By Matt Diano

On an afternoon that marked the 10th anniversary of its creation, the 2012 edition of the Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Duals did not fail to live up to the purposes of its origin. Seeking to establish an event which would both capture the ambiance and intensity of the classic Iowa/Oklahoma State showdowns (which he had been exposed to while watching his brother, Pat, compete for John Smith’s Cowboys) as well as promote the world’s oldest and greatest sport to the upstate community, Frank Popolizio has seen his brainchild grow from being hosted in the Niskayuna High School gymnasium to being considered one of, if not the, preeminent early season clash of the titans.

While still relatively young in age, the NE Duals are, and continue to be, an environment where magic happens. Yesterday would prove no different as the field of 14 teams (seven of which are nationally ranked by at least one major poll) would put it all on the line in the ultimate war for bragging rights in which the real winners were not as much the victorious teams, but rather, the masses of people sitting in the stands of the Hudson Valley Community College Athletic Center. All were treated to nine hours of the most exhilarating action found on the planet Earth. Whether “your team” went 3-0 or 0-4, you walked to your car with an ear-to-ear grin, because you knew you had just spent the 24th in the company of warriors.

Big Red Emerge as the Mighty

Posting an unblemished 3-0 record for the day, if you had to single out a specific program that rose to the occasion, there would be no better choice than the Rob Koll-led Big Red crowd favorites. Round-by-round, the Cornell wrestlers found themselves running the gauntlet, having to best a pair of top-12 teams in back-to-back duals in order to keep “the 0” intact.

Jace Bennett, Photo by BV

As expected, sitting at the head of the table in this effort was three-time NCAA Champion Kyle Dake, who was his dominant self, surrendering a mere two points total in his three matches. Perhaps the Lansing native’s biggest win was the only one in which he did not score bonus points, a 5-0 decision over #8 ranked Bubby Graham of the University of Oklahoma. Having watched his teammates drop three bouts in a row to knot the match at 10 apiece, the seasoned veteran knew that in order for the Big Red to regain the momentum, he needed to come up big. And, as he has done countless times before, he delivered in grand fashion, controlling the action for the full seven minutes in pitching the shutout against the Sooner. The win would serve as a catalyst as Cornell would win three of the final four matches of the dual, including Jace Bennett‘s clincher at 197 when he pinned OU’s Brad Johnson half a minute into the second period to provide the Empire State powerhouse with an insurmountable nine point lead. For good measure, big man Stryker Lane would close out the 25-13 dual win with a 5-2 decision over previously nationally-ranked Keldrick Hall. Nick Arujau‘s 34 second pin of the Sooners’ Cody Brewer in a match-up of the #12 vs. #13 ranked wrestlers in the nation would also stand out. Countering a deep shot from his OU opponent, Arujau would lock up a tight cradle and in the blink of an eye, it was goodnight for Mr. Brewer.

Nahshon Garrett, Photo by BV

In a contest that pitted the #8 Big Red against the #9 Chippewas of Central Michigan, it would be Dake (a 14-2 major decision winner over Mike Ottinger), Bennett and freshman Nahshon Garrett taking care of business, with the latter getting Cornell off on the proper footing with a 6-3 decision over #12 Christian Cullinan. Additional key victories would come from the 141/149 duo of returning All-American Mike Nevinger (2-0 over Scott Mattingly) and Chris Villalonga (5-1 over Donnie Corby). As nice and pertinent as these wins might have been in ultimately propelling the EIWA powerhouse to the eventual 17-15 dual victory, the biggest performance might have come in a losing effort when Lane pushed the #3 ranked heavyweight, Jarod Trice, to the second tiebreaker before dropping a 2-1 decision. Because 285 has been a spot in recent times where the Big Red has struggled to find that hammer at the back-end to complement the rest of the lineup, this hard fought win has given Koll and his staff reason to feel optimistic about what the future may hold for them at heavyweight.

In their first dual of the day, the Cornell wrestlers would go 10-for-10, goose-egging the Dragons of Drexel (coached by former Cornell assistant, Matt Azevedo), 40-0.

Illini And Scarlet Knights Also Finish with the Perfecto
Joining the Big Red as the only other teams to avoid the bitter taste of defeat was the #6 ranked University of Illinois and Rutgers University. While neither program wrestled the same caliber of opposition as Cornell, there was no mistaking their dominance as the Illini outscored Binghamton, Princeton, and Maryland 117-16.  Head coach Scott Goodale’s Scarlet Knights were not far behind, tallying an 86-27 edge over a common opponent in the BU Bearcats, as well as fellow New York institutions, Columbia University and the United States Military Academy at West Point (Army).

Opening up the morning with a 46-0 drubbing of the Tigers, the tone was set for the kind of day it would be for the Big 10 conference member. Simply put, anything and everything that could go the way of the Illini did.  125 pound All-American Jesse Delgado would beat Maryland’s Shane Gentry, Daryl Thomas would get his hand raised over Geoff Alexander, BJ Futrell would pin Binghamton’s Joe Bonaldi, etc. As the day continued to progress, one had to wonder if an Illinois wrestler would ever lose a bout pitting nationally ranked competitors against one another. While Tony Dallago would eventually lose to Maryland’s Jimmy Sheptock, it would come only after Illinois posted the biggest individual win of the day when #6 Jordan Blanton avenged his loss from a few weeks ago at the NWCA All-Star Classic, beating #3 Josh Asper of the Terps 3-1 in a fight among the nation’s creme de la creme.

Stephen West, Photo by BV

Spearheading Rutgers to an undefeated record would be upperclassmen — #14 Scott Winston (157), #10 Greg Zannetti (174), and #13 Dan Rinaldi (184). Each tallying at least one victory over a fellow nationally ranked opponent, this trio would be among the seven Scarlet Knight wrestlers to go 3-0. Winning a pair of rather low scoring affairs, it would be the former two who really “did work” against EIWA rival Columbia, as they etched out 3-1 and 1-0 decisions over #11 Jake O’Hara and #13 Stephen West, respectively, en route to the team’s 30-6 victory.  Rinaldi, would earn his signature “w” one dual later when he doubled up Binghamton’s Cody Reed 4-2, one of eight wins for the Garden State school in yet another 30-6 final. In their swan song, the Scarlet Knights would have their closest dual on paper (26-15) against Army, but that would be slightly misleading as they forfeited the 149-pound weight class and inserted a backup at 165 pounds. Rinaldi’s 6-2 victory over Collin Wittmeyer constituted the most significant individual result. Senior Mario Mason, the once highly touted recruit out of Blair Academy, continued to struggle, dropping both of his matches to ranked opponents, 10-2 to the Bearcats’ Donnie Vinson (ranked as high as #1 in some polls; as low as #4 in others) and 4-3 to #10 Steve Santos from Columbia.  Santos remains undefeated this season.

Burning Down the House: Dual of the Day Goes to Maryland/Purdue
In a dual that may have gone overlooked by many because of its location on a far mat in the corner of the HVCC Athletic Center, unofficial honors for “Dual of the Day” unquestionably goes to the back-and-forth slugfest between Maryland and Purdue. A dual of mini streaks, each team would take a turn running off a series of consecutive wins, commencing with the Kerry McCoy-guided Terps jumping out to the early 6-0 lead behind the efforts of Shane Gentry and Geoff Alexander. Ranked towards the bottom of a few polls, each would enter their respective bouts as underdogs on paper. However, as a testament to the cliche about why matches are not wrestled on paper, the two lightweights would find a way to get the job done, as they peeled off back-to-back wins over the #19 and #8 wrestlers in the land, Camden Eppert and Cashe Quiroga by the respective scores of 5-4 and 9-3 to give their team the initial lead.

Unwilling to lie down and play dead, the Boilermakers would waste no time in striking back; and when they attacked, they bit hard, stringing together four straight wins from 141-165 (including two bonus point victories) to launch themselves to the 16-6 lead with only four matches remaining. Playing a prominent role in this rally would be Brandon Nelsen and Tommy Churchard, whose pin and major decision efforts at 141 and 157 would put the Indiana-based program in the driver’s seat.

But alas, you don’t win “Dual of the Day” honors on the strength of one lead change. Nope, with backs against the wall, it would be Maryland’s turn to go streaking, beginning with Asper’s 16-4 major decision against Purdue freshman Chad Welch. Sheptock posted a nearly identical score in his bout against Patrick Kissel, surrendering one extra point (16-5) to bring the ACC contender without a two point margin, 16-14. But again, I say to you, what fun would it be if Maryland simply just came back to win? Instead, drama would ensue when Braden Atwood channeled his inner Cael Sanderson, leading #10 Christian Boley, 11-0 in the third period. Knowing that a major decision would make it impossible for his team to win in regulation, Boley was keenly aware that he would need to get things done in the last two minutes. He responded to the pressure, darn near pulling a rabbit out of his hat when he locked up a tight cradle in the third period, causing the Terp loyalists to go crazy in the stands. While Boley would be unable to earn the fall (Maryland fans might disagree), the five point move would prove to be the difference between victory and defeat. By keeping the bout to a regular decision, the former stud from Brockport High School, would set the stage for what would come next. Needing a technical fall to force criteria or a pin for the win, Maryland big man, Carl Buchholz apparently did not get paid by the hour as he came out like a man on a mission, quickly putting his Purdue opponent on his back and sticking him 24 seconds into the first period to secure the 20-19 win.

#10 Sooners Defeat #11 Chippewas
Unlike the wild dual cited above, when the Mark Cody-coached University of Oklahoma made a move early into the dual against Central Michigan, there would be no looking back as the murderer’s row of Cody Brewer, #1 Kendric Maple, the Lester twins (#8 Nick @149; #12 Matt @157), and Bubby Graham, turned a 3-0 deficit at the onset of the match into a 21-3 advantage late in the dual. Igniting the spark with first period pins in consecutive matches would be Brewer (who did not face #3 Scotti Sentes as originally planned) and Maple, giving the Big 12 school the 12-3 lead. Because everything they do has to bare some resemblance, the Lesters would make it a family affair by etching out back-to-back wins in sudden victory, with Nick getting 4-2 decision over Corby and Matt breaking a 0-0 deadlock with a takedown against Lucas Smith. Adding that always appreciated extra insurance would be Graham who toppled Ottinger 4-1, making it perhaps the toughest day in the wrestling career of the CMU sophomore (lost early to top-ranked Dake).

Central Michigan would get within 10 pouts following a pair of major decisions out of Craig Kelliher and three-time All-American Ben Bennett, but any hopes of a come-from-behind victory would be dashed at 197 when Sooner Brad Johnson reversed his fortune a bit and went from being the goat (loss by fall to Jace Bennett in Cornell dual) to hero when he put the team win on ice with a 6-5 decision over Jackson Lewis. Big Daddy extraordinaire, Trice, would close out the dual with a 7-2 win over Hall in a losing effort for CMU.

Honoring Blatnick; Video Tribute Fitting For the Local Legend

Jeff Blatnick

In what was the most emotional and soul satisfying portion of the afternoon, tournament organizers would awe the crowd with a beautiful video tribute to Section II icon, Jeff Blatnick, who passed away on October 24th from complications following heart surgery. A cancer survivor who would go on to win the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games, Blatnick never strayed far from his roots as a Niskayuna graduate who got his start on the mat under the tutelage of iconic coach Joe Bena, and reached levels that most of us only dream of, belonging to an exclusive company of men who have won a state title, an NCAA title (for Springfield College), and the Olympic hardware. Only 55 when he passed, Blatnick was coaching at Burnt Hills High School at the time of his death. (For more tributes to Blatnick, see here).

Immediately following the glowing tribute which featured highlights from the gold medal match, as well as interviews/recollections from Bena and Dan Gable, donations were taken to assist the family. And, in the spirit of generosity in which Blatnick lived his life, when it came time to give back, those in attendance did so without hesitation, in some instances actually chasing down the individuals holding the donation cups to make sure they had the privilege of contributing to the cause. It was the most selfless act I have ever seen in my decade plus of going to and covering wrestling matches; it was befitting of Mr. Blatnick and would have made him proud the way he did for the us so many times prior.

Full results from yesterday’s action can be accessed by clicking here:

George, Grey, Cisneros and Realbuto Capture Titles at the Mat Town Open

Billy George, Photo by BV

There’s no doubt that Cornell had a successful weekend at the Northeast Duals in Troy, N.Y., defeating Drexel and a pair of top 12 teams, Central Michigan and Oklahoma.  However, current and future members of the Big Red also racked up wins at another event on Saturday – the Mat Town Open in Pennsylvania.

Four Ithaca residents won championships – Cornell sophomore Billy George at 197 pounds as well as three wrestlers who committed to the Big Red and currently represent the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club (FLWC) – Mark Grey (133), Alex Cisneros (149) and Brian Realbuto (157).

George, who previously took fourth and third at the Binghamton Open and New York States, respectively, went 4-0 on the day, outscoring his opponents 26-11 along the way.

As for the Finger Lakes trio, all three notched at least two bonus point victories on the way to first place.  For Realbuto, it was the second tournament crown of the season, as he previously captured the Binghamton Open gold.  He recorded two pins and a major, including a fall in the finals against Virginia Tech’s Matt Stephens.  He is now 15-1 overall.

For Grey and Cisneros, the championships were the first of their college careers.  Grey took second at the Binghamton Open and also claimed fifth at the Buffalo Invitational.  He was 4-0 with a pin and a major.

Cisneros, wrestling up several weight classes after finishing his stellar high school career at 132 pounds, also had a fall and a major as he took top billing at 149.

The champions weren’t the only New York representatives on the podium.  For Cornell, Marshall Peppelman grabbed third at 174 pounds while FLWC’s Angelo Silvestro (fifth at 141), Gabe Dean (fourth at 184) and Oney Snyder (fourth at 285) also made the medal stand.

Results from the Northeast Duals for the Five NY Teams; Cornell Notches 3-0 Mark

Five of the Division I teams from New York competed at the Northeast Duals on Saturday in Troy, NY.  Here are the summaries from the Cornell, Binghamton, Columbia, Army and Hofstra websites.  New York Wrestling News will publish a recap later this weekend.

Cornell Stays Undefeated With 3-0 Weekend

The No. 8 Cornell wrestling team notched three wins at the Journeymen Northeast Duals on Saturday. The Big Red opened the day with a 40-0 win over Drexel and followed with a 17-15 victory over No. 9 Central Michigan. Pins by Nick Arujau and Jace Bennett led the Big Red to its final win of the day, 25-13, over No. 12 Oklahoma.

Freshman No. 9 Nahshon Garrett went 3-0 for the day with a tech fall and a major decision. No. 1 ranked Kyle Dake was also 3-0 with a pin and a major decision. Bennett notched bonus points in all three of his wins with two major decisions to add to his fall.

The Big Red will travel to Sin City next weekend for the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 1.

For the remainder of the summary from, click here.

Vinson and Schiedel 3-0 As Binghamton Drops Three Matches

Contact: John Hartrick (

VESTAL, N.Y.—Binghamton wrestling dropped three matches at the 10th Annual Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Duals, held Saturday at the Edward F. McDonough Sports Complex at Hudson Valley Community College.

The Bearcats (0-5) lost to Army (16-15), RV Rutgers (30-9) and No. 6 Illinois (39-10).

Binghamton’s nationally-ranked senior duo of 149-pound Donnie Vinson and 197-pound Nate Schiedel each went 3-0 to highlight BU’s performance.

Vinson, 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News, collected two major decisions and a decision. He opened with a narrow 1-0 win over 20th-ranked Daniel Young of Army. Vinson then posted a 10-2 major decision against Rutgers and finished his day with an 8-0 win against Illinois.

For the remainder of the summary from, click here

Army Edges Binghamton on Criteria, Goes 1-2 at Northeast Duals

TROY, N.Y. – Freshman Bryce Barnes pinned his opponent at 197 pounds, but Rutgers won seven of the other nine bouts contested en route to a 26-15 victory over the Black Knights on Saturday at the Northeast Duals.

Rutgers (4-0) won the first three bouts to establish an 11-0 lead it would not relinquish. Army senior Daniel Young was awarded a win by forfeit in the 149-pound match, and Black Knight junior Paul Hancock posted a 6-3 verdict against Anthony Volpe at 165 pounds to pull Army (1-2) to within 14-9 with four bouts remaining.

RU won the next two matchups to extend its lead to 20-9, but Barnes pinned Hayden Hrymack in 1 minute, 32 seconds in the 197-pound match.  For the remainder of the Army summary and the summaries of the other Army duals, see

Steve Santos Remains Unbeaten as Columbia Notches 1-2 Mark in Troy

TROY, N.Y. – The Columbia wrestling team took down Drexel, 26-9, but fell to No. 16 Maryland, 27-10, and Rutgers, 30-6, at the 2012 Journeyman Wrestling/ASICS Northeast Collegiate Duals in Troy, N.Y. Saturday. Steve Santos improved to 11-0 on the year at 149 pounds with a trio of victories.

For the remainder of the summary from, click here.

Snyder Earns Three Wins for Hofstra in Troy, NY

The Hofstra wrestling team dropped four matches, including three to Top 25 ranked opponents, at the 10th Annual Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday afternoon.

The Pride dropped decisions to Bloomsburg (24-10), #10 Oklahoma (36-6), #11 Central Michigan (24-9) and #23 Purdue (32-8).  Hofstra is now 0-6 in dual matches this season.

Senior Paul Snyder (Greensburg, PA), led the Pride with three victories in four matches including a win by forfeit in Hofstra’s finale against Purdue.  Snyder is 7-3 on the year.  For the remainder of the summary from, see here.

Northeast Duals Preview – What to Watch for As Cornell, Hofstra, Columbia, Binghamton and Army Take the Mat

Five of the six Division I New York teams will compete at the Northeast Duals on Saturday in Troy.  The following provides a preview for each team, including matches to keep an eye on during the event.

Cornell: vs Drexel, Central Michigan and Oklahoma

The Big Red opened with a convincing 30-7 victory over Binghamton without starters Nick Arujau, Chris Villalonga, Craig Eifert/Jesse Shanaman and Steve Bosak.   Arujau and Villalonga are expected back for what should be strong tests, especially from the Chippewas and the Sooners.  It will be the first time Drexel head coach Matt Azevedo faces Cornell, where he was an assistant before taking over the Dragons program.

Matches to Watch:

#9 Nahshon Garrett vs. Christian Cullinan/Joe Roth (Central Michigan) – Garrett entered the 125-pound rankings this week after getting off to a 10-0 start with titles at the Binghamton Open and the New York States.  After defeating #10 Steve Bonanno in his last match, he’ll face either Cullinan, who has a quality win over Sean Boyle of Michigan this season or #12 Roth, who was a mainstay in the national rankings last season.

#12 Nick Arujau vs. #2 Scotti Sentes (Central Michigan) and #13 Cody Brewer (Oklahoma) – After missing a weekend of action, Arujau won’t be able to ease his way back into the lineup as he has a pair of acclaimed foes to battle – an experienced multiple-time All-American in Sentes and a highly touted freshman in Brewer.

Mike Nevinger, Photo by BV

#9 Mike Nevinger vs. #1 Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) – The seventh and fourth place finishers at last year’s NCAA met in the second round in St. Louis with Maple coming away with the victory.  After a solid run last weekend at the New York States we’ll see what adjustments Nevinger has made for his second bout with the nation’s top ranked grappler.

Chris Villalonga vs. #8 Nick Lester (Oklahoma) – Villalonga won his first two bouts of the year before defaulting out of the Binghamton Open.   He will get his first major test of the campaign when he takes on the Oklahoma All-American who is stellar on top.

#1 Kyle Dake vs. #12 Joe Booth (Drexel), #18 Mike Ottinger (Central Michigan) and #7 Bubby Graham (Oklahoma) – Booth may not be in the lineup, but if he is Dake will be the only Big Red wrestler scheduled to meet three ranked opponents. With the Ithaca native in his last year of college competition, every one of his matches is “one to watch”, that is, if you like viewing one of the greats.

#2 Steve Bosak vs. #5 Ben Bennett would be a headliner, but it won’t take place with the 2012 184-pound NCAA champion unlikely to be back on the mat.  In Bosak’s place, freshman Craig Scott has been very effective.  How will he fare against the multi-time All-American Bennett?

Jace Bennett vs. #19 Brandon Palik (Drexel) – Bennett was totally dominant at the New York States last Saturday, with three pins and a major.  He’ll look to keep things going against a wrestler considered to be among the top 20 nationally.


Hofstra: vs. Bloomsburg, Oklahoma, Central Michigan and Purdue

Hofstra has already faced two top 25 teams in road duals and the Pride will match up against another three ranked teams – Oklahoma, Central Michigan and Purdue on Saturday as they look for their first victory of the season.  A talented Bloomsburg squad is also on the docket for this weekend.

Matches to Watch:

Steve Bonanno, Photo by BV

#10 Steve Bonanno vs. Christian Cullinan/Joe Roth and #19 Camden Eppert (Purdue) – Bonanno has faced a challenging early slate with Minnesota’s David Thorn and Cornell’s Garrett.  Cullinan/Roth and Eppert will provide additional tough battles.

#17 Jamie Franco vs #2 Scotti Sentes (Central Michigan), #13 Cody Brewer (Oklahoma) and #8 Cashe Quiroga (Purdue) – There’s no rest for Franco after taking third at the New York States.  He’ll have a great opportunity to wrestle some of the nation’s top competitors and move up higher in the top 20.  His fourth opponent, New York native Nick Wilcox of Bloomsburg, isn’t in the Intermat rankings, but is #20 according to Amateur Wrestling News.

#10 Luke Vaith vs. #1 Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) and Brandon Nelsen (Purdue) – Vaith has looked tough this season, defeating Nick Dardanes of Minnesota and losing squeakers to returning All-Americans Tyler Graff and Mike Nevinger.  He’ll get another medalist in the nation’s #1 141-pounder, Maple, and the solid Brandon Nelsen.

Justin Accordino hasn’t taken the mat yet this season but if he does, he’ll be welcomed back by #8 Nick Lester of the Sooners, #14 Ivan Lopouchanski of Purdue and Bloomsburg’s Josh Roosa.

Paul Snyder vs. #4 Jarod Trice (Central Michigan) and #17 Justin Grant (Bloomsburg) – Snyder won the New York State crown last weekend and will look to carry that momentum to Troy.  Grant recently cracked the top 20, while Trice is a top 5 heavyweight nationally.


Binghamton vs. Army, Rutgers and Illinois 

Binghamton opened the campaign with duals against EIWA squads Lehigh and Cornell.  The Bearcats are looking to earn first-year head coach Matt Dernlan’s initial victory when they take on two other EIWA foes –  Rutgers and Army – as well as the Big 10’s Illinois.

Matches to Watch:

Joe Bonaldi vs. #3 BJ Futrell (Illinois) and Trevor Melde (Rutgers) – Bonaldi broke into the rankings during the Binghamton Open when he topped a number of heralded wrestlers on his way to first place.  It is unclear whether he will take the mat after sitting out last week with an injury, but if he does, he will face tough tests in All-American Futrell and Melde.

#4 Donnie Vinson vs. #20 Daniel Young (Army) and Mario Mason (Rutgers) – Young made some noise early in the campaign when he defeated returning NCAA fourth place finisher Cam Tessari of Ohio State.  Vinson looked on last weekend as Young took second at the New York States.  This week, the Bearcat 149-pounder will have his chance against the Army wrestler and against the talented Scarlet Knight Mason.

Cody Reed vs. Collin Wittmeyer (Army), #13 Dan Rinaldi (Rutgers) and #11 Tony Dallago (Illinois) – There will be an air of familiarity in Reed’s first bout, as he’ll take on Wittmeyer.  The two wrestled for third place at the New York States last weekend, with the Army grappler taking the bronze. They’ll compete again in Round 1 before Reed faces top 15 competitors Rinaldi and Dallago.

#7 Nate Schiedel vs. #6 Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) – Schiedel’s transition to 197 pounds has been smooth so far, as he sports a 6-0 mark with a victory over All-American Micah Burak of Penn.  This should be another good one between two strong podium contenders for 2012-13.


Army vs. Purdue, Binghamton and Rutgers

The Black Knights have been busy in the early season with the Buffalo Invitational, Brockport/Oklahoma Gold and the New York States, but they will participate in their first duals this weekend against Purdue, Binghamton and Rutgers.

Matches to Watch:

Injuries have left some interesting matches in doubt.  Jordan Thome, who won a pair of bouts at the NCAA tournament last year, could get a shot at former All-American Cashe Quiroga of Purdue.  However, Thome defaulted out of the New York States due to injury and doesn’t list him as the starter.

As discussed above, Joe Bonaldi missed last weekend’s action for Binghamton, but if he returns to the mat, he’ll have a meeting with Connor Hanafee, who has placed fourth and fifth at the Oklahoma Gold and New York States, respectively.  Hanafee will be busy with tough matches as he’s also set to face Brandon Nelsen of Purdue and Trevor Melde of Rutgers.

The match between #20 Daniel Young and #4 Donnie Vinson was discussed above, but Young will get another challenge from a ranked grappler – #14 Ivan Lopouchanski of Purdue.  Also already mentioned in the Binghamton section was the match between Collin Wittmeyer and Cody Reed.  In addition to Reed, Wittmeyer should see Scarlet Knight Dan Rinaldi, currently 13th nationally.

If Coleman Gracey makes his debut at 174 pounds, he’ll take on Greg Zannetti of Rutgers, currently #11 according to Intermat.

Freshman Bryce Barnes has already faced top 10 foes in his rookie campaign – dropping close decisions to Ohio State’s Andrew Campolattano and Maryland’s Christian Boley. He’ll see how he measures up against #7 Schiedel and Purdue’s NCAA qualifier Braden Atwood, currently ranked 18th.


Columbia vs. Maryland, Rutgers and Drexel

The Lions had strong performances at the MSU Open and the New York States, with a trio of wrestlers – Steve Santos, Jake O’Hara and Stephen West earning titles at both events.  They’ll seek to keep their undefeated streaks going against some solid competition.

Matches to Watch:

#15 Steve Santos vs. Mario Mason (Rutgers) Mason isn’t in the current rankings but has been in the top 5 in the past and was one of the nation’s top recruits when he was at Blair Academy.  Santos handed Mason a loss a few years ago and will look to do so again.

Jake O'Hara, Photo by BV

#13 Jake O’Hara vs. #9 Scott Winston (Rutgers) – O’Hara is unbeaten in his eight bouts.  In comes Winston, who has risen to ninth in the country.  Who will keep their undefeated run alive?

#18 Stephen West vs. #11 Greg Zannetti (Rutgers) and #3 Josh Asper (Maryland) – West is 9-0. A good weekend against two highly touted wrestlers will certainly move him up further in the national picture.

Nick Mills vs. #10 Christian Boley (Maryland) and #19 Brandon Palik (Drexel) – Mills earned silver at the New York States and will look to continue his improved wrestling against two experienced and ranked foes.


***Individual rankings from Intermat

Section 10 Preview: Three-Time Placer Dillon Stowell and Four-Time Qualifier Isaiah Perry Seek Podium Spots for Section 10




Photos of Stowell and Ayen by Kelly Ayen

Division I

Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Ryan Brown, Canton

113 Pounds: Skyler Cameron, Massena

120 Pounds: Codey Bond, Canton

126 Pounds: Isaiah Perry, Massena

138 Pounds: Jamiel Stapleton, Malone

170 Pounds: Cody Smith, Malone

195 Pounds: Jeremy Malone, Massena

285 Pounds: Nolan Terrance, Massena

Some Wrestlers to Watch

Isaiah Perry (Massena) – Perry has been to the state championships the last four years and is gearing up for one last run at All-State honors.  He came closest in 2010 at 103 pounds when he was within one win of placing.  In 2012, Perry collided with state runner up Sam Speno of Fox Lane and eventual fourth place finisher Giovanni Sanchez following a 34-5 season in which he notched 23 bonus point triumphs (15 pins).  On his way, he defeated several others who competed in Albany, such as Ryan Spinner, Skyler Way, Jordan Bushey and Curtis Barney.

“Perry is very well seasoned and he travels outside the area to seek out good competition,” Gouverneur coach Joel Baer said.  “He’s a very tough kid who will contend to place at states again.”

Nathan Marshall (Massena) would be a threat to make an impact in the postseason after his 29-3 campaign at 106 pounds a year ago with two of his three losses to wrestlers that finished high in Albany (Division II’s fourth placer Dillon Stowell and 1-0 to Division I bronze medalist Krishna Sewkumar of Long Beach).  However, according to Massena coach Scott Perrine, Marshall is overseas this year, but is expected to return next year.

In the interim, Perrine believes good things can be expected from Canton’s Ryan Brown, who racked up a 25-9 record as an eighth grader at 99 pounds and made a trip to the state tournament.  Brown registered two victories over state qualifier Tanner Lapiene (after losing to Lapiene the first two times they met) and also had a solid victory over Josh Logiudice of Section 2.  Brown didn’t get his hand raised in Albany, but looks to do so as a freshman.  Another young wrestler to keep an eye on is Nolan Terrance of Massena, who also competed at the Times Union Center as a ninth grader at 285.  Perrine has high hopes for Terrance as well as his teammate Landon Laughlin, who the coach said is “looking really good” as the season approaches.

Team Race …

In 2012, Canton-Potsdam topped Massena in an eight-point race to win the Division I title.   While Canton returns a pair of champions in Ryan Brown and Codey Bond, the squad will miss other titlewinners such as EB Foote, Curtis Barney, Cody Dominique and Adam Widener.

The team that took second, Massena, looks poised to move into the top spot.  Four state qualifiers return to the lineup, including the aforementioned Isaiah Perry and Nolan Terrance as well as Skyler Cameron and Jeremy Malone.


Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

Fourth Place: Dillon Stowell (12) Gouverneur, 113 Pounds

Fifth Place: Zach Ayen (10) Gouverneur, 120 Pounds


Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Tanner Lapiene (8) Ogdensburg Free Academy

106 Pounds: Aaron Bush (10) Gouverneur

132 Pounds: Joey Love (11) Gouverneur

138 Pounds: Nathan Murdock (11) Ogdensburg Free Academy

152 Pounds: Curtis Fuller (12) Gouverneur

170 Pounds: Andrew Cole (12) Ogdensburg Free Academy

195 Pounds: Hunter Ayen (12) Gouverneur

285 Pounds: Nate Sarkin (12) Ogdensburg Free Academy

Seniors to Watch

Dillon Stowell (Gouverneur) – Stowell has been a regular on the podium in the postseason, taking spots in the top four the past three seasons, including two bronze finishes (at 96 pounds in 2010 and at 103 pounds in 2011).  He was fourth a year ago in a stacked 113-pound bracket in which he lost to a pair of state champions (Sean Peacock and William Koll) while defeating medalists such as Laken Cook and Austin Keough.  His 2012 finish came on the heels of a 43-5 campaign in which only six of his victories were by regular decision.  He will be expected to be All-State again but the question is whether he will top his career off with a state crown.

“I think Dillon has physically matured this summer,” said Gouverneur coach Joel Baer.  “He said his goal is to be at 113 again and that’s where he needs to be.  He’s seeking out good competition, going to the Journeymen tournament before the season.  His goal is to win the state title at 113 and I think he’ll be in the mix with a new crop of kids.”

Hunter Ayen, Courtesy of Kelly Ayen

Hunter Ayen (Gouverneur) – The upperweight posted a 33-9 mark in 2011-12, with several victories over New York qualifiers such as Adam Widener, Nathanael Rose, Jeremy Malone (twice) and Richard Sisti.  Seven of his losses came to wrestlers among the state’s best, including two to undefeated national champion Tony Lock (now at Buffalo), two to fourth place finisher Tyler Smith and one each to Empire State runner up Austyn Hayes, third place medalist Derrek Dalton and sixth place medalist Ben Perry. Ayen has demonstrated the ability to compete with and beat good talent and will try to join his brother Zach on the medal stand in 2013.

“We’re expecting big things from Hunter,” Baer said. “He may be back at 195 or he may move up to 220. He has great athleticism.  If he were to go up to 220, even if he was giving up some weight, he would be very quick and athletic.  Wherever he is, I think the podium is very realistic.”

Also Keep an Eye On …

Junior Zach Ayen of Gouverneur, who in his third trip to Albany in 2012, earned All-State honors after taking fifth at 120.   Ayen notched two pins during the state tournament after a season in which he had 22 additional falls in a 34-win season.  He is a threat to once again represent Section 10 on the podium, most likely up several weights.

“We expect another strong season from Zach,” Baer said. “He grew and hit the weight room and will probably be at 138.  Part of his success was from his strength and physical maturity. It will be an adjustment to a higher weight where he’ll still be able to ride good kids, but it will be much harder to turn them.  The potential is there to get on the podium again but there’s some work to do.”

Andrew Cole (Ogdensberg Free Academy) – Cole went 26-7 as a junior at 170 pounds, with 14 bonus point wins.  Both of his losses in Albany were by two points – the latter in overtime.  Baer believes he’s ready to take the next step in 2013.

“[Cole] has wrestled in a lot of offseason tournaments,” Baer said. “He was in some close matches at states.  He’s put a lot of work in and looks really good. I think he will be tough this year.”

Team Race . . .

Gouverneur ran away with the Division II crown in 2012 and will be the favorite again on the strength of several returning state qualifiers, including three standouts mentioned above – Stowell and the Ayen brothers.  They will be joined by Aaron Bush, Joey Love and Curtis Fuller.  Ogdensburg Free Academy looks to be the top challenger with four returners who wrestled in Albany last year – seniors Andrew Cole and Nate Sarkin, junior Nathan Murdock and eighth grader Tanner Lapiene. 

Special thanks to those who contributed to this article, especially Joel Baer and Scott Perrine.

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview


Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak


Section 5 Preview: More Than 10 All-State Wrestlers Return, Including 2012 Finalists Recco, Peacock, DePrez, Mazurowski and Bacon

Division I

Returning State Placewinners

Fifth Place: Bryan Lantry, Wayne, 99 Pounds

Second Place: Vincent Deprez, Hilton, 113 Pounds


Additional Returning Qualifiers

99 Pounds: Jon Haas, Spencerport

106 Pounds: Bryan Ruggeri, Fairport

106 Pounds: Barton Peters, Brockport

170 Pounds: Jared Mesiti, Brockport

195 Pounds: Colton Kells, Fairport

Seniors to Watch

Colton Kells (Fairport) – The Red Raiders crowned the first state champion in school history in 2012 when Josh Lackey took the 220-pound title.  Kells, a fellow Fairport upperweight, looks to make it two years in a row.  He came within one victory of making the medal stand as a junior as he won a pair of bouts in Albany.  His 35-8 campaign included a victory over bronze medalist Jake Kelly of Niagara Wheatfield and all but one of his losses came against wrestlers that have now graduated.

Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport) – Like his teammate Kells, Ruggeri made the trip to the state tournament. He had a difficult draw, losing to undefeated champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville and fourth place finisher Jimmy Overhiser of Corning.  However, he showed his ability in a 35-win season that included a win over All-State grappler Corey Hollister.  He’ll be looking for more in 2013.

Jared Mesiti (Brockport) – Mesiti went 36-9 at 170 pounds a year ago, making an appearance at the Times Union Center after winning the Section 5 title by a point over Jessi Kimmerli.  The victory was significant because the Spencerport grappler had defeated Mesiti the first three times they met in 2011-12.  (Kimmerli earned fifth in Albany). Now that he’s had a taste of the state tournament, Mesiti is looking to get his hand raised at the event as a senior.

Austin Coleman (Spencerport) – Coleman, the returning Section 5 runner up, had a number of quality wins at 285 a year ago, including over state silver medalist El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia, and looks to punch his ticket to Albany in 2013.  He’s favored to do just that as opposing coaches such as Brockport’s Mike Ferris believe he’s the wrestler to beat at heavyweight this season.


Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Vincent DePrez, Photo by BV

Vincent DePrez (Hilton) – Deprez had a nearly perfect season as a sophomore that ended just short of a state title.  He went 49-1 at 113 pounds, with his only setback coming on a takedown at the buzzer in the state championship bout against Dylan Realbuto of Somers.  He racked up a collection of impressive triumphs, including wins over Sean Peacock (Division II state champion) and additional placers Cody McGregor, Pat Skinner and Robert Person.  He will be up several weight classes but will be among the favorites to stand on top of the podium in late February.

Barton Peters (Brockport) – Peters is already a two-time Section 5 champion, including the 106 pound title in 2012.  During his 39-win sophomore campaign, he tallied several quality victories, including a pin against Fairport’s Bryan Ruggeri in the first period of the Section championship bout.

Lightweights Jonathan Haas (Spencerport) and Bryan Lantry (Wayne) know each other pretty well.  Two of the top 99-pounders in the state last season, they met three times in February.  Haas came out on top on the first two occasions, including in overtime in the SuperSectional final.  However, when they met in Albany, with a place on the podium on the line, Lantry (45-5) captured a 5-1 victory on his way to fifth.  Both will once again be in the running at the end of the year.


Although the following wrestlers didn’t take the mat at the state tournament last year, they will certainly be in the mix to do so this time around.

Anthony DePrez (Hilton) – As a tenth grader, he went 41-6 with three of his losses to state runner up Brady Baron.  The last of those defeats came by a slim 4-3 margin in the SuperSectional title bout.  DePrez had 11 pins and another 17 bonus wins.  Not to be outdone by his brothers Vincent and Anthony, Lou DePrez piled up 29 wins as a seventh grader at 106 and will another important part of the Hilton lineup.

Jacob Pincus (Pittsford) – Pincus took second at the SuperSectionals behind Angelo DeAngelis after a 35-4 campaign.  He registered 20 pins and defeated NHSCA All-American Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley.

Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua Academy) – Romeo took third in Section 5 to cap off a season in which he won 38 matches at 126 pounds, including 16 pins.  His bronze medal match victory at SuperSectionals came against Jacob Boice of Honeoye Falls-Lima, another wrestler to keep an eye on.  Boice had defeated Romeo multiple times earlier in the campaign.

Peter Armbruster (Webster Schroeder) – Armbruster was 40-9 in 2011-12, taking third place in Section 5 behind a pair of state qualifiers Jessi Kimmerli and Jared Mesiti.  He registered some solid wins, such as a victory over Josh Maier of Brockport, and looks to make an appearance in Albany.

Collin Pittman (Spencerport) – Like Armbruster, Pittman was a bronze medalist at the SuperSectionals behind two wrestlers that earned bids to the state capital – Colton Kells and Jesse Kozub.  After his successful junior season at 195 pounds, Pittman will look to make an impact not only in the Section but at the state level in the upperweights.


Youth Movement . . . 

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) – Diakomihalis captured trophy after trophy in the spring and summer as he won several events in various states, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions, the Empire Nationals and the NYWAY State championships. As a seventh grader, he went 35-3 with his losses coming to Haas (twice) and Lantry. Intermat currently has him pegged as the sixth best Junior High School wrestler in the nation.

He demonstrated yet again that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in New York this year at the Journeymen Classic at the beginning of October where he went undefeated and won his bracket in convincing fashion, including victories over Suffolk County’s Jesse Dellavecchia and All-American Tommy Aloi of Virginia. For an encore performance, he won the Middle School national crown at the Super 32 in October.

“He is the closest thing I’ve seen to a young Quinton Murphy,” said Section 5 Class Chairman and Byron-Bergen Athletic Director Rich Hannan.  “He’s really special. He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t care who he’s wrestling.  He just does his thing and stays composed.”

Parker Kropman (Penfield) – Kropman was another seventh grader who produced good results at 99 pounds, with more than 30 wins. He lost a one-point decision to state champion Tony Recco of Lyndonville and also dropped matches against Diakomihalis (twice) and state placer Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle.   He and brothers Skylar and Cooper will rack up many victories over the years for Penfield. Teammate Frankie Gissendanner will be in his first year of varsity eligibility and is a wrestler to keep tabs on.  He had a highly successful offseason, winning titles at just about every event he entered, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.


Team Race

“The team race will be more interesting than it’s been in years,” Hannan said.  “Brockport has been inching closer and closer to Spencerport each year.  Last year, the team race wasn’t locked up until somewhere close to 220 pounds and that was unusual.  Several teams will be fighting it out this year.”

Brockport coach Mike Ferris agrees that it will be an intriguing race in 2013, naming a number of squads he thinks can contend, such as Spencerport, Brockport, Hilton, Webster Schroeder, Penfield, Fairport and Pittsford.

“It’s always exciting to see how coaches prepare their teams for the final tournament of the year,” Ferris said.  “It seems that this year more than ever, any one of those teams has the ability to finish on top.  The team that finishes hot at the end of the season will prove to be Section 5’s best.”

Let’s take a look at some of those teams.

Spencerport, which finished fourth in the state polls last year, is of course a team that will be in the thick of things. The squad graduated a fair bit of firepower with state qualifiers Steve Maier, Angelo DeAngelis and Jessi Kimmerli moving on.  But Jon Haas, Austin Coleman and Collin Pittman will be back to form a strong core for the always-tough Rangers.

Brockport, eighth in the state a year ago, is in a similar situation, welcoming back Section 5 champions Mesiti, Peters and Class A Section champion Ryan Mattison, but losing a large group of solid competitors in Joe Carter, Jesse Kozub, Alex Love, Josh Maier, Mark Nesbitt, Owen Peters, Jimmy Porteus and CJ White.

“It is always difficult to say goodbye to a special group of seniors like we had last season,” Ferris said, mentioning that his squad sent a Division I team record of six athletes to the state tournament. “However, like every year, it is important to build off of the successes of past athletes to build the future. I am confident our team will be ready to go when it matters the most.”

As always the highly anticipated Brockport vs. Spencerport dual is circled on the calendar for Section 5 wrestling fans. January 24th will be sure to draw a crowd as the Blue Devils host the Rangers in what is typically a battle.

Don’t forget about Fairport. The team’s first-ever state champion Josh Lackey now suits up for North Carolina State and his classmates Dakota Taylor and Pat Van Bortle aren’t wearing Red Raider singlets anymore.  But James Arao, Zack Barker, Colton Kells, Andrew Pieri and Bryan Ruggeri will give Fairport a tough squad to beat.

“Fairport always finds ways to replace talent with young tough kids,” Ferris said. “I’m sure Coach Kohl has his Raiders ready to contend for an AA sectional title once again.”

Other teams that will make their mark include Penfield, which returns Keith Langdon, Parker Kropman, Skylar Kropman and Eric Harley and Hilton which offers a standout lightweight group of the three DePrez brothers (Vincent, Anthony and Lou) as well as Diakomihalis.

Pittsford will be in the mix despite the loss of state runner up Brady Baron with a core made up of Jeff Gould, Tyler Gross, Rob Klotz, Jacob Pincus and Tyler Schaefer.

And while Webster Schroeder said goodbye to Section 5 finalists Alec Dierna, Josh Reed, Andrew Wightman and Mike DeMarco, they are a team to keep tabs on as well, led by returning placers Armbruster and Rosario Venniro.

“Webster Schreoder lost a solid core of athletes but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coach Salvaggio competes for a AA championship again this year,” Ferris said. “He has some tough kids returning on his team.”


Division II

Returning State Placewinners

99 Pounds: Andrew Flanagan, Holley, Fourth Place

99 Pounds: Tony Recco, Lyndonville, State Champion

106 Pounds: Corey Hollister, Perry, Fifth Place

113 Pounds: Sean Peacock, Midlakes, State Champion

113 Pounds: Austin Keough, Warsaw, Sixth Place

170 Pounds: Burke Paddock, Warsaw, Third Place

182 Pounds: Tim Schaefer, Warsaw, Third Place

195 Pounds: Bryce Mazurowski, Avon, Second Place

195 Pounds: Tyler Smith, Midlakes, Fourth Place

220 Pounds: Zack Bacon, Hornell, Second Place

220 Pounds: Mike Silvis, Holley, Fifth Place


Additional Returning Qualifiers

106 Pounds: Matt Boyle, Batavia

126 Pounds: Jake Nicholson, Waterloo

132 Pounds: Clyde Carey, Addison

145 Pounds: Austin Hedges Letchworth

182 Pounds: Jeff Day, Letchworth


Some of the Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Section 5 was the big winner in Division II in Albany and although outstanding state champions Sam Recco, Quinton Murphy and Chris Nevinger have graduated, as have medalists such as Jeff O’Lena and Kacee Sauer, the Section still returns a host of qualifiers that will account for a large number of points again in February.  In fact, 16 wrestlers who represented the section in 2012 will be back.

Tony Recco, Photo by Boris V

Tony Recco made a tremendous debut at the state tournament, earning a championship to match the one his brother Sam (now at Edinboro), captured.  On his title run in Albany, Recco defeated fellow Section 5 star Andrew Flanagan, who also made All-State.

A few minutes after Tony Recco earned his title, Sean Peacock completed a 49-2 campaign with a crown of his own in one of the brackets most densely packed with former All-State grapplers.  One blemish on his record was a SuperSectionals finals loss to Austin Keough, who was sixth at the states.  Recco, Peacock and Keough will once again be threats to earn gold in 2013.

Bryce Mazurowski, Photo Boris V

A pair of upperweights also stepped on the mat for the Saturday night title bouts in Albany, with both Avon’s Bryce Mazurowski and Hornell’s Zack Bacon coming up just one match short of being state champions themselves.   Mazurowski racked up a 46-2 record a year ago (including a victory over Bacon up at 220) and may be the preseason favorite statewide.  To win the Section 5 crown, Mazurowski defeated Tyler Smith of Midlakes, who took fourth at the state tournament.  They could meet again during the season . . . or in Albany.

Bacon and Mike Silvis may be on a collision course to meet not only to determine the best in Section 5 but also the best in the Empire State. Bacon was dominant a year ago, with all but one of his victories by bonus points coming into the state tournament.  When they met in Albany, Silvis gave Bacon one of his toughest bouts in a 4-1 decision.  Look for some more battles, as according to Hannan, Silvis put in significant work in the offseason, including attending the 28-day J Robinson camp, and is getting serious looks from several Division I college programs.

Two other wrestlers looking to win it all this season are Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer and Burke Paddock.  The pair has combined to make the medal stand seven times, but neither has reached the top yet. Both hope to change that in 2013.


Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Here are some wrestlers who didn’t make the drive to wrestle in Albany last year, but have a solid chance to do so this year.


At 99 pounds, Hannan pointed to a pair of wrestlers who could break through this year, Tyler Hamsher of Wayland-Cohocton and Jason Charlette of Midlakes (34-13), the third and fourth place finishers at Supers.  They split a pair of close, late season matches.

“I think both Charlette and Hamsher will be very good,” Hannan said. “Hamsher lost a tight 3-1 match to [state champion] Tony Recco in the semis at the Supers.  I think both are right there at the state level if they’re back at 99.”

Another bonus name to remember over the next few seasons is Dane Heberlein.  The Alexander wrestler made the varsity squad last year as a seventh grader but didn’t meet the minimum weight requirement to compete. However, he has proven himself in a number of events around the country, including winning an NHSCA Middle School National championship in the spring. According to a number of coaches, Heberlein will be dangerous, especially once his weight is high enough.

In the 106/113 range, keep tabs on Matt Boyle of Batavia, who went 34-7 with 11 pins as a sophomore 106 pounder.  He dropped a 2-1 decision to state placer Corey Hollister and would like to join the Perry grappler in the Times Union Center in 2013.   In addition, don’t lose sight of Hunter Taylor of Byron Bergen, who captured 33 bouts as a freshman 113-pounder and took fourth at the SuperSectionals.  Interestingly, Taylor has wrestling in his family as he often watches his uncle, Tim Taylor compete in Greco Roman at high profile events.   Tim Taylor has been second on the Olympic ladder behind Dremiel Byers for a number of years.

While two familiar faces, Sam Recco and Jeff O’Lena, the top two finishers in the state a year ago, are no longer in high school, Section 5 will still be tough at 120 pounds. The top returner, Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, piled up 42 victories as a tenth grader, including wins over state medalists Zach Ayen of Gouverneur (by major) and Dakota Gardner of Fredonia. He faced a tough schedule, battling Recco and O’Lena twice each as well as Dylan Rifenburg.  That experience should help him as a junior.

At 126 pounds, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo came so close to going to Albany in 2012, losing by a point in triple overtime to state placer Dylan Rifenburg at 126 in the SuperSectionals.  In his 33-3 campaign, he lost only to state silver medalist Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Rifenburg twice (although he also beat Rifenburg) and recorded 21 pins.

“126 last year was a bag of rattlesnakes,” Hannan said. “I didn’t know who was going to come out of it.  Nicholson wrestled well and won it. He’s very athletic on the mat.”

Speaking of 126 pounds, two wrestlers to monitor this year are Jake Sepor of Pavilion and Derek Draper of York, although one or both may move up to 132.  Draper placed at the SuperSectionals in 2011, according to Hannan, and a top three finish in 2013 could result in a trip to Albany.  Draper has overcome some obstacles to get back on the mat and will be someone to cheer for in his final campaign.

“I’ll be very surprised if Sepor doesn’t make it to states this year.  He’s definitely good enough to do it,” Hannan said.  “As for Draper, he came up with the [Bobby and Alec] Diernas and Quinton Murphy and was right there as a young guy.  He’s had some serious medical issues and at times looks like a shell of his former self but you can still see the glimpses of really great wrestling. If he puts it together, he may be at states and that would be a gigantic victory.”

If either Sepor or Draper are at 132, they might face Addison’s Clyde Carey, who was one victory from placing in Albany last year.  A few things should be noted about that performance.  One, his losses were to eventual state champion Connor Lapresi in the first round and then to bronze finisher Tom Page of Eden by a 4-3 score.  Second, while many compete at less than 100% at the end of the campaign, Carey was far less than that.

“Clyde wrestled with a broken collarbone at the end of the year,” Hannan said. “You could see he was hurting in the semis and finals of the Supers, but he did what he had to do.  He gutted it out.  He actually wrestled well at states, but you’re not going to be able to get away with being that injured and still win at that level.  He doesn’t stop moving.  He’s technically very good.  He beat up on some kids in Section 5 that I thought were very good wrestlers. I’m excited to see what he can do when he’s healthy.”



Moving on to the middle and upperweights, Collin Fox of Midlakes is one to keep tabs on this year. The numbers were very good for Fox as he was 46-2 with 25 pins and a bronze medal at SuperSectionals a year ago.  He also defeated qualifier Austin Hedges of Letchworth and hopes to take a few steps forward in the postseason.

Austin Baker from Canisteo-Greenwood was 40-10 at 160 pounds with four losses to New York state medalists (champions Chris Nevinger and Ben Haas and third placer Hayden Wagner) and another four to now-graduated Corey Vail of Pioneer.  He defeated state qualifier Conner Fox of Midlakes and “will be very good” according to Hannan.

At 170 pounds, Nick Winkley, who took fourth at Supers last year is back, and another name to keep an eye on is a grappler who didn’t participate in the postseason after a 32-7 record — Byron Bergen’s Jon Levchuk.

“I think Jon could have been in the finals against Burke Paddock last year in the SuperSectionals if he had wrestled,” Hannan said. “He had a fantastic year and will make some noise this year, even possibly at the state level.”

Yet another upperweight who will be a breakout threat is Penn Yan’s John Martisch.  As a sophomore in 2011-12, Martisch went 43-6 with five of his losses to state placers (four to Tyler Smith and one, a 6-5 decision to Jesse Kozub).  He registered 32 pins along the way.

“He had Kozub on the ropes.  A call went Kozub’s way late in the match but Martisch had him beat.  He’s big and well put together and he can definitely wrestle,” Hannan said.  “Little mistakes cost him last year but if he cleans them up, he can be one of the top guys in the state, that’s for sure.  No one in the state knows his name, kind of like [current Binghamton wrestler] Tyler Deuel a few years ago.  We saw Deuel coming but he surprised a lot of people in New York.  Martisch is the same way and is even built like him.”


Team Race

Holley won the team title in 2012 for the first time since 2008, less than 10 points ahead of Midlakes and about 20 in front of Warsaw.   Each of those squads returns multiple SuperSectional placers, but Midlakes may be the preseason favorite, according to Hannan, as the Screaming Eagles bring back a large number of top performers.

State champion Sean Peacock and All-Stater Tyler Smith lead the charge for Midlakes while Collin Fox, Rafael MateoHammond Raes and Jason Charlette, who all finished in the top six at SuperSectionals, will put plenty of points on the board as well.  “I think Midlakes will be very tough to beat.  They have to be at the forefront because of what they did last year,” Hannan said.

Challenging for top billing will be Warsaw, which welcomes back Burke Paddock and Tim Schaefer who are among the best in New York as well as multiple-time state medalist Austin Keough and Colin Royce, who was fourth in the Section a year ago.  Of course, the return of Aaron Paddock strengthens the team on the mat and serves as an inspiration to wrestlers throughout the state and the country.  For our recent story on the Paddock family, see here.

Holley can’t be discounted in its bid to repeat despite the losses of four-time state champion Quinton Murphy and multiple-time All-Stater Kacee Sauer. Andrew Flanagan and Mike Silvis both made the podium at the Times Union Center and Nick Winkley is set to come back after a fourth place SuperSectional showing.

“Holley will be solid,” Hannan said. “No one in Section 5 reloads better than [head coach] John Grillo.  One year, they had seven seniors in the finals of the SuperSectionals and the next year, after all those guys graduated, they scored more points with a new team.   You can’t count Holley out.”

Also offering strong squads will be Canisteo-Greenwood as well as typically tough Palymra-Macedon. Byron Bergen has a solid group of returning starters such as Hunter Taylor, Jon Levchuk, Warren Oderkirk and Austin Yockel. “There’s a nice mix of veterans and a really good group of youth wrestlers at Byron Bergen,” Hannan said.  “The future looks pretty bright.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Mike Ferris and Rich Hannan.


More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview


Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak