Empire State Battles: What to Watch For as Cornell Travels to Hofstra and Columbia

Last weekend, two New York teams faced each other in a dual for the first time in 2013, with Hofstra easing past Columbia, 23-9.

On Saturday, a few more Empire State battles will take place as Cornell visits Long Island and New York City for meetings with Hofstra at 1 p.m. and Columbia at 6.  The Big Red wrestlers defeated the Pride and Lions by a combined score of 52-21 in 2012 and would clinch their 11th consecutive Ivy League championship with a victory against Columbia.

With the season winding toward March and every match important for postseason seeding and qualification, here are some things we’ll be following throughout the day:

Cornell vs. Hofstra

Ranked Rematches

125: Big Red freshman Nahshon Garrett, now ranked sixth in the country, began to receive national attention back in November after his 13-9 victory over Hofstra All-American Steve Bonanno in the finals of the New York State Intercollegiates.

The Cornell 125-pounder has continued his stellar campaign, with a 29-3 overall mark.  Meanwhile, Bonnano has compiled a 13-7 record against a challenging slate in which he’s faced seven of the nation’s top 20.  He has been on a recent six-bout winning streak. Both wrestlers are threats to make the podium.  How similar will the rematch be to the first meeting?

141: Mike Nevinger and Luke Vaith have both been ranked in the top 10 at times during this campaign. Nevinger still sits at #10 and has looked very sharp at times, including during his run to the Southern Scuffle championship.  Last weekend, however, he dropped a pair of matches against ranked opponents.  Vaith has won five of his last six.  When they met in Ithaca in November, the Cornellian came away with a 1-0 decision. Who will take this one?

Other Postseason Implications

There are a number of weights that feature grapplers fighting for NCAA consideration, with 157, 174 and 285 certainly fitting into that category.

Shanaman, Photo by BV

157: Jesse Shanaman was 30th in the first Coaches’ Panel Rankings. (Those rankings, which include the top 33 in the country, are one of the key components of the NCAA tournament selection criteria).  The former Blair Academy standout will face the Pride’s Tyler Banks, who has recently returned from an injury. Banks is looking to state his case for postseason consideration, a process he began last Sunday when he earned his third straight win by edging Columbia’s Jake O’Hara, a returning qualifier who has spent some of the campaign in the top 20.

285: Both the Pride’s Paul Snyder and the Big Red’s Stryker Lane made the cut in the first Coaches’ Panel Rankings at #25 and #27, respectively.  Both have solid records, which would be bolstered with a victory in the dual meet.  The two squared off in Hempstead in 2011, with Lane taking a 4-0 decision.

174: Jermaine John has started to turn some heads with his recent performances for Hofstra.  He defeated Rider’s James Brundage, who was in the first Coaches’ Panel Rankings, in mid January, and proceeded to win his next five contests.  That included an 8-1 victory over Columbia’s Stephen West, a wrestler who not only was ranked in the top 20 for a portion of the campaign, but who defeated John 6-0 early in the season.  On the Big Red side, the starting nod has gone back and forth between Marshall Peppelman and Duke Pickett.  Peppelman manned the weight two weeks ago while Pickett took over last weekend and notched a major decision against Oregon State.  With the season winding down, one will look to take control and work his way into the postseason picture.  With John trying to do the same, it should be an intriguing match.

Cornell had representatives in the Coaches’ Panel Rankings in all but two weights – the previously discussed 174, and 133.  The latter should be of interest in the dual as Hofstra’s Jamie Franco, a 2012 NCAA qualifier, is looking for a return trip.  He was 8-11 at the end of December but has begun to pick things up, with three consecutive triumphs.  A year ago, he got his hand raised against Cornell and he’ll look to keep his winning streak alive.


Cornell vs. Columbia

Villalonga, Photo by BV

Cornell’s quest for an 11th straight Ivy title is a major story here.  But beyond that, we’re looking forward to perhaps the marquee match between Steve Santos and Chris Villalonga at 149.  The two split a pair of close bouts last year, with the Columbia wrestler winning 2-0 in the dual meet and Villalonga responding with a 4-3 decision in the third place bout at the EIWAs.

Santos went on to make the Round of 12 at the NCAAs and has continued on a hot streak that has him ranked eighth in the Coaches’ Panel Rankings (Villalonga is 15th). There will also be implications for EIWA seeding, as Santos currently sits first in the conference while Villalonga is third.

Santos is one of the captains of the Lions this year.  His fellow team leaders, 157 pounder Jake O’Hara and 174 pounder Stephen West will also wrestle compelling matches on Saturday.

O'Hara, Photo by BV

157: As mentioned above, O’Hara was upset against Hofstra and looks to get back on track against Shanaman, another wrestler coming off a tough loss (against Oregon State’s RJ Pena last Sunday).

174: West’s setback against Hofstra’s Jermaine John snapped a five-match winning streak, but the California native still has a 17-5 record for the year and is on track for his first trip to the NCAAs.  Earlier in the year, West topped Peppelman 6-1.  How will he fare against Cornell this time around?

197: In the finals of the New York State Intercollegiates, Jace Bennett dominated Nick Mills on the way to an 8-0 victory.  In a prior round of that tournament, Mills defeated Cornell’s Billy George, 5-3.  It will be interesting to see either of those rematches.  Bennett appeared in the first Coaches’ Panel Rankings in the 24th spot, but it was George who represented the Big Red at this weight last weekend against Penn and Oregon State.  (Bennett did take the mat, but at heavyweight).

And finally . . .

Fans haven’t seen much of Kyle Dake during the conference schedule this year as he has pinned all four opponents with only one match going past the first period.  No matter how long he’s on the mat on Saturday, it will be a treat for spectators to watch one of the best ever in the sport compete in his last Ivy League dual before gearing up for his run at a fourth NCAA championship.



From Korea to Cornell: Syosset's Choi Earns Prestigious Scholarship to the Ivy League

When Dan Choi arrived in the United States, he didn’t know a word of English and he had never stepped on a wrestling mat.

That was just three years ago, but Choi has come a long way.

In a few months, the Syosset senior will head to Cornell University, where he will wrestle for one of the nation’s top teams and begin preparing for his future career, serving his new country.

“I’m very excited about Cornell,” he said. “There are all the things I want. I love math and science and there’s a very good physics major I will be in.  There is also a very good wrestling program and the ROTC.”

Choi said he was one of five recipients in the Northeast of the Navy ROTC Scholarship, which fully covers tuition.

“At Cornell, I’ll be trained as an officer and I’ll work for four years after graduation,” he said. “I would like to be trained for Navy Seals too.  I know it will be tough, but I’m excited about it.”

While Choi said he doesn’t have any connections to the military, he feels a desire to serve.

“I really want to give back to this country,” he said. “I have gotten a good education here that I couldn’t get back in Korea. Moving here changed my life.”

It sure did.

Other than the language barrier, which he said forced him to “look up almost every word” in his books when he first got to New York, he faced other challenges.  For one, he came all the way across the globe by himself.

“I live with a legal guardian, but not immediate family here,” he said.  “We don’t really know each other that well.  My mom is still working in Korea and we talk a few times a week.  But I haven’t seen her for two years.”

In order to make ends meet, Choi began working at a Subway restaurant, a job he still holds today.  But in addition to his time spent in food service and doing homework, he was seeking another extracurricular activity when he arrived.

“I started training in taekwondo when I was seven in Korea,” he said. “I am a black belt in taekwondo and judo.  During my sophomore year, I was looking for a sport and I heard wrestling was similar to judo.  So I asked if I could join.”

He did, but found that wrestling wasn’t that similar to judo after all.

“It was very difficult and very different,” he said. “My experience helped but I didn’t really know the rules for a while so it was hard.”

Despite that, Choi won more than 15 bouts and advanced to the Nassau County Tournament, where he lost his first match.  That summer, he went back to Korea and did some training there.  He also began to work with Vougar Oroudjov at Vougar’s Honors Wrestling.

“Wrestling in the offseason at Vougar’s really helped,” he said. “There are college wrestlers there and that helped me get much better.”

“Dan’s a good kid,” Oroudjov said. “He works at Subway to pay his bills and works very hard in wrestling and school.  He’s very strong physically and he has improved a lot in the past year.”

Courtesy of Dan Choi

The work paid off as Choi showed significant improvement as a junior, compiling a 42-8 record at 182 pounds with 21 falls.  He had more success in the postseason, earning bronze at the Section 8 Tournament.

“I wasn’t surprised that I was third in the county,” he said. “I actually expected more than that.  I was frustrated and disappointed.”

And he thought his season was over.

But shortly afterward, he found out that it wasn’t.  Although he was not originally granted a wildcard bid to the state tournament, an injury to another wrestler gave him a spot in the bracket.

Choi went 2-2 at the Times Union Center, losing to the fifth and sixth place finishers and coming within one victory of making the podium.  But despite the progress he had made in the sport, he wasn’t pleased.

“I was both nervous and excited to wrestle with the best in New York,” he said. “I felt lucky to be there. I wasn’t happy with how I wrestled. I didn’t wrestle the way I normally do. I was too nervous.”

While nerves played a role in his experience on the mat in the state capital, they didn’t come into play during the college selection process.

Choi applied early decision to Cornell and said he wasn’t really considering other schools.  In order to earn his scholarship, he had to interview with military officers.  He said he was much calmer than he was on the mat in Albany.

That calm has carried over to his senior campaign.  He has been an integral part of a banner year for Syosset, which has included the school’s first conference title in over 20 years. And he has enjoyed individual success as well.

Choi is 34-2 overall and all of his victories have been by bonus points. One of his losses came when he bumped up a weight to face one of Nassau’s top 220 pounders, Matt Mott of Lynbrook.  The other, a fall against Nick Weber of Kings Park in the finals at the Syosset Tournament, has stayed on the top of his mind.

“I took [Weber] down twice and was winning 4-2,” he said. “I was at the edge of the circle, close to out of bounds and kind of relaxed. He threw me and pinned me.  I would like to wrestle him again.”

Courtesy of Dan Choi

He was so disgusted that he left the second place medal he received behind when he exited the gym.

However, it was delivered back to him shortly afterwards.

“The father of one my teammates, Mr. Miller, knows my situation and has always helped me,” he said. “He picked up the award for me and told me I should keep it because it means something.  He told me to remember the feeling I had when I got it.”

Choi said he definitely remembers that feeling.  And it helps him as he pushes toward his goal of being a state champion this year.

Not too long ago, Dan Choi didn’t know the first thing about wrestling.  But to see him on the podium in a few weeks wouldn’t be that surprising.

What a difference three years can make.  The next chapter will begin at Cornell.


Dan Choi wished to thank the Syosset parents, especially Mr. Miller and Mr. Gewolb, as well as his Subway Manager Stephanie.

Brooklyn Tech Defeats Cardozo to Earn PSAL Dual Meet Championship

Photo courtesy of beat-the-streets.org

Brooklyn Tech captured the PSAL Dual Meet Championship on Tuesday night at FDR High School, topping Cardozo 52-14. It was the second title for the Engineers in the past three years.

For more information, see the recap on Gotham City Wrestling here and/or the Beat the Streets coverage here.


Sectional Singlets Are Allowed: NYSPHSAA Vote Reverses Decision

Sectional singlets are back.

It appeared that all wrestlers would wear their school colors at the state tournament in February for the first time in recent memory after the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee decided in May of 2012 to eliminate Sectional uniforms for all sports.

Today, that changed. According to NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas, a 12-10 Committee vote dictated that Sectional uniforms will be allowed in all individual state championship sports “as long as no cost is incurred by the student, school or Section*.” In addition, he emphasized that the ruling means that Sectional singlets are permitted, but are not required.

The close vote was preceded by what Zayas called “a high quality discussion” which touched on a number of topics, including cost, tradition and the spectator experience at state championship events.  In addition, there was talk about the need, particularly in wrestling, for a referee to be able to quickly identify what Sections the wrestlers are from to see whether he can officiate the match.

“I think all the different aspects of the uniform decision were discussed and everyone truly understood all the issues involved,” Zayas said. “In the end, it was a very close vote.  I think it’s a vote that will be received very positively by the wrestling community.  I enjoyed seeing the passion in New York for wrestling and the strength and interest of the wrestling community.”

That strength and interest was demonstrated by the petition started in December by Tim Herman, the Editor of armdrag.com.  Discussions of that petition can be found here and here.  Ultimately, close to 1300 people signed the online document.

“When I heard the uniform issue was back on the table, I knew that there was a good chance it’d be overturned,” Herman said. “I’m not sure if the petition had anything to do with it, but it certainly spread like wildfire and must’ve turned some heads.  Thanks to a passionate wrestling community, we reached 1,000 signatures within a few days. Not long after, rumors of a revote began to circulate. I’m optimistic that all Sections will find a way to provide their wrestlers singlets, but we’ll have to wait and see. I realize that money is an issue for some, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Some Sections already have a solution in place where cost is not an issue. Let’s hope others will follow suit and that we’re not revisiting this issue year after year.”

Whether the Sections decide to wear their traditional state tournament uniforms or have their wrestlers compete in their school singlets remains to be seen.  But on Tuesday, a number of wrestlers expressed excitement about the outcome of the NYSPHSAA meeting.

“It was disappointing to everyone [when the decision was announced] because wearing that Sectional singlet and getting that Sectional gear is something that everyone looks forward to,” said returning state champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.  “It’s really exciting now.”

“It means a lot to me to represent Section 4,” added Johnson City junior Reggie Williams, the top ranked 195-pounder in the state, echoing the sentiments of several others. “Anyone can wear a school singlet but wearing the Sectional singlet means a lot more. I was really upset when I heard we wouldn’t be able to wear the Section singlets and I’m really happy that changed.”



* When asked about the cost stipulation mentioned above, Zayas said that there would likely be some questions or discussion on what is and isn’t permissible.

Sunday's College Recap: Hofstra Beats Columbia; Army 1-1 Against Ivy Foes; Oregon St. Tops Cornell

After beating American on Friday night, Hofstra made it a 2-0 weekend with a convincing 23-9 triumph in an all-New York meeting with Columbia.  Both Jake O’Hara (157) and Stephen West (174) have been in the national rankings for much of the season for the Lions. However, both were upset on Sunday by the Pride’s Tyler Banks and Jermaine John, respectively. Also picking up wins for the Pride were Steve Bonanno (125), Jamie Franco (133), Tim Murphy (197), Luke Vaith (141) and Paul Snyder (285). Vaith and Snyder’s victories were by major decision.

For more on Hofstra’s win, see here.

Oregon State Tops Cornell in Battle of Nationally Ranked Teams

Oregon State traveled a long way for a pair of duals this weekend, and came away with two wins.  The Beavers defeated Lehigh on Saturday and then topped Cornell on Sunday in Ithaca.

The Big Red got off to a great start when freshman Nahshon Garrett notched a technical fall at 125 pounds to give his squad a 5-0 advantage.  However, the visiting team responded with victories in the next four bouts, including two majors, to take a 14-5 lead into the break.

However, the Ivy League group bounced back with three straight bonus victories, beginning with Kyle Dake‘s technical fall at 165 pounds.  Duke Pickett followed with a major at 174 and Steve Bosak earned a fall at 184 to move Cornell ahead, 20-14.

In a pivotal match at 197, #8 Taylor Meeks of the Beavers rode a third period takedown to a 3-1 victory over Billy George, cutting the Big Red’s lead to 20-17.  Given the tiebreak criteria, Cornell needed a bonus point win at heavyweight against #4 Chad Hanke to take the dual.

The home team sent out 197-pounder Jace Bennett, who has 17 bonus wins this season, to face Hanke.  The Texas native got off to a 2-0 lead, however, the Oregon State 285-pounder picked up a third period pin in a scramble to give his team the 23-20 triumph.

For more on the dual, see here.


Army Splits a Pair With Ivy Foes

Army welcomed two Ivy League opponents to West Point on Sunday.  Harvard won six of the 10 matches in the opening dual to notch a 23-16 victory.  In the second meet of the day, the Black Knights responded with a 29-9 win over Brown.  Picking up two wins during the day for head coach Joe Heskett’s squad were 133-pounder Jordan Thome (two pins), 165-pounder Paul Hancock and 174-pounder Coleman Gracey.

For more on Army’s victory, see here.


Weekend Recap: Titles for Wantagh, Johnson City and S. Jefferson; Mayor's Cup and More News and Notes from Around the State

As the postseason draws closer, the action continues to heat up.  Over the past few days, fans were treated to previews of some of the key matchups we’ll see at state qualifiers in the coming weeks.  We also saw teams like Wantagh, Johnson City and South Jefferson pick up additional trophies, as well as a plethora of other results.  Here are some of the highlights (and more may be added):

  • Wantagh, the Empire State’s top-ranked squad, followed up titles at the Union-Endicott Duals and the Eastern States Classic with the Nassau County Dual Championship at Clarke High School on Saturday. The Warriors ended a dominant four match run with a 45-16 result in the championship match against MacArthur.


  • South Jefferson and Johnson City followed up dual meet crowns in Sections 3 and 4 with additional first place showings at the Frontier League and STAC tournaments, respectively.  Nearby, Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton stood atop the MAC while Holland Patent did the same at the Center States and Phoenix won the Liberty/Patriot League.


  • The Mayor’s Cup in Manhattan showcased the best the five boroughs has to offer.  State contenders such as Sam Melikian, Cheick Ndiaye, Andrew Psomas and Richard Sisti were overpowering champions, while Monsignor Farrell captured the team race.


  • West Seneca West edged Kenmore West at the Ken-Ton Invitational, where Renaldo-Rodriguez Spencer of Cheektowoga was once again dominant in taking the title.  Also in Section 6, Lewiston Porter won the Peter Rao Memorial Tournament with 138-pounder Dan Reagan notching MOW honors at 138 pounds.


  • At the Rockland County Championships, John Muldoon of Pearl River responded to his recent overtime loss to Anthony Calvano by taking the rematch.  A number of other Section 1 stars were on display at that event as well as the Super 16 tournament in Yonkers, where Fox Lane took top billing.


  • John Arceri of Huntington upended Eastern States Champion Chris Cuccolo to take the 99-pound crown at the Big Ten Invitational in Albany over the weekend. More details on that tournament which had representation from Sections 1, 2, 7, 9, 11 and from Massachusetts.  The final results are here:  Big 10 Results


  • It’s worth noting that Westhampton Beach captured a league title over the weekend with a win over Shoreham Wading River in Section 11. A few days earlier, the Hurricanes put themselves in position for the championship when they topped the state’s third-ranked dual team, Rocky Point, 31-28.  In addition to a pin by the state’s top ranked 106 pounder, Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach was propelled by a pair of upsets. Jake Martin upended Sean Ferguson at 220 while Pete Broccoli‘s victory over James Matias sealed the victory for the Hurricanes.  Both Ferguson and Matias are ranked in Suffolk County.


  • In addition, Brockport ended a big week with a 71-15 win over Lansing on the campus of Cornell University. According to head coach Mike Ferris, 113-pounder Barton Peters had a standout performance with a technical fall at 113 while Bobcats junior William Koll also was impressive at 126.  The triumph in Ithaca came a few days after the Blue Devils recorded their first victory over rival Spencerport in 28 years to seal a league title.

For more on some of these stories, read on:

Another Title for Wantagh . . .

Quinn, Photo by Josh Conklin

Wantagh has continued to win week in and week out.  The state’s top-ranked squad captured the Union-Endicott Duals, the team title at the Eastern States Classic and, on Saturday, the Nassau County dual championship.  The Warriors cruised through the event, beginning with a 51-18 pounding of Island Trees.  They followed with a 57-12 win over Division, a 50-18 semifinal result against Mepham and a 45-16 triumph in the finals against MacArthur.  Leading the way were wrestlers ranked among the top 8 in the state –  Danny McDevitt (170), Chris Araoz (126), Vinny Turano (132), Kyle Quinn (106) and James Corbett (182), who combined for eight pins and eight technical falls.

Johnson City Picks Up More Hardware

Williams, Photo by Josh Conklin

Johnson City followed up last weekend’s Section 4 Duals title with another crown – this time at the STAC.  The Wildcats piled up 232.5 points to outdistance runner up Vestal and third place squad Union-Endicott. Johnson City was propelled by four champions (Isaiah Colgan at 106, Joseph Hamdan at 145, Zach Colgan at 152 and Reggie Williams at 195) as well as silver medalists Tyler Brazinski (99), Nick Bidwell (138), Conner Halladay (160) and Dominic Taylor (170).

Vestal’s run was highlighted by 182-pound champion James Benjamin, a returning All-State wrestler who won his title by fall in less than 30 seconds.

Benjamin will be in the mix in Albany for another spot on the podium.  Also prominently figuring into the title picture at the Times Union Center will be two-time state champion Kyle Kelly.  The Chenango Forks star earned a pin in the 113-pound finals against returning state placer Jimmy Overhiser of Corning, who bumped up from his usual weight. Another clash of contenders happened at 126 pounds, where Kelly’s teammate Jake Green edged Ithaca’s Richie Burke, 3-2 in the tiebreakers.  Former state champion Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich also earned gold with a technical fall at 132 pounds.

For more results, see STAC here.

Also in Section 4 . . . BGA Takes the MAC

Also in Section 4, Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton won the MAC tournament at Unadilla Valley.  Leading the way for BGA were a trio of titlewinners, Jesse Griswold (132), Justin Cirigliano (138) and Mark Viviano (195).  Second place Unatego was very strong in the middleweights, boasting winners in three consecutive classes – Codie Nichols (145), Kevin Thayer (152) and Leland Slawson (160).

For more results, see here.

South Jefferson Keeps the Momentum Going

South Jefferson and General Brown have seen a lot of each other lately.  The Spartans won a regular season dual against the Lions and then defeated them again for the Section 3 dual meet title a few days later.  On Saturday, South Jefferson added another trophy with the Frontier League championship, won by over 30 points over General Brown.

Jared Carroll (99), Caleb Beach (106), Jon Crast (132), Daniel Smith (170) and Ryan Charlebois (195) took gold for South Jefferson while Nick Toutant of Indian River was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after defeating Ryan Snow for the 126 pound crown.

For more results, see here.

Also in Section 3 . . . Holland Patent and Phoenix Victorious

At the Center States tournament, the top three teams finished within seven points of one another, with Holland Patent taking first, followed by Dolgeville and Canastota.  The top squad featured a pair of champions – Hunter Richard at 113 and Josh Langley at 220.

The state’s top ranked 182-pounder, Zach Zupan of Canastota, breezed to the championship with a pin, while his teammates Jesse Puchales (170) and Wyatt Albanese (195) also won titles.

In matches featuring wrestlers who could figure into the picture at the Times Union Center, Ilion’s Laken Cook picked up a 3-1 decision over Rome Free Academy’s Antonio DeLuco at 126 pounds. In addition, highly regarded 99-pounder Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack won a 2-0 battle against New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna while his teammates Derek Spann (106) and Tyler Spann (160) were named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestlers.  In a bout between previous state qualifiers, Tyler Spann edged Oneida’s Matt Fisher.

In the Liberty/Patriot tournament, Phoenix was first by a margin of more than 25 points. Nick Tighe dominated his way to the 138 pound crown while teammates Rowdy Prior (152) and Justin Rhodes (160) joined him on top of the podium.

For more results, see Center States and Liberty/Patriot.

West Seneca West, Rodriguez-Spencer Shine at the Ken Ton Tournament

The Ken-Ton Invitational included some of the best in Section 6, including Cheektowoga’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer.  The returning state runner up cruised through the competition at 132 pounds, including a technical fall, a first period pin and a 15-6 major over All-State grappler Cody McGregor of Tonawanda.  West Seneca West was the 7.5 point winner of the event over second place Kenmore West.

For more on the event, see here.

Reagan, Photo by BV

A number of other standouts from the same area took part in the Peter Rao Memorial.  Lewiston Porter grabbed top billing, with Lockport next.  Lew Port’s Dan Reagan earned MOW honors after two pins and a major on his way to the 138 pound title.  Other notable winners included Lockport’s Anthony Orefice, an All-Stater who stood atop the podium at 120 pounds.



 Rockland County Championships and Super 16 Feature Section 1 Standouts

Muldoon, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 1, a pair of tough tournaments took place over the weekend – the Rockland County Championships and the Super 16. Among the finals bouts that stood out at the RCCs was the 120 pound contest between Pearl River’s John Muldoon and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano.  Muldoon avenged a recent overtime loss to Calvano with a convincing victory.  Just to reach the title bout, the Pearl River wrestler had to beat the very tough Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland.  Another intriguing contest took place at 138 pounds where Benderoth’s teammate Matt Caputo topped Colby Kash, 9-2.

Among the champions at the Super 16 tournament were multi-time state placer Drew Longo of Ardsley (138) and Yorktown’s Thomas Murray (182), who has had a very strong season.

For an in depth look at these events, see here.


 Who is the Best in the City? Mayor’s Cup Results

Who is the best in the City?  That question was answered this weekend as the best from the five boroughs gathered at the Armory in Manhattan for the Mayor’s Cup.

Monsignor Farrell was the overall winner with 225 points, with Brooklyn Tech second (212 points) and Poly Prep third (168).

Farrell’s victory was fueled by dominant performances from a number of champions.  At 160 pounds, Andrew Psomas earned a pin or a technical fall in all five of his bouts on the path to the title.  Similarly, teammates Richard Sisti (220) and Matt Roberts (182) won by bonus points in all but one of their matches on the way to first place. The final gold medalist for Farrell was 138-pounder Karl Weisner, who topped teammate Blaise Rufo, 7-4, in the championship tilt.

Brooklyn Tech was paced by upperweights Shaquille Williams and Kevin Tynes. Williams defeated Quasar Hampton 1-0 but otherwise stuck all of his opponents at heavyweight while Tynes recorded a trio of falls in addition to his 3-1 title victory at 195.

Melikian, Photo by Josh Conklin

Poly Prep’s Noah Malamut put on an impressive show, pinning his way to the top of the 106-pound podium.  Also demonstrating complete control were a number of wrestlers who competed in Albany last season.  These included returning state runner up Cheick Ndiaye of Brooklyn International at 113, Sam Melikian of Fordham Prep at 132 and Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy at 145.  A highly anticipated showdown between Tottenville’s Santo Curatolo and Grand Street’s Keanu Thompson didn’t come to fruition in the 126 pound final as Curatolo got the win by default.

For the full results, see here.

In the female competition, Curtis had champions in three consecutive weights – Leslie Schoberl at 120, Rosemary Flores at 126 and Shannon Henry at 132.

For the results of the girls competition, see here.

To report results, e-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com

Cornell Extends Winning Streak Against Penn; Columbia Tops American in Saturday College Action

Cornell continued its decade-long winning streak in the Ivy League as the Big Red topped rival Penn 24-9 at the Friedman Center on Saturday afternoon. Rob Koll’s squad captured seven of the 10 bouts, including Kyle Dake‘s 11th pin of the season at 165 pounds. Freshman Nahshon Garrett set the tone for the day when he edged fellow top 20 wrestler Mark Rappo 2-1 to begin the meet.

For more on the Big Red’s victory see here.

Columbia Registers Win Over American

American dropped a dual to a New York squad for the second straight day on Saturday. After facing Hofstra on Friday, the Eagles visited Columbia in New York City and the Lions came out on top 24-13.  The Ivy League squad was fueled by bonus points. Nick Mills recorded a pin at 197 while Josh Houldsworth (165), Stephen West (174) and Jake O’Hara (157) all notched major decisions.

For more on Columbia’s victory see here.

Buffalo Drops MAC Contest

Buffalo faced conference foe Ohio on Saturday evening and lost a 26-13 contest. Picking up victories for the Bulls were Max Soria at 125, Erik Galloway at 141, Blake Ruolo at 149 and Mark Lewandowski at 165.

Who Is The Best in the City? 2013 Mayor's Cup Preview

By Matt Diano

This weekend, the finest talent from the PSAL, CHSAA, and NYS Private League with ties to the five boroughs will again gather into the Harlem Armory for the ultimate battle of bragging rights known as the Mayor’s Cup.  A celebration of the immense skill that not so long ago remained untapped, the Mayor’s Cup is the singular event where a student-athlete earns the right to call himself the King of the Apple.  Slated to begin Saturday morning at 9 a.m., this year’s edition of the premier wrestling tournament in the world’s most famous city will feature as deep a field as any in years past.  Led by six defending champions, seven returning runners-up, and a multitude of placewinners from last season, if there is one certainty, it is that no one is going to have an easy route to the hardware.  Then again, with 500 of the best-of-the-best under one roof year-in and year-out, is there ever an easy path to Title Town? I think not!

99 Pounds

Martorello, Courtesy of gothamcitywrestling.com

A 3rd place finisher at the 2012 Mayor’s Cup, losing only to the eventual champion, Josh Antoine (formerly of Grand Street Campus; currently attending Edinboro University), Fordham Prep sophomore Chris Martorello will enter this year’s festivities among the favorites to go all the way in the lightest of all the weight classes. A bronze medalist at the 2012 Catholic State Tournament last season at this same weight, there has been no jinx for the Ram student-athlete thus far in 2013 as he has won 20+ matches, placing in the top-4 of the Shoreline Invitational, as well as just missing finishing in the top-8 at the Eastern States Classic a few weeks ago, falling one victory short.  Last weekend, Martorello went 4-1 at the CHSAA Duals, scoring bonus points in all of his victories, and with his only loss coming at the hands of St. Joseph Collegiate’s Garrett Baugher, a wrestler who many are projecting to make the podium at the NYS DI tournament next month in Albany.

Another returning placewinner from last season who figures prominently again in 2013 is Petrides junior Dolan McColgan, the defending PSAL DII Champion who finished 5th in 2012 at the Armory.  Sporting a 29-1 record thus far this season, McColgan will be considered a heavy favorite to head back to the state capital where he hopes to improve upon the 1-2 record he posted in his first trip to the Times Union Center.  With the small school division not offering much of a challenge to the Staten Island product, Saturday/Sunday might represent the true test of where he stands.

Also back to contend for gold in 2013 will be the wrestler that McColgan pinned in 5th place bout, fellow Staten Islander Malik Grant of Curtis.  A third place finisher at the 2012 PSAL Large School tournament as a freshman in 2012, Grant takes to the mat this weekend as the #1 ranked wrestler at 106 in the PSAL DI rankings per Gotham City.  Dropping down to 99, Grant’s 25-2 record makes him one to watch.

Representing the youth movement will be 8th-grader John Luke DeStefano, of Poly Prep.  A product of the Farrell Lions Club that has produced countless champions at the Mayor’s Cup, despite his youthful age, DeStefano has had an immediate impact at the Brooklyn-based school.  Placing in just about every tournament he has entered this season, the 3x Beat-the-Streets Youth Champion has compiled a 21-7 overall record.  He is expected to be the top-seed at the NYS Private School Championship tournament as he seeks the first of a potential five private school titles in his scholastic career.  While seeds have not yet been determined, it should be noted that if they were to meet in the semifinal round, McColgan did pin DeStefano in the 5th place match of the 2012 PSAL Holiday Tournament, held at Madison Square Garden.

Finally, one can never overlook Patrick Aguda of Towsend Harris.  A senior who has mustered a 10-2 overall record thus far in 2012/2013, Aguda just missed placing last season at the PSAL DI tournament at 106 pounds, falling a single victory short of the podium.  An 8th place finisher at the Mayor’s Cup at the higher weight class in 2012, one can expect that Aguda might enjoy a size advantage over his foes.  He finished 2nd at the Goddard Tournament this season, proving that he is capable of hanging with the upper tier of guys in the five boroughs.


A Mayor’s Cup runner-up last season at 99 pounds, Poly Prep‘s Noah Malamut has been a juggernaut during his junior campaign, winning just about everything he has entered, including the title at the 2012 PSAL Holiday Tournament. The owner of a 21-1 record in 2012-2013, Malamut is looking more and more like a surefire bet to win his second straight Private School title. Last season, despite giving away nearly seven pounds to his foes, Malamut managed to win two matches at the National Prep Tournament, a very impressive accomplishment when you consider the caliber of opponents he was facing.

The wrestler who many expect to be opposite Malamut in the finals is returning 106-pound PSAL DI runner-up, Bohang Liu of Towsend Harris. Going 2-2 at this tournament last year as a junior, after finishing 6th as a sophomore in 2011, Liu brings a wealth of maturity and experience to the mat with him this weekend. He has fared pretty well in his scholastic swan song, compiling a 17-3 record this season, including finishing in the top 6 of the Long Beach Tournament on talent-rich Long Island. Gotham City has Liu ranked as the #1 wrestler at 113 pounds.

Also looking to add another bullet point to his resume after finishing as a PSAL DI runner-up last season (at 99) will be Long Island City junior Oscar Estudillo. Carrying a 14-4 record into the weekend, Estudillo has proven how dangerous he can be when he also finished high at the Long Beach Tournament, taking 5th against some of Nassau and Suffolk’s top dogs. 2013 will mark the first time that Estudillo will be competing at the Mayor’s Cup as in years past, his school has only sent a handful of participants.

The pattern of returning PSAL runners-up continues with Brooklyn International’s Alpha Diallo. A wrestler who selflessly wrestled up at 113 last season, Diallo could have very well been a returning DII City Champion at 106 if not for the presence of his teammate, 2012 NYS DII runner-up, Cheick Ndiaye, occupying the starting spot. Now, having flip flopped weights, putting the senior from Brooklyn at a more natural class, Diallo entered 2012-2013 as the favorite to win his first City title in his final attempt. He has not disappointed, posting a 14-7 record, winning the Wingate Tournament and finishing 5th at the PSAL Holiday Tournament among other feats. In his only previous appearance at the Mayor’s Cup, Diallo went 0-2 in 2011.

Joseph Donohue will be looking to make his introduction to the Mayor’s Cup tradition an impressive one.  The freshman from Xaverian has posted a 17-3 record in his rookie season, winning the Goddard Tournament and placing 2nd to Diallo at the Wingate Tournament.  Aguda is ranked #4 in this weight class in the latest GCW polls.

To read the previews for the rest of the weight classes, see the original article here on Gotham City wrestling.

Hofstra Tops American; Vinson Becomes All-Time Wins Leader in Binghamton Loss to Old Dominion

CAA teams Hofstra and Binghamton both took the mat on Friday night after winning two of three duals last weekend in Virginia. The Pride defeated American at home, 21-9. After dropping two of the first three matches against the Eagles, Hofstra responded with five consecutive victories, beginning with a decision by Tim Murphy at 197.

Meanwhile, Binghamton lost a 21-18 dual at conference rival Old Dominion.  The Bearcats trailed 21-6 after six bouts but mounted a comeback, winning the last four matches.

One of the highlights for the Bearcats came in the 149-pound match when senior Donnie Vinson pinned Brennan Brumley. The victory for Vinson was the 124th of his career, making him Binghamton’s all-time wins leader.

Hofstra 21 American 9

165: Phillip Barreiro (American) dec Nick Terdick (Hofstra), 7-5
174: Jermaine John (Hofstra) dec Keithan Cast (American), 8-3
184: Thomas Barreiro (American) dec Victor Pozsonyi (Hofstra), 4-1
197: Tim Murphy (Hofstra) dec Devon Bradley (American), 6-3
285: Paul Snyder (Hofstra) dec Blake Herrin (American), 3-1 SV
125: Steve Bonnano (Hofstra) dec David Terao (American), 13-6
133: Jamie Franco (Hofstra) dec Esteban Gomez-Rivera (American), 2-0
141: Luke Vaith (Hofstra) dec John Boyle (American), 6-1
149: Kevin Tao (American) dec Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra), 7-4
157: Tyler Banks (Hofstra) dec Mark Cirello (American), 3-1

Old Dominion 21 Binghamton 18

125: Rob Deutsch (ODU) tech fall Mike Sardo (Binghamton)
133: Scott Festejo (ODU) dec Derek Steeley (Binghamton), 6-4
141: Justin LaValle (ODU) maj Dan Riggi (Binghamton), 10-0
149: Donnie Vinson (Binghamton) pin Brennan Brumley (ODU)
157: John Nicholson (ODU) pin Jack McKeever (Binghamton)
165: Brett Miller (ODU) dec Vincent Grella (Binghamton), 4-3
174: John Paris (Binghamton) dec Marcus Johnson (ODU), 4-2
184: Cody Reed (Binghamton) dec Austin Coburn (ODU), 5-3 SV
197: Nate Schiedel (Binghamton) dec Jacob Henderson (ODU), 4-1
285: Tyler Deuel (Binghamton) dec Matt Tourdot (ODU), 11-5


Necessary Toughness: Three-Sport Star Colton Kells Leads Fairport to First-Ever County Title

No matter what time of year it is, you’ll find Fairport’s Colton Kells immersed in a contact sport . . .  (or two, or even three).

“Colton is always passionately doing something athletic,” said head wrestling coach Michael Kohl. “He loves sports, especially those of a physical nature. He just loves to lift and work out and especially to compete.”

An All-State linebacker this fall on the gridiron, Kells also suits up for the school’s rugby team in the spring.  And of course, the senior is a standout on the mat where he is currently ranked third in New York after an undefeated start to the 2012-13 campaign.

Courtesy of Colton Kells

Kells said that to “stay sharp”, he does some work in all three sports year round.  And for good measure, he adds some additional exercise to his regimen through his work at a local greenhouse, doing things like moving the plants, and through his summer job which involved lifting furniture.

Of all his endeavors, Kells didn’t hesitate when asked what he found most physically demanding.

“Wrestling is definitely the most intense,” he said. “There are four quarters of football and 80 minutes of rugby but the six minutes in a wrestling match are the toughest.”

So far in his senior season, Kells hasn’t had to wrestle the full six minutes very often.  Only eight of his first 38 matches went the distance.

However, last weekend, he was on the mat even longer than three periods in a contest that was significant for a number of reasons.

In the title bout of the Monroe County championships, Kells took on Spencerport’s Collin Pittman, a wrestler he defeated several times last year and 5-1 earlier this season.  After knotting the score late in the third period on a stalling point, the Fairport grappler got the 5-3 victory on a takedown in overtime.

“Colton stayed focused throughout the match and kept hustling,” Kohl said. “He was rewarded for his hustle and ultimately found a way to win.”

“[Pittman] has improved a lot over the past year,” Kells added. “You can see each of our matches gets closer and closer if you look at the scores. In [overtime], he shot in, I sprawled and I ended up on top after we scrambled for a little bit. It was a very physical match; the closest one we’ve had so far.”

It didn’t just mean a championship for Kells. It also was the 100th victory of his career.

“Once I realized I was getting close [to 100 wins], I started keeping track,” he said. “I knew going into the weekend that the finals could be my 100th win and I thought it would be cool to get it there.”

Hitting the century mark wasn’t the only reason the weekend was special, however. Kells was an important contributor to his team’s first-ever county championship, breaking the hold that Spencerport had on the title for more than 20 years.

“It meant a lot and it was great to do our senior year,” Kells said. “We’ve been together for years, working hard together.  We felt pretty confident coming in that we could win but you never know what will happen with a lot of tough teams there.”

“It was very exciting for us,” Kohl added. “It was a compilation of a lot of hard work and I know the boys take a lot of pride in the way they performed and that they were the first to win the county for our school.”

New achievements have been piling up for the Red Raiders. A year ago, Josh Lackey, now a freshman at North Carolina State, became Fairport’s first individual state champion when he put together an unbeaten campaign to capture the 220-pound crown in Albany.  Lackey said in an interview last summer that he hoped his showing would lead to more future championships for Fairport.

“Watching him win was actually a great inspiration for me,” Kells said. “We worked out most of last year.  We were drill partners; we lifted together.  Josh was great to work with. He never lets up.  He never stops pushing forward. It was amazing to see him win the title and it inspired me.”

The truth is, Kells wasn’t too far from joining Lackey on the medal stand last year. After dropping a number of matches to All-State wrestler Jesse Kozub as a sophomore and early in his junior campaign, Kells broke through and defeated the Brockport wrestler at the county tournament in 2012, a win that gave him a boost going into the latter stages of the season.

“Jesse had placed in the state the previous year and I knew after beating him that I could go with anyone.  It gave me a lot of confidence.”

Kohl agreed.

“I thought that was the turning point last season for Colton,” Kohl said. “I think he realized that he could wrestle with the elite kids.  He realized that there wasn’t a question of whether he was capable or not, it was all about how he performed.”

He performed well enough in his first trip to state tournament to win a pair of matches and come within one victory of making the podium.

And after he was finished competing, Kells took the floor at the Times Union Center to help Lackey warm up and prepare for his finals bout with Max Antone of Niagara Wheatfield.

It’s a place Kells hopes to visit again on February 23, 2013.  And the two-time captain is doing all the right things to get there, according to his coach.

“He’s not a flashy kid – he does everything the old fashioned way, through hard work and determination.  He’s extremely disciplined and does all the extra things. Kids like him, when you ask them to jump, they ask how high? If you asked him to run through a wall, he would.  He has that determined look in his eye this year and very high expectations for himself.”

Those expectations for success at the highest levels in New York won’t end in February.

“A couple days after states, I’ll be back in rugby,” he said. “We made it to the state finals the last two years and won once.  Hopefully we can get back there again and win.”

After all, every season is sports season for Kells.  Pity the obstacles in his way.