Another February, Another Title: Nassau's James Dekrone Wins National Championship at 141 Pounds

Every wrestler hopes to be in peak physical condition as the postseason approaches.

But for Nassau Community College’s James Dekrone, not feeling well contributed to his National Championship performance last weekend in Iowa.

The former John Glenn High School standout spent the majority of the year at 149 pounds, going 18-4 at that weight according to the NWCA Scorebook, with three of those setbacks against Division I wrestlers.

But as February rolled around, an illness changed the course of his year.

Photo by BV

“To be honest, I was planning on going 149 the whole season,” Dekrone said. “I told my coach I was staying at 149 and then I got sick and lost weight.  I had no appetite and the next thing I knew, I wasn’t that far from where I needed to be for 141.  I thought maybe I should take a shot at it.  Once I committed, it wasn’t bad to stay down.”

He wrestled three bouts in early February at the lower weight and won all three – two by technical fall.  He then entered the NJCAA National Championships ranked eighth nationally and not knowing what to expect.

“I really didn’t know too much about a lot of the other wrestlers because I wasn’t at that weight most of the season,” he said.  “I had seen rankings here and there.  I went in thinking I just needed to go and wrestle hard for seven minutes and see what happened.”

The unseeded tournament can be unpredictable.  But Dekrone began with a 10-3 decision over Tyler Lashbrook and followed that up with a with a 2-1 victory against Jarett Morrill.

The semifinals brought Steven Ruppert, the number two grappler in the country. It wasn’t really a contest, however, as the Nassau wrestler picked up a 12-5 win to punch his ticket to the title bout.

After a scoreless first period versus top-ranked Zach Loveless of Northwest College, Dekrone took a 5-0 lead in the second stanza with a takedown and near fall.  A few minutes later, he was a national champion after a 7-6 triumph.

“Even though the final score was close, I felt like I was in control for most of the match,” he said. “It was 7-3 halfway through the third and he had a late reversal and stall point.  I was pretty comfortable that I was going to win.”

He was the only victor for Nassau, but he wasn’t the only placer.  In fact, three other wrestlers – John Pellegrino (125), Chanse Menendez (174) and Yaseen Mudassar (285) finished as silver medalists and Kyle Wade (149) and Ian MacIneirghe (197) also made the podium.

Those showings put the squad in fourth place in the standings.

“In the beginning of the season, we didn’t know if we had that strong of a team,” he said. “That last month, everyone came together and turned it on at the right time.  We had 10 guys at nationals.  We wrestled well at the best time and exceeded expectations.”

As for Dekrone, he felt that he simply met expectations with his championship.

“This weekend was pretty surreal,” Dekrone said.  “It was similar to winning the [138-pound state] title last year.  It felt like there was a great weight off my shoulders. I was just happy that I reached my goals and got to where I wanted to be at the beginning of the season.”

Photo by BV

He believed that he had plenty of help to get there.

“I think ‘fine-tuned’ is a good way to describe what’s happened here this year,” Dekrone said.  “They’ve tweaked the little things to take me from being a good kid to a great kid on the mat.  I’ve definitely matured as an athlete and wrestler.   Physically, I’m in better shape than ever before.  I’m more explosive than I’ve ever been.  That comes from the great coaching I’ve had, which has helped me take the extra steps I needed.  It’s also because I have great training partners like Kyle Wade and Anthony Abidin.”

Abidin captured a national title in 2012 and is redshirting this campaign before heading off to Nebraska in the fall.  It’s a path that Dekrone would like to emulate.

“Next year I’ll be here wrestling but I’ll be redshirting,” he said. “Then, we’ll see.  I absolutely want to transfer, hopefully somewhere in Division I.  I’ll start looking around again.”

But for now, he’ll remain on Long Island with another line added to his resume.

“Nassau has been a great fit,” he said. “I’m happy I’m here.  It’s great to be around a lot of kids I know, wrestling with guys I’ve known for a long time.”

And it’s great to be a national champion.



NCAA Updates: 30 NY Wrestlers in the Coaches' Panel Rankings/RPI; Automatic Qualifer Spots Announced

The NCAA made several announcements today as we get closer to the NCAAs.  First, the number of automatic qualifier spots allocated to each conference were announced by weight class.  In addition, the final Coaches’ Panel Rankings and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) were released.  Those statistics are some of the key criteria used to select wrestlers for the NCAA tournament.

For the full NCAA release, see here.

Making the Coaches’ Panel Rankings and/or the RPI from the six Division I colleges in New York are:

(RPI, Coaches’ Panel)


Jordan Thome, 133 (NR in the RPI, 33 in Coaches’ Panel Rankings)

Connor Hanafee, 141 (25, 29)

Daniel Young, 149 (19, NR)

Paul Hancock, 165 (25, 23)

Coleman Gracey, 174 (NR, 32)

Bryce Barnes, 197 (NR, 32)


Donnie Vinson, 149 (4, 4)

Cody Reed, 184 (30, NR)

Nate Schiedel, 197 (18, 5)


Mark Lewandowski, 165 (8, 14)

John Martin Cannon, 174 (NR, 18)


Steve Santos, 149 (5, 5)

Jake O’Hara, 157 (27, 20)

Stephen West, 174 (17, 21)


Nahshon Garrett, 125 (10, 6)

Bricker Dixon, 133 (NR, 32)

Mike Nevinger, 141 (6, 8 )

Chris Villalonga, 149 (16, 16)

Jesse Shanaman, 157 (15, 33)

Kyle Dake, 165 (6, 1)

Marshall Peppelman, 174 (18, NR)

Steve Bosak, 184 (4, 4)

Jace Bennett, 197 (25, 23)

Stryker Lane, 285 (20, 28)


Steve Bonanno, 125 (32, 17)

Jamie Franco, 133 (26, 29)

Luke Vaith, 141 (8, 16)

Tyler Banks, 157 (NR, 33)

Jermaine John, 174 (32, NR)

Paul Snyder, 285 (24, 25)

(NY high school wrestlers not wrestling at one of the colleges listed above not currently included)




Cornell's Kyle Dake Earns Ivy League Wrestler of the Year; Nahshon Garrett Named Top Rookie

The All-Ivy Teams were announced on Wednesday and New York was well represented.

Cornell picked up the two big individual awards when senior 165-pounder Kyle Dake won his first Ivy League Wrestler of the Year Award and 125-pounder Nahshon Garrett earned Rookie of the Year honors.  It was the fifth consecutive time that a Big Red team member won the Wrestler of the Year trophy.

Photo by BV

Dake has been dominant throughout his 28-0 season, including pinning all five of his Ivy opponents, while Garrett also registered a 5-0 mark in conference action with four of those victories by bonus points.

Both Dake and Garrett were unanimously chosen to the All-Ivy first team.  Other New York wrestlers joining them were Cornell’s Steve Bosak (184) and Jacob Aiken-Phillips (285), Columbia seniors Steve Santos (149) and Stephen West (174) and former Shoreham Wading River High School star Steven Keith (Harvard, 141).

Quite a few wrestlers with ties to the Empire State made the All-Ivy second team as well.  They include Cornell’s Chris Villalonga (149) and Stryker Lane (285) and Columbia’s Jake O’Hara (157) and Matt Bystol (133).  In addition, Syosset’s Steven Graziano (Penn, 285) and Carmel’s Ryan Osleeb (Harvard, 133) also earned spots on the squad.

For the full list of the first, second and honorable mention All-Ivy teams, see below:
*Nahshon Garrett, Cornell (Fr., 125 – Chico, Calif.) – Rookie of the Year
*Jeff Canfora, Penn (So., 133 – East Hanover, N.J.)
Steven Keith, Harvard (Sr., 141 – Shoreham, N.Y.)
Steve Santos, Columbia (Sr., 149 – Brick, N.J.)
*Walter Peppelman, Harvard (Sr., 157 – Harrisburg, Pa.)
*Kyle Dake, Cornell (Sr., 165 – Ithaca, N.Y.) – Wrestler of the Year
*Stephen West, Columbia (Sr., 174 – Fresno, Calif.)
*Steve Bosak, Cornell (Sr., 184 – State College, Pa.)
*Micah Burak, Penn (Sr., 197 – Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jacob Aiken-Phillips, Cornell (So., 285 – Lawrenceville, Ga.)

Mark Rappo, Penn (Sr., 125 – Holland, Pa.)
Matt Bystol, Columbia (Jr., 133 – Libertyville, Ill.)
Ryan Osleeb, Harvard (So., 133 – Carmel, N.Y.)
C.J. Cobb, Penn (So., 141 – Williamstown, N.J.)
Chris Villalonga, Cornell (Jr., 149 – Totowa, N.J.)
Jake O’Hara, Columbia (Sr., 157 – Mountaintop, Pa.)
Casey Kent, Penn (Fr., 165 – Norristown, Pa.)
Ian Korb, Penn (So., 174 – Cincinnati, Oh.)
Ophir Bernstein, Brown (So., 184 – Allen, Texas)
James Fox, Harvard (So., 197 – Plainfield, N.J.)
Stryker Lane, Cornell (Sr., 285 – Redvale, Colo.)
Steven Graziano, Penn (Jr., 285 – Syosset, N.Y.)

Jeff Ott, Harvard (Fr., 125 – Chelmsford, Mass.)
Bricker Dixon, Cornell (So., 133 – Kansas City, Mo.)
Mike Nevinger, Cornell (Jr., 141 – Perry, N.Y.)
Zach Bintliff, Princeton (Sr., 149 – Gladstone, Mo.)
Jesse Shanaman, Cornell (Jr., 157– Blairstown, N.J.)
Giuseppi Lanzi, Brown (Jr., 165 – Amsterdam, N.Y.)
Cameron Croy, Harvard (Jr., 174 – Brentwood, Tenn.)
Canaan Bethea, Penn (Jr., 184 – Trenton, N.J.)
Jace Bennett, Cornell (So., 197 – Amarillo, Texas)
Nick Gajdzik, Harvard (Fr., 285 – Rochester, Mich.)

* Unanimous selection

New Regionals in Hudson Valley and Long Island Expand Reach for NYWAY State Championships

Last year, in its first season, NYWAY held a state championship tournament on the campus of Cornell University featuring over 650 wrestlers.  The event featured some of the Empire State’s top talent, including recently crowned state champions Yianni Diakomihalis and William Koll, silver medalists Vincent DePrez and Connor Lapresi as well as several other placers such as Ryan Hetrick (third at 99), Kellen Devlin (third at 120), Tanner Lapiene (fourth at 99), Ryan O’Rourke (fourth at 106) and Kelan McKenna (sixth at 99).

Photo by Lindsey Mechalik

However, despite the turnout and the talent on display, NYWAY President Clint Wattenberg highlighted a few things he wanted to focus on for the 2013 event.

“Moving into next year, we need to expand our reach downstate,” Wattenberg said following the tournament in 2012.  “Ultimately, we’re working toward a true New York State championship, unifying the state for New York developmental wrestling from youth through high school.”

The first steps toward that goal will come to fruition in the next two weeks as two areas that didn’t heavily participate last year – Long Island and the Hudson Valley – will hold their first Regional Qualifiers.

Long Island will take the mat first.  On Sunday, March 3 action will begin at Eastport South Manor High School in Suffolk County at 8 a.m. for Divisions 1-3 (ranging from birth years 2002-2006).  Then, a second session will commence at 12 (for wrestlers born from 1994-2001).   Weigh-ins for the event will take place on Thursday night.

MSG Varsity/Fox Sports wrestling analyst Nick Garone, who is also the Tournament Director, is ready for the first NYWAY endeavor on Long Island.

“We’re really excited for the weekend,” he said. “It’s a busy weekend, but at the end of the day anything that gives kids a chance to see more competition is a good thing. Long Island may be a small part of the state, but it’s a huge region for wrestling and getting more involvement will be a benefit.   NYWAY has done a nice job investing in growing the sport and giving kids great opportunities to travel and see new competition.  It will be exciting to introduce Long Island to the organization.”

Similarly, Jeff Jones, The Tournament Director for the Hudson Valley event, is pleased to be hosting the first Regional at Pine Bush High School on March 10.  Action should get underway at 9:30 a.m.

“This year, we’re taking the temperature in this area and so far there’s been a really good response,” Jones said. “I think one of the appealing things is that it’s a K-12 tournament so it gives high school kids another chance, especially if they weren’t happy with the way their season ended.  It’s another chance to wrestle great competition around the state and another chance at a state title.  For wrestlers of all ages, it’s all about getting kids more quality competition and more mat time and I think NYWAY is helping get the sport to another level in New York by providing that.”

Jones was enthusiastic about bringing the Regional to the Hudson Valley area after his son competed in several NYWAY events last year, including the State Championships in Ithaca.

“The tournament at Cornell was amazing,” he said. “Rather than wrestling in a high school, it was in an incredible college venue with very good competition.  It makes it a really neat experience for the kids.  I think the venue for this year in the rink will be great too.”

The venue Jones is referring to is the First Arena in Elmira on March 16-17 for the second annual NYWAY State Championships. Wrestlers in Division 6 (born 1993-1996) as well as any varsity wrestler that qualified for their NYSPHAA Sectional championships are pre-qualified for the NYWAY States.  All others must qualify at their local regional championship (there are eight regional qualifiers).  For more information or to register, please visit here.

For information on the many upcoming youth events in New York State, check out the calendars on the following links:

LIWA Schedule

Matburn Schedule

Cnywrestling Schedule

To report tournament information and results, please e-mail

Division II New York State Tournament Recap: PSAL Gets First Champion; MOW Tighe Earns Third Straight and Much More

The New York state high school season has come to an end.  30 wrestlers walked out of the Times Union Center as champions on Saturday night and many others fought to become All-State.

(This article focuses on the Division II tournament.  The Division I recap can be found here.)

In Division II, it was a tight race, but in the end Section 5 reigned supreme, led by the top two schools in the standings – Midlakes and Warsaw.  Midlakes featured five All-State wrestlers – 120-pound runner up Sean Peacock, sixth placer Tyler Smith (195) and a trio of grapplers in the fifth position – Jason Charlette (106), Ralph Mateo (113) and Collin Fox (170).

Just five points behind was Section 6, propelled by the third place squad – Fredonia.  The Hillbillies boasted four medalists, led by the Gardners – Dakota (second at 126) and Jude (third at 145).  Also making the podium for head coach Alex Conti’s squad were Tyler Cassidy and Chris Saden.

Only one team had more than one champion over the weekend, and it was Gouverneur.  Seniors Dillon Stowell (113) and Hunter Ayen (195) made their final high school matches count as they brought a pair of titles back to Section 10.

Speaking of titles, Most Outstanding Wrestler Nick Tighe added another to his collection.  For the third consecutive year, the Phoenix grappler stood on top of the podium.  Joining him was Adis Radoncic, who made history of his own when he became the first-ever state champion from the PSAL.


99 Pounds:

The Champion: Derek Spann of Adirondack came in as the number three seed but went all the way to the top, utilizing his solid mat skills to get there.  In the finals, he was trailing after giving up a pair of takedowns to his opponent, Matteo Devincenzo, in the first period, but when Devincenzo took down to start the second, the complexion of the match changed.  Spann used back points there and then again in the third when he chose the top position to seal the title.

And Also . . . Devincenzo was Section 11’s highest placer in the Division II tournament. He had only one loss coming into the weekend (to Division I runner up Vito Arujau) and although not highly seeded, he looked strong throughout the tournament and will be someone to watch in the coming years.


106 Pounds:

The Champion: Top-seeded Luis Weirebach opened with a pin and then registered a trio of two-point wins the rest of the way, concluding with a 3-1 victory over Danny Fox in the finals.  The junior, who took fifth in 2012, became the first-ever state champion from his school.

And Also . . . Maple Grove’s Brad Bihler is pretty stingy with points.  Other than his 2-0 loss to Weirebach in the semis, he outscored his foes 31-0 (and added a pin) on the path to third place.  The Section 6 wrestler entered the tournament on a nine-match winning streak and continued to wrestle well in Albany.


113 Pounds:

The Champion: Dillon Stowell has significant experience at the Times Union Center, having placed numerous times in the past.  In his last chance as a senior, he reached the top of the podium after beating Nick Casella in the title bout.  In the semis, Stowell topped another veteran of the state tournament, Warsaw’s Austin Keough, by the same score (4-2) as their bout at Eastern States.

And Also . . . Casella knows how to make it to Saturday night. Last year as an unseeded wrestler, he competed for the 99-pound crown, losing a close decision. This weekend he was on a mission to finish higher and once again reached the title bout after defeating the #4 and #1 wrestlers in the bracket.  As a junior, he’ll no doubt be back for another crack at a championship.


120 Pounds:

The Champion: The third time was definitely a charm for Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.  In 2011, he led 5-0 before falling to William Koll in the state title match at 103 pounds.  In 2012, he dropped a decision to Sean Peacock of Midlakes for the 113 crown.  But on Saturday night, in a rematch with Peacock, Aslanian came out on top, 4-2, in his final high school contest.  The Section 1 grappler leaves as a champion, with his next destination Princeton University.

And Also . . . The finale against Peacock was a tough, close match but it wasn’t the only one for Aslanian.  In the quarters, the Edgemont standout trailed super freshman Kellen Devlin for much of the match.  (Aslanian won 4-3). Devlin, who came back to take the bronze, completed the year with just three losses and will be among the favorites for the next three seasons.


126 Pounds:

Koll, Photo by BV

The Champion: William Koll, a state champion in 2011, said he was disappointed with his third place showing last season.  He got back to the top of the medal stand over the weekend, cruising through the event with his closest match a 6-2 victory over Dakota Gardner in the last bout.

And Also . . . After medaling as an eighth grader in 2012, Gardner had only one setback during the season, in the Section 6 final against Brandon Muntz.  That result likely dropped him to the sixth seed in the bracket, however, he overcame that to get to the title bout as a freshman.  With three campaigns left for Fredonia, New York fans will certainly see Gardner on the podium a few more times.


132 Pounds:

Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by BV

The Champion: In last year’s quarterfinals, Renaldo-Rodriguez-Spencer topped Tristan Rifanburg in overtime, a victory that propelled the Cheektowoga wrestler to the silver medal.  This year, the duo met again, but this time it was in the finals and both came in undefeated.  Rifanburg led 1-0 late into the third period on the strength of an escape and a rideout in the second.  However, Rodriguez-Spencer stayed aggressive on his feet and notched the winning takedown with time winding down.

And Also . . .  Rifanburg is now a three-time state finalist (2010 champion) and a four-time placer . . . and he still has two years of high school left.  Clyde Carey, on the other hand, has now completed his career at Addison. However, he finished on a high note.  A year ago, he wrestled with a significant injury in Albany and came within one match of a medal.  His road wasn’t easy over the weekend as he faced (and topped) returning All-Stater Zach Ayen in round one.  After losing to Rodriguez-Spencer, he captured four straight in the consolations to grab third place.


138 Pounds:

Tighe, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Upstate fans were excited about a potential clash between then two-time state champion Nick Tighe and 2012 titlewinner Connor Lapresi at the Eastern States.  It didn’t happen there, but it did occur on Saturday night.  Tighe broke a 1-1 tie in the third with a takedown to pick up his third consecutive crown for Phoenix.  CAA wrestling at Binghamton is next for him.

And Also . . . Lapresi leaves Lansing with another All-State showing as he prepares to take on Division I wrestling at Bucknell.  Also concluding his career with multiple medals was Lewiston Porter’s Dan Reagan.  After taking fourth in this class last year, he moved up to third as a senior.


145 Pounds:

Hull, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Royalton Hartland’s Drew Hull outscored his opponents 22-5 on his title run.  Last year, he lost a tight bout in the finals to take second.  This time, he got his hand raised in a 2-0 victory over Norwich’s Frank Garcia.

And Also . . . Garcia, a sophomore, opened with a pin and then won two close matches, in overtime in the quarters and 3-2 in the semis.  After jumping from the top 8 in 2012 to second in 2013, he’ll return looking for more as a junior.

The bronze finisher Jude Gardner of Fredonia had a stellar senior campaign.  He suffered just four losses – and all four were to state champion Hull, including in the semifinals on Saturday morning.  With Hull, Gardner and Eric Lewandowski (second in Division I), there’s no doubt Section 6 was strong at this weight this year.


152 Pounds:

Thayer, Photo by BV

The Champion:  At the Section 4 championships, where he took second, Kevin Thayer had an incredible 18-16 victory over returning state placer Dan Dickman of Greene.  His finals victory over Rowdy Prior on Saturday was similarly action-packed.  Prior, a prolific pinner, chose top for the third while trailing and locked up a cradle that seemed likely to give him the gold medal.  Somehow, however, Thayer not only avoided the fall but also got the reversal to seal the title.

And Also . . . Prior provided an exciting semifinal victory.  He was behind 4-2 late in the match but got the pin over Alex Smythe.  Smythe’s tournament is worthy of mention as well.  After taking fifth at the state tournament in 2011, he didn’t get a bid last year.  However, he moved up several weights and had a solid season, coming into the Times Union Center with just two losses (to the previously mentioned Hull and Lewandowski).  One of only two medalists in the bracket not graduating (fifth placer Trey Duvall of Addison is the other), Smythe will look to make a run in 2013-14.


160 Pounds:

Paddock, Photo by BV

The Champion: In the semifinals, Mike Beckwith of Greene lasted over three minutes before getting pinned by Burke Paddock.  Beckwith was the only wrestler to stay on the mat with Paddock for that long.  The Warsaw junior stuck all four of his opponents to conclude a tremendous season and collect his first state championship.

And Also . . . Sophomore Nick Gallo fell one victory shy of place on the podium a year ago.  This year, he took several steps forward with a runner up showing.  The Section 2 wrestler defeated third placer Matt Fisher as well as returning medalist Tyler Silverthorn to earn his slot in the title bout.  He should be a force as a junior.


170 Pounds:

Radoncic, Photo by BV

The Champion: Coming into the tournament, some were pegging last year’s runner up Cheick Ndiaye, the top seed at 113, as someone who could give the PSAL its first-ever state champion.  Instead, it was Adis Radoncic of Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy who was the first to stand on top of the podium.  The junior did it the hard way – defeating the top two seeds in the bracket.  In fact, it appeared he might be in for an uphill battle in the title bout as he faced #1 Christian Dietrich once before this season at Eastern States and lost that bout 13-4.  However, Radoncic was undaunted and fought off a number of deep shots by the Greene grappler to take a 4-3 decision. Radoncic now has his sights set on being the PSAL’s first two-time champion.

And Also . . .  It’s easy to forget that Dietrich is just a freshman, especially given the way he performed all year.  He amazed many when he placed at 152 pounds as a seventh grader and looked very good all year at a higher weight.  Keeping him out of the top spot over the next several seasons will be a tall order for the rest of the field.

Dietrich’s first round opponent, John Messinger of Putnam Valley, fought back to take fourth.  Winning four in a row to get to the bronze match is an accomplishment, but the way he did it was even more impressive.  He trailed late in nearly all of his wrestleback matches and found a way to come out on top, multiple times in the waning seconds.   In one bout, he tied the match up with two points dangerously close to the third period buzzer and then picked up a takedown a few seconds into overtime to move forward.


182 Pounds:

Zupan, Photo by BV

The Champion: Zack Zupan had his eye on a repeat championship all year long and he finished the job.  The future Binghamton Bearcat had little trouble making the title bout as he racked up bonus points in his first three contests before controlling the finale, a 3-2 victory over Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer.  He joined future teammates Nick Kelley and Nick Tighe as titlewinners on Saturday night.

And Also . . . Schaefer finishes high school with a plethora of accolades.  He made the podium five times during his career, beginning with a sixth place finish as a seventh grader.

Hoosick Falls had its first champion in Luis Weirebach at 106 and added a third placer in Brad Burns at 182.  The Section 2 grappler was beaten in double overtime in the quarters but bounced back with four in a row to grab bronze.


195 Pounds:

Ayen, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Gouverneur had Dillon Stowell win it all at 113.  And then, the Wildcats crowned a second champion at 195 pounds when Hunter Ayen sent Bryce Mazurowski to his second consecutive silver medal.  Ayen fell behind 6-0 in the match, but climbed back into the bout when he threw the Avon wrestler onto his back.  When he was close to the pin, the referee stopped the action for blood time, but Ayen was unfazed as he added another takedown to win 9-6.  The Gouverneur senior had pinned his first three opponents.

And Also . . . One of those foes for Ayen was Matt Booth.  The Section 6 wrestler excelled in the consolation bracket, outscoring his opponents 30-5 to take third.  In the bronze match he topped Dusty Lewis of Salamanca, the wrestler he beat to qualify for the tournament a few weeks ago.


220 Pounds:

Bacon, Photo by BV

The Champion: A pair of undefeated wrestlers marched through the tournament and faced off in the finals with Hornell’s Zack Bacon utilizing strong mat wrestling to take the title 1-0 over Ryan Wolcott.  Bacon came back after a silver medal a year ago to end his career in the top spot.

And Also . . . Wolcott made a smooth transition from 170 pounds, where he won two matches in Albany in 2012, up to 220.  He pinned his way to the championship bout and the 1-0 loss to Bacon was his only setback all season long.  In 2013-14, he’ll look to go from second to first the same way Bacon did in his senior campaign.


 285 Pounds:

The Champion: Windsor’s Matt Abbott came into the tournament with a 33-1 mark and 19 pins.  (The sole loss was to the previously mentioned Wolcott).  He exited the Times Union Center as a champion.  Heavyweight matches are often low scoring but Abbott put a lot of points on the board, including 11 in the semis and eight in the finals.

And Also . . . Alex Soutiere, last year’s runner up in this class, took third after winning five wrestleback bouts.  In 2012, Soutiere upset top-seeded Kacee Sauer.  The tables turned this year as Soutiere (the #1 seed) was upended in the opening round by junior Connor Calkins of Section 5. Calkins wound up fifth and as the only non-senior placer, will be in the mix for top honors in 2014.

For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division II wrestlers on a great season.

Check Out Video Interviews With Numerous Wrestlers from the State Tournament

The following are video interviews with a number of wrestlers at the state tournament.  Special thanks to Adam Burgos and Nick Garone for their amazing contributions!

Some browsers may take a little extra time to load.

(To view on youtube, see


Tyler Grimaldi (160 Pound State Champ, Hills West) and coach Mike Patrovich with Nick Garone


Adis “The Beast” Radoncic (RKA) – First Ever PSAL State Champ (170)


Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), 99 Pound State Champion


Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville), 113 Pound State Champion and MOW


TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River), 126 Pound State Champion


Trey Aslanian (Edgemont), 120 Pound State Champion (3x Finalist)


William Koll (Lansing), 2x State Champion


Burke Paddock (Warsaw), 160 Pound State Champion


Corey Rasheed (Longwood), 152 Pound State Champion


Louis Hernandez (Mepham), 145 Pound State Champion


Dan Choi (Syosset), 195 Pound State Champion with N. Garone


Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell), 220 Pound State Champion with N. Garone


Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga), 138 Pound State Champion


Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls), 106 Pound State Champion


Hunter Ayen (Gouverneur), 195 Pound State Champion


Alex Delacruz (Ossining), 120 Pound State Champion


Nick Tighe (Phoenix), 138 Pound State Champion (3x Champion)


Shayne Brady (Carthage), 182 Pound State Champion


Mike Hughes (Smithtown West), 285 Pound State Champion with N. Garone


Dillon Stowell (Gouverneur), 113 Pound State Champion


Derek Spann (Adirondack), 99 Pound State Champion D2



Matteo Devincenzo (Port Jefferson, 99 D2)


Adis Radoncic (RKA, 170 D2)


Nick Casella (Locust Valley, 113 D2)


William Koll (Lansing, 126 D2)


TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River, 126 D1)


Corey Rasheed (Longwood, 152 D1)


Rowdy Prior (Phoenix, 152 D2)


Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls, 106 D2)


Derek Spann (Adirondack, 99 D2)


DAY 1/Medal Round VIDEOS

Keanu Thompson (Grand Street after Pinning #2 Seed in Quarters)


Dan Choi (Syosset after Beating #1 Seed in Quarters)


James O’Hagan (Seaford after Topping #1 Seed)


Steve Schneider (160, MacArthur after overtime victory)


Nick Barbaria (New Rochelle, 106 after the quarters)


Nick Weber (Kings Park, 195 Pounds after defeating #2 seed)


Jonathan Haas (Spencerport, 3rd place 106 D1)


Austin Coleman (Spencerport, 2nd place 285 D1)


Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa, 2nd place, after beating #3 seed)


Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster, 2nd place, 145 D1)


Josh Powell (Churchville-Chili, D1, 160)


Marshall Taylor (Lockport, 220 pounds D1, after 3 OT victory)


Shayne Brady (Carthage, 182 pound champion on Day 1)


Zack Joseph (Shenendehowa, 152 pounds, D1 on Day 1)


Donny McCoy (Niagara Falls, 99 Pounds, D1 on Day 1)






New Champions Crowned: Division I State Tournament Recap

We have a large number of video interviews with wrestlers from the state tournament that will be posted later in the week.  Check back over the next few days to see what the wrestlers had to say!


Another New York state high school season is in the books.  After two incredible days of wrestling, 30 champions were crowned and a number of other amazing performances were witnessed at the Times Union Center.

(This article focuses on the Division I tournament.  We will post a Division II story as well).

Of the 15 gold medalists in Albany on Saturday night in the large school tournament, 10 were from Long Island.   That part of the state didn’t just impress in the finals, however.  The depth was definitely apparent, as Suffolk finished atop the standings with 312 points with Nassau in second with 222.5.

Representing Section 8 well was Wantagh, which completed a magical year in which the Warriors showed both their dual meet and tournament strength in capturing perhaps the three biggest events in New York – the Union-Endicott Duals, the Eastern States and this weekend’s championships.  Head coach Paul Gillespie’s squad boasted a state titlewinner in 106-pounder Kyle Quinn as well as three other placers (James Corbett, Vinny Turano and Danny McDevitt).

Two other “sections” that made waves this weekend were the PSAL and the CHSAA.   Richard Sisti’s 220-pound title for Monsignor Farrell was a highlight as was the run to the finals by Keanu Thompson of Grand Street, including an upset pin against the number two seed.  The PSAL featured five medalists (in Division I), while the CHSAA had six.  It seems that those numbers will continue to grow in the future. (The first ever PSAL champion was crowned, which will be covered in the Division II story).

Here are some more notes and observations from the state capital:

99 Pounds:

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

Champion: Yianni Diakomihalis will need to continue to clear space in his room for awards. He’s won just about every tournament he has entered over the past year, and he has traveled all over the country to wrestle some of the best.  The nationally-ranked wrestler picked up his first state title in the ultimate tiebreaker against another stellar eighth grader, Vito Arujau of Syosset.  The two could do battle many more times, but whether they’re at the same weight in the future or not, they will be a treat for New York fans to watch for another four years.

And Also . . . We had Diakomihalis and Arujau atop the rankings the whole year, but also included three Suffolk grapplers for much of the season in the state’s top 8.  They showed why on Friday and Saturday.  Although top seed John Arceri, the Section 11 champion, didn’t medal, he holds wins over both the third and fourth place finishers, John Busiello and Jesse Dellevecchia, respectively.  Those three will be contenders for quite some time.

In addition, when he was just beginning treatments for cancer in the spring, Vinny Vespa’s brother Michael said he was confident Vinny would not only return to the mat this year, but do well in the postseason.  He was right, as Vespa overcame cancer and then some of the state’s top wrestlers in taking fifth place.

106 Pounds: 

Quinn, Photo by BV

The Champion . . . Kyle Quinn came into the state tournament with just two losses.  Both were to All-Stater Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle by two points. Quinn clearly took some lessons away from those contests as he avenged those results with a 7-1 win in the semifinals against the Section 1 wrestler before defeating top seed Alex Tanzman of Westhampton Beach by the same score to grab the state crown.   The Wantagh wrestler looked dominant the whole weekend, including pinning his first two opponents (one of which was returning medalist Jimmy Overhiser).

And Also . . . Spencerport’s Jon Haas was unfazed after dropping his first bout of the tournament 4-3 to John Twomey of St. Anthony’s.  He reeled off five straight victories, including two by bonus points, to take third.  Haas also had a pair of overtime triumphs, including over Colonie’s Golan Cohen in the bronze bout.  Cohen, who was a placer at the Eastern States, put together a very impressive season.

113 Pounds:

Piccininni, Photo by BV

The Champion . . . Nick Piccininni wasn’t just the gold medalist at this weight, he was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.  It’s not hard to see why.  The returning state champion was in control the whole way and won three of his four matches by bonus points.  That included the title bout, in which Piccininni dominated the much-hyped clash with two-time champ Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  The Ward Melville wrestler will be incredibly hard to stop over the next two years.

And Also . . . Steven Sewkumar didn’t get a ticket to Albany last year after taking second in Nassau behind state runner up Jose Rodriguez.  He made his last chance in his senior year count, however, with a third place showing.   The Section 8 wrestler lost only to Piccininni while twice beating third-seeded Bryan Lantry of Wayne as well as topping All-Stater John Stramiello of Pine Bush.

120 Pounds:

The Champion:  Alex Delacruz was disqualified during the Eastern States semifinals against John Muldoon.  He then took second in Section 1 to the Pearl River grappler.  On the biggest stage, however, he came out on top by first knocking Muldoon off in the semifinals in an overtime match and then earning his spot on the top of the podium after an 11-7 triumph over #1 seed Steve Michel.

And Also . . .  Weights for next season are hard to predict now. But it looks like there will be more intense competition in Sections 1 and 11 in the future around this class.  Besides Delacruz and Muldoon (who was fourth), Section 1 features Blaise Benderoth (one match from medaling) and Nick Tolli, who placed at Eastern States but missed the postseason with an injury.  In Section 11, Travis Passaro (third) and Mike D’Angelo (fifth) could see each other a number of times again in 2013-14.

126 Pounds:

The Champion: TJ Fabian wasn’t pleased about taking third at the Suffolk County tournament.  He responded quite well – by outscoring his opponents 17-0 in his first two matches before notching pins in the semis and finals.  He’s headed to Sacred Heart.

And Also . . . One of the loudest roars of the crowd came during the quarterfinals when the PSAL’s Keanu Thompson pinned two-time finalist Dylan Realbuto.  Thompson was defeated soundly by Fabian on Saturday night but his run to the title bout was outstanding as he defeated the eventual third, fourth and sixth place finishers. That fourth placer was Chenango Forks senior Jacob Green, who after losing to Thompson in his opening tilt, won four in a row to finish his career on the podium.

132 Pounds:

Leshinger, Photo by BV

The Champion:  After taking third at the Times Union Center last year and again at the Eastern States, Matt Leshinger ended his Sayville career in style atop the medal stand.  The future Columbia Lion began with a pin and then methodically beat his next three opponents, including a 4-2 finals win over Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi.

And Also . . . Lapi made the top 8 in 2010.  Since then, he has finished third, fourth and second.  What’s missing?  Well, a first place showing would complete the pattern.  The Section 2 standout will no doubt be looking for exactly that as he enters his senior season.

138 Pounds:

Kelley, Photo by BV

The Champion: Nick Kelley has been a regular at the state tournament with appearances beginning as a seventh grader.  He’s had a great career with over 250 victories but this weekend he got the most meaningful win of them all – the one in the state championship bout.  The Binghamton-bound grappler took a 5-2 decision on Saturday night to leave as a champion.

And Also . . . Joey Butler of Burnt Hills pushed Kelley in one of their matches during the season, getting out to a big lead before the Shenendehowa wrestler came back to win.  Butler earned third and will one to watch next year, as will Hilton’s Vincent DePrez, a silver medalist for the second consecutive year.  DePrez, who was one of three brothers to compete in Albany, will be back on a mission for his first title.

145 Pounds:

Hernandez, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Louis Hernandez came in as the favorite and left as the champion.  After missing the podium a year ago while wrestling with a significant injury at the Times Union Center, Hernandez put together a one-loss season which included an Eastern States crown.  While known for his excellence on his feet, Hernandez got a big reversal which propelled him to the title.

And Also . . . Eric Lewandowski made an appearance in the finals as a freshman, when he took second.  After not making the medal stand as a sophomore and junior, the Lancaster wrestler once again earned a spot in the title contest as a senior.  On his way there, he edged Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva 1-0 in the semis.  Almaviva showed his toughness by once again wrestling back to third, as he did in 2012. Hernandez will return next season, and he will be the only placer in this bracket to do so.

152 Pounds:

Rasheed, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Don’t blink when Corey Rasheed wrestles.  You might miss it. Rasheed had a technical fall in round one and a pair of pins – both in less than a minute – over the weekend.  That included a 56 second fall in the title bout.  It was the Longwood junior’s third time in the finals and after two runner up finishes, he left with top billing.  He should not only be on top of the New York rankings next year.  He has the talent to represent the Empire State in the national polls as well.

And Also . . . Like Jon Haas at 106, Joe Mastro of Yorktown took third place the hard way.  After losing to Konstantin Parfiryev (sixth place) on Friday morning, Mastro got his hand raised five times in a row.  He didn’t just win, though.  He did it convincingly, beginning with a technical fall and two majors (over the number two and three seeds).  He finished with a pair of decisions.

160 Pounds:

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Tyler Grimaldi walked off the mat after taking second at this weight to Dylan Palacio in the state finals last year and vowed to do better in 2013.  He got it done, including his third win of the season against Steven Schneider of MacArthur in the title bout.  Next stop: Harvard.

And Also . . . Amsterdam’s James Marquez had a difficult draw, facing second seed (and eventual runner up) Steve Schneider in round one.  Marquez dropped a tough 3-1 battle in overtime but then fought back with a string of close decisions (including three by two points) to reach the bronze bout.  Once there, he finished his last match as a high schooler well, pinning Dale White to take third.   White is worth mentioning as well.  Despite an injury that kept him out for a lot of the campaign, he returned to win the Section 1 tournament and after injury defaulting to Grimaldi, made his way to fourth.

170 Pounds:

Toribio, Photo by BV

The Champion: Carlos Toribio had five losses as a junior, including three against the previously mentioned Tyler Grimaldi.  This year, as a senior, he had just one (to Joe Piccolo), and he avenged it with two wins over Piccolo. In fact, in the Suffolk finals, he was dominant against the Half Hollow Hills West grappler and came into the Times Union Center with momentum that helped take him to the top of the podium.  After a decision, a fall and a major in his first three bouts, Toribio picked up a tight 4-3 win over St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas to capture gold.

And Also . . . Vrasidas had a great tournament, including an upset of top seeded Danny McDevitt in the quarters.  But McDevitt, the future Ivy League wrestler at Penn, rebounded by outscoring his four wrestleback opponents 33-1, including a technical fall in the bronze match.

182 Pounds:

Brady, Photo by BV

The Champion: Before the tournament began, it looked like Shayne Brady’s road back to the finals would be a tough one.  The future North Carolina State wrestler faced a pair of returning state placers – James Benjamin and Gio Santiago in the quarters and semis – and beat both by bonus points.  He then found a way to win in his final high school match with a 5-3 overtime decision over Wantagh’s James Corbett.

And Also . . . Corbett also navigated a challenging path to make the finals in his first trip to Albany.  He suffered just three losses as a senior and will continue his career at Brown.

If you’re looking to see pins, find Gio Santiago.  The Sachem North senior had three falls in the tournament (and was pinned by Brady) after recording 30 during the season.  He earned All-State honors for the second straight year, this time in the third position.

195 Pounds:

Choi, Photo by BV

The Champion:  We shared Dan Choi’s story a few weeks ago, discussing how the future Cornellian came from Korea without his parents just three years ago and earned a full ROTC scholarship to the Ivy League.  Watching him this weekend, it’s hard to believe that he’s been wrestling for only three years.  In a very difficult weight class, the Syosset senior looked aggressive and strong throughout the event, including a major decision over the top seed in the quarters.

And Also . . . When we asked what wrestlers could break out in Section 2 this year, the first answer from multiple coaches was Levi Ashley.  He began the year at 182 and spent quite a bit of time at that weight, where he had plenty of success.  However, when he moved up to 195 around mid January, he really took off.  From there, he won 14 matches in a row entering the weekend.  And he kept things going in the state capital.  Being matched up with the third seed, Ben Honis, in the first round didn’t bother Ashley. He went out and majored the Section 3 wrestler 8-0 and followed with a pair of hard-fought decisions to make the title bout.   With one season remaining at Shenendehowa, he’ll be among the favorites at whatever weight he chooses.

220 Pounds:

Sisti, Photo by BV

The Champion: At the Eastern States, one CHSAA insider told us that Rich Sisti, unable to participate in that tournament due to an injury, would win the state championship – guaranteed.  It seemed bold at the time, but it was a good call.  Sisti, commonly called the “manchild” by many of those at the tournament, indeed won and looked impressive in doing so.  He certainly showed he is capable of capturing close matches against quality competition, as he notched 3-2 victories over a pair of Section 11 wrestlers, top seeded Nick Lupi and Steven Mills, in the semis and finals.

And Also . . . In the Division I tournament preview, we mentioned that there were some “under the radar” wrestlers in the field to watch in Albany.  One of those was Steven Mills of Sachem North, who lost a squeaker to Lupi in the Suffolk tournament.  Mills indeed made the spotlight as he competed for the state championship on Saturday night.  He began his journey with a 5-1 win over second-seeded John Hartnett and then blanked his next two foes to make the finals.

285 Pounds:

The Champions: 42-0 with 39 bonus wins and a state title.  That’s the season summary for Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes.  The senior put an exclamation point on his campaign when he pinned Austin Coleman in the championship bout, his 31st fall of the year.

And Also . . . Remember the name James O’Hagan.  The Seaford junior took third over the weekend with a pair of victories over top seeded El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia.  The statistics above show that Mike Hughes only had three decisions all year. Two were against O’Hagan, including a 1-0 semifinal win on Saturday.   After the tournament, Hughes said that O’Hagan gave him his toughest match and that he thought they should have been the state finalists.  For O’Hagan, that will be the plan for 2013.


For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division I wrestlers on a great season.

LIVE BLOG – New York State Championships Division I and II



Follow the action at the New York State championships in both Division I and Division II with our LIVE BLOG, starting Friday morning.

To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link


Getting Close to That First Whistle: Division II State Tournament Preview

First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division II state tournament in Albany. For our Division I Preview, see this link.

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Andrew Flanagan, Holley (Fourth at 99)

Hunter O’Lena of East Rochester sits on the top line after winning the SuperSectionals, including a victory over the favorite, returning placer Andrew Flanagan of Holley. O’Lena has a 30-4 mark in his freshman campaign. While Flanagan is the only medalist back in this bracket, there are some repeat entrants, including Tanner Lapiene of Ogdensburg, who has put together a 31-3 season, including a trio of victories against Division I qualifier Ryan Brown of Canton. The four wrestlers that make up the second grouping in the top half of the bracket, Dean Raymond, Matteo Devincenzo, James Bathon and Ryan Hetrick sport an impressive combined record of 148 wins and four losses (all have just one setback).

Flanagan sits in the #2 position following a 47-3 record, including a fourth place finish at the Eastern States Classic (where he sustained two of his losses and had some quality wins). One of the competitors to watch for in the bottom half is Adirondack’s Derek Spann, who has piled up solid victories in a season with over 40 triumphs. He defeated Danny Fox, the second seed at 106 and fellow qualifier Theo Powers. Speaking of Powers, he has looked strong throughout the year, including a win over Section 6 champion at 106 Ryan Burns. Also back in 2013 is the PSAL’s Dolan McColgan, who makes another appearance in Albany after a 35-1 campaign and a win in the state capital in 2012.

So . . . Flanagan is the only senior in the field and the only returning placer. We think that will matter as he claims a championship over Hetrick.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Luis Weirebach, Hoosick Falls (Fifth at 99)

Weirebach took fifth at the state tournament last year and followed up with an unblemished record in 2012-13. The Section 2 wrestler pinned qualifier Nico Riccio twice and registered an impressive win over Eastern States medalist Golan Cohen of Colonie. Another grappler making his return to the state capital is Locust Valley’s Hunter Dusold, now an eighth grader. Also keep an eye on the fourth seed, Austin Trombley of Northern Adirondack, who has a win over Section 4 champion Chris Cirigliano.

Cirigliano topped Joe Rorick of Odessa-Montour to take the Sectional crown, the only loss Rorick endured all year. Rorick will look to get back on the winning track when he faces the PSAL’s Alpha Diallo in Round 1, with the winner of that one possibly facing number two seed Danny Fox of Dolgeville, a wrestler who is 35-2 with a 1-0 victory over Ryan O’Rourke in the Section 3 championship. We had O’Rourke ranked in the top 8 in the Empire State at 99 and think he has the potential to make a run at Saturday night. Also look out for the Section 5 duo of Tyler Hamsher and Jason Charlette.

So . . . A year after finishing fifth, Weirebach will be adding a first place finish to his resume.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (Second at 106)
Nick Casella, Locust Valley (Second at 99)
Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (Fourth at 113)
Andrew Marra, Olean (Fourth at 106)
Corey Hollister, Perry (Fifth at 106)
Austin Keough, Warsaw (Sixth at 113)

Cheick Ndiaye was the first PSAL wrestler to reach the state finals, when he wrestled Lucas Malmberg in the 106-pound title match last year. He’s hoping to be the first champion in a few days and will begin that quest against Matt Morris of Albany Academy. The Section 2 representative is 41-1 with 25 pins, with his only loss coming by a point to Corey Ali of Shenendehowa.

In addition to Ndiaye, the top portion of the bracket includes returning placers Drew Marra of Olean and Nick Casella of Locust Valley. While Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter wasn’t a medalist a year ago, he is someone to watch as he has beaten All-Staters such as Marra (multiple times) and Anthony Orefice this year. His sole setback came at the hands of Austin Keough, 3-2.

Speaking of Keough, he received the #3 seed. He is familiar with Ndiaye as they split a pair of matches at the Eastern States. The Warsaw wrestler is also acquainted with fellow Section 5 wrestler Corey Hollister of Perry, who resides in the lower half. (Perry is 1-2 against Keough and those are his only losses). Keough also is no stranger to Gouverneur’s Dillon Stowell. Both have been prominent forces at the state tournament for years, finishing in the top three in 2010 and the top four in 2011. Last season, Stowell received an injury default from Keough as both made the medal stand at 113. And at the Eastern States, the pair clashed in the semifinals, with Stowell picking up a 4-2 win in sudden victory. We see a high likelihood of another match between them on Saturday.

So . . . We think Stowell is the wrestler to beat given the way he has competed all year long.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Sean Peacock, Midlakes (Champion at 113)
Trey Aslanian, Edgemont (Second at 113)

This is a battled-tested group. At least 10 of the participants were on the mat in Albany last year. On the top half, that includes returning state champion Sean Peacock of Midlakes and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano. Both wrestlers competed at the Eastern States and neither made the podium, but it would be surprising if the same happened at the Times Union Center. Peacock has 30 pins this year and a 45-3 mark. Calvano is 35-4 with quality wins over the #1 and #2 seeds in Division I, Steve Michel and John Muldoon. A semifinal between the two, should they both get there, would be intriguing.

On the bottom half, the wrestler who beat Calvano for the Section 1 crown, Trey Aslanian, sits as the second seed. The Princeton-bound grappler lost a pair of matches at Eastern States but is unbeaten otherwise. He is among the wrestlers in the lower half of the bracket returning to action at the Times Union Center, along with Nate Hayes of Windsor, Carter Merecki of Salem and Kellen Devlin of Amherst. Devlin is someone we’ll be keeping close tabs on as he is capable of going very far in this tournament. His only two setbacks this year were one-pointers against the previously mentioned Michel.

So . . . Aslanian has taken runner up honors at this event the past two years, including against Peacock in 2012. It’s his last shot at a title and we think he’ll take advantage.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
William Koll, Lansing (Third at 113)
Ryan Snow, General Brown (Third at 106)
Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (Sixth at 120)

Koll, Photo by BV

William Koll has registered a 38-3 mark with quality wins over Sectional champions Mike Raccioppi and Jacob Green as well a championship at the prestigious King of the Mountain tournament in Pennsylvania. He’ll begin his journey on Friday with Majed Mohamed of Lackawanna. The two met in the semifinals back in 2011, when Koll won and went on to capture a state title at 103.

An interesting potential bout in the quarters on the top half could be between Brandon Muntz of Falconer and Nick Forget of Peru. Muntz avenged one of his two losses in the Section 6 title match and has over 40 wins. Forget has an impressive win over the #2 seed in Division I (at 132) Brandon Lapi, and has beaten Antonio DeLuco and John Diekel as well. Both Muntz and Forget could be on the medal stand.

In addition to Mohamed, Koll defeated Laken Cook during his championship run a few years back. Cook is the number two seed in the bracket after an undefeated campaign in which he has registered triumphs against Forget, Diekel, DeLuco, Ryan Snow and Alex Herringshaw. He could meet Jake Nicholson of Waterloo in his second match, a wrestler who is 39-1 with his sole loss coming against the Division I top seed, Steve Michel, by two points. Among the other formidable wrestlers on the bottom half are General Brown’s Ryan Snow, who is no stranger to the podium and Dakota Gardner of Fredonia, a sixth placer a year ago as an eighth grader. The Section 6 freshman opens with Cortland’s Zach Alexander, who has put together a 45-win campaign.

So . . . William Koll of Lansing won the state title as a freshman in 2011. After a bronze showing last year, we think he once again stands on top of the podium.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (Second at 126)
Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (Sixth at 126)
Zach Ayen, Gouverneur (Fifth at 120)
Alex Herringshaw, Holland Patent (Sixth at 99)

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer wasn’t a top four seed last year, but he left as one of the more talked about wrestlers in the Division II tournament as he went all the way to the finals. He enters this year’s event with a perfect record with only three regular decisions, the closest of which was a five-point victory. He’ll see another wrestler who is accustomed to success in the first round. Pavilion’s Jake Sepor has a single loss in 2012-13. Right underneath those two in the bracket is an interesting first round tilt between returning placer Zach Ayen of Gouverneur and the wrestler who defeated Sepor – Clyde Carey of Addison. Despite competing with a significant injury in Albany in 2012, Carey won multiple matches. He and Ayen are both medal contenders.

Another Section 6 wrestler who resides on the top half of the bracket, Tyler Cassidy of Fredonia, put together a strong season which featured multiple victories over All-Stater Cody McGregor as well as over Ryan Kromer.

But Kromer got revenge for that setback in mid February and the Lewiston Porter grappler is the third seed at this weight. He’ll begin by facing a returning medalist, Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent.

A wrestler with the potential to be real threat in this class is Locust Valley’s Sam Ward. In a 35-2 campaign, Ward has topped highly regarded wrestlers such as Conor O’Hara of Sachem East and Vinny Turano of Wantagh. In fact, his victory over Turano in mid January is the last time he won a bout by regular decision. Since then, he has racked up nine wins – all by technical fall or pin (and a forfeit). His losses were by a point to the top seed in Division I, Matt Leshinger, and in sudden victory to Jake DiMarsico of North Rockland.

Jon Crast of South Jefferson has rebounded from a past surgery to have a strong senior campaign. He won the Section 3 crown from the #4 spot in the bracket. If he were to advance to the quarterfinals, there’s a good chance he would see two-time New York finalist (and three-time placer) Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich who won the prestigious Eastern States title and is undefeated with 19 pins.

So . . . In last year’s Round of 8 at 126 pounds, Rodriguez-Spencer and Rifanburg put on a show in a match that was won by the Cheektowoga wrestler, 8-6 in overtime. We’ve had the pair at #1 and #2 in our recent state rankings and we expect another classic clash that could go extra time like the last meeting did — perhaps with the same result.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers
Nick Tighe, Phoenix (Champion at 126)
Connor Lapresi, Lansing (Champion at 132)
Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (Fourth at 138)

Tighe, Photo by BV

Nick Tighe and Albany seem to be a pretty good combination. Over the past three state tournaments, the Phoenix senior has recorded five pins, a technical fall, two majors and, most importantly two state titles and a fifth place finish at the Times Union Center. Some one-loss wrestlers sit on the top half with Tighe, including Palmyra Macedon’s Taylor Jones, whose only setback in a 47-1 year was to Tighe and Mineola’s Matt Long, who, according to the NWCA Scorebook dropped his first contest of the campaign and has been on a winning streak since. A few wrestlers familiar with Tighe, fellow Section 3 grappler Todd Stevens of Holland Patent and Whitehall’s John Diekel (who faced Tighe in the fifth place match back in 2010), are also in the upper bracket. Diekel’s opponent in the Section 2 Sectional final, Sean Romanski of Albany Academy, is the fourth seed after a 40-3 year.

Tighe isn’t the only state champion in the field. Lansing’s Connor Lapresi won it all at 132 last season and is looking for another title before heading off to Bucknell. Among those mounting challenges in the lower half could be state tournament regular Drew Longo of Ardsley, who was a finalist a few years back, Peru’s Jordan Bushey, and Lewiston Porter’s Dan Reagan, who took fourth at this weight last February. Reagan dropped a decision to the 145-pound top seed Drew Hull in early December up at 152, but has done nothing but get his hand raised since.

So . . . Upstate fans were excited about the prospect of a Tighe vs. Lapresi semifinal at the Eastern States, but it didn’t happen (at least on the mat) due to a forfeit. This time, we think the match between champions will happen, with Tighe picking up his third straight on the way to Binghamton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (Second at 145)
Jude Gardner, Fredonia (Sixth at 138)

Drew Hull, last year’s silver medalist in this class, is unblemished thus far in 38 matches. One wrestler he has seen a lot of is Fredonia’s Jude Gardner, also a returning medalist. Hull has topped his fellow Section 6 grappler three times in 2012-13 – the first by fall and the last two by slim 1-0 margins. (Those are Gardner’s only losses). The way the field is set up, the pair could square off again in the semis. But let’s not look that far ahead considering some of the experienced grapplers in the way. Codie Gillette of Saranac and Austin Hedges of Letchworth are familiar with the Times Union Center. Gillette came within one win of placing last year. One of the darkhorses who could do some damage is Whitney Point freshman Jordan Torbitt. In his 39-2 campaign, Torbitt has some very solid wins, including splitting with qualifiers Trevor Hoffmier of Newark Valley and Frank Garcia of Norwich.

Garcia is the #2 seed in the bracket. He responded to a 7-0 setback against Torbitt in early February with a 2-1 victory in the Section 4 final. Garcia was one win shy of making the medal stand in 2012 and despite battling some injuries for a portion of the campaign, has followed up with a strong season, including a podium spot at the Eastern States. Garcia’s first challenge will be Locust Valley’s Mike Dusold, who has over 30 wins. After appearances last year, a number of wrestlers, such as Matt Dillon of Nanuet and Ryan Hake of Bayport Blue Point, are looking to pick up a few more victories. In addition to Garcia, upstate is well represented in the bottom half with Nick Koelmel, who is undefeated this season, as well as the wrestler Koelmel beat for the Section 3 title, Mexico’s CJ Loomis. In addition, Codie Nichols of Unatego from Section 4 will try to make an impact.

So . . . Hull fell 6-5 in the 2012 title bout at this weight to Tyler Button of Phoenix. With that experience fresh in his mind, he finishes one spot higher in his last high school bout.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

One of the most anticipated matches of the Section 3 tournament was the title bout between Phoenix’s Rowdy Prior and Adirondack’s Tyler Spann. Last year, Spann defeated Prior at that event and made it to the state tournament. However, a few weeks ago, the pair met again and after Spann got out to an early lead, Prior did what he does so often – get the fall.

Other than Spann, a few other wrestlers in the top part of the bracket have wrestled in the state capital before, including Irvington’s Brett Pastore, who went 1-2 a year ago. Keep an eye out for Alex Smythe of Eden who wasn’t at the Times Union Center in 2012, but was previously. He has put together a very solid season at 42-2. Two Section 5 competitors will meet right away, as Max Lloyd of Palmyra Macedon and Dan Woughter of Alfred Almond battle in Round 1.

While the #1 and #4 seeds went to Section 3’s Prior and Spann, the #2 and #3 spots went to Section 4 wrestlers. Section 4 was well represented at this weight last year by a fourth place finish by Greene’s Dan Dickman.  This year, Unatego’s Kevin Thayer defeated Dickman in an exciting 18-16 bout at the Section championships. Thayer is 35-3 with two of his losses coming to Kyle Halladay of Chenango Valley (the #2 seed), whose only setback was at 170 pounds. Another wrestler with a single ‘L’ is Trey Duvall of Addison who beat Lloyd and Woughter to take the SuperSectionals. Not to be overlooked is Connor Lawrence, who is back at the Times Union Center for Duanesburg.

So . . . Another Prior vs. Spann bout would be worth the price of admission. While we had Spann ranked higher for most of the season, Prior has shown his ability to compete with and beat top competition this year. At Eastern States, where he took second, he beat Dan DeCarlo and Zach Joseph, among others. We think the winner of that bout will take the title and for now, we vote Prior.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:

Burke Paddock, Warsaw (Third at 170)

Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (Sixth at 160)

Paddock, Photo by Josh Conklin

Burke Paddock is the state’s top ranked wrestler at this weight and the favorite to add another title to his family’s trophy case. In the quarters, he could face the athletic Jordan Formicola of Locust Valley, who is 25-4 with one-point losses to Chris Koo of Great Neck South and 2012 qualifier Dan Tracy of Mepham. Another potential Round of 8 pairing, should they advance, would be between a pair of Eastern States placers, Austin Weigel of Onteora and Mike Beckwith of Greene. Weigel came within one bout of a medal a year ago and gave Paddock his closest match this year in a 1-0 decision at SUNY Sullivan. Paddock also topped Beckwith in Loch Sheldrake, by a 7-0 score.

There are some very dangerous wrestlers in the bottom half. Tom Confer, the number two seed, defeated returning sixth placer Tyler Silverthorn (the #3 seed) of General Brown early in the season. However, a potential quarterfinal opponent for Confer could be Oneida’s Matt Fisher. Fisher, who went 1-2 in Albany last year with both losses by a point, has five victories over Confer this season (and one sudden victory loss to the Camden grappler). It’s hard to believe that they could meet for the seventh time in one season.

An opening round win for Silverthorn would mean a bout with either Gunner Van Curen of Portville, who lost twice in late November (to Confer and Paddock) and then won the rest of the way or Schalmont’s Nick Gallo, another Eastern States placer who came within a match of making the medal stand as a freshman in 2012 (and has a win over Fisher). Not any easy group to navigate.

So . . . When we talked to Paddock prior to the season, he admitted that he expected to have a state title under his belt by now. While he took second and third the past two years, he’ll get top billing as a junior.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Troy Seymour, Peru (Fourth at 170)

Christian Dietrich of Greene returns to Albany after missing last season with an injury. The top seed, who placed as a seventh grader at 152, will begin with returning qualifier John Messinger of Putnam Valley, who has over 30 wins. The winner of that one will battle a very solid wrestler – either Mattituck’s Tomasz Filipkowski, who came within one bout of placing last year, or 45-1 Section 3 champion Daniel Smith of South Jefferson.

Mike Green of Cobleskill-Richmondville is the #4 seed after a 41-2 campaign. He could greet Jon Levchuk of Byron Bergen, the winner of a tough SuperSectional bracket, in Round 2.

Green wasn’t the Section 2 titlewinner, as he lost to Geno Brancati of Hudson Falls in the finals, a week after beating him. Brancati was in the state capital last year as a ninth grader and was eliminated by Adis Radoncic of the PSAL. Radoncic, who finished in the top 8 in 2012, could be in Brancati’s path again in 2013.

Additonal returners are Jeff Day of Letchworth and unbeaten Zack Buckley of Fredonia, who tie up in the opening round with the victor potentially squaring off with the 2012 fourth placer at this weight, Troy Seymour of Peru.

So . . . Seymour, the preseason #1 at this weight, lost a tight 3-2 bout to Dietrich at the Eastern States. After taking fourth in New York and second at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach, the Peru senior tops the freshman to leave high school atop the podium.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Zack Zupan, Canastota (Champion at 170)
Tim Schaefer, Warsaw (Third at 182)
Brad Burns, Hoosick Falls (Sixth at 170)
Andy Martinez, Liberty (Sixth at 182)

Zack Zupan won one of the most challenging brackets at the state tournament last year in either Division. That 170-pound weight included previously undefeated Nick Mitchell of Frewsburg (who recently took third at the Edinboro Open in college) and the previously mentioned Troy Seymour and Burke Paddock. This time, he enters as the clear number one. Austin Lynn of Frewsburg, Tyler Veno of Portville and Gage Bourdeau of Beekmantown are among those who have had solid years on the top side. The favorite to take on Zupan in the semis, however, would likely be Walton’s Mike Beers, a returning state qualifier who has defeated 2012 state placer Andy Martinez of Liberty three times this season.

Martinez sits on the lower half, with a potential quarterfinals meeting looming with Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer, should both advance. Schaefer, a multi-time medalist who took bronze at this weight a year ago, is 50-1. He has seen a number of the foes in this bracket before, including Canisteo-Greenwood’s Derrick Din (three times). Din will open with a possible sleeper in the bracket – Brad Burns of Hoosick Falls, a sixth placer at 170 in 2012. The number three seed is Unatego’s Ryan Marszal, who has topped Beers on multiple occasions.

So . . . Zupan beat Schaefer 5-2 in the finals at Eastern States. We anticipate an exciting sequel but no surprise ending.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (Second at 195)
Tyler Smith, Midlakes (Fourth at 195)

Mazurowski, Photo by BV

Bryce Mazurowski went all the way to the finals last year and the Binghamton-bound senior looks to return. There are potential stumbling blocks along the way for the Avon standout, as nearly all of the grapplers in the field have some quality wins. We’re interested in the opening round contest between Jeff Senecal, the fourth seed, and returning qualifier Mark Viviano, who hasn’t lost since mid-December.

Dustin Mackenzie of Onteora is in the field for the second consecutive year. In 2012, his initial bout was against Mazurowski and this time he opens with second seed Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur, who looked very good at the Eastern States and has had a stellar senior season. The winner of that one could face one-loss grappler Matt Booth from Section 6. Tyler Smith of Midlakes earned fourth at this weight in 2012 and hopes to get a little higher on the podium. Look out for Wyatt Albanese, who has beaten (and lost to) Division I seeded wrestler Ben Honis as well as Lane Frost.

So . . . Future Bearcats will be picking up plenty of hardware at the tournament. Mazurowski will contribute by getting his hand raised in his high school finale.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Zack Bacon, Hornell (Second at 220)
Mike Silvis, Holley (Fifth at 220)

Zack Bacon is the returning runner up and is undefeated in his senior campaign. He has some tough opposition on his side of the weight, including Fredonia’s Chris Saden, General Brown’s Corey Gaffney and returning qualifier Luke McKee. And of course, Holley’s Mike Silvis sits in the fourth spot, ready for a possible semifinal battle. Bacon and Silvis met in last year’s state tournament (a decision for Bacon) and again at the SuperSectionals where the Hornell grappler won 1-0.

The other half of the bracket also includes several tough wrestlers. A pair of unbeatens, Waverly’s Ryan Wolcott and Nanuet’s Dan Breit, lead the list. Wolcott upended the top seed in Division I, Nick Lupi, in December at the Windsor Christmas Tournament. Meanwhile, Breit registered numerous quality victories in earning the Eastern States crown (including over Silvis in the championship round). He also has topped at least two wrestlers in the bottom part of the bracket – Dillon Hurlbert and Jesse Corcoran, as well as the second seed in Division I, John Hartnett.

So . . . Bacon has been our #1 ranked wrestler throughout the campaign and has been dominant. But we’re going to say that the battle-tested Breit will repeat the championship performance he showed at Eastern States, after a difficult semifinal battle with Wolcott.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Alex Soutiere, Ravena (Second at 285)
Matt Montesanti, Medina (Sixth at 285)

Soutiere, Photo by BV

Alex Soutiere recorded one of the bigger upsets of the Division II tournament last year when he beat Holley’s Kacee Sauer in the semifinals on his way to the silver. He’s back looking for more after a 44-1 season. Windsor’s Matt Abbott also has one loss this season – to Ryan Wolcott of Waverly.

Abbott spent a fair amount of time at 220 this year, as did returning qualifier Matt Acevedo of Pawling. (Nate Sarkin and Elvin Gervacio also competed in this class last season and are back). Acevedo will begin against Section 3’s Wyatt Morris, a 30-4 wrestler who dropped the Sectional final 1-0 against Lowville’s Brandon Fayle. Fayle, the number two seed, finished in the top 8 in Albany a year ago. One of his losses at the Times Union Center was to Medina’s Matt Montesanti, who grabbed sixth place in 2012. The Section 6 competitor is undefeated this year with 19 pins.

So . . . Montesanti topped Fayle 4-3 in their state capital meeting last season. We’ll pick the Medina wrestler to repeat that result and capture victory against Soutiere.

It's Almost Tournament Time: Division I State Tournament Preview

First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division I state tournament in Albany.  We will be posting a similar article on Division II. The votes have been rolling in, but if you haven’t already, feel free to give us your thoughts on who will win the titles by participating in our prediction contests.

For the Division I contest, click on this link.

For the Division II contest, click on this link.


99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

Huntington’s John Arceri got the top seed, but it’s far from an easy road for him. In a 35-2 season (one of his losses was at 106), he defeated five of the grapplers in this bracket, including the number two, three and four seeds. His reward? A possible meeting with the undefeated Vito Arujau of Syosset if both make the quarterfinals. An intriguing first round bout pits CHSAA winner Garrett Baugher, who has been a force throughout the campaign, against NHSCA Middle School National Champion Kelan McKenna of Section 3.

On the bottom of the bracket, we’re excited to see Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip against Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury in the opening round. Having Vespa back on the mat this year has been an amazing story after his well-documented battle with cancer. But beyond that, it is always interesting to watch two medal contenders clash early in the event. Speaking of Section 9 wrestlers, number two seed Chris Cuccolo recovered from some early season setbacks to win the Eastern States and breezed through the remainder of the year (other than a loss to Arceri). He could have a meeting with Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the Round of 8. Diakomihalis has won just about every event he’s entered in the past year and is nationally ranked.

So . . . We’ve had Diakomihalis at #1 and Arujau at #2 for the entire season at this weight. While 99 is often unpredictable at the state tournament, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those two put on a show in the finals as they did in the Super 32 Middle School tournament in the fall when Diakomihalis came out on top and took the title.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (Third at 99)
Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (Fourth at 106)
Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (Sixth at 99)

Alex Tanzman, the top seed, has followed up a stellar junior season with an even better senior campaign. He has a 32-1 mark, with the only loss coming at the hands of state champion Nick Piccininni up a weight at 113. Fellow Section 11 grappler Steven Lee is back in Albany after coming within one win of placing last year. He’ll be part of an intriguing first round bout against Colonie’s Golan Cohen, a wrestler who stood out with a fourth place showing at the Eastern States Classic.

On the bottom half, a number of wrestlers with experience at the Times Union Center will take the mat. Spencerport’s Jon Haas was one bout from making All-State last year and has been on a roll, winning 14 matches in a row since a loss to Diakomihalis. If he gets to the quarters, he could face Nick Barbaria, who made the medal stand a year ago and has an unblemished record (40-0) this year. On the way to the Eastern States Classic title this season, Barbaria topped Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser in an overtime bout and Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the championship match. Those two wrestlers are also very much in the mix for titles and could collide in the Round of 8 if they both advance there. (Quinn’s only two losses are to Barbaria).

So . . . This should be a very interesting class, but in the end, we expect Tanzman, the senior from Section 11, to end his career on a high note on Saturday night against the very tough Barbaria.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (Champion at 99)
Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (Champion at 106)
Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (Fourth at 99)
Bryan Lantry, Wayne (Fifth at 99)
John Stramiello, Pine Bush (Sixth at 106)

It’s clear that there are many very good wrestlers at this weight, especially considering how many returning state placers are in the bracket. Bryan Lantry of Wayne and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush competed for third at the Eastern States and have both been on the state podium before. Corey Ali of Shenendehowa and Thomas Hill of Fulton have won multiple Section 2 and 3 championships, respectively. Joe Calderone also was All-State last year.

So . . . Despite the obvious quality throughout the field, if anyone other than Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni and Chenango Forks’s Kyle Kelly takes the mat in the Saturday night finals, it will be a huge upset. It’s a match that fans in Sections 4 and 11 have been talking about all season and one that both Piccininni and Kelly have expressed excitement about in interviews we did with them prior to the season. Both are nationally ranked by at least one publication and both were undefeated state champions in 2012 (Kelly at 99 and Piccininni at 106). The last time Piccininni lost a match in New York, it was to Kelly in the 2011 99-pound semifinals when Kelly went on to win his first state crown. How similar will this match be to that close decision? We expect it to be an absolute battle between two of the very best wrestlers the Empire State has to offer. We’ve had Piccininni in the top spot in the rankings all year . . . we’ll see if we were right.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Anthony Orefice, Lockport (Fifth at 106)
Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (Fifth at 113)
Steve Michel, Lancaster (Sixth at 120)

We go from two state champions, Kelly and Piccininni, to a field full of grapplers who can make the finals. Who will win at 120 Pounds? Great question. Recently, I asked a handful of people and, predictably, I got a handful of different answers.

Will it be Steve Michel, the top seed? He is a returning placer and has had a strong season, including wins over Division II state champion Sean Peacock, three victories over multi-time placer Anthony Orefice and a pair of triumphs against Kellen Devlin of Amherst. At Eastern States, however, where a sizable number of wrestlers in this bracket competed, Michel didn’t place. Neither did another returning All-Stater, Robert Person. However, the Nassau County wrestler seems to be back to form. After all, he lost to MacArthur’s Chris Cataldo at SUNY Sullivan but responded with a commanding major against the same opponent in the Section 8 final.

Ok, but if those guys didn’t place in Loch Sheldrake – who did? The answer: lots of wrestlers who will compete in Albany. John Muldoon of Pearl River took second, Blaise Benderoth was third, Travis Passaro grabbed fourth, Blake Retell picked up seventh and Santo Curatolo took eighth. Alex Delacruz was in the semis before being disqualified.

Let’s face it, everyone mentioned above is capable of being on the podium. As is Mike D’Angelo, who has a win over Muldoon. And Orefice, who has been a placer before. Only one thing seems safe to say – there shouldn’t be a dull match at this weight.

So . . . The winner here will have navigated tough customers in every round. Who will it be? We’ll put forward the wrestler who got the most votes in our informal poll – John Muldoon.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Dylan Realbuto, Somers (Champion at 113)
TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (Fourth at 120)

Fabian, Photo by Josh Conklin

There are so many good story lines here. One that we’ll definitely be watching is how seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield fares in his first state tournament appearance. He sure hasn’t looked at all intimidated so far, including during his seventh place finish at Eastern States in a very challenging class. He sits in the top part of the bracket, along with a number of accomplished wrestlers. The #1 seed is Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a returning placer who was upset in the Section 11 tournament but came back for bronze. The match that many thought would be the Suffolk finals – Fabian vs. Hauppauge’s Mark West, didn’t come to fruition last weekend. However, it could be a semifinal showdown. Both Section 11 grapplers have plenty to contend with early on, however. For example, West gets Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s a former state placer, in Round 1.

The lower half is no cakewalk, either. Returning state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers begins with upstart Owen Bachelder of Hewlett, who starred in the Nassau County event, including a pin against NHSCA National Champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh. Aroaz, however, will be in the field in Albany for the first time and will start off in another excellent opening round contest as he takes on Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Both Jacob Green of Chenengo Forks and Keanu Thompson have significant Times Union Center experience and will be a challenging matchup for anyone.

So . . . Realbuto has been in the finals for two consecutive years and we think he’ll leverage that experience to get back for the third time, where we could see a rematch of the Eastern States title bout with Fabian. Fabian beat Realbuto on a third period reversal at SUNY Sullivan this year. Realbuto won his state title last year on a last second takedown. With a late charge, Realbuto may do it again.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Matt Leshinger, Sayville (Third at 120)
Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (Fourth at 113)

Matt Leshinger, the top seed, looks to move up a few spots on the ladder after taking third as a junior. He has wrestled well all year, avenging his one loss against Vinny Turano by beating the Wantagh wrestler the next day to grab bronze at Eastern States. There could be a third meeting in the semis but plenty of wrestlers are capable of stopping that from happening. Turano will have an immediate challenge from freshman Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge.

Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam, the #2 seed, has been on the podium multiple times but will be tested right away by returning qualifier Richie Burke of Ithaca, who has put together a 38-3 season. Also sitting in the bottom half is Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian, the Eastern States runner up. The CHSAA champion has blitzed through the season.

So . . . Leshinger was the top seed last year at 120 and took third. This time, as the top seed, we think he’ll finish with the gold against Melikian.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (Third at 132)
Vincent DePrez, Hilton (Second at 113)

Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley and Hilton’s Vincent DePrez had one thing in common last year – both only lost once, and it was at the Times Union Center. Kelley was edged in the semifinals by eventual champion Jamel Hudson while DePrez lost in the waning seconds of the title bout against Dylan Realbuto.

They are the top seeds at 138 (Kelley is at #1). Among the wrestlers on the top half of the bracket to watch are Derrick Gray of Indian River, a five-time Sectional champion, who came within a bout of placing last year and North Rockland’s Matt Caputo, who has over 50 wins according to the NWCA Scorebook.

There are some first round matchups in the bottom half that we’re excited about. One is Rocky Point’s Tommy Dutton, who has been dominant nearly the entire season, against undefeated Danny Graham of West Seneca East. In addition, Isaiah Perry of Massena, who has been at this tournament for many years, will give it one last shot to make the podium, beginning against Joey Butler of Burnt Hills, a returning qualifier who gave Kelley his closest match against a New York wrestler this year in an 8-6 loss.

So . . . Kelley, one of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in New York and a regular in Albany since seventh grade, has been waiting for the chance to get on top of the podium. We think he’ll get there this time, with a challenge from Dutton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (Third at 138)

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

When David Almaviva of Shenendehowa and Louis Hernandez of Mepham squared off in the quarterfinals of the Eastern States, a fan sitting nearby told me it was a preview of the state finals. It could be. Hernandez won that day, 4-2, and went on to win the tournament.

A number of wrestlers will provide very formidable challenges to those two, however. In the top half, where Hernandez sits as the #1 seed, he could see a wrestler such as Anthony DePrez of Hilton, who has just a single loss this year and has been impressive. In addition, Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi is a big threat. He handed Almaviva his only loss at the Times Union Center last year. Jackson Mordente of Sachem East is yet another to keep tabs on.

In the bottom half, Brendan Dent may be under the radar for those outside of Long Island, but he has been strong all year and has yet to lose. In addition, Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster is a very dangerous wrestler who has been to the finals before and is on a mission to get back. Trevor Hoffmier is a formidable first round foe for Almaviva as well.

So . . . We believe the fan at the Eastern States had the title bout pegged. The stage is brighter, but we expect a similar match in Hernandez vs. Almaviva II to what we saw in the Eastern States quarters.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Corey Rasheed, Longwood (Second at 145)

Longwood’s Corey Rasheed is a three-time state placer, including two runner up finishes. If he wrestles the way he has all year, he will be extremely difficult to beat. Eastern States provided a great example of that. In a solid bracket, he pinned his first three foes and then outscored the opposition 28-4 in the semis and finals to earn the crown. He could face some of the other medalists from that event as both Joe Mastro of Yorktown and Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis sit in the top of the bracket.

Columbia’s Angelo Kress is the number two seed and has topped the wrestler in the number three spot, Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa, twice by a single point in February. For them to meet again, they will have to overcome a number of very strong wrestlers, among them, returning qualifier Zach Colgan of Johnson City, Section 3’s Tommy Quinlan and two-time NHSCA All-American Chris Koo.

So . . . Rasheed has been unbelievable this season. He’s been close to a state title twice before and this time takes gold instead of silver against the very solid (and currently unbeaten) Koo.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (Second at 160)
Dale White, John Jay East Fishkill (Fifth at 145)

Tyler Grimaldi was the runner up in this class last year. He has dedicated himself to making sure he gets that elusive last victory in 2013 before heading to Harvard. Who stands in his way? Clarence’s Jake Weber has put together a good season in Section 6 as has Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley, an NHSCA All-American. Holcomb will have an interesting first match as he faces returning medalist Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill, a wrestler who missed the bulk of the season with an injury but has looked solid upon his return.

Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell announced his presence among the state’s elite with his fourth place showing at the Eastern States. In the bronze bout, he lost to MacArthur’s Steve Schneider. The Nassau County champion has appeared to get better and better as the season progressed and is the #2 seed.

So . . . Grimaldi and Schneider have already faced off twice this season with the Hills West senior getting his hand raised both times. The finals may give us a third battle. Harvard thinks they found a champion.  We agree.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Danny McDevitt, Wantagh (Fifth at 138)

McDevitt, Photo by

Wantagh’s Danny McDevitt is familiar with being the number one seed in Albany as he was on the top line of the 138-pound bracket a year ago, and took fifth. His senior campaign has been nothing short of spectacular as he has seamlessly adjusted to wrestling four weight classes higher. On the way to his Eastern States crown, McDevitt saw (and defeated) some of his challengers, including Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Piccolo, who is the fourth seed. A number of other grapplers who have appeared in the state rankings are in the top part of the bracket, such as St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas and Monroe Woodbury’s AJ Voelker.

Another one of McDevitt’s victories at SUNY Sullivan was against John Jay East Fishkill’s Brett Perry, who resides in the bottom of the bracket. Perry will have a very tough opening battle with Brockport’s Jared Mesiti, a returning qualifier who is 36-2 this season. Carlos Toribio of Brentwood has suffered just one setback in his senior campaign – against Piccolo by fall. However, he beat Piccolo twice, including a dominant victory in the Suffolk finals in which Toribio looked like he was healthy again after an injury.

So . . . McDevitt completes the perfect season before he begins his Ivy League career as a Quaker at Penn with a squeaker against the impressive Toribio.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Shayne Brady, Carthage (Second at 170)
James Benjamin, Vestal (Fifth at 182)
Gio Santiago, Sachem North (Sixth at 182)

Shayne Brady went all the way to the championship bout last year at 170. After placing at the Super 32 Classic and going 32-1, he’s on top of the bracket this time. A couple of returning placers with a tendency to pin could be in his path. Vestal’s James Benjamin notched four pins at the state tournament last year and 28 overall this campaign. Gio Santiago also knows how to throw opponents to their backs, with 30 falls. Don’t forget about Thomas Murray of Yorktown. At the beginning of the year, when asking about potential sleepers in Section 1, we were told to watch out for Murray and he has delivered with a good season.

James Corbett of Wantagh and Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South both lost 6-4 decisions to Trent Egenlauf of Spencerport. It was Liberatore’s only setback of the year, while Corbett had only one more (to Zack Zupan). There are a number of other tough wrestlers in the bottom half, but one of these three is likely to get a shot in the finals.

So . . . Finals experience helps Brady get back to the Saturday night main event, but in an upset, we’ll pick Egenlauf to stay undefeated for the title with very close decisions in the semis and finals.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Reggie Williams, Johnson City (Second at 195)

Reggie Williams has been among the best upperweights in the state for years now. As a freshman, he took sixth and last year he was second with all of his losses coming to state champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. He has been focused on one thing since stepping off the mat in Albany last February and that’s winning it all. So far, he has an unblemished record in 2012-13 and sits as the top seed. Will he get that crown? There will certainly be some obstacles for him. Before the brackets came out, we considered some possible finals opponents for Williams. Among those were Dan Choi of Syosset, undefeated pinning machine Chris Chambers of East Islip and Steven Sabella of Yorktown. (Williams beat Sabella with very late points, 7-5, at Eastern States). Guess what? A finals meeting between any of those guys won’t happen because they’re all on the top half.

So, who will emerge from the bottom? Colton Kells has marched through his senior year with an unblemished record. If he wins his first contest, he’ll certainly be tested by either Deon Edmond of Kingston, who came within one bout of placing last year or the tough Nick Weber of Kings Park. After earning All-American status in Fargo, Ben Honis has put together a nice resume with wins over several top 195 pounders and he’ll have a chance to add to that list when he faces Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley in Round 1.

So . . . All in all, it’s an impressive group of big guys. But despite the many obstacles in his way, Williams has been here before and knows what it takes. We think he’ll get it done in a tight bout over Kells, who came within a match of placing last year and has improved on his feet.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Nick Lupi, Huntington (Fifth at 220)

We were ready to go with a finals prediction of Nick Lupi of Huntington (31-1 after a fifth place showing in this class a year ago) against Rich Sisti of Monsignor Farrell (25-0, 20 pins). With the way the seeds fell, that won’t happen. There are candidates to upset either of those wrestlers, however. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau showed resilience when he came back from a first round loss at Eastern States to take third. In addition, the winner of the first round tilt between Section 8 champion Tom Sinclair of Island Trees and Marshall Taylor of Lockport could certainly go far.

On the bottom, there are many wrestlers with finals potential. John Hartnett of Tappan Zee and Jason Johnson of Colonie put together solid seasons. We think both Steven Mills of Sachem North and Matt Mott of Lynbrook have been somewhat under the radar this year. Our prediction is that one or both won’t be after the weekend.

So . . . Sisti will make it difficult, but we’ll say Lupi’s experience at this tournament leads him to a crown, over a tough fellow Long Islander.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (Second at 285)
Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (Sixth at 285)

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Our rankings have showcased El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia at #1 and Mike Hughes of Smithtown West at #2 for the whole season. Van Hoesen, a silver medalist in 2012, has been nothing short of dominant as a senior, going 37-0 with 24 pins and only two regular decisions. “Nothing short of dominant” could be used to describe Hughes as well. His numbers read: 38-0, 29 pins, 1 regular decision (over qualifier James O’Hagan). If Van Hoesen and Hughes continue to wrestle the way they have all year, the two returning medalists would battle in the semis.

Like Van Hoesen and Hughes, Mike Manni of Tappan Zee is unbeaten this year. He defeated returning qualifier David Varian of Yorktown in the Section 1 finals and a rematch could happen in the semis. However, there are several wrestlers who could stand in the way. Austin Coleman of Spencerport has over 35 wins, as does Newburgh’s Terrence Cheeks, who has exchanged wins with Varian this year.

So . . . The top half winner gets the gold. We’ll say that will be Van Hoesen, who will add a few more pins to his collection before the weekend’s over. After testing himself throughout the year, we’ll say Cheeks gets through the bottom.