All Tied Up: Long Island and Upstate All-Star Squads Battle to 27-27 Result in Ithaca

The poster for the first annual Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge said, “The Debate Will Finally Be Settled.”  But after a great day of wrestling, neither team earned bragging rights as the squads battled to a 27-27 tie at the Friedman Center on the campus of Cornell University.

It’s fair to say that neither team was thrilled with the outcome.

“We weren’t happy.  I actually think were kind of shocked to have tied,” said Long Island 120-pounder Travis Passaro. “I didn’t think it would be a blowout, but I thought we would win.”

Upstate 195-pounder Reggie Williams wasn’t pleased either.

“Even after they tied it up, we were hoping we would still win on criteria,” the Johnson City star said. “We would have won if they went to criteria. We really wanted to win this in the first year of the event.”

The dual featured some of New York’s best wrestlers, including 13 state champions and another 15 placers.  As a result, the fans were treated to a back and forth affair that came down to the final bout, where Connetquot’s Brendan Dent edged Hilton’s Vincent DePrez at 145 pounds 5-4 to complete Long Island’s comeback from eight points down with just two matches remaining.

Photo by BV

The main event began with a pair of 99 pounders who took first (Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton) and third (John Busiello of Eastport South Manor) in Albany.  Diakomihalis took charge early and never relented, winning a 9-3 decision and giving Upstate a 3-0 advantage.

Long Island responded, however, as state champion Mike Hughes of Smithtown West used a late charge to top Columbia’s El Shaddai Van Hoesen 5-4 at heavyweight.  The Columbia wrestler scored the first takedown and later added a reversal, but Hughes rebounded to knot the team score at 3.

Next to the mat was yet another state gold medalist – 106-pounder Kyle Quinn of Wantagh.  He took an early lead against third placer Jon Haas of Spencerport, but it was Haas who picked up the pace as the match continued, erasing the early deficit and coming from behind to win 7-4.

Building on that momentum for the Upstate team was Holley’s Mike Silvis at 220.  He used a big throw to propel himself to a 7-3 decision over New York runner up Steven Mills and pushed the Upstate group’s advantage to 9-3.   On top of that, the Long Island squad was docked a team point, which would prove costly at the end of the day.

Ready to turn the tide was two-time state titlewinner Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.  The Section 11 star got his team back on track with a 6-0 blanking of Lockport’s Anthony Orefice at 113 to pull Long Island within 9-5, bringing up a rematch of a quarterfinal tilt at the Times Union Center.

At the state tournament, Syosset’s Dan Choi upended top-seeded Reggie Williams of Johnson City 14-4 on his way to the NYS crown.  Williams couldn’t wait to take another shot at the Section 8 grappler.

“I was really excited to have a rematch because I wasn’t at my best at the state tournament,” Williams said. “I was really looking forward to it.  I wanted to prove that I just had a bad weekend.”

He definitely had a better day on Saturday in an entertaining clash that featured a number of throw attempts by the 195-pounders.  With a lead in the third and time winding down, Williams picked up significant points for the Upstaters when he put Choi to his back and recorded the fall.

“Ending it that way did mean a little more,” Williams said. “I know [Choi] committed to Cornell and he’ll be scarred with his first experience there losing by pin. Getting a pin at this level of competition, at an event like this was big. It really helped my team out.”

It definitely did, giving Upstate a 15-5 lead. With that 10-point deficit, Long Island sent bronze medalist Travis Passaro out to face 120-pound champion Alex Delacruz of Ossining.  Thanks to some outstanding work on the mat, including a number of turns for near fall, the Section 11 standout beat Delacruz by major decision to pull his squad within striking distance, 15-9.

“I really wanted to wrestle him; I felt like I should have been in the state finals,” Passaro said. “It was a big match for me. Top is one of my best positions and when I got on top, I was able to work for turns and score a lot of points.  I wasn’t expecting to score so much, but I wasn’t surprised.  I felt like I did what I should have done.”

And not too long afterwards, Gio Santiago answered the pin by Williams with a fall of his own to bring the scoreboard to a 15-15 tie.  Santiago, a prolific pinner throughout his career, ended his bout with Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer with an exclamation point.

Photo by BV

“Gio Santiago came through with a huge pin to tie it up and bring us right back into it,” Passaro said. “That was really big.”

So, eight matches down, seven to go and it was deadlocked between the squads.  What could make things even more exciting?  How about a clash between a pair of 2013 state champions?

TJ Fabian of Shoreham Wading River and William Koll of Lansing met at 126 pounds at the Eastern States Classic in January, with the Long Island wrestler walking away with the triumph and the tournament title.  This time, the tables were turned as Koll jumped out to a quick lead with a takedown and back points.  Despite Fabian’s strong top work in the third period which earned points both for riding time and stalling against the Section 4 wrestler, Koll came away a 5-4 winner and pulled the Upstate squad ahead 18-15.

Long Island then briefly took its last lead of the day on the strength of Danny McDevitt’s major decision over Clarence’s Jake Weber at 170.  McDevitt showed his dominance on the mat, reversing his opponent on multiple occasions and collecting nearfall to put the Section 8 and 11 squad up 19-18.

However, the next three bouts went to the Upstaters as Brandon Lapi and Connor Lapresi both registered shutouts over their opponents, Chris Mauriello and Vinny Turano (at 132 and 138).  Both Lapi and Lapresi notched first period takedowns and then demonstrated strong work on the mat, with significant riding time.

In between those two performances came one of the most anticipated matches of the event – a meeting between Division I state champion Tyler Grimaldi and his Division II counterpart Burke Paddock at 160 pounds.  Grimaldi said before the weekend that it was the “grudge match” as he had beaten Paddock in Freestyle while Paddock had returned the favor at the Eastern States.

After some early handfighting, the Warsaw junior grabbed control, throwing Grimaldi to his back for a 5-0 advantage.  He added to his lead in the second to enter the third up 7-1.  Despite a comeback from the Hills West star, who earned some takedowns late, Paddock came away with a 9-5 victory.

And so entering the final two bouts of the afternoon, at 152 and 145 pounds, Upstate was in front 27-19.

“I was confident in [Corey Rasheed and Brendan Dent]; I felt like they could both win,” Passaro said. “I thought we had a chance to win the dual.”

Rasheed, one of the most dominant grapplers in all of New York this year was set to face  fellow 152-pound state champion Kevin Thayer of Unatego.

Photo by BV

Those present at the Times Union Center saw Rasheed cradle his opponent and end the state title bout in less than a minute.  That move led to many falls during the campaign for the Longwood junior.  He slapped that cradle onto Thayer more than once, but the Section 4 wrestler refused to give in, fighting off his back multiple times.  In the end, Rasheed was just too much and with less than 20 ticks left in the third period, he finished off a 15-0 technical fall, putting his squad behind by just three points, 27-24.

“Kevin Thayer is a good wrestler who goes hard, but Corey Rasheed is just a really, really tough kid,” Williams said. “I was proud of Kevin because even though he was losing, he kept fighting. He never stopped fighting and he didn’t give up the pin.”

So it all came down to the 145 pound contest.  It was two-time state runner up Vincent DePrez of Hilton for the Upstate squad, (second at 138 in 2013) against NYS fourth placer Brendan Dent of Connetquot.

Dent got on the board first with a takedown and ended the first ahead 2-1. He added to his lead with an escape in the second, but DePrez made it 3-3 with a takedown in the middle stanza. In the third, DePrez moved ahead 4-3 when he got out from bottom, but Dent answered with a takedown with just over a minute remaining to lead 5-4. DePrez worked for the reversal as time ticked down, but Dent held on for the 5-4 victory.

Following the match, the scoreboard changed to 27-all and that’s how it would end. One thing was unanimous – neither team liked that deadlocked tally.

“There’s always tension between Upstate and Long Island,” Passaro said. “It was a really fun weekend, but we wanted to win it.”

Williams felt the same way.

“We had a great time as team; did a lot of bonding.  When good wrestlers get together, you learn a lot and make new friendships.  It was a good weekend, but no one wants to end on a tie,” he said. “We really wanted to come out on top in the first year. But, there’s always next year.”



Long Island 27, Upstate 27 – Results from Saturday's Challenge


Long Island 27, Upstate 27

99 pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis (U) dec John Busiello (LI), 9-3 Upstate leads 3-0

285 pounds: Mike Hughes (LI) dec El Shaddai Van Hoesen (U), 5-4 Tied at 3

106 pounds: Jon Haas (U) dec Kyle Quinn (LI), 7-4 Upstate leads 6-3

220 pounds: Mike Silvis (U) dec Steven Mills (LI), 7-3 Upstate leads 9-3

LI loses team point

113 pounds: Nick Piccininni (LI) dec Anthony Orefice (U), 6-0  Upstate leads 9-5

195 pounds: Reggie Williams (U) win by fall Dan Choi (LI) Upstate leads 15-5

120 pounds: Travis Passaro (LI) major Alex Delacruz (U), 17-7 Upstate leads 15-9

182 pounds: Gio Santiago (LI) win by fall Tim Schaefer (U), Tied at 15

126 pounds: William Koll (U) dec TJ Fabian (LI), 5-4 Upstate leads 18-15

170 pounds: Dan McDevitt (LI) major Jake Weber (U), 14-4 LI leads 19-18

132 pounds: Brandon Lapi (U) dec Chris Mauriello (LI), 6-0 Upstate leads 21-19

160 pounds: Burke Paddock (U) dec Tyler Grimaldi (LI), 9-5 Upstate leads 24-19

138 pounds: Connor Lapresi (U) dec Vinny Turano (LI), 5-0 Upstate leads 27-19

152 pounds: Corey Rasheed (LI) tech fall Kevin Thayer (U), 15-0 Upstate leads 27-24

145 pounds: Brendan Dent (LI) dec Vincent DePrez (U), 5-4 Tied at 27

Section 5 41, Finger Lakes Wrestling Club 29

120- Sean Peacock (Midlakes) tech fall Kaleb Stone (Tioga), Section 5 leads 5-0

126- Lou Deprez (Hilton) major Ryan Snow (General Brown), Section 5 leads 9-0

132- Frankie Gissendanner (Penfield) major Jesse Manuel (Tioga), 15-7, Section 5 leads 13-0

138- Trevor Hoffmier (Newark Valley) dec Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua), 8-5, Section 5 leads 13-3

145- Jordan Torbitt (Whitney Point) win by fall Skylar Kropman (Penfield), Section 5 leads 13-9

152- Anthony Deprez (Hilton) dec Tyler Silverthorn (General Brown), 7-5, Sec 5 leads 16-9

160- Josh Powell (Churchville Chili) dec Leland Slawson (Unatego), 4-2, Sec 5 leads 19-9

170- Christian Dietrich (Greene) major Jared Mesiti (Brockport), 12-4, Sec 5 leads 19-13

182- Shayne Brady (Carthage) win by fall Max Kowal (Webster Thomas), 19-19 Tie

195- Collin Pittman (Spencerport) win by fall Andrew Barnhart (Whitney Point), Sec 5 leads 25-19

220- Ryan Wolcott (Waverly) major Sam Eagan (Churchville), 14-6, Sec 5 leads 25-23

Hwt- Ian James (Greece) win by fall Connor Calkins (Alfred-Almond), Sec 5 leads 31-23

99- Brandon Gould (Watkins Glen) win by fall Parker Kropman (Penfield), Sec 5 leads 31-29

106- Andrew Flanagan (Holley) major Jackson Bell (Owego), Sec 5 leads 35-29

113- Bryan Lantry (Wayne) win by fall Zack Ruggles (Marcellus), Sec 5 wins 41-29

Kyle Dake Wins the Hodge Trophy as the Nation's Top Collegiate Wrestler


Dake, Photo by BV

Kyle Dake has won many awards and championships during his celebrated four-year career at Cornell.  Now, he has added another prestigious one to his resume.

On Friday, it was announced that the Big Red senior captured the 2013 Dan Hodge Trophy as the nation’s top collegiate wrestler.

Dake received 41 of the 43 first place votes, with Penn State’s Ed Ruth earning the other two.

The main considerations for the award are record, number of pins, dominance, quality of competition, previous credentials, sportsmanship/citizenship and heart.

The trophy is named in honor of Dan Hodge, a three-time NCAA champion, who was unbeaten during his college career at Oklahoma.

For more on Dake’s latest accolade, see here on the Cornell athletics page.

The following are the previous winners of the Hodge Trophy:

1995 – T.J. Jaworsky, North Carolina
1996 – Les Gutches, Oregon State
1997 – Kerry McCoy, Penn State
1998 – Mark Ironside, Iowa
1999 – Stephen Neal, Cal State-Bakersfield
2000 – Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
2001 – Cael Sanderson, Iowa State, and Nick Ackerman, Simpson College
2002 – Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
2003 – Eric Larkin, Arizona State
2004 – Emmett Willson, Montana State-Northern
2005 – Steve Mocco, Oklahoma State
2006 – Ben Askren, Missouri
2007 – Ben Askren, Missouri
2008 – Brent Metcalf, Iowa
2009 – Jake Herbert, Northwestern
2010 – Jayson Ness, Minnesota
2011 – Jordan Burroughs, Nebraska
2012 – David Taylor, Penn State

LIVE VIDEO: Watch some of the state's best at the Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge on Saturday

We will be streaming the main event of the Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge on Saturday, beginning around 4:30 p.m. The link to the live video can be found at this link on the live stream page.

The clash will feature numerous state champions and placers on both squads. For the high powered lineups, see below:

Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge – Main Event (Rosters as Provided to NYWN)

99 – John Busiello (Eastport South Manor) NYS Third vs Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) NYS Champion

106 – Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) NYS Champion vs Jon Haas (Spencerport) NYS Third

113 – Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) 2x NYS Champion vs Anthony Orefice (Lockport) Multi-Time NYS Placer

120 – Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor) NYS Third vs. Alex Delacruz (Ossining) NYS Champion

126 – TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River) NYS Champion vs Will Koll (Lansing) 2x NYS Champion

132 – Chris Mauriello (Hauppauge) NYS Qualifier vs Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam) NYS Runner Up

138 – Vinny Turano (Wantagh) NYS Fourth vs Connor Lapresi (Lansing) NYS Champion

145 – Brendan Dent (Connetquot) NYS Fourth vs Vincent Deprez (Hilton) 2x NYS Runner Up

152 – Corey Rasheed (Longwood) NYS Champion vs Kevin Thayer (Unatego) NYS Champion

160 – Tyler Grimaldi (Hills West) NYS Champion vs Burke Paddock (Warsaw) NYS Champion

170 – Dan McDevitt (Wantagh) 2x NYS Placer vs Jake Weber (Clarence) NYS Qualifier

182- Gio Santiago (Sachem North) 2x NYS Placer vs Tim Schaefer (Warsaw) Multi-Time NYS Placer

195 – Dan Choi (Syosset) NYS Champion vs Reggie Williams (Johnson City) NYS Runner up

220 – Steven Mills (Sachem North) NYS Second vs Mike Silvis (Holley) NYS Third

285 – Michael Hughes (Smithtown West) NYS Champion vs El Shaddai Van Hoesen (Columbia) NYS Runner Up

Still Time (on Thursday) to Vote for the Hodge Trophy; Kyle Dake a Finalist

For the first time, fans can vote for the winner of the Hodge Trophy, the award for the top collegiate wrestler in the nation.  Four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, a Lansing native, is one of the five finalists, along with Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver, Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, Penn State’s Ed Ruth and Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple.

The fan tallies will count for two of the 42 total votes for the trophy.  Last year’s winner was Penn State’s David Taylor, the opponent that Dake defeated for the 165-pound crown last Saturday night in Des Moines.

Get your votes in on Thursday because the winner will be announced on Friday!

To vote, please look about halfway down the page at this link.

Winning and Not Getting Pinned: John Passaro's New Book "6 Minutes Wrestling With Life"

When the toughest challenge of his life struck, John Passaro understood.

He had been bitter.  He had stayed away from wrestling – no participating, coaching or even following what was going on in the sport.  After all, he had spent six years doing far more than he was asked.  And then his dreams of county and state glory ended when he was injured and didn’t make the podium at the Suffolk tournament for William Floyd High School.

“I remember putting everything I had into it – total dedication, total discipline,” Passaro said. “If it was an hour and a half practice, I stayed for two and a half.  If we were supposed to a run a mile, I ran three.  My goals were to win leagues, win counties and win states.  I damaged some ribs in the league tournament as a senior and didn’t even place. I lost to a kid who I teched earlier in the year.  I couldn’t believe it.  I asked myself what the heck I did everything for.  I hated wrestling for a while; I probably avoided it for 17 years or so.  I wanted no part of it.  I felt like it wasn’t worth it – I did everything I should do and felt like I got nothing out of it.  Of course, I was wrong.”

While he slowly changed his mind and got back into the sport with sons Maverick and Travis, it was when his daughter Jess was suddenly rushed to the hospital with a brain injury in 2009 that he realized wrestling gave him the tools he needed to face a foe more powerful than ever before.

“I never realized what wrestling meant to me until I had adversity,” Passaro said.  “It just kicks in and you go into wrestling mode. You block everything out, you figure out what the obstacles are and figure out how you will overcome each one. There are setbacks and you work harder. You work as hard as you think is possible and then you have to work harder again.  It’s about constantly moving forward and not listening to the noise around you.  The biggest thing about wrestling is that you always reach a point when you’re on the mat with someone better than you.  You have to find a way to win anyway.  Life is the same way.  There are things bigger than you; my family was faced with an opponent much bigger than us.  You still have to come up with a plan to win.  You realize you have the ability to take yourself to levels you never thought possible.”

In his book, Passaro brings it all to life, telling the tale of what can happen when a family believes and sacrifices, even in the face of unlikely odds.  It details the battle Jess and the Passaro family had (and have) in dealing with significant illness and talks about the trials and triumphs of sons Maverick and Travis, both All-State grapplers in New York.

We don’t want to give away too much because the book is worth reading. It pulls no punches and will move, touch and inspire.  You’ll feel the power of the story.

Instead, we’ll share some of the answers John Passaro gave us about his work in an interview last week.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): The book provides such a compelling story.  Have you done a lot of writing before?

John Passaro (JP): It was the right time and place to write about my own personal experience.  As the events of the book were going on back in 2009, I was sending out text messages to close family and friends. I saved all of those and that was where I was drawing from.  It allowed me to remember minute details.  I took me about two months, writing a few chapters a day.  I really wanted it to be simple to read, a book you could read in one sitting.  I love to read, but a lot of times I get into a book and a paragraph or a chapter goes on forever and it loses me.  I didn’t want that – I wanted it to be something that would be hard to put down.

The funniest thing is that whenever I wrote in high school and thought I wrote a really good paper in honors English, I would get a grade much worse than I expected.  I was always baffled by it. I thought I could write. Let’s just say I wasn’t encouraged to write by my teachers, especially because I wrote about things like politics and religion, which were controversial.

But I always loved to write and I always knew I was going to write someday.

NYWN: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

JP: What was really hard for me was I always knew the first chapter had to be gripping as well as accurate and detailed and emotional. I wanted to write a long time before I really got going because I probably started the first chapter five or six times before it finally really came together.  After that, I never forced myself to write. I needed to go chronologically and any time I felt the next chapter, no matter where I was, I sat down and did it.

NYWN: You spent a lot of time talking about the early times when Jess got sick, but then skipped over multiple years of time.  Why did you choose to take that approach?

JP: The hardest part of the book was making it as positive as possible.  It’s highly emotional.  I don’t think people want to hear about the day-to-day since Jess came home. I wanted people to focus on the messages instead.

NYWN: What do you see as the key messages you wanted to get across?

JP: A lot of it is about keeping the faith and not allowing yourself to get pinned.  At a tournament, no matter what the score, you’ll see guys flop over and get pinned.  Then you’ll see guys who are down 10 points with 10 seconds left and they’re still fighting. You can’t break them. That’s the whole point.  Whether or not you’re broken is up to you. I never wanted to break. Wrestling taught me never to give in.

I also believe that things happen for a reason. If I was successful in wrestling earlier on, I probably wouldn’t have married my wife or had the desire to coach as much as I did or get my kids involved as much as I eventually did.  In the end, the prize was that I didn’t get the prize. It’s funny because I feel like I won by not being as successful in wrestling as I wanted to be.

NYWN: Were there things you wanted to put in the book but couldn’t?

JP: When you go through something like this, you’re part of a special club.  Your take on life is different.  You see other people with difficult circumstances and you hurt with them.  It’s a different way of looking at life. Things are hard, but I wouldn’t trade it because it gave me a new attitude and approach to life. You have to believe that somehow, some way, something good will come out of everything.  And more than believing it, you have to make something good come out of it.

There have been some situations in the wrestling community that I felt a connection to over the years.  When [Hauppauge’s] Nick Mauriello was on life support [in 2011], I didn’t know the family but sent his father an e-mail, telling him I kind of knew what he was going through.  I told him to hang in there and believe, and we’ve become good friends.   Nothing made me happier than seeing Nick make a full recovery.

When I heard about Aaron Paddock’s injury, I felt the pain that was involved. Same thing with Vinny Vespa.  It’s been great to see them bounce back too.  I know wrestling had something to do with those guys getting better.

NYWN: Were you ever hesitant to put such personal experiences in the public eye?

JP: My wife is very private and didn’t want me to do it.  She lived everything and didn’t want to re-live everything.  I definitely saw her point of view and there have probably been only one or two things in my life I overruled her on, but this was one of them.  I felt like it was something I needed to do.  Sometimes you write an e-mail and don’t know whether or not to send it.  The book was the same way because of how personal it was.  But I hit send.

The outpouring of support brings some happiness.  The wrestling community has been unbelievable; it’s been heartwarming.

NYWN: Any last thoughts you wanted to get across?

JP: There is one other part I wanted to mention – in sports, people always say it’s not about winning or winning isn’t important. I disagree. It is important. If you don’t have the burning desire to win a wrestling match, you won’t figure out how to score points or what you need to do.  If something’s important in life, you figure out what you need to do.  You need to win. We had an opponent much bigger than us, probably the most ferocious opponent we’ve ever faced, but we needed to figure it out.  The best wrestler doesn’t always win, it’s the guy who’s willing to do whatever it takes.  It’s about winning and learning; not winning and losing.  I can guarantee that if I wasn’t involved in sports, wrestling in particular, I never, ever would have made it through this situation. Our family never would have made it through and never would be where we are now.


To find out more about the book, you can go to, where it is available in the paperback ( here) or Kindle edition (here).  The Kindle edition is available on iPad or iPhone or any type of tablet.


Editor’s Note: Maverick Passaro was the 2012 New York State Champion at 126 pounds and is now at Rutgers University. Travis Passaro took third in New York in 2013 at 120 pounds.

"The Debate Will Finally Be Settled": Elite Wrestlers To Battle at the Inaugural Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge in Ithaca



 Coming this weekend, March 30th, to Cornell University is an event that has the opportunity to be the number one offseason All Star match to ever hit New York State. It is the best “Upstate” has to offer pitted against the best Long Island has to offer in a dual meet format. We had a chance to catch up with the brains behind the operation, Kris Harrington of the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club (FLWC).

“I grew up in New York State and competed on many Freestyle and Greco National teams and it was always a fun rivalry growing up,” Harrington said.  “So one day I was in a meeting with [Cornell head] coach [Rob] Koll and we thought, wouldn’t it be cool to see who is better? So we made a few calls and here we are.”

The athletes will be receiving custom uniforms provided by CF Athletics and the out-of-area competitors are being provided hotels by the FLWC. Tickets are on sale at, or at the door — $15 for reserved seating or $10 for general admission.

Kyle Dake will be a guest of honor, coming out for the coin toss, and staying after speaking with the competitors.

The main event, which will start at 4:30 p.m. will have three matches of DI versus DII state champions: at 126 TJ Fabian (Long Island) against William Koll (Upstate); at 152 Corey Rasheed (Long Island) vs. Kevin Thayer (Upstate), and last but not least at 160, Tyler Grimaldi (Long Island) vs. Burke Paddock (Upstate).

There are a total of 14 state champions between the two rosters, and 29 of the 30 competitors have placed in the state.

Nick Garone of Eastport South Manor is coaching the Long Island team.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity and getting the chance to coach not only the best kids in Long Island but some of the best in the United States,” he said.

Garone said he went to the best wrestlers in both Nassau and Suffolk counties and asked the highest finishers in the state one by one until one said yes. He didn’t exactly have to look far because more than half of his squad is made up of state champions and no one placed less than 4th in the state.

“I think I have a team that could compete with any team in the country,” he said.  “I haven’t had a chance to look at the other lineup, but it will definitely be a great match and I am looking forward to this weekend. We are only four days away until crunch time and I’m excited.”

Garone wanted to add one more thing. “There might be a special halftime match between myself and Coach Koll, and I’m going to win,” he said.

John Leone of Penfield will be coaching the Upstate squad.

“I’m really looking forward to putting the team we put together out on the mat,” Leone said.

He will have six state champions on the mat, and all members of the Upstate team have at least qualified for the state tournament.

“I think this is going to be a great event, and I hope in the near future it will be mentioned in the same sentence as the Dapper Dan,” Leone said.

One of the matches that could be at Dapper Dan level will be the third bout between Tyler Grimaldi of the Long Island team and Burke Paddock of Upstate.

“We have seen each other in freestyle and folkstyle this season,” Grimaldi said, noting that he won in freestyle and Paddock got the victory at the Eastern States Classic. “We are one and one and this is the grudge match. He’s a great athlete and an even better wrestler, but I’m looking to come out on top. This is going to be great for New York State. It’s going to cause a huge boom, and draw a lot of fans, and I’m just excited to see Burke again so we can do our part in bringing in the fans.”

Reggie Williams of the Upstate team will also be getting an opportunity to avenge a loss. He’ll face Dan Choi of Syosset, this year’s state champion at 195, who defeated Williams at the state tournament.

“It’s my chance to show the state that I just had a bad day,” Williams said, adding that he’s looking for some redemption. “Someone I look up to is Kyle Dake and I’ve learned from what he does. He goes out and looks for the best competition, and with this being my last year I definitely want to get the best competition possible.”

Last week, Williams traveled to Athens to take on Ryan Wolcott, the 220-pound state runner up out of Section 4 and he came out the victor 1-0. He has a little momentum coming in and is looking to score some points for the Upstate team.

This is going to be the first of many great battles between Long Island and Upstate. Look for this event to catch and spread like wildfire throughout New York, and maybe next year, even more New York State champions will take part.

To watch a stream of the main event, see here.


Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge – Main Event (Rosters as Provided on Tuesday)

99 – John Busiello (Eastport South Manor) NYS Third vs Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) NYS Champion

106 – Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) NYS Champion vs Jon Haas (Spencerport) NYS Third

113 – Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) 2x NYS Champion vs Anthony Orefice (Lockport) Multi-Time NYS Placer

120 – Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor) NYS Third vs. Alex Delacruz (Ossining) NYS Champion

126 – TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River) NYS Champion vs Will Koll (Lansing) 2x NYS Champion

132 – Mark West (Hauppauge) vs Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam) NYS Runner Up

138 – Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point) NYS Fourth vs Connor Lapresi (Lansing) NYS Champion, Runner Up

145 – Louis Hernandez (Mepham) NYS Champion vs Vincent Deprez (Hilton) 2x NYS Runner Up

152 – Corey Rasheed (Longwood) NYS Champion, 2x Runner Up vs Kevin Thayer (Unatego) NYS Champion

160 – Tyler Grimaldi (Hills West) NYS Champion, Runner Up vs Burke Paddock (Warsaw) NYS Champion, Runner Up

170 – Dan McDevitt (Wantagh) NYS Third, Fifth vs Jake Weber (Clarence) NYS Qualifier

182- Gio Santiago (Sachem North) NYS Third, Sixth vs Tim Schaefer (Warsaw) Multi-Time NYS Placer

195 – Dan Choi (Syosset) NYS Champion vs Reggie Williams (Johnson City) NYS Runner up

220 – Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell) NYS Champion vs Mike Silvis (Holley) NYS Third

285 – Michael Hughes (Smithtown West) NYS Champion vs El Shaddai Van Hoesen (Columbia) NYS Runner Up, Fourth

At 2 p.m., there will be a dual between wrestlers from the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club and a squad from Section 5.  This meet will feature several state champions/finalists from this February, such as Shayne Brady of Carthage, Ryan Wolcott of Waverly and Christian Dietrich of Greene for the FLWC and Sean Peacock from Midlakes.  In addition, 2013 state placers such as Tyler Silverthorn and Connor Calkins (FLWC) and Andrew Flanagan, Bryan Lantry and Ian James (Section 5) will take the mat.

Finger Lakes Wrestling Club VS Section 5 (Rosters as Provided on Tuesday)

*99- Brandon Gould (Watkins Glen) vs Parker Kropman (Penfield)

106- Jackson Bell (Owego) vs Andrew Flanagan (Holley), 2x NYS Placer

*113- Zack Ruggles (Marcellus) vs Bryan Lantry (Wayne), NYS Fourth

*120- Kaleb Stone (Tioga)  vs Sean Peacock (Midlakes), NYS Champion, Runner Up

126- Ryan Snow (General Brown) NYS Placer vs Lou Deprez (Hilton), NYS Qualifier

*132- Joel Rosko (Campbell Sovona) vs Frankie Gissendanner (Penfield) NYS Qualifier

*138-Jesse Manuel (Tioga) vs Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua)

*145- Trevor Hoffmier (Newark Valley) NYS Qualifier vs. Skylar Kropman (Penfield)

*152- Tyler Silverthorn (General Brown) 2x NYS Placer vs. Anthony Deprez (Hilton) NYS Qualifier

*160- Leland Slawson (Unatego), NYS Qualifier vs Josh Powell (Churchville Chili), NYS Qualifier

*171- Christian Dietrich (Greene), 2x NYS Placer vs Jared Mesiti (Brockport), NYS Qualifier

*182- Shayne Brady (Carthage), NYS Champion, Runner Up vs Max Kowal (Webster Thomas)

195- Andrew Barnhart (Whitney Point) vs Collin Pittman (Spencerport), NYS Qualifier

*220- Ryan Wolcott (Waverly), NYS Runner Up vs Sam Eagan (Churchville) NYS Fifth

*Hwt- Connor Calkins (Alfred-Almond), NYS Fifth vs Ian James (Greece), NYS Sixth

For more information on the two duals, see here.

First Annual Long Island/Upstate Challenge Coming Up This Saturday in Ithaca!

Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wrestling Club

Ithaca, NY– The Finger Lakes Wrestling Club will host the 1st Annual Long Island/Upstate Challenge on Saturday, March 30, 2013, at Cornell University’s Friedman Wrestling Center.

The Long Island/Upstate Challenge is the newest premier high school wrestling event in the state of New York. The match has attracted some of the best high school wrestlers in the Empire State, in a two dual meet format. The preliminary dual pits some of the best wrestlers from the central New York area representing the host club the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club against the Rochester-based team Section V at 2:00 PM. This match will feature two state champions (Shayne Brady (FLWC)) and Sean Peacock (V)) and three state finalists (Ryan Snow (FLWC), Ryan Wolcott (FLWC) and Christian Dietrich (FLWC)).

Rasheed, Photo by BV

The feature match of the evening at 4:30 PM showcases the best-of-the-best high school wrestlers from across the upstate New York area challenging the Long Island elite, featuring fourteen current or former state champions. The highlight of this dual will be three matches between 2013 Division I vs. Division II state titlewinners: 126 TJ Fabian (LI) vs William Koll (Upstate), 152 Corey Rasheed (LI) vs Kevin Thayer (Upstate) and 160 Tyler Grimaldi (LI) vs Burke Paddock (Upstate).

Proceeds from the challenge benefit local FLWC resident athletes to aid in their pursuit of International and Olympic glory.

Tickets for the event are available at and at the door. Ticket prices are as follows: $15.00 Reserved Seating, $10.00 General admission


Kris Harrington 585-738-3906
Rob Koll 607-255-7307

Prediction Prowess: Who Correctly Chose All 10 Champs and Won Our NCAA Contest?

Congratulations to the winners of our NCAA Pick Your Champions contest – PJ Gillespie and Greg Fiorvanti.

They not only picked all 10 champions, they also got the first two tiebreaker questions correct (Penn State as team champions and Kyle Dake as Outstanding Wrestler). Both will receive iTunes cards.

A few quick facts on the contest:

— 93% of respondents picked Jordan Oliver as the 149-pound champion, with 85% choosing Ed Ruth at 184.

— Kyle Dake and Logan Stieber also got around 80% of the votes at 165 and 133, respectively

— Quentin Wright was the champion who got the fewest votes. Just over 30% of entrants thought he would win at 197 pounds. Jesse Delgado got the next fewest with around 43% at 125 pounds.

Thanks to all of those who participated!

Jim Beichner Will Not Return as Buffalo Head Coach

Courtesy of

BUFFALO, NY – University at Buffalo Director of Athletics Danny White has announced today that Jim Beichner will not be returning as head wrestling coach next season.

“This was a very difficult decision and we appreciate all that Coach Beichner has done for UB wrestling in his 18 years of service,” White said. “After a comprehensive evaluation of the program, we concluded it was time to move in a new direction. We are committed to winning Mid-American Conference championships at the University at Buffalo and believe a leadership change in wrestling is necessary at this time. Coach Beichner served as a fine role model to our student-athletes and we are grateful for all he has done in the continued development of our wrestling program.”

White confirmed a national search will commence immediately.