BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE
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 FLwrestlingClub.org, 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.
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.