Wrestling Dominates at Art of Combat Four

 
 

BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE

New York wrestlers from Section Four appeared on the Art of Combat Four card five times on Friday at the Broome County Arena, ending the night with four wins and only one loss.

The first fight on the preliminary card featured Tyler Bayer, a two-time Section Four champion out of Union Endicott. Bayer made quick work of his opponent Jon Ferguson, getting a very quick takedown before transitioning to full mount and raining punches down on his opponent for a TKO in the first round.

Next was another Section Four champion, Andrew Canale of Tioga Central, who got in the cage with John O’Brien. Canale started the fight with a takedown and got some punches in before surrendering a reversal. Things weren’t looking too good for Canale until he caught his opponent in an arm bar and forced the tap out to win by submission in the first round.

Conklin

Another Section Four finalist, Jon Conklin of Union Endicott, took on Dave Lust Jr in one of the best fights of the night. In round one, Conklin and Lust stayed on their feet, exchanging strikes until Conklin got in deep on a double with about three seconds to go and slammed Lust to the mat to secure the round.

In the second, things didn’t go as planned for Conklin as he was knocked down twice. However, after that, something seemed to click for Conklin and he came out looking for blood. He secured three takedowns and unloaded with punches from the top position on multiple occasions.

“After the second round I asked my coaches if I won,” Conklin said. “They said ‘just go out and win the third round.’ So all I had on my mind was really decisively winning the third round.”

He did just that, coming out with a unanimous decision victory.

In another contest decided by decision, Matthew Kurey from Chenango Valley matched up against Tyrone Tilson at 185 pounds. The clash started slow, with the fighters feeling each other out. Kurey seemed to win the first when he capitalized on a throw attempt by Tilson with a takedown at the end of the round.

In the second, the competitors battled for good position and Tilson threw knees and a few punches to win the round. The third was decided when Tilson slammed Kurey to the mat and kept him there, throwing punches and knees to the body. When the winner was announced, it was Tilson.

Perhaps the most well-known wrestler on the card, Derak Heyman, was also the most dominant. He began the fight with Jon Lopez in a three-point stance as if in a wrestling match.

“It was a part of the plan because he’s a kickboxer and you can’t kick an opponent with three points on the ground, and I wanted to get in his head,” Heyman said.

Heyman

The two-time New York state champion came out looking for a takedown early with a low ankle pick attempt that was easily stuffed by Lopez. From then on, whenever Lopez kicked, Heyman caught the leg and ended it with a takedown. He had three in the first round alone.

Entering the second, Heyman picked up another takedown before transitioning to full mount, locking up a merachonda hold and getting the submission victory.

Both Conklin and Heyman said afterward that they want to go professional in mixed martial arts eventually. Both said, however, that they need a bit more amateur experience before taking that big step.

“I want about five more fights before October, and then take eight or nine months just to train. After that get two more fights, see how I feel and then decide if I want to go pro,” Heyman said.

The Section Four alumni weren’t the only New York wrestlers in action. A pair of former grapplers from New Hartford also competed. Marc Giordano lost by submission in the first round to Paul McDonough at 170 while Mike Karam won a decision over TJ Duran at 135.

Overall, Friday was a great night for the wrestlers turned MMA fighters. For the Section Four competitors it was five fights and four wins. More Art of Combat action is coming soon to the area in Elmira on June 8.

Full results from this weekend’s action can be found at this link.

Vougar's Honors Wrestling Goes Undefeated to Win the Journeymen Freestyle Duals

 
 
Freestyle season is well underway.  That much was clear on Sunday at Messa Rink on the campus of Union College as some of the top teams in the region clashed at the Journeymen Freestyle Club Duals.

When it was all said and done, it was Vougar’s Honors Wrestling (VHW) taking top billing after going 4-0 on the day.

“This is a very hard tournament with very good competition,” said Vougar Oroudjov. “It was our first freestyle tournament this year.  We had a few guys get hurt right before it and we didn’t have a 220 pounder, but we were committed to coming and getting some good matches.  Our team had a variety of wrestlers – some guys who are first and second year wrestlers, some who have not been all-county and also a state champion and other state placers. All the guys came together and wrestled hard and did a great job.”

VHW began action against the host squad from Journeymen in a contest Oroudjov called “a great dual against a very tough team.”  The score was all tied up going into the final bout (at heavyweight).

In that match, Seaford’s James O’Hagan, the third place finisher at the state tournament this year in Division I, got his hand raised to give VHW the victory.  It was the first triumph of an unbeaten day for the Nassau County 285 pounder.

It came down to the wire once again against Shamrock, with the final bout once again decisive.  (This time it was a forfeit).  VHW also had a strong performance against Iowa Style and wrestled well in a win against Ascend.

In that matchup of Long Island powers, Oroudjov pointed to some key victories from his squad, including bonus wins by Ben Lamantia, Steve Schneider and Carlos Toribio.  According to Oroudjov, Toribio, in his first-ever freestyle event, dropped the first period and was trailing in the second when he recorded a fall.  In addition, in a meeting of two of the state’s top lightweights, Vito Arujau topped John Arceri.

Santiago, Photo by BV

The wrestlers that came up big in that dual were strong throughout the day.  Lamantia, Toribio and Arujau all had unblemished records, as did the previously mentioned O’Hagan and a pair of Sachem wrestlers – East’s Jakob Restrepo and North’s Gio Santiago, according to Oroudjov.

“Restrepo wrestled really great,” Oroudjov said. “He lost by pin to one of his opponents last week, but came back and beat him this week.  I have a lot of respect for Gio Santiago.  He kept the team together; he was a leader.  He pumped everyone up and kept everyone going. It was just one tournament, but it was a good experience for us.”

It clearly was a good experience for the squad. And several other teams also had strong showings, with Journeymen taking second, and Shamrock and Ascend next in the overall standings, according to Frank Popolizio.

Freestyle season has begun and with the New York States only a few weeks away, the chance to watch many of the Empire State’s best compete in the international styles again is fast approaching.

—————

The VHW team: (as provided)

105 Pounds: Vito Arujau

112: John Twomey, Daniel Murray

119: Ben Lamantia, Nick Casella

125: Tim Johnson

130: Joe Russ

135: Hunter Sharf

140: Anthony Messina

145: Jakob Restrepo

152: Gino Titone/James Farrell

160: Zack Small/Eric Hunson

170: Steve Schneider

185: Carlos Toribio

195: Gio Santiago/Robert Ng

225: None

285: James O’Hagan

Youth Champions Crowned at the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini Men Nationals

 
 
The poster for the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini-Men Nationals says it is “where the young guns come to settle their differences.”

There were definitely a lot of young guns on hand on Saturday at Union College for the event, which featured hundreds of wrestlers across the Bantam, Midget, Junior and Intermediate competitions.

“It was an awesome tournament,” said G2 World Wrestling Academy’s Adam Burgos. “The competition was phenomenal and with 10 mats, it was very efficient. The certified officials were great and it was easy to watch and follow. It’s a tournament that our club will definitely have on our calendar in the future.”

The top finishers in each class received prizes such as Brute singlets, Forever Fierce hoodies and trophies. 

For the first through fourth placers in each bracket, see below. 

(Please comment with changes or additions).
 

BANTAM

43:
Aidan Shufelt (FLWC)
Seach Park Hibler (Apex)
Jeffrey Ellert (Underground)
Kaden Rice (Wawc)

48:
Gianni Silvestri (Tioga Central)
Ashton Seymour (Mike’s Garage Grapplers)
Davis Motyka (Rock Solid)
Rylan Padelford (Colonie)

53:
August West Hibler (Apex)
Nicky Callaghan (G2)
Luca Manfredi (Newtown Youth)
Ryder Machado (Underground)

60:
William Henckel (Newtown Youth)
Zak Ryder (Underground)
Luca Duva (Iowa Style)
Andrew Reall (Predator Wrestling)

70:
Sonny Sasso (Dark Knights)
Andrew Filip (Underground)
Jack Richardson (Marcaurele)
Benjamin Shue (Basement Boyz)

95:
Ethan Gallo (Underground)
Eddie Terreri (Njac)

 
MIDGET

50:
Jaden Pepe (Rock Solid)
Isiac Paulino (NE Elite CT)
Evan Kinney (Doughboy)
TJ Morton (NJ Scorpions)

60:
Nicholas Palso Jr (Journeymen)
Carlson Porter (Smitty’s Barn)
Daniel Wask (Scorpions)
Nate Chandler (Doughboy)

65:
Ryan Defoney (Intensity)
Cooper Price (Rock Solid)
Jimmy Harrington (Doughboy)
Will Fish (Dark Knights)

70:
Jayden Scott (G2)
Joshua Sharron (Newport Rec)
Nicky Fea (Goshen)
Hayden Rabideau (Catamount)

75:
Caleb Galloway (Hornell)
Luca Pirozzolo (G2)
Stefan Wade (Hoosick Falls)
Ian Burke (Smitty’s Barn)

80:
Preston Machado (Underground)
Sean Kinney (Dark Knights)
Justin Onello (Olympic)
Mark Thomas (Doughboy)

90:
Cooper Kropman (Penfield)
Jeffrey Crooks (Journeymen)
Tylynn Lukens (Team Dynamic)
Brady Roux (Salem Bulldogs)

100:
Hunter McKenna (Journeymen)
Jamikael Boutin (NE Elite)

 
JUNIOR

60:
Zachary Soda (Doughboy)
Joe Scheeren (Journeymen)
Braeden O’Brien (NE Elite)
Nate Chandler (Doughboy)

65:
JJ White (Rock Solid)
Nico Provo (Team Tugman)
Dylan Cedeno (Scorpions)
Greg Diakomihalis (G2)

70:
Drew Munch (Dark Knights)
Zachary Martinez (Olympic)
Aidan Canfield (Iowa Style)
Gregory Hotaling (Journeymen)

75:
Tyler Sung (Apex)
Ryan Burgos (G2)
David Krokowski (Rock Solid)
Max Kropman (Penfield)

80:
Brock Delsignore (Journeymen)
John Worthing (Tioga)
Dean Shambo (Mexico)
Andrew Laubach (Tioga)

85:
Jackson Erb (Sepa)
Malachy Farrell (G2)
Joseph Simons (Farmingdale)
Keenan Taylor (Catamount)

90:
Julian Chlebove (Dark Knights)
Corey Connolly (Longwood)
Ryan Burgbacher (631 Elite)
Hunter Adams (Fisheye)

95:
Zachary Lawrence (Journeymen)
Reid Colella (Olympic)
Dylan Batlle (Newtown Youth)
Shaun Allen (Cobra)

100:
Noah Call (Catamount)
Stefan Major (631 Elite)
Carson Licastri (Iowa Style)
Bassam Qasrawi (Wobum)

110:
Harrison Shapiro (Mercury Rising)
Sampson Wilkins (Catamount)
Liam Mooney (Journeymen)
Jack Dardia (Delaware Valley)

135:
Shaine Luzietti (Newtown Youth)
Nolan Mcneill (Warrensburg)
Chris Charleston (Farmingdale)
Mason Lazorchak (Cannonball)

 
INTERMEDIATE

73:
Michael Gonyea (Journeymen)
Kevin DePalma (Team Evolution)
Jared Defoney (Intensity)
Zachary Cummings (Salem Central)

78:
Dylan Ryder (631 Elite)
Cameron Enriquez (Dark Knights)
Ruddy Paulino (NE Elite)

83:
Adam Busiello (631 Elite)
Jakob Camacho (Dywa)
Orion Anderson (Hoosick Falls)
Cole Wyman (Dungeon)

90:
Brian Kelly (631 Elite)
Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen)
Conor Thompson (NE Elite)
John DeRidder (VHW)

95:
Dane Heberlein (Alexander)
Ryan Luth (NE Elite)
James Trezza (631 Elite)
Jake Silverstein (631 Elite)

100:
Sam Sasso (Dark Knights)
Rowan Braga (Journeymen)
Tyler Mitchell (G2)
Thomas Leuci (Newtown)

105:
Hector Colom (Scorpion/Cobra)
Ben Tepperman (631 Elite)
Josh Stillings (Sepa)
Christian Gramuglia (Journeymen)

110:
Michael Venosa (Superior)
Anthony Sobotker (631 Elite)
Edward Lovely (Newtown Youth)
Andrei Steinjann (Newtown Youth)

115:
Tyler Delorenzo (Dark Knights)
Colin Hogan (Cellar Dwellers)
Michael Ross (NE Elite)
Shane Connolly (Olympic)

125:
Tyler Hazard (Journeymen)
Eoghan Sweeney (Journeymen)
Nicholas Robbins (Journeymen)
Darrin Simons (Farmingdale)

135:
Anthony Falbo (Newtown Youth)
Trent Goodman (Wrestlers Way)
Travis Stefanik (Dark Knights)
Tyler Barnes (Journeymen)

150:
Cade Moisey (Dark Knights)
Clifton Wang (ISW)
Jason Hoffman (Journeymen)
David Crow (Thorobred)

175:
Joseph Eiden (631 Elite)
Benton Whitley (NE Elite)
Daniel Knapp (Whitesboro)
Brandon Cousino (Vergennes)

230:
Ryan Pinkham (NE Elite)
Cole McKee (Cellar Dwellers)

A Quick Look at the National Ratings: Who From New York Ended the Year Ranked?

 
 
Who ended the 2012-13 campaign in the national rankings? We took a look at the most recent postings by Intermat, Flowrestling, Amateur Wrestling News and WIN to see which New Yorkers were included. The rankings by the former two sites were updated after the NHSCA/Flowrestling events, while the others are from before those tournaments occured.

A number of wrestlers were named on one or more of the websites, with sophomore Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville, junior Burke Paddock of Warsaw and senior Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West ranked in the top 20 at their weights by all four of those publications.

Piccinnini, Photo by BV

Piccininni, a two-time state champion, is Flo’s #7 113 pounder in the nation. He ranges from #15-18 on the other sites.  He is also a top 30 recruit in the Class of 2015 according to both Intermat and Flo.

Grimaldi and Paddock ensured that the Empire State is well represented in the 160-pound standings. Paddock ranges between #10 (Intermat) and #15 (Flo) and is also a top 100 recruit in the class of 2014, according to Intermat and Flo.  Meanwhile, Grimaldi is #12 by both Intermat and WIN and #14 and 16 on the other sites.

While not in the top 20 at their weights at this point, Intermat believes both Greene’s Christian Dietrich and Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis are among the elite wrestlers at their grade levels. In addition, Flowrestling ranks Diakomihalis and Eastport South Manor’s Adam Busiello among the country’s best at the junior high level.

For the full list of rankings, see below: (Please comment with any changes or additions).

SENIORS

Zach Bacon (Hornell) #17 at 220 (Intermat), #18 at 220 (AWN)

TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River) Top 100 Senior recruit (Intermat), #9 at 126 (Intermat), #12 at 126 (Flo)

Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West) Top 100 Senior in the Nation (Flo), #12 at 160 (both Intermat and WIN), #14 at 160 (AWN), #16 at 160 (Flo)

Mike Hughes (Smithtown West) #18 at 285 (Intermat)

Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) #13 at 138 (WIN)

Nick Tighe (Phoenix) #17 at 138 (AWN)

Zack Zupan (Canastota) Top 100 Senior in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #8 at 182 (Intermat), #16 at 182 (AWN), #15 at 182 (Flo)

JUNIORS

James O’Hagan (Seaford) #20 at 285 (Intermat)

Burke Paddock (Warsaw) Top 100 Junior in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #10 at 160 (Intermat), #11 (WIN), #13 (AWN), #15 (Flo)

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga) Top 100 Junior in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #13 at 132 (Intermat), #18 at 132 (Flo)

Corey Rasheed (Longwood) Top 100 Junior in the Nation (Flo), #13 at 152 (Flo), #16 (WIN)

SOPHOMORES

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) Top 50 Sophomore in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #7 at 113 (Flo), #15 (Intermat), #17 (WIN), #18 (AWN)

FRESHMEN

Christian Dietrich (Greene) Top 20 Freshman in the Nation (Intermat)

JUNIOR HIGH

Adam Busiello (Eastport South Manor) Top 50 Junior High Wrestler in the Nation (Flo)

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) Top 10 Junior High Wrestler in the Nation (Intermat and Flo)

 

**AWN Rankings are from March 14; WIN rankings are from April 2, Flo and Intermat rankings more recent

From Wrestler to Fighter: Two-Time State Champ Derak Heyman Looks to Make His Mark in MMA

 
 

BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE

The Broome County Arena is a very special place for Derak Heyman.  The five-time Section IV and two-time New York state champion hasn’t lost in that venue, where the Section tournament is held, in eight years.  He looks to keep that streak alive when he takes on Venezuelan kickboxer Jon Lopez at Upstate Shredding’s Art of Combat Four on Friday night.

Section IV and NYS wrestling will be well represented at the event, which begins at 7:00 p.m, as Jon Conklin of Union Endicott, Andrew Canale of Tioga Central, Tyler Bayer of Union Endicott, and Matthew Kurey of Chenango Valley are also on the card along with Heyman.

Heyman Photo by Peter Rodriguez

Heyman has only one MMA fight under his belt, and it was quick.  He won by way of TKO in just thirty-seven seconds.

“My first fight went well, obviously, but I’ve improved dramatically in the short time preparing for this fight,” Heyman said. “Basically, I’ve just worked on cutting angles and I’ve been working a lot of kick defense.”

When asked about the transition from wrestling to his new sport, Heyman pointed to a few things.

“The biggest difference from wrestling to fighting would be the 24-hour weigh ins,” he said. “Cutting weight isn’t nearly as bad when you have a full day to recover instead of just one or two hours. I walk around at 170 pounds, so this cut [he will weigh in at 160 on Thursday] isn’t too bad.  But I plan to drop to 145 after this fight.”

In addition to weight, Heyman spoke about how his preparation is different than it was on the mat.

“The training is different,” he said. “Aside from learning new things; you don’t go live as much because you don’t want to hurt yourself or your partner.  I’ve also had to change my stance up from being a right leg lead in wrestling to a left leg lead in fighting.”

Heyman was originally scheduled to fight in Ithaca on April 27th, but the chance to return to the place he got his hand raised so many times before was too appealing.

“When this opportunity came up I couldn’t turn it down,” he said. “This arena has made so many memories for me, and its time to add another one.”

He sounds prepared to make his mark against Lopez, who was a perfect 3-0 kickboxer in Venezuela before making the change to MMA, where he is now 2-1.

“I don’t get nervous, I’m excited and ready to go,” Heyman said. “He’s good at what he does.  I plan on closing the gap to take him down. Everyone is looking for the picture perfect knockout, but I think my submission game is going to win this fight.”

He’s hoping it’s just the beginning — Heyman said his goal is to be a UFC champion in the long run.  He doesn’t want to be known as “Derak Heyman the wrestler” but “Derak Heyman the fighter”.

You can watch him and some of New York’s finest wrestlers make that transition on Friday night.

———————–

Doors will open at 6 p.m. on Friday for the event.  For more information on Art of Combat 4, see this link.

Binghamton, Hofstra Among the Four Teams Joining the EIWA Conference

 
 
On Thursday, the EIWA officially announced the addition of four new members, bringing the conference total to 18 schools.  Among those joining for the 2013-14 campaign are a pair of New York institutions – Binghamton and Hofstra – as well as Drexel and Boston.

The four new additions will compete with seven-time defending tournament champion Cornell as well as other EIWA member schools American, Army, Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Franklin & Marshall, Harvard, Lehigh, Navy, Penn, Princeton, Rutgers and Sacred Heart.

The EIWA championships will be hosted by Penn in Philadelphia in March of 2014.

For the official press release from Binghamton, see here.

For the official press release from Hofstra, see here.

 

No Time to Waste: Michael Hughes Looks to Keep Winning (and Pinning) at Hofstra

 
 
About 50 minutes.  That’s the total time future Hofstra heavyweight Michael Hughes spent on the mat this year on his way to an undefeated campaign and a state championship for Smithtown West.

That’s an average of less than a minute and a half per match (for his 34 bouts, excluding forfeits).  Not too surprising since he wrestled into the second period only six times all season.

“I expected to be really dominant this year,” Hughes said. “After training with the partners my coaches brought in for me, who are bigger than me and tossed me around, it was so much easier in the matches.  I went on the mat thinking there would be no fooling around.  No matter who I was wrestling or how good they were, I wanted to end it as quickly as possible and show everyone I was the best.”

Photo by BV

The best in Section 11?  He demonstrated that with an exclamation point.  It took him less than two and a half minutes to pin his four Suffolk tournament opponents to capture his second straight Sectional title and punch his ticket back to the Times Union Center.

“I guess I was a little surprised at how fast it was,” Hughes said. “I think I was expecting it to take a little bit longer — but not too much longer. When I got after people, they couldn’t stay with me.  I went all out.”

And that’s exactly what he planned to do in his last chance in Albany as well.  As a junior, he took sixth at the state tournament.  In 2013, he was determined to show that he was #1 in the Empire State despite entering as the number four seed.

“I definitely couldn’t wait to go back [to the state tournament],” he said. “I lost my last two matches there as a junior. It was a tough way to finish. I knew that wasn’t who I was as a wrestler.  It made me step up my training. I think taking sixth actually helped me.”

It may have done that, because the road to a title had a number of potential roadblocks, including foes such as 2012 state runner up El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia and Seaford’s James O’Hagan, the only wrestler to go the full six minutes with Hughes prior to the postseason (in a 4-0 Hughes victory).

“After looking at the bracket, I knew I had the tougher half,” Hughes said. “Last year, I had four of the six placers on my side and the same thing happened this year.  I knew I would have a tough match in the semis [which wound up being a 1-0 decision over O’Hagan], but I was confident about the finals.  I told the coaches that when I made the finals I would pin the kid no matter what.”

His prediction came true as he earned the fall against Spencerport’s Austin Coleman in just two and a half minutes.  And he didn’t just accomplish his mission to win it all.  He made some history as well, becoming Smithtown West’s first-ever state champion.

“I thought it was really cool,” Hughes said. “Knowing all the good wrestlers that came from Smithtown before and watching a lot of them when I was growing up, it was great to get the title for myself and for the school.”

The victories kept coming for Hughes.  He pinned Eric Chakonis in the decisive bout of the Pinning Down Autism Charity Challenge to ensure New York’s third straight dual victory over rival New Jersey.  And a few weeks later, he rebounded from an early 4-1 deficit against the previously mentioned Van Hoesen with a late third period takedown to win 5-4 in the Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge, which eventually ended in a tie.

And he still wasn’t done.  Hughes said he wanted to make his mark on the national level and he checked that off the list as well as he made the trip to Virginia Beach to compete at the NHSCA Senior Nationals.

“I wanted to go down and compete against the best in the country to see how I would do,” he said. “I had no clue who anyone was or how good they were. I just thought if I wrestled hard, I could compete with anyone.  My goal at first was to be an All-American.”

He did more than that, going all the way to the championship contest before finishing as the runner up to Will Geary of Kansas.

“Making it to the finals was great.  I couldn’t be any happier,” Hughes said.  “I wish I won the last one, but second place was really great.”

It also spoke to the potential of the three-sport athlete who will fully focus on wrestling in the future after splitting his attention among football, wrestling and track in the past.

“For me, at the start of my senior year, I was trying to figure out what the best fit would be in college,” Hughes said. “I was torn between football and wrestling for a while, but in February, I decided.  I realized then that I didn’t have to ask myself which one I preferred anymore, I just knew that I wanted to wrestle.”

He’ll do that for the Pride after also considering Buffalo, Bloomsburg, Ohio and Sacred Heart.

“I wanted to stay close to home,” Hughes explained. “Hofstra has a great wrestling program and I loved the coaches. They have great personalities and are motivated to push the wrestlers to be the best they can.”

Hughes looks forward to the challenge and said he may add some size as he transitions to being a heavyweight at the college level.  However, he emphasized the importance of maintaining his quickness.  And he expects some other things to stay the same as well.

“I like when things come down to me,” he said. “I don’t want to settle for close matches, I want to keep ending them as quickly as possible.”

 ———————————————————

Mike Hughes had a few people he wanted to thank:  “I want to thank my coaches for everything they’ve done for me, especially bringing people in to work with me and spending time after practice just working on the little things that made a difference.  I also want to thank all my friends and family for coming to watch me and supporting me. It was always a great feeling seeing they were there.”

**All match times taken from the NWCA High School Scorebook

 

'Back from Hiatus': Dylan Palacio Rebounds from Injuries to Win National Title

 
 
In the third period of his 74 kg (163 pound) semifinals match at the FILA Junior Freestyle National Championships, Dylan Palacio fell behind 3-1 against Patrick Rhodes of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. And he heard a voice screaming out of the Iowa corner.

“Tom Brands was yelling to his guy talking about me, saying, ‘he’s broke, he’s broke,’” Palacio said. “It was gut check time. I just went after it. You can’t believe for a second that you’ll lose.”

Photo by BV

Palacio started to rack up points, including a takedown with just a few seconds left to seal a 6-3 win in the final stanza and a trip to the title bout.

“After the match, I shook [Brands’s] hand and said, ‘I don’t ever break,’” Palacio recalled.

He certainly didn’t over the weekend.

In the championship, Palacio was matched up against Bison Wrestling Club’s Matthew Gray, in a rematch of the 160 pound third place bout at the Junior National Freestyle Championships last summer in North Dakota. Gray won that one in straight periods.

“He worked me last year at Fargo. He beat me up,” Palacio said.

Gray began strong again, taking the first period by a 3-0 score. But Palacio said he felt this time would be different.

“I wasn’t worried, I had a big smile on my face,” he said. “I knew who he was and was actually okay with my first period because I was feeling him out and figuring out what I needed to do the rest of the match. I knew I could make the adjustments – heavy on the head, more attacks, especially single legs. It paid off.”

In the middle stanza, Gray struck first with a takedown, but Palacio tied it up with about 1:30 left, to take the 1-1 “lead”. Gray came at Palacio with a significant charge, looking to move ahead with a pushout, however the former Long Beach star somehow found a way to stay in bounds to win the period.

“It was like a 360 tiptoe move,” Palacio said. “That’s just all heart right there. I think in retrospect, that’s why I won. Not giving up and circling on that line. He used all his energy for the push and in a way, that was the match.”

Palacio used a takedown and a two-point exposure to go ahead 3-0 in the third and when time expired, he had a 4-2 victory and a national title.

It was a stark contrast to where the former Section 8 standout was in February.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “Not that long ago, I was on a medical table at Edinboro with a torn MCL. I was hurt a lot this year and I was feeling frustrated and skeptical about my future. I won’t forget the people who encouraged me and believed, because without them, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Palacio acknowledged that his run over the weekend may be a surprise to some, because of the limited tournament action he saw with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club over the past year. (He said he took part in less than 10 official bouts).  But he added that people didn’t know what he was doing behind the scenes.

“You don’t need to wrestle 100 matches to get better,” he said. “I may not have wrestled a lot of matches, but I was lifting and improving a lot in practice. And I was wrestling the way I wanted to – calm, not crazy, not sloppy. I was moving well, working my scores. And now I’m healthier. I’m back from hiatus.”

He’s back for a lot of reasons, but he pointed to some people he said were essential.

“I hit the lottery having Cam Simaz and Frankie Perrelli in my corner,” he said of his coaches at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club. “They complement each other so well as and they helped me go in the right direction. I didn’t really know how to wrestle when I got to Ithaca, I hadn’t lifted weights, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. But they saw the potential and never gave up on me.”

So immediately after his hand was raised on Saturday, Palacio said he ran off the mat and hugged Perrelli and Simaz and the other supporters in attendance. And he pointed up at the sky to acknowledge another inspiration.

“It was my best friend’s birthday about a week ago,” he said. “He passed away a few years ago. I believe he watches over me and I won this for him. The plaque I won is his birthday present. I’ll bring it to his memorial when I get home.”

There are lots of things for Palacio to do when he gets back to the East Coast. He said he knows he has a lot to learn from his coaches. And he said he “can always learn something from Kyle [Dake]– whether it’s lifting, running, drilling or just how to act. I’m willing to admit that’s who I want to be like.”

The Long Island native said he can’t wait to start his freshman year at Cornell and has visualized being announced as a starter for the Big Red at the Friedman Center for the first time. (He has his entrance song all picked out).

While there’s still plenty to demonstrate before getting to that point, Palacio feels like he’s now on his way.

“From where I was a month ago to now — things can change so quickly,” he said. “It feels so good to be a national champion but I’ll keep going. The goal is to be an NCAA champ. This is just a stepping stone.”

Six New Yorkers Win Titles, Over 40 Place at the Ohio Tournament of Champions

 
 
2013 New York state champion Yianni Diakomihalis is very familiar with the top of the podium at the Ohio Tournament of Champions, advertised as the “largest one-day tournament in the world.”

For the third consecutive year, the Hilton standout won a championship at the prestigious event, this time at 110 pounds in the Schoolboy division. The G2 World Wrestling Academy representative was also third in 2010 and second the year before.

But he did more than go undefeated himself.

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

“Yianni relishes in the experience,” said G2 owner/coach Adam Burgos. “He was running around, keeping track of all our guys. He was doing everything; he’s like a machine. He coached a lot of the kids and then he and his dad coached one of our coaches to a title.”

Burgos was referring to former Spencerport standout and current G2 staff member Mike Collura, who captured first place in the Open Division at 165 pounds with an overtime takedown. According to Burgos, Diakhomihalis and his father manned Collura’s corner during his title bout.

“Mike has been a huge asset to G2 this year, we’re really glad to have him,” Burgos said. “He’s helped out immensely with the kids. He got the itch to compete himself and when he decided to do it, he attacked it. His championship really capped off the weekend for us.”

But Diakomihalis and Collura weren’t alone in bringing gold medals back to the Empire State. A pair of wrestlers from Cobra Wrestling Academy, Dane Heberlein (Cadet 92 pounds) and Nick Jones (Schoolboy 240 pounds), also won their brackets on Saturday.

“Nick [Jones] pretty much always has to go up an age group to compete at tournaments because he’s an eighth grade heavyweight,” said Cobra Wrestling Academy Executive Director Keith Maute.  “He usually has to wrestle against older guys, but this tournament had a solid group of kids for him to compete against and he did very well.”

Heberlein has a bit of experience at the tournament, having placed four times since 2006, including several top four showings. However, it was the first time he won it all.

“It was exciting for Dane because out of all the big tournaments, this is the only one he never won,” Maute said.

Heberlein wasn’t the only New York winner in the Cadet division. In fact, at just one weight class higher, the Empire State boasted another champion – New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna. The 2013 All-State grappler from Section 3 won his second Ohio T of C title in three years, as he earned first place in 2011 and was second at 92 pounds last April.

Another wrestler with some prior history in Columbus is Slate Hill’s Ethan Gallo. A year ago, he grabbed seventh place in the Bantam 80 pound class. Over the weekend he once again entered at that weight and this time, he went all the way to the top, adding another line to his lengthy spring resume. Among his recent accomplishments are capturing titles at the NYWAY State Championships, the Empire Nationals and the Gene Mills Eastern Nationals.

Haas, Photo by BV

Another 13 wrestlers from New York lost just a single bout on Saturday, finishing in the top 3. Those include G2’s Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield at 140 pounds, a champion at this tournament the past two seasons., who was edged 1-0 in the title bout when a penalty point was awarded to his opponent late in the match, according to Burgos.

Gissendanner was one of several state qualifiers who made the finals this weekend in Ohio, along with Spencerport’s Jon Haas (who took third in Albany) and Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter. Fellow Section 6 wrestler Hector Colom of Dunkirk also took runner up honors after winning at 90 pounds in 2012.

In addition, a trio of Bantam grapplers, Andrew Filip of New Hampton, Kevin Daskavitz of Lockport and Herman Wooten of Niagara Falls, all went to the finals in their brackets.

In all, New York had over 40 placers at the event, which drew around 3000 wrestlers from all over the country and featured 40 full sized mats of competition.

For the full list of all the top 8 medalists from the Empire State, see below.

With any further additions or changes, please comment below.

Champions
Ethan Gallo, Bantam 80 (Slate Hill)
Yianni Diakomihalis, Schoolboy 110 (Rochester)
Nick Jones, Schoolboy 240 (Dunkirk)
Dane Heberlein, Cadet 92 (Darien)
Kelan McKenna, Cadet 100 (New Hartford)
Mike Collura, Open 165 (West Henrietta)

Second Place

Andrew Filip, Bantam 65 (New Hampton)
Kevin Daskavitz, Bantam 80 (Lockport)
Herman Wooten III, Bantam 95 (Niagara Falls)
Hector Colom, Schoolboy 100 (Dunkirk)
Frankie Gissendanner, Schoolboy 140 (Rochester)
Andrew Shomers, Cadet 135 (Ransomville)
Jon Haas, Elite 112 (Spencerport)

Third Place

Jaden Crumpler, Bantam 45 (Niagara Falls)
Carson Alberti, Midget 60 (East Aurora)
Cooper Kropman, Midget 85 (Rochester)
Benny Baker, Junior 90 (Newark Valley)
Joe Lupisella, Cadet 160 (Webster)
Dennis Ferro, Elite 153 (Great River)

Fourth Place

Jayden Scott, Midget 68 (West Henrietta)
Max Kropman, Junior 72 (Rochester)
Tyler Barnes, Schoolboy 126 (Rock City Falls)
Trevor Hoffmier, Elite 160 (Newark Valley)

Fifth Place

Connor Day, Schoolboy 96 (Elma)
Drew Schafer, Cadet 85 (Marion)
Tito Colom, Cadet 110 (Dunkirk)
Jimmy Leach, Elite 132 (Manorville)

Sixth Place

Caleb Galloway, Midget 76 (Hornell)
Joseph Dixon, Midget 80 (Niagara Falls)
Jace Schafer, Junior 56 (Marion)
Jake Brewer, Cadet 85 (Orchard Park)
Carm O’Donnell, Elite 153 (Angola)

Seventh Place

Colin Bradshaw, Midget 52 (Liverpool)
Greg Diakomihalis, Junior 64 (Rochester)

Tony Kuhn, Open 220 (Sanborn)

Eighth Place

JJ Lucinski , Bantam 40 (Lockport)
Sam Wolf, Junior 90 (Warsaw)
Keagen Case, Junior 95 (Boonville)
Tyler Castro, Junior 125 (Otisville)
Troy Keller, Cadet 100 (North Tonawanda)
Theo Powers, Cadet 105 (Mexico)
Travis Race, Cadet 171 (Fulton)
Collin Pittman, Elite 190 (Spencerport)
Henry Beaman, Open 135 (Niagara Falls)

What Happened in Vegas: US Open Recap for NY, Including Runner Up Finish for Perrelli

 
 
Many of the nation’s top wrestlers descended upon Las Vegas this weekend for the U.S. Open. New York wrestlers certainly made an impact, with placers in both the men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco Roman competitions. In addition, the Empire State had success in the FILA Juniors tournaments that also took place in the same location. (For more on the Juniors competition, see here.)

Perrelli, Photo by BV

Going all the way to the finals was former Cornell All-American Frank Perrelli at 55 kg. Perrelli entered the event as the #7 seed, but won his first three bouts over Britain Longmire, Zach Sanders and Ben Kjar to earn his spot in the championship contest. In that match, top seeded Obe Blanc came out on top.

Also making the podium in freestyle were a number of coaches with ties to New York. At 66 kg, Columbia assistant Adam Hall took fourth while American assistant Kyle Borshoff (a former Section 5 star) grabbed seventh. In that same bracket, Army graduate Philip Simpson was sixth.

In addition, a pair of coaches notched seventh place (Hofstra’s Dan Vallimont at 74 kg and Army’s Enock Francois at 84 kg) while Duanesburg High School graduate (and current North Carolina State grappler) Nick Gwiazdowski was also seventh, at 120 kg.

In Greco, a pair of former New York high schoolers – Dmitry Riabchinsky of New Utrecht and Jason Chudzinski of Colonie – placed in the lightweights. Riabchinsky was fifth at 55 kg while Chudzinski took eighth at 60. Meanwhile, Army graduate Jon Anderson picked up bronze at 74 kg.

In women’s action, Carlene Sluberski recorded a third place finish at 51 kg while Jenna Burkert was fourth at 59. Joining them on the medal stand was Mary Westman, who was sixth at 72.

 

U.S. Open

Men’s Freestyle

55 kg: Frank Perrelli (NYAC/FLWC, Cornell graduate) – 2nd place

66 kg: Adam Hall (NYAC, Columbia assistant coach) – 4th place

66 kg: Philip Simpson (Army WCAP, Army graduate) – 6th place

66 kg: Kyle Borshoff (DCAC, Pittsford) – 7th place

74 kg: Dan Vallimont (Blue & Gold WC, Hofstra assistant coach) – 7th place

84 kg: Enock Francois (West Point WC, Army assistant coach) – 7th place

120 kg: Nick Gwiazdowski (NYAC, Duanesburg) – 7th place

Greco

55 kg: Dmitry Riabchinsky (NYAC/USOEC, New Utrecht) – 5th place

60 kg: Jason Chudzinski (USEOC, Colonie) – 8th place

74 kg: Jon Anderson (Army WCAP, Army graduate) – 3rd place

Women’s Freestyle

51 kg: Carlene Sluberski (NYAC, Fredonia) – 3rd place

59 kg: Jenna Burkert (NYAC, Rocky Point) – 4th place

72 kg: Mary Westman (Jimmie Wrestling Club, Cattaraugus) – 6th place