World Wrestling Month Comes to an End With "Battle at the Falls" in Canada

World Wrestling Month is about to come to an end, but not before one last celebration of the sport in Niagara Falls, Canada on Friday.

The “Battle at the Falls”, featuring some of the best women’s grapplers in the world, took place with the United States, Canada and Ukraine facing off in dual meets.

The host nation went 2-0, while the USA split its two duals, defeating the Ukraine.  Two members of the Fredonia wrestling community represented the Red, White and Blue. Former Hillbillies star Carlene Sluberski competed at 48 kg while coach Alex Conti was part of the Team USA staff.

The full results from the Battle at the Falls:


48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Maria Livach (Ukraine) dec. Carlene Sluberski (USA), 15-3
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Yulia Blahinya (Ukraine) dec. Jessica Medina (USA), 6-1
55 kg/121 lbs. – Katherine Fulp-Allen (USA) dec. Irina Husyak (Ukraine), 8-6
59 kg/130 lbs. – Alli Ragan (USA) dec. Natalya Synyshyn (Ukraine), 12-4
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova (USA) dec. Ganna Vasilenko (Ukraine), 10-0
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Alina Stadnik-Makinya (Ukraine) dec. Veronica Carlson (USA), 13-6
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Brittney Roberts (USA) dec. Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine), 5-4

48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Maria Livach (Ukraine) dec. Natasha Kramble (Canada), 10-4
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Jessica MacDonald (Canada) dec. Yulia Blahinya (Ukraine), 15-4
55 kg/121 lbs. – Irina Husyak (Ukraine) pinned Jillian Gallays (Canada), 0:59
59 kg/130 lbs. – Braxton Papadopoulus (Canada) pinned Natalya Synyshyn (Ukraine), 2:56
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Justine Bouchard (Canada) dec. Ganna Vasilenko (Ukraine), 8-7
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Stacie Anaka (Canada) dec. Alina Stadnik-Makinya (Ukraine), 9-7
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Erica Wiebe (Canada) dec. Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine), 11-0

48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Carlene Sluberski (USA) dec. Natasha Kramble (Canada), 11-0
72 kg/158.5 lbs. – Erica Wiebe (Canada) dec. Brittney Roberts (USA), 12-4
55 kg/121 lbs. – Jillian Gallays (Canada) dec. Katherine Fulp-Allen (USA), 9-2
67 kg/147.5 lbs. – Veronica Carlson (USA) dec. Stacie Anaka (Canada), 9-0
59 kg/130 lbs. – Braxton Papadopoulos (Canada) pinned Alli Ragan (USA), 1:13
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Justine Bouchard (Canada) dec. Erin Clodgo (USA), 7-4
51 kg/112.25 lbs. – Jessica MacDonald (Canada) dec. Jessica Medina (USA), 10-0


The Heart of the Island: June 8 Tournament at Islip to Provide Oklahoma Tornado Relief

When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, support came from around the nation to help with the devastation.

“It was amazing,” Islip coach Joe Patrovich said. “People from all over the country contributed. I remember that there were some volunteers that came from Oklahoma to help out.”

So after a tornado brought havoc to the Sooner State a few weeks ago, Patrovich was among those who felt compelled to take action, not only to return the favor for the aid received during Sandy but because of the connection between the wrestling communities of Long Island and Oklahoma.

“We have a relationship with that area of Oklahoma,” Patrovich said. “El Reno, a neighboring town, came to Islip to wrestle six or seven years ago. We were supposed to go there the next year, but the airport was shut down because of a blizzard and we couldn’t get there. But we’ve known people there for years. Pretty much every town involved in the tornado, we’ve wrestled or were supposed to wrestle. It’s the heart of Oklahoma wrestling. We’ve had our wrestlers go out there for the Junior Duals many times too. When you add it all up, you ask yourself what you can do for the people. We felt it would be a really nice thing to raise some money and help as much as we can.”

That’s how the “Long Island Helps Oklahoma” event came about. In just a few days, the wrestling tournament, which will be held on June 8 at Islip High School, was put together.

All of the funds raised will go to help those impacted by the storm in Oklahoma, including the $25 entry fee for wrestlers and the donations of corporate sponsors. In addition, Patrovich said t-shirts will be sold and a collection jar will be there for anyone who wishes to contribute.

“It’s an awesome cause,” Patrovich said. “We won’t charge to get in, but we hope people will come and help out. We may even have a DJ to make it a little different than a normal wrestling tournament.”

There are other ways it will be different. Participants will wrestle both freestyle and folkstyle in a round robin format, with Patrovich aiming for each competitor to get at least 2-3 bouts.

“We wanted to include folkstyle because some of the wrestlers are most comfortable with that,” he said. “But we thought it would be good to have freestyle too. The international rules recently changed in freestyle and a lot of guys haven’t wrestled with the new rules yet. We want wrestlers and referees to get some match experience with those new rules. We’ll have a clinic before to explain the changes. It will be a great way to prepare for Fargo and Cadet or Junior Duals.”

The Junior Duals are coming up in June. Those who represent New York at the event, which is annually held in Oklahoma, will bring something special with them.

“We’ll be sending a check to the United Way from the Long Island Wrestling Community to help the people in Oklahoma,” Patrovich said. “It will be presented at the Junior Duals. I think it will be a nice touch for the wrestling community and show that we all help each other.”

For more information on the tournament, see the flyer 2013OklahomaFundRaiser.

If you wish to donate to the cause, see the contact information on the above flyer.

'The Right Fit': Monroe Woodbury State Placer AJ Voelker Chooses Buffalo

AJ Voelker left his recruiting trip to Bloomsburg with an interesting dilemma.

“After visiting and meeting Coach Stutzman [at Bloomsburg], AJ felt the coach was the right fit, but not the school,” said Bob Voelker, AJ’s father.

So Voelker continued to look around, focusing on institutions such as George Mason until he heard that Stutzman was leaving the EWL college to take the reins of the Buffalo program.

“I started looking at Buffalo right away,” AJ Voelker said. “Once I saw the campus and talked to [Stutzman] again, that was pretty much it. The campus is unbelievable. It’s just what I wanted. The facilities are very nice. Coach Stutzman is very intense; his practices are very tough and give me the best chance of placing at Nationals. He reminds me a lot of my coaches now [at Monroe Woodbury].”

Photo by BV

Voelker saw a lot of success for the Crusaders throughout his career, placing in Section 9 multiple times. But 2012-13 was a breakthrough year, as he made the podium at the Eastern States Classic, won the Sectional crown and took fourth in New York in his first trip to the state tournament.

That success came as a result of a lot of offseason effort. After missing out on a spot in Albany as a junior, Voelker wanted to make sure he was ready to make the most of his last chance. He said he worked out at Apex Wrestling, trained with Champion Athletes, lifted on his own and spent a lot of time with Coach Johnny Gartiser.

He also continued his move up in weight, going from 112 as a sophomore to 145/152 as a junior to 170 for his last high school run.

“I cut a lot of weight my freshman and sophomore years,” he said. “Since then, I grew a lot and my coaches recommended that I cut less weight because they thought I wouldn’t be as tired at the end of the season. It worked out. Size wise, I wasn’t the biggest guy out there at 170, but I felt strong and I thought I could wrestle with anyone.”

He set his objectives: to be top four in New York, to control everyone in Section 9 and to join the 100-win club. He accomplished all of them, spurred by his performance at the Times Union Center in February.

After winning his opening two matches against Sonny McPherson of Indian River and Cedrick Stephens of Wingate in Albany, he said he injured his knee in the semifinals in a loss to St. Anthony’s Johnny Vrasidas. In order to make the bronze medal bout, he needed a victory against Franky Nassivera of Queensbury in the consolations.

“That was a really big match for me,” he said. “My knee was all messed up and I was down by four. I had to wrestle different because I couldn’t put pressure on my knee, I couldn’t really shoot the way I normally do. I hit a throw with about 30 seconds left to take the lead and rode him out to win it.”

That 5-4 triumph pushed him into the third place match, where he was defeated by Wantagh’s Dan McDevitt.

So with all those victories, what was the highlight of Voelker’s final high school season?

The future MAC grappler discussed Monroe Woodbury placing at the Union-Endicott Duals and earning a state ranking. And of course, he talked about winning the Section and making the medal stand at his last high school event. However, when asked about the top moment of the year, Voelker mentioned something else.

“The first highlight was seeing Vinny [Vespa] step on the mat,” he said of his teammate, who fought cancer to return to action about six months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma. “I absolutely knew we’d see him wrestling again sometime because he’s the toughest kid I know. But for him to do it this year, it was insane.”

Voelker and his family were deeply involved in the fundraising activities for the Vespa family. At the Takedown Tournament held last summer, Voelker stepped on the mat against Vinny’s older brother Michael in an exhibition match. In an entertaining bout, Vespa hit a “flying squirrel”.

“It was a lot of fun,” Voelker said. “We were just going out there to goof around and [the flying squirrel] happened. It was actually something I was teaching him earlier that week and he did it.”

Voelker clearly did a good job of teaching and that’s something he hopes to do a lot more as he plans to pursue a degree in early education at Buffalo.

In addition to his academic path, Voelker also expects to pursue success on the mat – right away. He said he will compete for a spot in the lineup as a true freshman.

“I don’t plan to redshirt my first year,” he said. “I talked to Coach Stutzman and he thinks I’ll be fine after working out in the room with the way I push the pace on my feet and my top and bottom wrestling. I trust him. I can’t wait to get back on the mat. There aren’t a lot of guys that go Division I from Section 9. I want to rack up wins at the college level.”

Wantagh's Paul Gillespie Named the National Coach of the Year by the NWCA

Wantagh racked up numerous big time trophies in 2013-14, including the Eastern States, the Union Endicott Duals, the Section 8 Dual and Tournament crowns and the New York State championship.  The Warriors also have compiled over 40 dual victories in a row.

Wantagh at the State Tournament, Photo by BV

Now, the squad now has another prestigious honor to add as head coach Paul Gillespie was named the National Coach of the Year on Thursday by the NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association).

Gillespie, who has been a head coach for 33 years, is no stranger to accolades, as he was entered into the New York State Hall of Fame in 2005 as well as the National Wrestling Hall of Fame a year later.  In addition, he has been the Nassau County Coach of the Year six times.

Also capturing NWCA awards were Michigan’s Adam Coon (Wrestler of the Year) and Al Miller (National Assistant Coach of the Year).

To read the full release about Gillespie, see this link.


Openings on the NYS Cadet Freestyle National Team Set to Compete in Florida

There are openings at the following weights on the New York State Cadet Freestyle National team which will compete June 14-15 in Daytona Beach, Florida:

88 Pounds, 138 Pounds, 145 Pounds, 182 Pounds, 195 Pounds, 220 Pounds, 285 Pounds

If you are interested, please contact Coach Anthony Servidone ( or Dean Zenie (

Cowboy Up: Great Neck South's Chris Koo Looking to Peak at Oklahoma State

The morning that the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals were set to begin in Virginia Beach back in 2011, Great Neck South’s Chris Koo asked Craig Vitagliano, his coach at Ascend Wrestling Club, about a technique he was interested in learning.

“When he was warming up, he wanted me to show him a move – it was a Russian tie to an ankle pick,” Vitagliano said. “It wasn’t like he really practiced it very much – it was like 10 minutes of working on it. Then he went out and hit it in pretty much every match.”

Armed with a new technique in his arsenal, Koo went all the way to the semifinals of the prestigious event, sealing his first All-American honors before finishing in sixth place at 145 pounds.

“He’s a sponge,” Vitagliano said. “Whatever I show him, he can do – even really advanced techniques. He picks everything up on the spot. There aren’t many kids I’ve seen be able to do that, but he can.”

That ability is one the many strengths Vitagliano believes will serve Koo well at his next stop – Oklahoma State.

The Nassau County senior said that before the season, going to the tradition-rich Big 12 program “seemed like a fantasy.” As did his recruiting visit, during which he was in constant contact with some of the greats in the sport.

“When I was there, Coleman Scott was training with Eric Guerrero. Also Chris Perry and Tyler Caldwell were working out and John Smith and Zack Esposito were there. It was crazy. It was a room full of All-Americans, national champions and Olympians. It was pretty cool to just watch and then have everyone come over to talk to me.”

Soon, it will be more than just talking. Koo mentioned how lucky he’s been to have great training partners like New York state titlewinner Louis Hernandez, Penn-bound Dan McDevitt, Jaison White and Dan Tracy over the past few years at Ascend. But it will be a whole new ballgame when he begins in Stillwater.

“Chris doesn’t just want to wrestle in college,” Vitagliano said. “He wants to do really well there. His goal is to be a national champ and what better place to do that than Oklahoma State? He’ll be able to work out right away with [2013 NCAA bronze medalists] Alex Dieringer and Tyler Caldwell. [NCAA champion] Chris Perry too. It’s a great situation for him. I’ve had a number of coaches tell me how perfect his style is for Oklahoma State and that he has the potential to be really special in college.”

Koo has fairly quietly already accomplished plenty over the past few years. With the previously discussed sixth place medal at Virginia Beach in 2011, he became Great Neck South’s first-ever All-American. He followed up with two more podium finishes at the NHSCA Nationals, grabbing seventh as a junior and senior.

However, on his way to the seventh place showing as an 11th grader, Koo tore both MCLs, forcing him to spend the summer rehabilitating rather than training the way he wanted to and leaving him unable to compete in Fargo.

The time off the mat also gave him more of an opportunity to think about the disappointing loss he endured at the Nassau County championships to MacArthur’s Joe Cataldo, a setback that prevented him from qualifying for the state tournament.

“I knew I had to do something different and put in a lot more work,” Koo said. “That loss killed me. I was so disappointed to take third and felt like I was starting from square one. I started to stay after practice and watch a lot of film with Craig. He takes everything apart and breaks it all down. I learned a lot of new technique and was ready to excel in my wrestling.”

He did, putting together an outstanding senior campaign in which he won his first 41 bouts (34 by bonus points) to earn his first Section 8 crown. His streak also led him all the way to the 152-pound state title bout, where he lost by fall to Longwood’s Corey Rasheed, currently ranked third in the nation at that weight by Flowrestling.

“A lot of people didn’t know who Chris was, but I was really confident that he would at least get to the finals,” Vitagliano said. “He was a little nervous and was really devastated after the match, especially because he had been dominating his matches most of the season.”

“I was happy with almost all of my senior year – except the state finals,” Koo added. “That was the first time I wrestled Rasheed and I would definitely want another chance. I didn’t get to be a state champ, but I have new goals for college. The only way to get better is to wrestle with the best guys.”

The future 165 or 174 pounder will have that opportunity when he travels to Oklahoma this summer to take a few classes and train with the team prior to beginning school in the fall.

“I can’t wait,” Koo said. “I know there’s a big gap from high school to college and I want to get started. It’ll be so exciting to be in that room, working in that environment.”

Vitagliano believes that the environment will vault him to the next level.

“I think he’s only scratched the surface of what he can do. I’ve talked to a number of coaches who agree with me that Oklahoma State is going to be pleasantly surprised because the kid is special,” Vitagliano said. “I think he’ll peak in college. With the coaches and workout partners there, I really believe the sky’s the limit.”


Chris Koo wished to thank Craig Vitagliano and Ryan Pingitore, his coach at Great Neck South.

Memorial Day: Remembering Navy SEAL and Former Wrestler Jonathan Kaloust

On Memorial Day, we remember many members of the United States Armed Forces, including Massapequa and Binghamton wrestler Jonathan Kaloust. For more on Kaloust, see the release below courtesy of


VESTAL, N.Y.—Former Binghamton wrestler and 2010 graduate Jonathan Kaloust was killed [earlier this month] in a Navy training exercise at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Kaloust, 23, of Massapequa, was a Navy SEAL and Special Warfare Operator Third Class who was based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Fort Story, Va.

He is survived by his parents, Gary and Irene Kaloust, and a sister, Melanie.

Kaloust wrestled at the University from 2007-10 before earning his degree in political science. He was an all-star scholastic athlete at Massapequa High on Long Island and won 10 career matches as a walk-on at Binghamton. He was a dedicated team member and valuable training partner in the practice room.

He joined the Navy in March 2011.

Kaloust’s high school wrestling coach, Al Bevilacqua, told that Kaloust “was a born leader, he was always someone others wanted to be like. Jon’s just one of the exceptional kids.”

University Nationals Freestyle Recap: Cam Simaz, Jamel Hudson and Nick Gwiazdowski Among the NY Placers



The final day of the 2013 ASICS FILA University National Tournament could best be described as something of an up-and-down affair for the contingent from the Empire State. Beginning Sunday morning with eight wrestlers still in contention for gold and an additional 17 grapplers still alive in the consolation brackets, at first glance, when you see that New York was only able to secure seven placement finishes, it might strike you as slightly underwhelming. However, to focus only on the quantity instead of the quality would be to overlook the fact that there were more than a few solid efforts put forth.

Leading the way for the group from New York with a runner-up finish at the 84 kg weight class was 2012 NCAA National Champion, Cam Simaz, formerly of Cornell University and now wrestling on behalf of the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club. Opening the second day of freestyle competition by cruising to victories in the quarterfinal (13-6 over Lehigh’s Nathaniel Brown) and semifinal (10-0 over Alex Meyer of the University of Iowa) rounds, the four-time Division I All-American from Allegan, Michigan would be the lone wrestler with ties to New York to advance to the best 2-of-3 title series. In the championship, Simaz would be pitted with the two-time defending National Champion, Ed Ruth, of Penn State fame. Attempting to dictate pace and wear out his opponent, as he did countless times while competing for the Big Red, Simaz would continually push forward. However, in the end, as hard as he worked, he simply would not have an answer for Ruth’s superhuman athleticism, dropping the series in straight matches, 6-4 and 10-0.

Simaz’s silver medal showing would not be the only cause for celebration among the Cornell faithful as four other present or future members of the Ithaca based, Ivy League institution’s squad would also earn their way onto the podium with top-8 finishes. Posting 5th place performances at 60 kg and 79 kg respectively were incoming freshman Mark Grey and junior Jesse Shanaman. Both 10-0 technical winners in the quarterfinal round over opponents who were 2013 NCAA National Tournament qualifiers, the former teammates at Blair Academy who will be reunited next fall would see their title hopes dashed in the semifinal round when they were defeated by the eventual champions in their weight classes, Tyler Graff of Wisconsin (6-2 over Grey) and Oklahoma’s Andrew Howe (10-0 over Shanaman). Second consecutive losses to Joe Colon (12-11 over Grey) and Tyler Wilps (13-4 against the upperclassman from Blairstown) would send each to the 5th place bout where they would end their weekend on a high note. Grey would dominate Jade Rauser 11-0, while Shanaman would receive a forfeit.

An individual who fell just short of matching his teammates’s top-5 finish would be Gabe Dean. The only placewinner of the seven who was not in the morning’s quarterfinals, Dean would peel off four straight wins in the consolation bracket to ensure himself a spot on the medal stand. Unfortunately, after notching a very impressive ‘w’over 2013 EIWA Conference Champion, Brown of Lehigh (same person Simaz beat in the quarters) by injury default (Dean led 6-1 at the time of the stoppage), the native of the Great Lakes State (Michigan) would be upended in his last two matches of the tournament, losing a 3-1 decision in the consolation semifinals to Pittsburgh redshirt sophomore, Max Thomusseit, and then dropping a heartbreaker in the match for 5th, 6-5 to the Hawkeye, Meyer.

Duke Pickett would be the final Cornell placewinner, finishing 8th at 79 kg.

Rounding out the list of placewinners for New York would be a pair of former Scholastic State Wrestler of the Year recipients, 2012 honoree Jamel Hudson (currently a true freshman at Hofstra) and the man who preceded him in winning the top honor, Nick Gwiazdowski, an All-American in 2012 who sat out the 2012/2013 season following a transfer from Binghamton to North Carolina State.

Sharing the highest finish of any Empire State representative not named Simaz, Hudson and “Gwiz” would claim bronze at the 63 and 120 kg weight classes, respectively. In what seemingly was a bit of a running pattern, in similar fashion to Grey and Shanaman, both the Pride student-athlete and the Wolfpack member would lose to the eventual champions in their bracket, Clarion’s Sam Sherlock (11-1 over Hudson) and Tyrell Fortune (8-0 over Gwiazdowski). However, these would be the only blemishes on otherwise immensely strong resumes that witnessed each win three matches over game opponents. Hudson would earn the bronze with an 8-2 (match not as close as the score) decision over Bloomsburg’s Matthew Rappo, while Gwiazdowski would rally from a 5-0 deficit to record the last seven points of the match to slay Austin Marsden, the polished big man from Oklahoma State who would have been an All-American contender this season if not for the fact that he was stuck on the Cowboy bench behind Alan Gelogaev (3rd at the NCAAs this season).

Full results can be found by visiting

Eight Empire Staters Advance to Quarterfinal Round of 2013 ASICS FILA University Nationals



One day removed from earning eight placement finishes in the Greco-Roman discipline, our native sons were back on the mat today to compete in the freestyle portion of this weekend’s Memorial Day festivities at the 2013 ASICS FILA University National Tournament under the roof of the Louis and Freda Stile Athletic Field House on the campus of the University of Akron.  

While the majority of the student-athletes with ties to New York State would win multiple bouts on Saturday to ensure that they would live to see tomorrow’s final day of action, it would be a prestigious group of eight that would stand out, going unblemished this afternoon to punch their own respective tickets to the quarterfinals.  Led by a quintet of past, present, and/or future members of the Cornell Big RedMark Grey (competing under the banner of the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club; 60kg), Eli Bienstock (also wrestling for the FLWC; 63kg), Duke Pickett/Jesse Shanaman (both at 79kg), and 2012 NCAA National Champion, Cam Simaz (84kg), the Empire State will have championship bracket representation in six of the 10 contested weight classes.   Rounding out the list of those still in contention to potentially hoist the hardware tomorrow will be 2012 NYS DI Champion/current Hofstra true freshman Jamel Hudson (63kg), 2013 NCAA Qualifier from Columbia University Matt Bystol (66kg), and current North Carolina State big man, Nick Gwiazdowski (120kg), a former two-time NYS Division II Champion for Duanesburg, who was an NCAA All-American last season in his rookie year for Binghamton University before electing to follow former Bearcat Head Coach, Pat Popolizio, to Raleigh.

Going unscored upon in their three matches today would be Grey and Simaz as each notched a trio of technical falls, with both the former and the latter racking up a 32-0 margins over their opponents.  Grey will open up day #2 with a date against two-time NCAA Tournament qualifier, Shelton Mack from the University of Pittsburgh, while the next stop on Simaz’s journey to Titletown will come in the person of 2013 EIWA Conference Champion, Lehigh University’s Nathaniel Brown.

Almost as dominant on the day as his two Cornell brethren would be Shanaman, who aside from a hard fought 7-4 decision victory in the second round over Steven Nelson of the Clarion Wrestling Club, outscored his other two foes by a combined tally of 15-0.  The Blairstown, NJ native will not have it nearly as easy tomorrow as he will be pitted against 2013 Big 12 Conference runner-up, Tanner Weatherman, from Iowa State University.  A breakout star for the Cyclones in his redshirt freshman campaign, Weatherman just missed earning All-American honors at the NCAA National tournament by a single victory, going 2-2 in front of the home crowd.

Joining Shanaman at 79kg in the first of only two weight classes that witnessed multiple New Yorkers wrestling their way into the quarterfinals is his college teammate, Pickett.  While not as imposing on paper as the aforementioned, Pickett has been every bit as effective, proving that it does not matter how large the victory as long as it is you who gets his hand raised in the end.  Posting three consecutive wins by decision, commencing with a 10-7 first round victory over Wisconsin’s Frank Cousins and capped off by his most impressive performance of the day, a 9-2 “w” over Santiago Martinez, the freshman from Culpepper, Virginia has found a way to get it done each and every time this far.  If he hopes to continue this winning streak, he will need to be at the top of his game as he will kick off the second day of freestyle with an encounter with a mighty tough opponent in the person of 2013 NCAA All-American Logan Storley.  Finishing sixth in the nation this season for the University of Minnesota in his true freshman year, Storley was ranked as high as #1 in the country during parts of his 2012/2013 frosh campaign.

Pulling off one of the most impressive come-from-behind efforts in securing himself a spot in the quarterfinals was Hudson.  After cruising to a pair of technical fall victories, 10-0 and 11-0 over Joshua Shupe (Minnesota) and Nathan Coburn, “the Renaissance Man” would find himself on the brink of being knocked into the consolation bracket when he fell behind 11-2 in his round-of-16 bout against Iowa State’s Shayden Terukina. Rather than panic, Hudson would slowly fight his way back into the match, using his excellent takedown skills to record the final 14 points of the match to emerge with the 16-11 decision. The 2012 New York State High School Wrestler of the Year will need to bring this same level of intensity and endurance to the match tomorrow as he will likely be in for an action packed showdown with University of Iowa redshirt sophomore, Ethan Owens. While unable to break into the Hawkeye starting line-up early in his career, Owens has fared quite well in open competition, compiling a 14-5 overall record this season at weights ranging from 141-157.  Should Hudson successfully navigate his way past Owens, an All-NY affair can ensue as Bienstock is also on the bottom half of the 63kg bracket.  The Finger Lakes Wrestling Club product has demonstrated an ability to put points up in bunches, averaging just under 9pts/match in going 3-0 on the day.  Before we can even think about the battle of NYS, like Hudson, Bienstock must first take care of business against a tough customer in the person of Clarion student-athlete, Sam Sherlock.

Finding himself as a member of perhaps the deepest field of the entire tournament was Gwiazdowski, who like Pickett, had to sweat it out a bit, but still managed to always walk away with the “w”.  Opening up his day with a 14-9 decision over  Ohio University’s Jeremy Johnson, a 2012 NCAA All-American (7th) who fell one win short of repeating the milestone this season, Gwiazdowski would find himself in a battle-and-forth barn-burner in his second match of the afternoon against Wisconsin’s Connor Medbery.  Trailing 9-8 late in the match, the Wolfpack sophomore (who sat out the 2012/2013 season following the previously cited transfer) would come on strong in the last half minute, scoring a pair of takedowns to win 12-9.  While by no means an easy opponent, “Gwiz” should enjoy a significant experience advantage over Minnesota true freshman, Michael Kroells, when they meet first thing tomorrow morning.

Bystol would also be light outs on Saturday, outscoring his three opponents 31-5.  He will have the toughest quarterfinal match as he will be pitted against 2013 NCAA runner-up, Jason Chamberlain, who just completed his eligibility for Boise State University.  A former member of the Junior World team, despite his strong folkstyle resume, many consider the Bronco to be much more adept at freestyle.

Other New Yorkers who remain in contention to finish top-8 in freestyle include:

*55kg: Mike Soria (Buffalo)
*55kg: Max Soria (Buffalo)
*60kg: Jamie Franco (Hofstra)
*60kg: Nick Wilcox (Bloomsburg)
*60kg: Penn Gottfried (Columbia)
*66kg: Mike Nevinger (Cornell)
*66kg: Chris Villalonga (Cornell)
*66kg: Luke Vaith (Hofstra)
*66kg: James Carucci (Lehigh)
*70kg: Kevin Hartnett (Bloomsburg)
*70kg: Connor Sutton (Columbia)
*74kg: Josh Veltre (Bloomsburg)
*74kg: Ryan Fox (NC State)
*74kg: Josh Houldsworth (Columbia)
*74kg: Ben Villaret (Columbia)
*79kg: Jermaine John (Hofstra)
*84kg: Gabe Dean (Finger Lakes/Cornell)

In the other tournament going on this weekend, the FILA Cadet Nationals, the Empire State would not fare as well, as none of our 7-man contingent was able to advance to tomorrow’s placement rounds. Coming the closest to making it to the second day of the tournament was South Jefferson’s Daniel Smith. Competing at 76kg, Smith would post a .500 record, going 3-3 today. The only other wrestler from NYS to win more than one match was Greg Kleinsmith, who went 2-2 (also at 76kg).

Who Placed on Friday at the FILA Cadet and University Nationals (Greco)?

Greco Roman wrestling took center stage on Friday in Ohio at the FILA Cadet and University Nationals competitions.

In Cadet action, a pair of New Yorkers made the podium. Two-time state runner up Nick Casella of Locust Valley placed sixth at 54 kg, while Poly Prep’s Leonard Merkin did the same at 63 kg.  Both Empire State grapplers won twice by technical fall during the day.

In the University tournament, several wrestlers with New York connections made the medal stand.

Max Soria, Photo by BV

The University at Buffalo was represented by medalists Max and Mike Soria at 55 kg and Wally Maziarz (seventh at 74 kg). The Soria twins both earned their way into the fifth place bout, where Max was declared the winner by injury default.

William Simpson of US Army was the runner up at 60 kg, making the championship series against former Ohio State lightweight Nikko Triggas.

Taking third at 60 kg was Dmitry Ryabchinskiy, a former PSAL wrestler who came out on top by technical fall in the bronze bout, while Windsor native Jessy Williams was fourth at 63.

James Hogan recorded a fifth place showing at 66, while Oliver Lopez (Hunter) took sixth at 60 and Columbia’s Matt Idelson collected eighth at 96.

Freestyle competition will begin Saturday morning.

For full results, see