X-Cel won the title at the Pop & Flo National Duals last year. The Long Island group will try to repeat that feat on Sunday after advancing to the semifinals on the first day of competition.
The squad looked completely dominant early, opening with a 84-0 blanking of Kryptonite Wrestling Club, followed by a 71-6 triumph over Journeymen Gold. The quarterfinals brought a tougher challenge, however, as X-Cel squared off with Dark Knights of Pennsylvania.
Two-time state champion Nick Piccininni got the New Yorkers off to a good start with a major decision at 120 pounds. However, the opponents from the Keystone State responded with three consecutive victories from 125 to 135 to take a 12-4 advantage.
The two teams then traded wins over the next several matches, beginning with a pin by Sacred Heart-bound TJ Fabian of Shoreham Wading River at 140. The Dark Knights were victorious at 145 and 160, while state champion Louis Hernandez of Mepham earned a 5-4 win at 152 and Steven Schneider got his hand raised at 170 with an overtime triumph. After regulation ended deadlocked at 1, and there was no scoring in sudden victory, Schneider rode his opponent out for the entire 30 seconds and then escaped when it was his turn on bottom to make the team score 19-16 in favor of the Pennsylvania squad.
After the Dark Knights extended their advantage to 22-16 with a decision at 182, Chris Chambers put four big points on the board for X-Cel with a major at 195, followed by a 9-3 decision by Steven Mills at 220 to put the Long Island group ahead for the first time since early in the dual. When a forfeit at heavyweight was tacked on, X-Cel took a 29-22 lead as the meet returned to the lightweights.
At 106, the Dark Knights made things interesting, earning a fall to make it 29-28 in favor of X-Cel with just one match remaining. In that contest, former Wantagh star Jose Rodriguez took control with an early takedown and got his hand raised to push X-Cel to the 32-28 win and to the semifinals on Sunday against Iron Horse (New Jersey).
The 32-team High School field included many squads from New York, including teams from Ascend, Cellar Dwellers, Cobra, Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, Iowa Style, Journeymen, Port Jervis, Razor and 631 Elite.
Meanwhile, close to half of the squads in the Youth field came from New York as well.
In addition to Sunday’s action to determine placement in the team standings, there will be some great bouts on Saturday night. At 8:30 p.m., some of the top individuals will take the mat for an All-Star dual.
Included are a number of New Yorkers, for example (matches subject to change):
83: Adam Busiello (631 Elite) vs. Patrick Glory (A&B Core)
88: Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen) vs. Gavin Teasdale (Young Guns)
106: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cobra) vs. Devin Brown (Young Guns)
120: Nick Piccininni (X-Cel) vs. Mickey Phillipi (Young Guns)
125: William Koll (FLWC) vs. Kevin Jack (Iowa Style)
140: Nick Kelley (Journeymen) vs. Anthony Ashnault (SKWC)
182: Dan McDevitt (Ascend) vs. Luke Farinaro (Iron Horse)
220: Rich Sisti (Apex) vs. Michael Boykins (Rt. 100)
100: Sam Sasso (Dark Knights) vs. Vince Andreano (APEX)
140: Jason Nolf (Young Guns) vs. Scott Delvecchio (Iron Horse)
152: BJ Clagon (Apex) vs. Miguel Calixto (Catamounts)
170: Chris Koo (Ascend) vs. Ethan Ramos (Iron Horse)
195: Reggie Williams (FLWC) vs. Evan Ramos (Iron Horse)
285: Mike Hughes (X-Cel) vs. Jesse Webb (Catamount)