Team North Dakota Blue seemed to have New York’s number at the Junior National Duals in Oklahoma. The two squads met in the Greco Roman competition on Wednesday and in Freestyle action on Friday and both times, North Dakota came out on top, by 37-32 and 37-31 scores, respectively.
There would be one more chance for the Empire State wrestlers. Both squads went undefeated on the event’s last day, earning spots against each other in the first place match of the Red/Blue Freestyle Pool. It turned out that the third time was a charm.
“We lost to them twice and didn’t want it to happen three times in a row,” said Johnson City’s Reggie Williams, who wrestled at 195 and 220 during the week. “We knew we needed to get it together and we did.”
In an exciting dual New York prevailed 35-34 — and it all came down to the last bout.
The Empire State got off to a strong start, with a technical fall by Roland Zilberman at 220 and a decision by Sam Eagan at 285. After a 10-0 victory by Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer at 138 and a pin by Jake Savoca at 145, New York led by eight points with five matches remaining. But it wasn’t over, as North Dakota went on a run, capturing four straight contests, including two by bonus, to take a 34-30 advantage into the finale at 195 pounds.
That’s when Williams stepped in, needing a technical fall for the tie or a fall for the win. After defeating his opponent Brandon Rodriguez earlier in the event, Williams was confident he would come through.
“I thought we would win the tiebreaker if it came down to that, but I still wanted to be safe and pin him,” Williams said. “I wanted to put the team on my back and came in looking for the pin right away.”
It didn’t take long as he recorded the fall less than a minute and a half into the bout to give New York the one-point triumph.
Williams frequently got his hand raised in Oklahoma, as he posted an 8-1 record in Freestyle. 160-pounder Burke Paddock did the same (after going undefeated in Greco). Also starring for the team was Rodriguez-Spencer, who won all nine of his Freestyle bouts at 138, including eight by technical fall, after losing just once in Greco.
“Guys like Burke and Renaldo wrestled tough the whole time,” Williams said. “We knew we could count on them to go out there, score points and get us techs and pins when we needed them.”
In addition, 120 was a strong weight, as Matt Morris and Nick Casella teamed up to go 7-2 in that class while Daniel Smith (170) and the previously mentioned Savoca and Eagan all collected five or more wins in Freestyle. In addition, after an unblemished tournament in Greco, Zilberman won all four of his bouts on Friday and Saturday in the upperweights.
Overall, the squad garnered a 6-3 record in Freestyle, with wins over Minnesota Blue, Indiana, Iowa, Florida, Tennessee and the finale against North Dakota.
“I honestly thought we’d do a little better,” Williams said. “But it was a great experience with great bonding time for the team. I think we got a lot out of it to help us get ready to compete for [individual] national titles at Fargo in a few weeks. And we were really happy to end on a good note, winning our last match.”
For full Freestyle results, see Here.
For a recap of the team’s Greco Roman competition, see This link.
For full team roster, see the bottom of this article.
Off to a Great Start at Disney
It wasn’t only an unbeaten day for the Empire State in Oklahoma, as another group of All-Stars – Team New York Kong – racked up a 2-0 mark at the AAU National Duals (aka Disney Duals) in Orlando.
The squad had no mercy on the opposition, winning at least 11 of the 14 bouts in both meets. The first was a 50-9 pasting of Team Kryptonite (Ohio), while the second was a 44-6 decision over New Tampa Wrestling.
Garnering two victories on the day were Nick Piccininni (113), Travis Passaro (120), Alex Delacruz (126), Matt Leshinger (132), Nick Kelley (138), Joe Mastro (152), Nick Weber (195), Josh Bonneau (220) and Mike Hughes (heavyweight). The team will return to the mat for three contests on Sunday.
Team New York Kong
106 Kyle Quinn
106 Jesse Dellavecchia
113 Nick Piccininni
120 Travis Passaro
126 Alex Delacruz
132 Matt Leshinger
138 Nick Kelley
145 Brandon Lapi
145 Frank Garcia
145 Jakob Restrepo
152 Joe Mastro
160 Steven Schneider
170 Carlos Toribio
182 James Corbett
195 Nick Weber
220 Josh Bonneau
285 Mike Hughes
Team New York – Junior Freestyle Duals
100: Dom Poggoli
106: Andy Flanagan
113: Alpha Diallo
120: Nick Casella
120: Matt Morris
126: Trey Aslanian
126: Cheick Ndiaye
126/132: Richard Antonacci
132: Freddie Dunau
138: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer
145: Jake Savoca
152: Nigel Williams
160: Burke Paddock
170: Daniel Smith
182: Isaiah Zimmer
195: Reggie Williams
220: Roland Zilberman
220/285: Sam Eagan