The eyes of wrestling fans will turn to Fargo, North Dakota over the next several days as many of the best competitors in the country will take the mat to crown Freestyle and Greco Roman national champions. Who from the Empire State will shine in the biggest tournament of the summer? There are always some surprises, but the following is a look at some of those who could make an impact for Team New York.
Will there be repeat champions?
A year ago, New York had over 25 All-Americans at Fargo, with three national championships. Those titles came from the women’s competition where Shenendehowa’s Alexis Porter took top honors in both the Cadet (143 pounds) and Junior (139 pounds) brackets and Mary Westman collected gold at Junior 159.
Porter, who will represent the USA at the World championships later this summer, will have the chance to add to her trophy collection. Also looking to be a gold medalist at this event again is Rosemary Flores, a double champion in 2011 who was third a year ago at 130 pounds.
Who Will Excel at the Junior Level for New York?
In addition to the strong women’s contingent, the men’s side features a number of wrestlers who have the ability to win it all. Among them are nationally-ranked grapplers who captured crowns in both Freestyle and Greco at the New York championships in Binghamton back in May.
Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (138) is one of them. The Cheektowoga standout was third in Greco last summer at the Fargodome and after another impressive performance at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma a few weeks ago (9-0 in Freestyle, 6-1 in Greco), he looks poised to challenge for the biggest prize. Also starring for Team New York in the Sooner State were former Fargo placers Burke Paddock (160) and Reggie Williams (195). Paddock, who recently committed to the University of Iowa, was a combined 15-1 at the Junior Duals, while Williams, who notched fifth at 215 in Cadet Freestyle two years ago, is ready to get on the medal stand again. (Perhaps also keep an eye out for Roland Zilberman, who went unbeaten at the Junior Duals across both styles at 195 and 220 pounds).
Another one of the Empire State’s top seniors, William Koll of Lansing, was dominant in winning double New York titles for the second consecutive year and after a strong showing at the Western Regional in April and at the Disney Duals, will look to pick up hardware in North Dakota at 126.
Like Koll, Adis Radoncic (170) and Matt Abbott (285) earned New York state folkstyle titles this February in Albany. Both will compete in Fargo, as will a bevy of other placers from the Times Union Center in 2013, including silver medalist Chris Koo and third placers Troy Seymour and Alex Smythe. Koo, Seymour and Smythe will all wrestle at 160 pounds. Additional high school medalists from 2013 will represent the Empire State, such as Golan Cohen (113), Cheick Ndiaye (120), Freddie Dunau (132), Ryan Snow (132), Konstantin Parfiryev (170), Andrew Psomas (170), Nick Weber (195) and Sam Eagan (220).
Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush, who was an All-American in 2011 and 2012 at Fargo will see action at 106, while another returning placer, Ben Honis, moves up from the Cadet ranks. Matthew Morris, who grabbed first place in both styles at the New York championships and wrestled well at the Junior Duals, will be at 120.
Who Will Lead the Way in the Cadet Tournaments?
While there were a number of double New York champions in the Junior division, as discussed previously, there were more in the Cadet brackets, with 10 wrestlers grabbing titles in both Freestyle and Greco.
Two of those grapplers – Locust Valley’s Sam Ward (138) and Shenendehowa’s Jesse Porter (152) – placed at the Fargodome in 2012 in Greco Roman action and are threats to repeat as All-Americans.
A host of other Cadets look for breakthrough performances in the next week. Leonard Merkin of Poly Prep and James Bethel are a strong candidates, as they impressed with undefeated showings at the Cadet Duals in Daytona Beach. Meanwhile, Empire State champions in both international styles such as Nick Casella (120), Ian Lupole (126), Gino Titone (145), Jacob Woolson (170), Aidan Mathews (195) and Peter Strassfield (285) all look to make their marks. Also keep an eye on state placer Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury, who will make his Fargo debut at 106.
It all begins on Saturday afternoon with Women’s Cadet action.
Who will take advantage of the opportunity to face and beat some of the nation’s best over the next week or so at Fargo? Stay tuned and check back for updates on New York wrestlers throughout the tournament.
(All the above wrestlers were listed as part of Team New York as of Thursday night).
Here’s the list of last year’s (2012) New York All-Americans at Fargo:
106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place
113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place
120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place
132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place
152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place
160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place
182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place
182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place
132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place
138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place
145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place
152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place
160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place
160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi, 6th Place
94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, 5th
132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, 4th
132 Pounds: Sam Ward, 7th
182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, 7th
138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place
195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place
143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion
143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings,6th
172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 3rd
112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place
130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place
139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion
159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion
172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place