Stevo Poulin and Adam Busiello Selected to Compete on Friday at the Inaugural WIBN Middle School All-Star Meet

The college wrestling season kicks off this weekend with the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Star Classic in Fairfax, Virginia.  But before some of the NCAA’s brightest stars take the stage on Saturday, some of the future standouts in the sport will compete in the inaugural Wrestlers in Business Network (WIBN) Middle School All-Star Meet on Friday at 7 p.m at the George Mason University Field House.

Among the 34 highly accomplished youth wrestlers selected for the event are a pair of New Yorkers – Stevo Poulin and Adam Busiello. [Wrestlers from nine states are slated to participate].

Poulin, who has won events all over the country, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions and the Gene Mills Eastern Nationals, will take on Maryland state champion Meyer Shapiro at 65 pounds.

Meanwhile, Busiello, who earned his second consecutive Super 32 Middle School crown last weekend, will square off with two-time Pennsylvania titlewinner Cameron DeLucia at 90 pounds.  Busiello will join the varsity squad at Eastport South Manor High School this fall as a seventh grader.

The main event, featuring numerous college stars, will begin on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.  New York will be represented at 125 pounds by Cornell All-American Nahshon Garrett, who will battle Oklahoma’s Jarrod Patterson.

 

Middle School Matches (courtesy of Youth1.com)

 

60 Pounds

Nasir Wilkinson (Maryland) vs. Joe Couch (Maryland)

65 Pounds

Stevo Poulin (New York) vs. Meyer Shapiro (Maryland)

80 pounds
Malik Heinselman (Colorado)  vs. Corbin Hopkins (Pennsylvania)

80 pounds
Kurt McHenry (Virginia) vs. Colt Newton (Oklahoma)

80 pounds
Carson Manville (Virginia) vs. Sammy Hilligas (Pennsylvania)

90 pounds
Cameron DeLucia (Pennsylvania) vs. Adam Busiello (New York)

95 pounds
Gavin Teasdale (Pennsylvania) vs. Colton Yapoujian (Colorado)

100 pounds
Joshua Humphreys (West Virginia) vs. Cade Olivas (California)

100 pounds
Patrick McCormick (Virginia) vs. Levi Engleman (Virginia)

105 pounds
Brian Stuart (Maryland) vs. Theorius Robinson (Colorado)

105 pounds
Collin Gerardi (Virginia) vs. Mark Salvatore (Pennsylvania)

110 pounds
Grant Gorvette (Virginia) vs. Luke Grubbs (Virginia)

115 pounds
Malcolm Robinson (Virginia) vs. Aaron Brooks (Maryland)

118 pounds
Caden Mareno (Pennsylvania) vs. Marshall Keller (Virginia)

122 pounds
George Worthy (New Jersey) vs. Jack Parr (Maryland)

126 pounds
Imran Heard (Maryland) vs. Cameron Pine (West Virginia)

152 pounds
Justin Henry (Maryland) vs. Earnest Holland (Pennsylvania)

 

College All-Star Matches (Saturday)

125: Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) vs. Nahshon Garrett (Cornell)

133: A.J. Schopp (Edinboro) vs. Mason Beckman (Lehigh)

141: Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) v. Tony Ramos (Iowa)

149: Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) v. Logan Stieber (Ohio State)

157: Joey Napoli (Lehigh) vs. Nestor Taffur (Boston)

165: David Taylor (Penn State) v. Michael Moreno (Iowa State)

174: Andrew Howe (Oklahoma) v. Matt Brown (Penn State)

184: Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) vs. Jake Swartz (Boise State)

197: Taylor Meeks (Oregon State) v. Scott Schiller (Minnesota)

285: Mike McMullan (Northwestern) v. Tony Nelson (Minnesota)

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Kicking Off With the Pride: Hofstra 2013-14 Season Preview

Hofstra sent three wrestlers to the NCAA tournament in Iowa in 2013.  Two of those grapplers, Jamie Franco and Luke Vaith, return and with the addition of some fresh faces to the lineup and the development of some returners, there is a lot of optimism in Hempstead about what could be in store. New York Wrestling News spoke to assistant coach Zach Tanelli about changing conferences, the addition of transfers and the projected lineup for the 2013-14 campaign.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): You had a lot of success in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).  How do you feel about the move to the EIWA conference this year?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): We’re really excited about the opportunity to be in a conference as prestigious as the EIWA. Nothing against the CAA, but we just feel that this is a conference that better suits our team and will provide us with some tough challenges.

NYWN: Last year, you began the season with Minnesota and Wisconsin and faced a number of other top teams in the first half of the campaign, such as Iowa and Ohio State. What are some of the highlights of this year’s schedule?

ZT: We toned down our schedule a little bit, in part because we’ll be seeing some better teams in the EIWA.  A lot of our rivalries were with EIWA teams anyway, so we’re looking forward to those matches having added meaning.

You always want to have a good dual meet team but unless and until scoring is changed at the NCAAs, you need individuals to perform in the tournament setting where there’s adversity and you have to know how to respond if you take a loss.  So it’s always important to go to some of the top tournaments in the country because they’re test runs for the NCAAs. We’ll be doing that by going to [The Cliff Keen Invitational in] Las Vegas and the Southern Scuffle. These tournaments give you an opportunity to show you belong with the top guys.  To win those tournaments or place high, you have to beat some of the best.  Our team will have that opportunity.

NYWN: What do you think are the expectations for the team this year?

ZT: Expectations are lower for us externally, with only Luke Vaith in many of the rankings, but we feel differently.  We feel like we’re a darkhorse.  We think we’re definitely a top three team in the conference. We know there are tough teams like Cornell and Penn, but we feel that we match up well.  We need to win those head to head matchups, but we think a top three finish is likely and that we can sneak in higher in our first year. We definitely think we have guys who have what it takes to be All-Americans this year and other guys who will be national qualifiers. Time will tell.  We’re really excited about the season.

NYWN:  The season is right around the corner.  You have the Hofstra Wrestling Kickoff Banquet [6:30 p.m. at the Long Island Marriott] this Saturday, followed by the season opener against Rutgers at home on Sunday.  Tell us about those two events.

ZT: We like to do our kickoff to bring people together before the high school season starts, to get everyone excited about the season.  It will be an opportunity for people to meet [former Hofstra wrestler and UFC champion] Chris Weidman and see what he has to say.  He’ll also be at the match.  The Rutgers match should be a good dual to start off the season against a local team that we want to be facing every year.

NYWN: Let’s take a look at the wrestlers who look to play key roles for the Pride in 2013-14.

125

Franco, Photo by BV

Jamie Franco started for Hofstra at 133 for the past few years, making NCAA tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013.  This March, he won a pair of bouts in Des Moines.  For his senior season, the former Section 9 star will move down to 125, where he hopes to end his career on the podium.

“Jamie feels great at this weight,” Tanelli said. “I’m amazed at how he’s progressed and how strong he is.  It’s a natural fit for him.  He’s not getting much respect in the rankings, but we don’t care about that.  It’s a good spot to be in – low expectations for now. He wrestles well as an underdog and will prove himself early on.”

133

Jamel Hudson and Maverick Passaro were both Division I New York state champions in 2012.  Hudson had a successful redshirt year for the Pride and looked strong in freestyle, placing at events such as the University Nationals. Passaro returned to Long Island from Rutgers after an year disrupted by injuries. Hudson won the wrestle-off last week by a 7-2 score and will take the mat for the Pride against the Scarlet Knights.

“We think our lower weights are very strong and 133 is a big part of that,” Tanelli said. “Jamel is a really exciting wrestler and we think he can do very well this year.”

141

Vaith, Photo by BV

Luke Vaith topped multiple All-Americans last year and won a bout at the NCAA tournament.  The staff believes he has what it takes for a breakthrough senior campaign.

“Luke will be tested right off the bat, especially on our trip to Virginia [November 8-10],” Tanelli said. “He’ll face All-Americans Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) and Evan Henderson (North Carolina). They’re both ranked in the top five. It’s a heck of a time to show the country you’re a true contender.  We feel confident he can beat both of those guys and we feel strongly as a staff that he can win a national title.”

149

Cody Ruggirello and Cam Tessari faced off in last Friday’s wrestle-offs with Tessari winning by a 5-3 score.  It will be Ruggirello who will begin the season as the starter, however, as Tessari plans to return to action later in the campaign.

“They’ll probably wrestle off again close to the second semester,” Tanelli said. “Cody is our starter for the first half of the year. He looks good. Cam will be ready by the Southern Scuffle.  He’ll acclimate and adjust and be ready to go for the second part of the year.  The National Duals are at Ohio State this year and he’s hoping to compete in front of his family.” [Tessari is from the Buckeye State].

157

Nick Terdick started for the squad as an undersized 165 pounder a year ago, but has moved down to 157 for 2013-14.

“Nick is a super talented guy who has come a long way with his confidence,” Tanelli said. “He was in a weight class that wasn’t ideal for him last year, but he’s put in a nice offseason and is hitting his stride. I think he’s ready for a big jump.”

165

Joe Booth’s sixth-year of eligibility was officially granted by the NCAA a few weeks ago.  Now, the former Drexel grappler, a multiple-time NCAA qualifier, will look to take advantage of the opportunity in his last season as a college wrestler.

“It’s refreshing to have Joe in the room,” Tanelli said. “He’s a guy who really wants to be there because he has perspective from not fulfilling all of his goals.  He was training for the first month without knowing if he’d get the year from the NCAA.  He was training blindly, just hoping to get his shot.  It was a big sigh of relief for him and he views it as a second chance to finally accomplish his goals.  I think he struggled in the past with workout partners and maybe got in his own way sometimes. Having [assistant coaches] Dan Vallimont and Ryan Patrovich to work with has given him a whole new confidence. We feel very strongly about what he can do in March – we expect him to be an All-American.  He’s a pleasure to have in the room.”

174

Last Wednesday, a 174-pound wrestle-off took place, including last year’s starter, Jermaine John, Dave Heitman and Victor Pozsonyi.  A year after splitting time at higher weights (184/197) as a true freshman, it was Pozsonyi, the sophomore from New Jersey, who defeated the other two competitors (3-2 over John and 5-3 over Heitman).  Tanelli said earlier this week that either Pozsonyi or John will start, with the other redshirting.

“Victor has made huge gains since last year,” Tanelli said. “He’s come a long way and we’re excited to see what he can do.  Jermaine has been on a steady incline since he got here.  He’s gotten better every year.  He’s a fighter who is a very good listener and hard worker.”

184

After Pozsonyi won the initial 174-pound competition, the previously mentioned John, Heitman and freshman Dwight Howes took the mat in a round robin event at last Friday’s wrestle-offs. Howes went 2-0 in the mini-tournament, topping Heitman (6-2) and John (6-5).  The freshman from Colorado arrived in Hempstead this year after spending time after high school training at the Olympic Training Center and Tanelli said he will be the starter at this weight.

“Dwight doesn’t mind people shooting on him – he’s actually comfortable when guys get in on his legs,” the assistant coach said. “He scores off other people’s attacks.  He’ll have to make adjustments as the season progresses, but it’s always exciting to watch him compete because he loves to wrestle live.  It’s a good thing – you want guys who enjoy competition as much as he does.”

197

There weren’t any 197 pound wrestle-off bouts last week.  However, according to Tanelli, Heitman will take this spot for the Pride.  In addition, Tanelli said Zeal McGrew, who competed at heavyweight a year ago, has begun to make the move down to be in the mix for the 197 spot.

“[Heitman] has a lot of heart and works very hard,” Tanelli said. “You never have to watch him and wonder – he’s always on track, doing the right things. He’s a great guy for the room who has earned his shot.”

285

Photo by BV

Mike Hughes had a perfect high school season for Smithtown West in 2012-13, winning a state championship with 42 wins and 31 pins.  He has separated himself in the Hofstra room and will get the nod as a true freshman at heavyweight.

“Mike Hughes is our starter,” Tanelli said. “He’s come in and done a great job. He looks very good in the room. We’re excited about his future here.  We just need him to stay healthy and keep moving forward.”

——————–

Can Jamie Franco and Luke Vaith end their Hofstra careers on the podium?  How high will the squad place in its first season in the EIWA? We’ll see very soon what the Hofstra Pride will look like in 2013-14, as the season kicks off this Sunday at home against current EIWA foe Rutgers at 1 p.m.

A New Era for the Bulls: University at Buffalo 2013-14 Season Preview

It’s a new era at Buffalo as former star John Stutzman returned to his alma mater this spring as the Bulls head coach after a successful run as the leader of the Bloomsburg program.

“Things are going well,” Stutzman said. “The administration here is behind wrestling and that’s great.  There’s been a big transition.  The guys have been buying into the philosophy and that’s been awesome.  With the discipline and the kids we brought in, we changed the culture in less than six months. The guys are doing the right things socially and academically.  When that happens, the wrestling piece is that much easier. It’s an exciting time and we’re moving forward.”

The squad welcomed a lot of newcomers – 14 of the 26 wrestlers on the October 30 roster on buffalobulls.com are freshmen with only three seniors.

“I like our youth,” Stutzman said. “The only way the young guys know is our way.  They’ve been ‘all in’ since day 1.  They want to start and be the guy, and that’s created competition in the room.  The young guys have us excited for the future, but our returners have been amazing. Guys like Angelo [Malvestuto], Wally [Maziarz], the Soria brothers [Max and Mike] and others have been great leaders for us.”

Those leaders will help the team through a demanding schedule that begins in Brockport with the Oklahoma Gold tournament.

“Our schedule is very challenging right from the get go,” Stutzman said. “We have a chance to see a perennial top 10 team in Oklahoma to gauge where we’re at right away.  There are a lot of things to be excited about – we’re excited about the MAC conference, which is arguably the second best in the country for wrestling.  We’re also really looking forward to the Iowa match. Anytime you can wrestle at Carver Hawkeye Arena, that’s an exciting time for your program.”

Let’s take a look at who may make an impact for Buffalo in Stutzman’s first year at the helm.

125:

Max Soria, Photo by BV

Max Soria, a two-time NCAA qualifier for the Bulls, is the favorite to start.  The former Kings Park standout led the squad in takedowns a year ago, while finishing second in total wins.  Stutzman mentioned that he’s also pleased with the progress of Hunter transfer Jaydon Rice, a former Pennsylvania state placewinner.

“Max Soria has done awesome,” Stutzman said. “He’s working really hard.  He’s always done well at the MAC championships at the end of the year.  With the way he’s been training, I think he can get off to a faster start than usual, stay consistent and get on the podium at the national tournament. We’re looking for him to be our sparkplug at 125.”

133:

Stutzman said 133 could be a “dogfight” to see who takes the mat for Buffalo among Justin Farmer, a senior who won seven times last season, recent addition Jason Estevez of New Jersey and Mike Soria, who has competed at 125 in previous years for the squad.

“Justin Farmer has been a spot starter for a few years and is entering his fifth year,” Stutzman said. “I’m kind of forcing Mike [Soria] up.  I want to separate the brothers – they’ve been fighting for starting spots since they were little kids.  We’re trying to put weight on Mike and I think he’s bigger than he’s ever been.  I’m happy with the way Mike and Justin are progressing.”

In a recent release about Estevez joining the program, Stutzman said, “Jason will make an immediate impact for us and is capable of winning at a high level right way.”

141:

Another battle could take place at 141, where Northern Illinois transfer Nick Flannery and Erik Galloway will square off.  [Galloway began his college career at Pittsburgh]. Stutzman said that Flannery does have the option to redshirt, but “he wants to scrap.”

“I’m really high on Nick Flannery,” Stutzman said. “He’s had some success, but now we need to try to get him to be consistent throughout the year. He’s technically getting better and he’s really talented. I think he can have a breakout year. We expect big things. Galloway has been a starter and a MAC placewinner. They’ll push each other and hopefully we can get on the podium at this weight.”

149:

Redshirt freshman John Northrup looks like a strong candidate to man this class for the Bulls (although he may begin at 157, according to Stutzman). In addition, several newcomers could push to wrestle in their first year on the Buffalo campus.

“John Northrup has had a good preseason,” Stutzman said. “He’s a Section 5 guy who has been working really hard.  We’ll have some guys behind him like Jake Campana from New Jersey and Ryan Todora, a multi-time placewinner in Pennsylvania.  We’re trying to redshirt those guys but it’s not set in stone yet.”

157:

Wally Maziarz won 23 bouts at this weight last year.  Stutzman said the plan is to have him return to 157, however, it may not be until the second semester. Looking to challenge is Muhammad McBride.

“Wally is big and strong and we’d like to get him to ‘57’ by the second part of the year,” Stutzman said. “He’s a great leader who has been getting better daily.  We’re excited about him. McBride is a really interesting story. He never wrestled in high school but has been wrestling in the club system since he was a little kid. His father wrestled here and he could surprise people. He’s one of those gifted students – graduated from community college at 16.  He wanted to wrestle and is doing a phenomenal job.”

165:

As mentioned earlier, Maziarz will likely be here for at least part of the campaign.  New York medalist Rrok Nkodaj will also fight for the job after coming in from Bloomsburg.  Stutzman said Ryan Therrien from Massachusetts is also in the mix.

“Rrok is a super hard worker with a great attitude,” Stutzman said. “Wally and Rrok have bought in 100% and are unbelievable workers. The best guy will get the nod.”

174:

This is another spot with a number of wrestlers that could make an impact.  Among them are Bloomsburg transfer Tyler Rill, sophomore Jarred Lux and Section 9 alum Austin Weigel.

“We’re really excited about Tyler Rill’s development,” Stutzman said. “He knows how to wrestle – he’s crafty and talented and getting stronger every day. Jarred Lux has had a really good preseason. He was a spot starter last year and he’s really starting to figure it out. He’s getting consistent with his training and believing in himself. Austin Weigel is a true freshman. Those three guys set us up well at ‘65/74’ for a couple of years.”

184:

Tony Lock, a former high school national champion and state titlewinner at Pioneer, saw time at this weight in his rookie year and looks to do so again in 2013-14.  Another wrestler to keep tabs on is Joe Ariola, an Illinois standout.

“Tony Lock is a very talented kid,” Stutzman said. “He had an injury this summer, so he’s getting healthy and his weight’s coming down. I’m looking forward to getting him at his optimal weight class. Joe Ariola is an Illinois state champion who’s really good. He has some accolades and is a tough competitor from a good high school program.  We may redshirt him this year.”

197:

Angelo Malvestuto came back to the Buffalo area last year after beginning his college career at Virginia Tech.  In his initial season with the Bulls, he won 14 bouts.

“Angelo has done an unbelievable job,” Stutzman said. “He has made serious gains these last few weeks.  I’m really excited about his potential.  I think he can be an All-American. Coach [Bryce] Hasseman has done a great job with him. His skill set keeps getting better.

285:

A number of wrestlers could see time at heavyweight for the Bulls this year. Stutzman mentioned freshman Anthony Tufaro and two New York natives – Mike Silvis of Holley and James Benjamin of Vestal as two competitors who could take the mat at either 197 or 285.

“Anthony Tufaro is coming on, but he’s battling some injuries,” Stutzman said. “He probably won’t be ready right away. It could be heavyweight by committee for us this year. I think you’ll see our best lineup more toward January 1.”

Will the Bulls improve upon the four NCAA qualifiers they had in 2013?  How many young wrestlers will contribute to Stutzman’s first Buffalo team?  We’ll see how the squad looks when they hit the mat on November 9 at the Oklahoma Gold tournament.

“As a whole, the team will fight hard and be competitive,” Stutzman said. “We’ll be in great shape. We’re just getting better.  The program is doing the right things; training hard with a great attitude.  We’ll continue to progress daily and get ready for the national tournament.”

Longwood National Champion Corey Rasheed: Driven to Dominate in His Senior Year

Corey Rasheed said it was the “worst I’ve wrestled in a long time.”

Returning from injuries that had sidelined him for most of the summer, the Longwood star went undefeated at the Journeymen Classic to capture the 160-pound title and Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the upperweights.  He faced a New England champion and wrestlers who took second and third at Fargo in 2013 – and won by a combined 21-5 score.

Not too shabby for his “worst.”

Rasheed, Photo by BV

“When I tell people that, they look at me funny,” he said.  “But I’m not satisfied. It’s not about the title. Most wrestlers are in competition with the kids in their weight, but I feel like I’m in competition with every wrestler. I want to be the best.”

He showed his potential to be among the best as a seventh grader when he earned a spot in the state finals at 96 pounds.  After a fifth place finish as a freshman, Rasheed returned to the title bout in Albany as a sophomore in 2012, before taking silver for the second time.  A few weeks later, he again made the championship round of a big event – the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals in Virginia Beach, where he took second place at 145 pounds.

“When I lost the match [to Minnesota’s Larry Bomstad] in Virginia Beach, it felt like the state finals all over again,” Rasheed said.  “I knew I couldn’t let it happen again.”

He made sure in 2012-13 with a season of pure dominance at 152 pounds.  The Suffolk County standout went 34-0 with 22 pins. Only two opponents managed a regular decision.

But there was only one thing on his mind.

“All season, I was thinking about states,” he said. “I know I shouldn’t have, but during counties, I was thinking about states.  Then, during the first rounds of the state tournament, I was thinking about the finals.”

He punched his ticket to the finals with a technical fall, pin and a 5-0 shutout at the Times Union Center. In his third time wrestling on Saturday night at the biggest New York tournament of the year, he was ready.

“I was kind of numb at the moment,” he said. “Everything seemed so slow. I wasn’t nervous; I’d been there so many times before.  I was just thinking I had to win.  If I lost again in the finals, it would have been devastating.  I had to win.”

He did.  And he did it quickly.  Just 56 seconds into the title bout, Rasheed pinned Great Neck South’s Chris Koo.

“I didn’t care about getting the pin in the first period,” Rasheed said. “At the end of the day, I was just happy to get my hand raised there in the finals.  When I looked at the crowd and saw my friends and family hugging each other, it was a great moment.”

Appropriately, the fall came from the move Rasheed executed with perfection all year long – the cradle.

“I’ve been using that cradle since I started wrestling as a young kid,” he said. “People don’t see that it’s so easy to hit from all different angles.  It’s something that comes natural to me.  I work on other things – I don’t practice the cradle anymore.”

He may not practice it, but he certainly used it a lot, including at Virginia Beach where he returned to the national finals. This time, he came out on top, defeating Alabama’s Brandon Womack 9-6 in the 152-pound title bout to finish a perfect season as a state champion and a national champion.

The national rankers noticed, even if Rasheed wasn’t paying much attention.

Photo by BV

“I’m not a strong believer in rankings,” he said. “It’s an honor to be there and I want to be #1 one day, but I haven’t checked them in a long time. I don’t even know where I am anymore.”

(He is currently listed as the #56 senior in the nation by Intermat and #48 by FloWrestling.  At 160 pounds, Flo has Rasheed as #8 in the land).

College coaches probably have a good idea of where Rasheed stands in the rankings.

“I have a group of schools that I’ve been talking to,” Rasheed said, preferring to leave out the names. “I can’t pick yet because I haven’t visited places so I wouldn’t be making a good decision. I’m not in a rush to commit, but I am excited to wrestle in college.”

Rasheed’s familiarity with college wrestling has been increasing recently.

“I’m unorthodox when it comes to wrestling because I don’t really watch wrestling much,” he said.  “My favorite sport to watch is basketball. But a lot of college coaches that got in touch with me compared me to some guys and I started to watch them. I realized that I’m getting better just from watching. Ed Ruth is one that a lot of the coaches mentioned.  The coaches said we do a lot of the same things in every position.  Other than that, my favorite wrestler to watch is probably Jordan Burroughs – he’s phenomenal; so fast and explosive.”

Many fans have used those adjectives to describe Rasheed as well.  (The vast majority of coaches and observers we spoke to all around the state said Rasheed is New York’s top senior). He named numerous people who have helped him develop over the years, but at the top of that list was his brother Malik, a multiple-time state placer for Longwood.

“Malik has definitely helped me so much,” he said. “He should have been a two or three time state champ, but he had bad luck with tearing cartilage in his rib and so many other things people don’t know about. He’s my biggest influence. Last year, he came to the room and wrestled with me. We really go at it – there are days he beats me up and days I beat him up.  We’ll leave the room bleeding.  At times, we fight because it gets that competitive, but he’s helped me so much.”

That spirit translates to basketball, which Rasheed said he plays just about every day, “even in the snow.”  And despite all his accomplishments, his intensity hasn’t waned at all on the mat.

“I have more of a desire to win now than ever before,” Rasheed said. “In seventh, eighth, ninth grade, I was only thinking about high school wrestling and what I wanted to accomplish there.  But now, I’m thinking about college and the Olympics.  A lot of kids who start young burn out because it’s a tough sport to dedicate yourself to.  It’s not really a sport; it’s a lifestyle.  For me, the feeling of not getting your hand raised is terrible, more now than ever.”

Rasheed doesn’t plan on having that “terrible” feeling this year.  He said he will certify at 154 pounds, giving him the option of being at 152 again or moving up to 160.

“My goals are to win leagues, counties, states and nationals,” he said. “I’m still deciding between Virginia Beach and FloNationals and I know they’re crazy hard tournaments.  But I don’t want to just win; I want to dominate. My goal is to dominate the whole year.”

He pretty much did that as an eleventh grader.  And while he’s proud of what he did in 2012-13, he’s not dwelling on last season.

“I was definitely happy about my junior year,” he said. “Once I graduate, I can look back and say I won states and nationals that year.  But two weeks after nationals, I moved on. I don’t reminisce too much.  I just think about what’s next.  The most important time for me is right now.”

————————-

Corey Rasheed wanted to thank his brother, Malik, his uncle Greg, his mother and his family for their support.  He also wanted to thank coaches Mike Picozzi and Ethan Prifte for their huge influence on him over the years.  In addition, he mentioned the significant contributions of coaches Darren Goldstein, Steve Hromada, Nick Garone and Nick Hall.  He couldn’t name everyone, but thanked everyone who has helped him and supported him along the way.

Diakomihalis Captures the Super 32 Title as Five Others Place in High School Action; Adam Busiello Strikes Middle School Gold

BY MATT DIANO

One year removed from the heartbreak that witnessed several New York wrestlers come close, but only one Empire Stater (Shayne Brady) make the podium at the 2012 Super 32 Challenge, one could not help but feel that when the NY wrestlers took to the mats this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, they would be competing with a chip on their shoulders; a little extra motivation; a need to prove that last year was an exception and not the rule.

With all the dust having now settled in the Coliseum, 2012 has officially been put in the rearview mirror following an amazing collective effort which yielded six top-8 finishes, the second most ever earned by New York in the 14-year existence of the Battle for the Belt. (New York had nine placers in 2009).

Led by 106-pound champion Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), the Empire State would also emerge with a runner up finish at 182 (Nicky Hall), a bronze medal showing at 152 (Louis Hernandez), a pair of fourth place finishes (Nick Piccininni at 120 and Vincent Feola at 220), and a seventh place effort from Thomas Dutton at 145 pounds.

Diakomihalis

Diakomihalis entered the tournament as the #3 ranked wrestler in the nation per Flo after winning the 2013 NYS large school title as an eighth grader in the 99-pound weight class. The Hilton star would be nothing short of dominant on Sunday, going 3-0, including back-to-back bonus point performances in the quarter and semifinal rounds to punch his ticket to the title bout.  Kicking off the morning by securing a first period fall over Ohio’s Hunter Lucas via cradle, Diakomihalis would make a huge statement in the semifinals when he upended 2013 Ohio DII state champion Tyler Warner, 14-3, in a clash of the #2 and #3 ranked wrestlers in the country.   The fab frosh would take the title with a methodical 3-0 decision over sixth-ranked Cage Curry of Pennsylvania in a bout that was not as close as the score would indicate.  Scoring a takedown in the first period and then adding an escape in the second, Diakomihalis would never give his Keystone State foe an opportunity to get on the board, racking up a plethora of riding time.  After winning the Middle School crown in 2012,  Diakomihalis becomes only the second New York wrestler to ever win a Super 32 High School title. (Joe Booth in 2007 was the first).

Hall, a fifth-year for coach Scott Green at Wyoming Seminary (PA), would make his home state proud in finishing second at 182.  Because he is considered a postgraduate, the former Longwood standout is not eligible for an individual national ranking.  However, this weekend more than proved that he is among the nation’s elite as he would go on to defeat the #20 wrestler in the land, Stephen Loiseau of Lancaster Catholic (PA), 6-0 in the quarterfinals, before besting 2013 Michigan third place finisher/#19 (@195) ranked, Ty Wildmo (who upset the 11th ranked wrestler in the quarters), to advance to the finals.  In the championship match, the recent North Carolina State commit would give a game effort, constantly looking for his offense.  But alas, a second title for the Empire State would not be in the cards as Hall dropped a 5-2 decision to Zack Zavatsky.  With the #9 ranked Zavatsky headed to Virginia Tech next fall, Sunday’s finals match could have been the commencement of a long ACC rivalry between these two talented competitors.

Taking the long way to the bronze medal would be the defending NYS large school champion from Mepham, Hernandez.  A product of the Ascend Wrestling Club, with his mentor, Craig Vitagliano in his corner, the day would begin with a bit of whimper for the #13 ranked wrestler in the nation.  Pitted in a tight quarterfinal bout against #4 Jake Danishek, Hernandez appeared to be the aggressor for much of the duration, but would be unable to convert on any of his takedown attempts.  With the match deadlocked at 1-1, the three-time Ohio state champion out of Dayton would explode for a controversial takedown in the final half minute and would hold on in the closing seconds to earn the 3-2 decision.  This questionable loss would be the only one of the day for the stud from Nassau County as he would go on to win four consecutive bouts in the consolation bracket, highlighted by a 7-5 decision over the nation’s #3 wrestler, Fox Baldwin (Florida) in the wrestleback semifinals.  Hernandez would also post 10-2 and 8-3 victories over National Prep third place finisher, Toby Hague, and New Jersey fourth place medalist Zack Hertling prior to his aforementioned win over the Floridian.  In the bronze bout, Hernandez would win a low scoring affair, recording the only takedown of the match to secure the 3-2 decision over 2013 Virginia runner up, Jack Bass.

Piccininni would demonstrate the heart and perseverance that has made him a two-time NYS champion for Ward Melville, rebounding from Saturday’s disappointing upset loss in the round of 16 to go 4-1 on Sunday.  Beginning his journey back to a top-four placement with a 3-0 shutout over 2013 Pennsylvania bronze medalist Tyrone Klump of Nazareth, the wrestler from Suffolk would survive a bit of a scare when he was taken into sudden victory by fellow nationally ranked (13th) opponent, Kyle Akins of Illinois.  With the match all knotted up at 3-3, Piccininni would waste little time in making sure he advanced, quickly getting in deep and finishing on the 2013 Illinois state champion.  In the consolation quarters, Piccininni would run into a familiar foe in the person of New Jersey’s Anthony Cefolo.  A 3-0 winner over the Garden State representative two weeks ago at the Iron Horse Invitational, the Ward Melville standout would make it two-for-two against the Hanover Park product, notching an 8-4 decision. The Empire State’s top-ranked junior would pick up his final win of the tournament in the consolation semifinals, defeating fan favorite Troy Gregor, from the host state, 5-1.  In the bout for the bronze, Piccininni would come up just short of third place honors, losing a hard fought 4-3 decision to the nation’s top-ranked wrestler, Sean Russell from Georgia powerhouse Collins Hill.  Russell finished second at the Super 32 last season.

Perhaps the most surprising top-8 finisher for New York would be Feola, who came to the Tar Heel State as a relative unknown, but leaves it as a hot commodity following his 2-2 effort on the final day of competition.  The Walt Whitman High School and Vougar Honors Wrestling Club representative may have raised his stock more than any other Empire Stater this weekend.  A fourth place finisher at the Suffolk County Tournament in 2013 for Walt Whitman, he would lock up a spot on the podium when he jumped out early and then kept his composure late to earn a 5-4 decision in the quarterfinals over LaSalle College High School’s Antonio Pelusi.  However, in the semifinals, 2013 Massachusetts state champion Ian Butterbrodt would have his arsenal from the top position on full display, earning several series of back points to deny the Long Islander a spot in the finals with the 11-1 major decision.  Feola would split his final two bouts of the weekend, sticking his consolation semifinal opponent, 2013 Florida runner up Ben Cruz, in 84 seconds before finding himself on the short end of an 8-3 decision in the third place bout to 2012 Georgia silver medalist, Matthew Moore.

Speaking of stock that continues to skyrocket, Rocky Point’s Dutton had another stellar outing. Two weeks after winning the Iron Horse, the junior who finished fourth in Albany last season, would come up clutch again, posting a .500 record (2-2) on day two in North Carolina to become the second member of his family to finish in the top-8 at this event. (Older brother, Stephen, who currently wrestles for the University of Michigan, was a two-time S32 placewinner, including a runner up showing in 2009).

Dutton’s morning would begin on something of a sour note following an 11- 2 major decision loss to two-time Missouri champion/#8 ranked wrestler in the country, Grant Leeth. However, Dutton would need less than a minute in the consolation bracket to guarantee himself a placement finish, earning the fall at the 58 second mark over 2013 Pennsylvania sixth place finisher, Billy Barnes.  Like Feola, Dutton would split his final two matches of the tournament, losing a 10-3 decision to eventual third place finisher, Nick Bennett of Michigan in the consolation semis, but then putting an exclamation on a solid weekend with a 4-3 decision over two-time New Jersey runner up, Gary Dinmore.  This “w” makes two in a row for Dutton over Dinmore, as he also defeated him by one point (3-2) at the Iron Horse.

Falling just short of the podium, but still very deserving of recognition were the following wrestlers who lost in the round of 12: Vito Arujau (113, Syosset), Vincent DePrez (145, Hilton), and Steven Schneider (170, MacArthur).  All were 2013 large school state silver medalists. Arujau would drop a 1-0 decision to eventual eighth place finisher, Eric Hong (PA); DePrez would be defeated by the fourth place medalist, Micheal Longo of California (6-1); and Schneider would be nipped 2-1 by the seventh placer from Ohio, Seth Williams.

Showing that not only is the present bright, but so too is the future were the following Middle School Division placewinners: Adam Busiello (1st @85), Hector Colom (3rd @100), Michael Gonyea (5th @75), Ivan Garcia (6th @ 70), and AJ Burkhart (6th @95).

With a 1-0 victory over Colorado’s Colton Yapoujian in the title bout, Busiello becomes the first New York State wrestler to win multiple Youth Super 32 titles, after cruising to the crown in 2012.  Yapoujian, who won a Super 32 gold medal in 2011 and placed second last season, entered the tournament as the pound-for-pound #6 junior high prospect on the Flo rankings board.  Busiello is expected to compete on the varsity this season as a seventh grader for coach Nick Garone’s Eastport-South Manor squad.

Colom, who set the school record for victories in a single season as a 7th-grader with 37 (37-5) for Dunkirk, would compile a 5-1 record on the day, opening the tournament with three straight wins, including a 4-2 decision over Flo’s #19 junior High School prospect, Mason Turner of Olathe, Kansas. In fact, the 2013 Section VI 4th place finisher appeared destined to go all the way to the winner’s circle before being tripped up in the semifinals by the 32nd rated youth wrestler, Brian Stuart of Maryland. The 12-year-old superstar would return to his winning ways in the consolation bracket, pitching shutouts in each of his final two bouts of the tournament, including a 3-0 decision in the bronze medal match against Council Rock, PA’s Benjamin Radner.

Notching four pins in his five overall victories would be the Journeymen Wrestling Club protege, Gonyea, who went 5-2 with victories over opponents from Vermont, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.  The two opponents who were successful in getting their hands raised against him would later go on to finish 2nd and 3rd overall in the tournament.

Garcia (representing the Apex Wrestling Club) and Burkhart (Waverly) would go a combined 7-6 in rounding out the NYS youth contingent’s performance with their previously noted sixth place finishes.

Congratulations to all NYS placewinners!

FINAL High School BRACKETS

Final Middle School Brackets (free registration required)

Champions in Vegas: Tristan Rifanburg and Connor Calkins Win Titles at the "Freak Show"; Cirillo and Cox Take Second

Two New York wrestlers ended their weekend in Vegas with championships.

At the Southwest Kickoff Classic, otherwise known as the “Freak Show”, three-time state finalist Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich grabbed gold at 138 pounds while Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond earned first place at 288.  Both represented Team NYWAY.

Rifanburg, Photo by BV

Rifanburg was in control throughout the event, beating his five opponents by a combined score of 36-2, including a 6-0 triumph over Jacob Macalolooy of Dragons Den in the title bout.

Calkins was similarly dominant, with four victories at heavyweight.  After taking top honors at the Journeymen Classic a few weeks ago, the Binghamton recruit followed up with a strong showing in Nevada, including a 5-2 triumph over Justin Gillham in the championship contest.

Also placing in the High School Elite Division was Lansing’s two-time state titlewinner William Koll, who nabbed fifth at 128 pounds with a 6-2 mark.  Both of his losses came by two points to New Mexico’s Richard Rico Montoya, however, Koll notched a technical fall and a major along the way.

At 108 pounds, John Arceri of Huntington/Ascend came within one win of the podium after capturing three victories, while Mexico’s Theo Powers also competed in that bracket.  Also on Team NYWAY was Julian Korfine, who took the mat at 143 pounds.

In the 15 & Under Division, New York boasted a pair of second place finishers – Thomas Cox of 631 Elite/VHW at 95 pounds and Rocky Point’s Anthony Cirillo at 108.  Cox won his first four contests, giving up just two points, before dropping the finals match to Jaden Abas.

Meanwhile, Cirillo had an incredible run to the finals, pinning his first five foes. (None of the matches lasted three minutes).  Hayden Uhler stopped Cirillo’s streak in the championship round.

Cirillo’s Rocky Point teammate Jackie Gold also saw success, racking up a major and three technical falls at 125 pounds.

In the 9 & 10 competition, Carter Schubert of Superior Wrestling Academy took fifth at 61 pounds after collecting five wins.  He was a champion in Vegas in 2012.

For full results, see www.trackwrestling.com and search for “Southwest Kickoff Classic”.

Super 32 Update: State Champs Diakomihalis and Hernandez Among the NY Wrestlers Still in Contention in Greensboro

Hernandez, Photo by BV

After a full day of competition in Greensboro, NC, New York has a number of wrestlers alive in the chase for the Super 32 championship belt.  That includes a pair of 2013 state titlewinners – Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton, 106) and Louis Hernandez (Mepham, 152).

Diakomihalis, who won a Middle School crown at this event last year, was dominant with two pins and a technical fall during the day.  Hernandez cruised as well, with seven and nine point wins in his first two bouts before receiving a forfeit in the Round of 16.

After winning a challenging bracket at the Iron Horse a few weeks ago, Rocky Point’s Tom Dutton followed up with four straight victories at 145 to punch his ticket to the quarters.  Another champion at the Iron Horse, Steve Schneider of MacArthur, posted a trio of wins, including a pin at 170. Fellow Long Island wrestler Vincent Feola of Walt Whitman notched a fall and a one-point decision at 220, while former Longwood standout (and current Wyoming Seminary grappler) Nicky Hall will also appear in the Round of 8 tomorrow, at 182 pounds.

In addition to the quarterfinalists mentioned above, several other Empire State wrestlers remain in contention for spots on the podium, including state champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville at 120 pounds and NYS finalists Vito Arujau of Syosset (113) and Vincent DePrez of Hilton (145).  Also still in the mix after a successful first day on the mat in North Carolina are East Islip’s Dennis Ferro at 152, Clarence’s Jake Weber and Rocky Point’s Joseph Russo at 170 and former Pine Bush competitor Chris Cuccolo at 106.

Sunday’s Scheduled Matches for NY Wrestlers – Super 32 Challenge

In the quarterfinals:

106: Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) vs. Hunter Lucas (OH)

145: Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point) vs. Grant Leeth (MO)

152: Louis Hernandez (Mepham) vs. Jacob Danishek (IN)

170: Steve Schneider (MacArthur) vs. Chance Marstellar (PA)

182: Nicky Hall (Wyoming Seminary/Longwood) vs. Stephen Loiseau (PA)

220: Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman) vs. Antonio Pelusi (PA)

 

In the wrestlebacks:

106: Chris Cuccolo (St. Benedicts/Pine Bush) vs. Jarrett Reisenbichler (MO)

113: Vito Arujau (Syosset) vs. Patrick D’Arcy (NJ)

120: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) vs. Tyrone Klump (PA)

145: Vincent DePrez (Hilton) vs. Chandler Pyke (GA)

152: Dennis Ferro (East Islip) vs. Paden Bailey (OK)

170: Jake Weber (Clarence) vs. Jacob Cooper (MI)

170: Joseph Russo (Rocky Point) vs. Joe Heyob (OH)