2013-14 Season Preview: With State Champion Rich Sisti Leading the Way, CHSAA Wrestlers on a Quest for Glory

 

BY MATT DIANO

With 10 of the 15 Catholic State Champions from last season having moved on, 2014 marks a year where the opportunity will be there for some new names and faces to surge to the head of the pack and create reputations for themselves. 

However, as great as it is to always infuse new blood into the system to keep the scene fresh, with such inexperience also comes the added responsibility of those with prior NYS tournament appearances to step up and outperform their previous efforts.  While small in number, this group of five veterans is so special that on any given day, I could see any one of them making it all the way to the center mat under the roof of the Times Union Center.

St. Anthony’s 2013 large school State runner up, Johnny Vrasidas (seeded 8th) taught us all last season that it is important to always envision yourself going all the way, because you just never know when the stars are going to align and your ship is going to come in.  That same magic exists in the hearts, souls, and faiths of all five of these student-athletes.  While different in their styles and approaches, all of them are battle tested and prepared for anything that gets thrown their way. Headlining this group will be defending state champion Richard Sisti, the 220-pound Division I titlewinner, who enters his senior season nationally ranked by all major publications. 

 

The Kingdom Of Heaven (Returning CHSAA Champs)

Twomey

John Twomey (St. Anthony’s)—A two-time defending Catholic state champion for the Friars, it is hard to imagine that anything will stand in the way of Twomey earning a third trip to Albany in his senior season.   A winner of 36 matches in 2013 (36-5), the talented lightweight just missed earning his first All-State distinction as a junior by a single victory, falling 4-2 in the blood round to West Babylon’s Steven Lee.  While he would ultimately fall short of the podium, Twomey more than demonstrated the wealth of his abilities when he notched a first round win over eventual 3rd place finisher, Jonathan Haas of Spencerport in Section V. A 12-month a year competitor, what makes Twomey so good is that like several of his teammates, he is never hesitant to test himself against the best in the land.  Last summer, he would make the journey to Fargo and emerge with a 4-2 overall record in Junior Freestyle competition.  Certified as a 113 pounder, Twomey represents the start of a Friar murderer’s row that could very well send four straight kids to the state capital next February.

Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s)—An impact wrestler on the varsity level since the 8th grade when he won nearly 20 matches for Commack High School, the defending Catholic league state champion has not slowed down a bit in the two years he has spent competing under the guidance of Antoni Walters.  A 3rd place finisher at the CHSAA tournament as a freshman in 2012 in a loaded 106-pound bracket, Lamantia would secure his first trip to the big dance in impressive fashion last season.  He won the 113-pound CHSAA crown behind a 3-0 record that witnessed him score bonus points in his first two bouts before wrapping up the hardware with a decisive 6-1 decision in the finals over rival Christian Briody of Chaminade.   Like Twomey, Lamantia would put forth a strong showing under the roof of the Times Union Center, but would meet a similar fate as his teammate, advancing to the consolation round of eight before dropping a 7-5 decision to Pine Bush’s John Stramiello.  The loss closed out a sophomore campaign where Lamantia finished 36-5.  A true wrestling junkie, there would be no rest for the weary, as he followed up his strong high school season by earning All-American honors in Virginia Beach, placing 7th at the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals.  Next, he would turn his attention to freestyle, where he would post a 4-2 record in Fargo on the Cadet level.  Most recently, the preseason favorite to win the 120-pound Catholic title would mirror his Fargo finish, going 4-2 at the Super 32 in October.

Joseph Russ (St. Anthony’s)—The last of what I often call the first family of New York State Catholic wrestling, Russ became the third sibling from his family to win an individual CHSAA title when he took home the top prize at 120 pounds last season.  His run to the gold, which saw him go pretty much untested (his closest match being a 14-0 major decision in the finals over Monsignor Farrell’s Austin Addis), erased the memories of having served as a bridesmaid during his freshman and sophomore seasons (both times, the person who beat him went on to make All-State). Should Russ repeat in 2014 (he is the favorite at 126), he would join older brother and decorated U.S. Marine, Stephen (three-time champion; 2005-2007) as a multiple time titlist. Their middle brother, Derick, was the 103-pound champ in 2003, with the oldest of the quartet, William, being a runner-up in 2002. More pressing than the idea of winning a second straight Catholic crown, the youngest of the Russ boys has his sights set on joining Stephen (placed 6th, 4th, and 3rd) as the second member of the clan to earn a spot on the podium in Albany.  In 2013, Joey would go 1-2 in his Times Union debut, losing a heartbreaker in sudden victory to eventual 4th place finisher, John Muldoon of Pearl River in the first round of the tournament. He would rebound with an 11-4 decision over Section IX’s PJ Smoot of Monroe-Woodbury, before being eliminated by the smallest of margins, 1-0 by Tottenville’s Santo Curatolo (PSAL) in a bout where he pushed the pace but was unable to finish from his feet and could not escape from bottom.  His 37 (37-4) wins were tied for the team lead last season with 2013 NYS runner up Vrasidas (currently competing for Sacred Heart University). The Vougar Honors Wrestling Club member will be every bit as good in his swan song following an active offseason where he went 2-2 at both the NHSCA Junior Nationals and the Super 32 Classic.

Freddie Dunau (St. Anthony’s)—The anchor of this year’s Friar squad, when you consider the accolades of the wrestlers listed above, it is a scary thought for the rest of the Empire State that Dunau is actually the best of the bunch.  A two-time NYS placewinner who finished 5th in 2011 (@96) and 2013 (@126), the future University of Pennsylvania student-athlete will be a heavy favorite to win his fourth Catholic state title this season.  Should he succeed (and realistically, only an injury can derail his chances), he would become the league’s first four-timer since 2000 NYS Champion/3x finalist Lucas Magnani accomplished the feat from 1999-2003 for St. Anthony’s.   In addition to joining the CHSAA 4xer club, Dunau enters this season with an even grander goal, to become just the fourth Friar wrestler to hoist the hardware in the state capital (current Hofstra 133-pound starter, Jamel Hudson, being the last to do it when he went all the way in 2012).  St. Anthony’s has put at least one wrestler into the NYS finals every year since 2010. With Dunau being the highest returning placewinner from a deep 126-pound weight class, if there was a best bet to continue with this tradition, he would be it. Known for his highly unorthodox style, the Ascend Wrestling Club/Craig Vitagliano protégé went 24-3 last season with all his losses coming at the hands of elite opponents (2012 NYS Champion Dylan Realbuto, 2013 State Champion TJ Fabian, and 2013 National Prep runner-up, Judson Preskitt).  In similar fashion to his teammates, Dunau is another in that breed of wrestler that is looking to always measure himself against the best in the land.  Last summer, he would represent New York at the USAW Junior Duals and in Fargo.  While his 4-12 record would leave something to be desired, it should be noted that the utilization of his background in acrobatics/gymnastics has always been better suited for folkstyle than it is for either international style.  Dunau is the kind of opponent who is dangerous for every one of the 360 seconds of the match.  More times than I can count on my fingers, I have seen him hit a move out of left field that left the opposition in a danger position.  He is the kind of foe that if you do not have a comprehensive scouting report ahead of time, will make you look silly in quick order.

Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell)—Nicknamed the “manchild” for good reason, the very sight of Sisti is enough to induce anxiety and fear in the hearts and minds of those who line up opposite him.  The lone returning NYS Champion from the Catholic League, Sisti became the first wrestler in Lion program history to win a NYS title when he went 4-0 in Albany at 220 pounds.  He finished his junior campaign at an unblemished 29-0 with 20 pins.  Armed with an unstoppable power-double and a wicked bar series, Sisti has clear NCAA DI potential if he is interested in competing at the next level.  A phenom since his youth days when he won the 2010 NYS schoolboy title, many inside the Farrell program were predicting a state crown for Sisti years in advance of it actually happening.  They would speak of the subject in a matter of fact manner that suggested that it was a question of “when” and not “if.”  Now that he is the king of the mountain, it will take a Herculean effort to dethrone him because pound-for-pound (and all 200+ pounds of him are chiseled granite) he may be one of the most dominant wrestlers in all of the “evil Empire” this season.  Ranked 15th in the nation per Flo, Sisti already put the rest of the field on notice when he cruised to his second straight Journeymen Classic title at the end of September. Putting the wins aside for a second, what makes Sisti stand out in my opinion is the fact that regardless of what he has done in the past, he refuses to allow himself to become complacent.  He is an individual who is driven to actually be the best version of himself.  An example of this is that rumor has it that when he discovered that he no longer was getting challenged in the room by any of his teammates or coaches, Sisti decided to start training one-on-one with the #1 wrestler in the Country (@182), two-time  New Jersey state champion, Johnny Sebastian, who he works out with routinely at the Apex Wrestling Club. As much of a lock to win yet another CHSAA title as Dunau, it is not a question of if Sisti will pin his way through the tournament, as much as it is a question of whether or not anyone can make it out of the first period against him.  Last season, he pinned all three of his Catholic opponents in an average of just over 48 seconds.  In 2012, he was on track to do it, but needed 3:15 in the finals.

 

At The Pearly Gates Looking In (Non-Champs who may break through in 2014)

Brian Kelly (St. Anthony’s)—A diaper dandy who is quickly drawing the praise of the Friar coaching staff and his teammates, Kelly comes to St. Anthony’s with quite the list of credentials as a youth competitor.  A 2012 NYS Schoolboy state champion, who also took 3rd in 2011 and was a Novice level state runner-up in 2010, if you needed any more convincing that this is a kid who is destined for great things, you need look no further than his performance at the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini Men Nationals where he was the 90-pound Intermediate level champion.  Kelly was also the Battle in the Coral Middle School Champion in March (91 pounds) as well as a 2013 NYS Cadet freestyle gold medalist at 94 pounds in May of this year. Most recently, he took home the top prize at the Wantagh Fall Brawl (three-way tie).  The only thing that may hinder this fab frosh could be his weight.  Certifying at 97 pounds, he will likely be giving away some size to his foes.

Stefan Lindbolm (Fordham Prep)—The only returning Catholic state placewinner (5th) from the 99-pound weight class in 2013, Lindbolm actually owns a head-to-head victory over Kelly, beating him 5-4 in the round-robin of the Wantagh Fall Brawl…As a freshman, the Ram won close to 20 matches, rotating between 99 and 106 to accommodate his teammate, 2013 CHSAA runner-up, Chris Martorello, who was at the same weight class last season.  With the experience factor working in his favor, Lindbolm could prove to be a difference maker for Coach Kernochan as he looks to replace the points that were scored last season by three-time Catholic Champion/2013 NYS bronze medalist, Sam Melikian.

Christian Briody (Chaminade)—The wrestler that likely poses the biggest threat to Russ at 126 pounds. Briody is a seasoned veteran who has been competing on the varsity level since 2010 (7th grader at Locust Valley) and more than possesses the experience and polish to pull the upset.  Injured during his freshman year at the Mineola based school in 2012, Briody would make up for lost time last season, pinning his first two opponents at the Catholic state tournament to advance to the final, where he dropped the previously cited decision to Lamantia.  Now, with a different Friar standing between him and a trip to Albany, Briody will need to elevate his game if he hopes to improve upon last season’s runner up finish.  Victorious in 33 matches (33-7) with 13 falls to his name, Briody trains at Ascend Wrestling Club and is active on the offseason circuit, joining most of the elite Catholic wrestlers in making the rounds at the various regional and national events.  A double Cadet NYS runner-up in the international disciplines in 2013, Briody competed in Virginia Beach (2-2 at NHSCA Sophomore Nationals) Fargo (going 1-4 combined), and Greensboro (2-2 at the Super 32) among his many road trips in a pursuit of wrestling excellence.  During his sophomore campaign, the Lattingtown resident would also just miss placement at the Eastern States Classic, which demonstrates that when at his best, Briody can not only win the Catholic gold, he can also threaten for a spot on the podium at the NYS Tournament.

Ralph Maio (Monsignor Farrell)—A two-time Catholic state placewinner who is on track to be an Ironman Award recipient (given to those wrestlers who place all four years at the CHSAA tournament), Maio continues to make huge leaps from one year to the next.  In 2012, he finished 4th at 113, losing to St. Anthony’s Nick Ronan by major decision.  By the end of last season, not only did Maio raise his game to the tune of a runner up finish, he did so by beating Ronan in the semifinals.  In speaking to the Farrell coaching staff, the consensus is that if there is going to be a breakout star for them during this season, it very well could be Maio.  The talent is certainly there for him to make his way to titletown in 2014 if the Farrell coaches are able to get him at a weight class that allows him to avoid the logjam that seems to exist at 132/138.  Depending on where some of the other budding stars end up, it is very feasible to see Maio making a run at anywhere from 138 all the way up to 152.  A winner of 20+ matches in 2013, Maio’s success this season will very much impact the team race.  He is one of the horses that coaches Phil Squatrito and Rob Pavis will need to score beaucoup points in order to keep pace with the firepower being brought by St. Anthony’s.  During the offseason, Maio took the trip to Pennsylvania to participate in Flo Nationals, picking up a win.

Danny Jones (Chaminade)/Kevin Jackson (St. Anthony’s)—The reason these two talented studs are being packaged together is that early talk suggests that their individual fates will be intertwined again for the second consecutive season.  Whether it be at 138 or 145, one of these two Long Islanders will likely be bound for the state capital in 2014.  Last season, it was Jackson getting the better of the head-to-head match-up, beating Jones in the Nassau/Suffolk League finals by a score of 3-0.  However, as it pertains to bullet points, Jones, who had a one year head start, is the only one of the two that has made the Catholic State finals, which he has done in each of the last two years, losing both times in the title match.  Jackson on the other hand has had to settle for a pair of fourth place outcomes in his two years on the Friar varsity. Jones, who not so long ago announced that he had committed to wrestle for Davidson University in North Carolina, posted a 34-8 record last season versus the 23-14 record of compiled by Jackson (against a more challenging non-league schedule).  In terms of offseason activity, Jackson had a runner up finish at the Journeymen Classic (in the “C” bracket), and also took the trip down South where he went 1-2 at the Super 32.  Both participated in their respective NHSCA National tournaments, with Jones picking up a win all the way up at 152 pounds in the Junior division, whereas Jackson remained at his seasonal weight, going 3-2 in sophomore competition. Having both trained at Ascend during their scholastic careers, these two combatants know each other so well that, on any given day, the outcome could shift with the tiniest of adjustments.

Jones, Photo by SJCI Wrestling Club

Richie Jones (St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute)—Speaking of gems named Jones, there may not be a student-athlete that I am pulling more for in 2014 than this junior Marauder.  A two-time CHSAA placewinner for the school from the Buffalo region, Jones took 5th as a freshman at 145 pounds and appeared to be well on his way to picking up his first crown when he led Chaminade senior, Declan Gray, late in the 152-pound championship bout last season.  Unfortunately, the honor of hoisting the hardware would not be in the cards for Jones as Gray (currently wrestling for Hunter College) would rally in the last half minute to emerge with the “W”.  When you consider that Gray would later go on to just miss All-State recognition, it puts into perspective how good Jones is. With returning Catholic state gold medalist Garrett Baugher (champ at 99 in 2013) believed to be stepping away from the mat to focus on a promising future on the baseball diamond, Jones instantly became coach Pete Kennedy’s best bet to have an individual titlist in 2014.  Now an upperclassman, the pressure will be on him to lead by setting the example of what it takes to get into the winner’s circle.  Approaching the 40-win plateau as a sophomore (39-10), Jones certified at the 160 pound weight class but most of his recent activity has been up at much higher weights (competed at 182 for the Journeymen Classic).  Given his pedigree that includes an All-American showing (6th @160) at the 2013 NHSCA Sophomore Nationals, Jones would have to be considered a strong candidate to win at 160-182.

Jacob Braunscheidel (Saint Francis High School)— Braunscheidel perhaps gets overlooked by many Catholic wrestling enthusiasts because they do not get to see much of him with St. Francis competing in Buffalo.   Last year, in only his sophomore season, Braunscheidel really put himself on the CHSAA map when he wrestled his way into the 170-pound semifinals before eventually taking home third place honors.  Just missing the opportunity to compete again at this weight class (certified at 175), if Jones elects to drop down to 170 for the postseason, his fellow upstater could definitely reap the benefits by sliding into the #1 spot at 182.  Braunscheidel won 25 matches last season versus only seven losses.  A multiple-sport athlete, Braunscheidel also excelled on the defensive side of the ball for the Red Raider football team.

Connor Watson (Chaminade)—Another wrestler whose lot in life (or at least on the mat) would be greatly enhanced if Richie Jones moves down to 170 would be returning 182-pound Catholic runner up, Connor Watson of the defending team champion Flyers. A two-time placer who in addition to his silver medal effort last season also took home 5th as a sophomore at 170, Watson is said to have really turned up his intensity in the practice room over the course of the last few months.  While I have not seen him with my own two eyes, reports coming out of the Ascend Wrestling Club is that he is much improved and is ready to make a serious run at a title in his final season of scholastic eligibility. The senior from Wantagh went 33-5, losing in last year’s finals to eventual NYS 6th place finisher, Matthew Roberts (formerly of Monsignor Farrell).  As a follow up to a solid junior campaign, Watson would compete at the NHSCA Junior Nationals, where he went 1-2.  This past October, he would take the top honors at the Wantagh Fall Brawl.

Photo by Phillip Rufo

Mazen Hassan (Monsignor Farrell)—In only his third year as a wrestler, the Lion big man is one to watch simply because most other programs cannot put out an opponent that can match his size and strength.  A lineman on the Farrell football team, you know you are one big dude when you actually have to cut in order to make the 285-pound maximum.  Per MSG Varsity’s CHSAA football rosters, the two-time Catholic State placewinner (3rd in 2012; runner-up in 2013) tipped the scales at an even 300 pounds.  Hassan has already successfully made the cut and is off to a fast start, dominating all of his matches in the recently concluded PSAL/BTS Holiday Dual Tournament.  With arch-nemesis, Chris Alianakian (last year’s Catholic Champ from Kellenberg) having now graduated, the heavyweight title is finally Hassan’s for the taking.  The owner of a 22-12 record last season, Hassan pinned his way into the finals before dropping a hard fought 2-0 decision to his Firebird foe.  While he remains raw in many ways and will take the occasional head-scratching loss, when this gentleman is on his “A game”, he is a bad draw for anyone.  This was very evident when in the finals of last year’s Mayor’s Cup, Hassan came very close to pinning 2013 Eastern States placewinner/PSAL Champion, Shaq Williams.  However, his inexperience would cost him and he would get reversed to his back.  Now that he has more time under his belt, it is an error that he will not make in 2014.

 

Not Cain, but Able (Younger Brothers who Could do Big things in 2014)

Nico Francolino (St. Joseph’s by the Sea)—The younger brother of Ironman Award winner (5th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st)/2011 Catholic State Champion, Joe, this 99-pound freshman started earlier in the sport and is expected to exceed the accomplishments of his older brother by the time his scholastic career comes to an end.  Considering what his sibling did for Monsignor Farrell from 2008-2011, Nico will have his hands full trying to live up to the family name.  Perhaps helping to take some of that pressure off his shoulders is the fact that little bro will have the freedom to carve out his own legacy at a different school.  Rather than competing for the perennial NYC Catholic powerhouse, the younger Francolino will be cultivated under the watchful eye of Jeff Vetrano at St. Joseph’s by the Sea. A 2012 NYS Schoolboy runner up at 70 pounds, Francolino also finished 6th as a Novice in 2011.  Certifying at only 82 pounds, to a much greater extent, Francolino may very well run into the same size problems that could affect Kelly.  Because of this disadvantage, Francolino may still be a year away from being the impact performer that we know he can be.  But alas, we believe in his potential to such a degree that we wanted to get his name out there as soon as possible so the rest of the CHSAA aficionados can track his progression.

Steven Roberts (Monsignor Farrell)—Just when the rest of the Catholic League thought they had rid themselves of the Roberts name, Steven came into the picture.  Similar to his brother Matthew, a two-time CHSAA champ/2013 NYS placewinner (6th @182), Steven is known for his endless gas tank and will often take control of matches in the third period when he has his opponents fatigued.  A freshman in a 132 or 138 weight class that will include many upperclassmen, Roberts may not make it three titles in a row for the family, but he will most definitely be in the equation when it comes to making the medal stand in 2014.  A product of the Lions’ Club that has developed all of the Farrell greats over the course of the past decade, former Lion assistant coach, Jason Bross, is already predicting that Steven will have a better career than Matt.  Roberts picked up a win (1-2) in the Schoolboy division of the 2013 NYS Youth Tournament, but we are putting him on this list because of the adulation he has received from his coaches.

Alex Melikian (Kennedy Catholic)—Alex will be following in the footsteps of his three-time CHSAA crown winning/2013 NYS placewinning brother, Sam.  He very likely would have been among the newcomers to watch in the CHSAA last season if not for a season ending injury that he suffered prior to the start of 2012/2013. Like Francolino, Melikian will have luxury of not having to walk in the shadow of an incredibly successful older brother.  After starting his career at Fordham Prep and watching from the seats as Sam wrapped up his legendary (for CHSAA standards) career, Alex made the decision during the offseason to follow his Iowa Style Wrestling Club coach, John Degl, to Kennedy Catholic, which will be celebrating its inaugural season in 2013-2014. A 2012 NYS Schoolboy 4th place finisher at 152 pounds, Melikian has been a known commodity in CHSAA circles for years.  Now that he is healthy and ready to go, we look forward to seeing him make noise.  Posting a 4-1 record at the Columbus Day Duals for ISW, Alex could very well be the one who quickly puts Kennedy Catholic on the map.  As someone who is bigger than your traditional high school sophomore, he will likely have to tangle with many upperclassmen, but his internal drive and desire to get his hand raised with make him a bad draw for anyone in the Catholic League and beyond.

Michael Newman (Monsignor Farrell)—A wrestler whose stock is on the rise after crushing the competition while winning titles at the Steeplechase and Lions’ Club Opens (predominantly consisting of wrestlers from the five boroughs), the 2013 170-pound CHSAA 4th place finisher has enjoyed a nice growth spurt and is being looked at as a potential title threat at 195 pounds. The sibling of 2008 Catholic state champion, John, one Farrell insider gone on the record to say that Michael has made such progress from the end of last season to the beginning of this one that he may have already surpassed his older brother in terms of overall talent level.  Referred to as an “Ox” by Bross, Newman has such pure horsepower that he can often dictate terms to his opponents by throwing them all over the mat.  Last season, he finished his sophomore season with a record of 19-8, including an 8-4 decision over 160-pound CHSAA runner up, Chris DelGatto (Chaminade) at the CHSAA Duals.  With the way momentum is moving in his favor, it would come as a surprise to no one if Newman ended up making his family the first in program history to have siblings each go all the way.

Peter Corbett (St. Anthony’s)—The younger, but bigger brother of 2013 NYS 182-pound runner-up, James (competed for Wantagh High School in Section VIII), Corbett has placed in the top-4 at the Catholic state tournament in each of his two years competing for the Friars.  A bronze medalist as a freshman, Corbett would take a small step backwards, finishing 4th last season.  A starting defensive lineman on the 2013 NYSCHSFL Champions, Corbett has never been misleading in stating that the gridiron is his preferred place of work.  However, while his heart may belong to football, one cannot overlook the fact that he has more than held his own on the mat.  After being a little non-committal about whether he intended to compete last season, Corbett seems more intent on continuing as a multiple sport star.  If this new attitude is accompanied by an unrelenting will to win, the rest of the league should watch out.  Projected at 195 pounds, one would have to think that Corbett would join Newman as the co-favorites to represent the Catholic league in the state capital at this weight class.

 

Team Race

1. St. Anthony’s—Led by that quartet of defending champions, not only will St. Anthony’s be hungry to regain the CHSAA team title, the squad will also be excited at the possibility of making a run at the NYS title.  With the possibility of sending upwards of six or seven guys to Albany this year, the numbers alone will make the Catholic power a team to watch.  While Twomey, Lamantia, Russ, and Dunau are the ones that get the most press, the reality is that this Friar squad has talent all throughout the lineup.  In fact, in some cases, the reserves could be quality starters for other CHSAA teams.  With 10 total All-Catholic wrestlers back from 2013, what I feel will ultimately enable them to be the crème de la crème of CHSAA programs in 2014 are the guys who are going to quietly sneak up on you and put up points.  In other words, it is the contributions of Brian Flynn (4th @99), Rich Antonacci (3rd @120), Marshall Winston (3rd @126), and Andrew Pryor (2nd @145), as well as Kelly, Jackson, and Corbett that put this team over the top.

2. Monsignor Farrell—Fresh off of an impressive victory over Brooklyn Tech in the finals of the PSAL/BTS Holiday Dual Tournament, the Lions are riding a high.  While their victory in the World’s Most Famous Arena was not surprising, the margin of the win did not go unnoticed.  To be able to go in and post a 20-point win over another solid team in the B’Tech Engineers means that this might be a Farrell squad that is prepared to do whatever it takes to overachieve.  On paper, the potential is there for the Staten Island school to match the firepower of the Friars.  Sisti is pretty much a sure thing to three-peat as a champion and if Maio, Newman, and Hassan also ascend to the top spot, it would go a long way towards keeping Farrell neck-and-neck with the Long Island rivals.  Complementing this group of front runners will be the likes of Austin Addis (2nd @120), Karl Weisner (6th @138), Brian Morales (3rd @152), and lightweight extraordinaire, Matt Seitz, who was considered a likely top-4 placewinner as a freshman last season before the injury bug sidelined him just prior to the start of the postseason.  Will this be enough to outpoint St.Anthony’s? I honestly do not know, but I can promise that however things turn out, it will be war where every win and bonus point will be worth their weight in gold.

3. Chaminade—The defending Catholic School champions find themselves in something of a transition year.  After 40 years at the helm of the Marianist school, Hall of Fame head coach George Dlugolonski has stepped away and left the program in the hands of longtime assistant, Scott Cole.  In addition to the change at the top, there will also be some fresh faces on the bench in the assistant roles as 2012 NCAA All-American Justin Accordino and his former Hofstra teammate Daniel Manley will join 2012 EIWA champion Dave Foxen (Brown University) in making up one of the deepest benches in CHSAA history.  Adding to the period of adjustment will be the fact that the Flyers graduated both of their 2013 CHSAA champions, with the previously mentioned Gray being at Hunter and 195-pound champ, Danny Fowler, trading in the headgear for a lacrosse stick at Duke University. Still, just going by the talent that returns from last year’s team, there should be more than enough big guns to keep Chaminade as a top three program in 2014.  Led by Briody, Jones, and Watson, the Flyers are counting on solid efforts from Sean Watson (2013 league champion at 99 pounds; did not place at CHSAA States), Andrew Hotton (6th @99), Sean Richards (3rd @160), and Charles Pederson (4th @220).  Unfortunately, the season has not even commenced yet for the Flyers and they already have suffered a major loss when it was revealed that 2013 CHSAA 3rd place finisher, Joseph Boccardo (106) will be out for the year with an eye injury.  Another potential Catholic finalist for Chaminade, this is the second time in three years that Boccardo has been shelved with an injury.  As a freshman, he looked to be well on his way to challenging Twomey for the 99-pound title, only to go down a week before the postseason.

4. Fordham Prep—The 7th place finisher in the 2013 standings, Fordham Prep finds itself in a top-5 position by virtue of returning five All-Catholic wrestlers from last season.  As noted above, the graduation of Sam Melikian certainly leaves the Rams without a marquee superstar, but short of that, they are a complete team that will possesses many under the radar guys who are capable of rising to the occasion and pulling off significant victories.   Just last weekend, they gave us a preview of how tough they can be when they finished 3rd at the PSAL/BTS Holiday Tournament, despite being seeded lower.  Serving as the catalysts for the team this year will be Martorello (2nd @99), sophomore sensation Adam Santoro (the 2013 runner up at 126 to Dunau who if not for all of the talent in the middleweights would have been a featured student-athlete in this preview), Gabriel Papadatos (3rd @182), and Conor O’Brien (6th @152).  Lindbolm is likely the best bet for a champ in 2014, but the collection of talent in this paragraph shows that he will have plenty of support.

5. St. Francis—The team that took 4th place honors last season when all was said and done, like Fordham Prep, the Red Raiders bring back five All-Catholic wrestlers in 2014.  Sitting at the head of the table for Mike Messore’s team will be Braunscheidel who will be in pursuit of the program’s first individual title since Jim Widger won the 119-pound class in his own gym back in 2009.  Joining Braunscheidel in making up the nucleus of Buffalo’s top Catholic school will be Travis Bittner (5th @113),  Matt Muffoletto (5th @120), Mike Miller (6th @126), and Jim Canterbury (4th @160)

 

Returning NYS Tournament Qualifiers from 2013:

John Twomey (St. Anthony’s): 2-2 @106 pounds

Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s): 2-2 @113 pounds

Joseph Russ (St. Anthony’s): 1-2 @120 pounds

Freddie Dunau (St. Anthony’s): 5th @126; 5th @96 in 2011

Richard Sisti (Monsignor Farrell): State Champion @220 pounds

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Section 1 Preview: Alex Delacruz Looks to Repeat in Albany; Who Else Will Threaten for the Top Spot on the Podium?

New York Wrestling News has been previewing Sections throughout the state in recent weeks.  For the list of articles already published, see the end of this story.  The following discusses Section 1.

Division I

Last year, Section 1 was the king of New York when it came to the 120 pounds, with NYS champions in both Division I (Alex Delacruz of Ossining) and Division II (Trey Aslanian of Edgemont).

On the large school side, it was much more than Delacruz, however.  In fact, the winner of the Section 1 crown was state fourth placer John Muldoon of Pearl River, who owned a pair of victories over Delacruz during the season.  In addition, North Rockland’s Blaise Benderoth captured multiple victories at the Times Union Center.  And that doesn’t even include Arlington’s Nick Tolli, a wrestler who impressed at the Eastern States (taking fifth), before an injury ended his campaign early.

This year, these talented competitors are likely to spread out in weight, giving Section 1 state title threats at many classes.

“Every one of those guys is very high level,” said North Rockland coach Jeff Swick. “We can do really well at the state tournament as a Section with those guys in different weights.  We know whoever we’re sending to the tournament can win a lot of matches there.”

Let’s take a quick look at those members of the 120 pound class in 2013:

Alex Delacruz (Ossining) – The state champion racked up 38 wins a year ago, rebounding from his 10-7 loss to Muldoon at the qualifier with an overtime triumph over the Pearl River grappler in the semifinals in Albany.  He followed with an 11-7 victory over Steve Michel of Lancaster to capture gold at the Times Union Center and saw offseason mat time at events such as the Disney Duals and the Journeymen Classic.  He will likely be at 126 pounds this season.

John Muldoon (Pearl River) – The future SIUE Edwardsville wrestler earned All-State honors after a 46-win season.  He took second at the Eastern States and plans to go higher on the medal stand this year at 132 pounds.

Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland) – Benderoth, a multi-time state qualifier, had a strong season, with over 40 wins and a third place showing at the Eastern States. He will make a significant weight jump in 2013-14, according to his coach.

“Blaise grew a lot in the offseason and put on a lot of weight – good weight,” Swick said. “He worked hard with assistant coach John Hoke to put on a ton of muscle.  He’ll probably wrestle at 145 – he’s much bigger than last year.  He did a lot of wrestling in the offseason, working out four days a week, wrestling two or three days a week. He made big gains and I see him on the state podium – high on the podium.”

Nick Tolli (Arlington) – Tolli was 33-3 before his season was cut short due to injury.  He’s looking to make up for lost time, likely at 132.

“Tolli was having a great season until he got hurt,” Swick said. “I definitely think he could have done well at the state tournament.”

Those were all 120 pounders a year ago.  One wrestler Swick thinks could be effective at that weight this year is Jon Errico of Byram Hills.

“If Errico is a full ’20’ pounder, he can do very well at the state tournament,” Swick said. “He’s very, very tough.”

Errico was the Section silver medalist at 106 last season.  North Rockland’s Derek DiMarsico was also a runner up — at 113.  He will also be a contender after winning over 35 matches as a sophomore.

DiMarsico’s teammate Matt Caputo is another wrestler who is sure to make waves in 2013-14.  A two-time state placer, Caputo had a stellar 11th grade year, with 54 wins and a fifth place position on the medal stand in Albany at 138.

“Matt’s expectation is to be at the top of the podium,” Swick said. “He has worked really hard his whole career. He’s been on the podium before and wants to get to the top.  He’s a strong kid who could be at 38 or 45, but I would think 38 come states. You can see in the light middleweights, it’s pretty tough in our Section. There are no easy roads and there’s no wiggle room.”

That’s seems to be the case, especially when you factor in the return of last year’s 132 pound Section 1 champion Liam Erickson of Brewster and the third placer in that bracket, Ben Ettlinger of Fox Lane.

“Ettlinger is right in there,” Swick said. “He split with [state qualifier] Jake DiMarsico last year.  He’s been all-section for years and been right there with everyone, but hasn’t won the Section title.  He’s a very tough kid who will be a handful whatever weight he goes.” (Rumor has it, he’ll be up a few weights).

We haven’t forgotten about Ettlinger’s teammate Frank Surace, who was fourth at 138 a year ago, or the wrestler who beat Surace in the bronze match, Larry Courtien of Somers. And the second and third placers at 145 in 2013, Brad Marvin of Ketcham and Mitch Klein of Horace Greeley could be primed for big seasons as well.

 

The Upperweights

Moving into the upperweights, a pair of returning Section gold medalists return – Tappan Zee teammates John Hartnett (220) and Mike Manni (285).  Manni made the medal stand in 2013, nabbing fifth at heavyweight.

“John Hartnett winning 220 might have been a bit of a surprise to some people because he wasn’t the favorite coming in,” Swick said. “But he was ready come postseason and wrestled really well.  They have a good situation there, with Hartnett and Manni wrestling together since middle school, working together to get better.”

Like Manni, John Jay East Fishkill’s Brett Perry earned All-State accolades with a fifth place showing at 170 pounds.  He’ll be a heavy favorite to return to the state capital, possibly at 182.

“Perry had a great year and did well this offseason too,” Swick said. “He wrestled well at the Journeymen Classic [where he was second at 182].”

Who are some others to watch in the upperweights?

Adam Hofling of Sleepy Hollow was the runner up to Perry at 170 in 2013 and is looking for more, while Austin Maurer of Clarkstown South is back after notching bronze at 195.

“[Maurer] is ridiculously strong,” Swick said. “He’s a pinner and a really tough kid who put in a lot of work.  I think he’s the real deal.  Every time I went to Clarkstown South, he was there, working hard.”

If he’s back at 195, he could face future Binghamton Bearcat Andrew Grella of Beacon.  The silver medalist at 182 behind Thomas Murray last year, Grella had a strong campaign with more than 25 wins and is ready for a breakthrough season.

“If [Grella] has a senior year anything like his brother [Vincent, a starter for the Bearcats], he’ll do really well,” Swick said. “He has a lot going for him and will be someone to watch.”

Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida took seventh at Fargo in Cadet Freestyle this summer at 220 pounds.

 

The Lightweights

We’ve mentioned All-State grapplers like Delacruz, Muldoon, Caputo, Manni and Perry.  There was another returning Section 1 wrestler on the medal stand – Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle – who was fifth at 106.  Barbaria, who twice defeated state champion Kyle Quinn of Wantagh last year, stayed quite active in the offseason and will be at 113 this year.

Another qualifier coming back is Pearl River’s James Kelly, who went to Albany at 99 pounds after a 40-plus win season.  He’ll likely be up a weight (or two).  In addition, Fox Lane had some standouts at 99 and 106 a year ago, Brandon Fay (second in the Section at 99) and Matt Grippi (third at 106 as a seventh grader).  They are championship threats.  Also keep an eye on John Jay East Fishkill’s Jay Albis (third at 113).

 

Team Race

North Rockland took the title a year ago and while the squad lost contributors such as state qualifier Jake DiMarsico, the Red Raiders bring back a number of accomplished wrestlers and have what it takes to make it two in a row.

“The goal is obviously to repeat our Section 1 dual meet title and Section 1 tournament title,” Swick said. “We also want to have a strong performance at UE [Union-Endicott] Duals, which is like the unofficial state dual meet championships and be top 10 in the state. It’s a little different because this is the first time we’ve had a target on our back.  We know people are coming after us.”

People are coming after North Rockland for a reason.  Several reasons, as a matter of fact.  The squad brings back seven Section placers, including the previously mentioned Matt Caputo, Blaise Benderoth and Derek DiMarsico.  In addition, the squad will feature Nick Didio (third at 160), Connor Reigottie (fourth at heavyweight), Anthony Sulla (fifth at 99) and Marlon Borge (sixth at 106).

“We have seven guys back who placed and we believe all seven will be competing for Section titles,” Swick said. “Sulla should be back at 99 and Borge put in a ton of work and made big improvements. We also have guys like Alex D’Angelo, who probably will be at 106 by the end of the year, who would have been All-Section if he didn’t get hurt.  We expect big things out of him.”

Who will push North Rockland?

“Fox Lane is definitely the first team that comes to mind,” Swick said. “They’re returning most of the guys who placed in the Section last year and many of those guys are capable of placing high.  We know Fox Lane will be very tough.”

Indeed, the aforementioned Brandon Fay, Matt Grippi, Ben Ettlinger and Frank Surace all finished in the top four in the Section and all had more than 30 wins.  In addition, Scott Rodrigues picked up 35 victories as a freshman and should be formidable again.

Swick also mentioned Pearl River as a contender, led by the previously discussed John Muldoon and James Kelly, both Section champions in 2013.  In addition, Rob Gullo grabbed fourth at 152 after winning more than 35 matches and Sean McGarvey is an up-and-comer to watch after compiling more than 30 wins as an eighth grader.

“It’s a big Section with lots of teams out there,” Swick said. “I also think John Jay East Fishkill and Arlington will be challengers.  We need to focus on getting our team ready and not think so much about the other teams.  We just need to focus on our guys.”

 

Division II

There will certainly be some changes on the way in Division II this year, as a number of longtime stars moved on.  That includes three-time NYS finalist and 2013 champion, Trey Aslanian of Edgemont, who is now competing at Princeton.  And it also includes the graduation of 10 starters from Nanuet, the three-time defending Section champions.  But with the departure of those standouts, there is room for some others to take center stage.

There aren’t any 2013 NYS placers returning, but Matt Acevedo of Pawling has been to the Times Union Center twice (at 220 in 2012 and at 285 in 2013).  He won a match in Albany in his last appearance and is looking for more.  However, it won’t be a walk in the park to get back to the state capital at either weight.

Who are some upperweight challengers?  Nanuet’s Jason Levine was sixth at the qualifier last year at 285 in his first year of wrestling, according to Edgemont head coach Peter Jacobson.

“[Levine] really impressed me,” Jacobson said. “He’s a tough kid and now that he’s had more time to get up to speed technique-wise, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him right there for a section title at 285.”

Jacobson also mentioned others he expects to excel in the higher weight classes –  Alek Pavloff of Croton-Harmon (26 wins at 220, second in the Section), Evan Shlom of Ardsley (fourth at 195) as well as Irvington’s Anthony DiNardo (close to 30 wins overall and a 1-0 loss to Acevedo at the Sectionals).

Staying in the higher classes, Chris Kim of Edgemont spent much of last season at 170 before moving up to 182 late in the year, capturing the Section title there.  He went on to the state tournament, where in his first match he took eventual fifth placer Ryan Marszal of Unatego to the limit in a 6-5 loss that went three overtimes.  Jacobson believes the experience will serve Kim well.

Kim, Photo courtesy of Edgemont wrestling

“Chris just had a phenomenal football season and is a tremendous athlete,” Jacobson said. “We’re not sure whether he’ll be at 182 or 195 yet, but more likely 182.  He’s really tough and able to pick things up really quickly. He was fully capable of being All-State last year, but I think the difference was experience.  Being a three-sport athlete, he doesn’t put in the time in the offseason in wrestling as many state level kids do.  I think the first time being at states in that kind of situation, his relative inexperience hurt him. But now having been there, we expect he’ll do very well this year.”

Peter Jones of Irvington will also be one to watch after his 24-victory sophomore season at 160 pounds, in which he took third at the Section 1 tournament.

 

The Middleweights

Moving down in weight, Kim’s teammate Colin Hopkins had some solid victories a year ago, but didn’t get the chance to compete in the postseason.  He’ll look to make up for it with a strong 2013-14 campaign at either 145 or 152.

“Colin had placed every year in the Section since he was an eighth grader,” Jacobson said. “He was third as a freshman and second as a sophomore.  He beat [state placer and Section champion] Matt Dillon in our dual meet with Nanuet last year.  But he blew out his elbow in late January and missed Sectionals.  He’s not only talented, but wrestles year round and has made big jumps this year.  He got a lot stronger.  He’s absolutely an All-State caliber wrestler and I think his work will pay big dividends.”

Another wrestler who could be in a similar weight range this year is Chris Santana of Pawling, who earned third at 132 in the Section last year.  He won over 30 matches and had 18 pins.

“[Santana] is a brawler, a hard-nosed kid who comes to wrestle every time,” Jacobson said. “I expect him to have a great season.”

Of course, Angelo Zegarelli of Putnam Valley will be a force this year after taking the runner up spot a year ago at 160 during a 30+ win season in which he had over 25 bonus point victories.

Jacobson also mentioned Daniel Kraemer of Woodlands as a possible sleeper.

“He’ll be the leader of their team,” Jacobson said. “[Kraemer] took fourth at the Sectionals at 145 pounds last year and is probably the most technical wrestler on their team. I think he’s capable of doing some good things.”

 

The Lighter Weights

In the lightweights, there’s no shortage of talent.  While Trey Aslanian is now a college wrestler, his brothers Tyler and Kyle look to make their own impacts at the state level.

Tyler Aslanian was one round shy of making the podium in Albany two years ago, however, he didn’t get a return ticket in 2013 after an abbreviated campaign.  According to Jacobson, he suffered an injury in early December and missed nearly the entire season prior to Sectionals.

“When you wrestle guys who have been through the grind all season and you haven’t really competed, it’s tough,” Jacobson said. “He wasn’t where he wanted to be from a technical perspective and a timing perspective.  But I expect Tyler to be All-State this year [at 120 or 126].  He’s that caliber of wrestler and the work he’s put in and the leadership skills he’s developing are along the same lines of All-State wrestlers I’ve coached in the past.”

Like Tyler, Kyle Aslanian notched second in the Section last season.  This time, he’ll be at 106 or 113 and will look to get his first taste of the state tournament.

“The biggest thing holding Kyle back last year was that he wasn’t as confident as he could have been in his go-to offense,” Jacobson said. “We’ve focused a lot on being more aggressive on his feet and I think we’ll see that.  I think he’ll create scrambles when he needs to and he’ll use his athleticism to his advantage.”

The Aslanians will be a good one-two punch for Edgemont early in the lineup.  Similarly, Pleasantville will also have some high quality grapplers in the lower weights, including returning state qualifiers James Bathon and Stephen Paternostro.

“They are both very impressive,” Jacobson said. “Paternostro is such a physical kid.  He hit an awesome high crotch and put his opponent on his back in the Section finals for a very quick pin.  I’m not sure anyone short of Paternostro and his coaches saw that coming. I think they’ve both developed really well and will be really, really tough this year.”

The wrestler Paternostro defeated for Section gold last year, AJ Mirabal of Putnam Valley, will be back as well.  After picking up 38 victories (and 24 pins) as a junior, he’ll be looking to wear the Section 1 singlet in Albany.

Speaking of Albany, Mirabal’s teammate Noah Kelvas wrestled there in February (and won a match) after nabbing the 106-pound Section 1 crown in 2013 during a 35-win campaign.

Like Kelvas, Joe Dillon of Nanuet has represented Section 1 at the state tournament during his career.  In 2011, Dillon competed at 96 pounds in the state capital.  He has come close to returning the past two seasons, but hasn’t quite gotten over the hump.  Last year he was 32-6 and took third at the Sectionals at 126. Can he make the trip to the Times Union Center again as a senior?

“Joe Dillon is a very good wrestler who has the experience at the state level,” Jacobson said. “It always depends on where people certify and wind up, but I think his chances of winning Sectionals this year are very, very good.”

Dillon’s Section 1 title came in his freshman campaign.  Another wrestler looking for gold as a ninth grader is his teammate Dylan Mateo, who was third at 106 last year.

And like Dillon, Andrew Barsuch of Croton-Harmon is a senior wanting to make his final scholastic season a memorable one after a 37-4 showing as a junior, which included a runner up finish at the state qualifier.

“Barsuch has a lot of experience,” Jacobson said. “He’s always been right there, but just a little short.  I don’t know him personally, but he strikes me as the type of senior who is really hungry after knocking on the door for so long.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break through.”

 

Team Race

Nanuet has ruled the Section in the recent past, grabbing three consecutive titles.  However, the significant graduation losses will create a window of opportunity for some other squads.

One of those is Putnam Valley, the runner up a year ago.

“I think Putnam Valley is definitely a contender, if not the favorite,” Jacobson said.  “They are very well coached – Will Carano always does a great job of developing his kids.  They have established wrestlers like Noah Kelvas, Angelo Zegarelli and AJ Mirabal.  And then they have a smattering of young guys who placed in the third, fourth and fifth range who will do really well also.”

That “smattering” includes competitors such as Mike Bruno (third at 99 at Sectionals last year), Jared Eliopoulous (fourth at 106), Willie Messinger (fifth at 160) and Dan Kelly (fifth at 182).

Another threat is Pleasantville, led by the previously mentioned returning Section 1 champions Stephen Paternostro and James Bathon.  But it’s the squad’s depth that Jacobson emphasized.

“Pleasantville had a lot of kids who were third to sixth in the Section last year,” Jacobson said. “Last year they were stronger than the year before and I expect this year, they’ll be even stronger.  Because of the balance of their lineup, you have to put them in the mix and I believe they’re right there with anyone.”

Some of those others to watch include Steven Montes, Brandon Castro and Thomas Marrone (third at 152).

A year ago, Jacobson’s Edgemont squad nabbed third.   With Chris Kim, Colin Hopkins and the Aslanian brothers as well as wrestlers who have seen significant mat time such as Will Graybeal, Sam Klein and Max Worobow, the Panthers should certainly be in the thick of things come February.

“We have some experienced wrestlers and also some younger kids who we think can come in and accomplish a lot more this year,” Jacobson said.

And while Nanuet will send many fresh faces on the mat, no one is counting the Golden Knights out.

“Nanuet has been and will continue to be a strong program, even with all of the guys they lost,” Jacobson said. “I’m sure they will have more than capable guys to step in and fill those holes.  They always have a solid stable of athletes and a good feeder system, as well as great tradition.  They always seem to have one or two new names every year who come in and place high in the section.”

In addition to the wrestlers mentioned earlier such as Joe Dillon and Dylan Mateo, there are others who will make their presence felt.  That includes Eric Boyle and Chris Lowery, both fourth at the state qualifier a year ago as well as Frank Paratore, who took fifth at 152.  Another name mentioned was Alex Slaybaugh, who could be in the mix to make the medal stand in the Section. Vinny Skokos, who had a stellar ninth grade season in 2011-12 when he won over 30 matches, including one in Albany, didn’t take the mat last year.  He could be a difference maker if he’s in the lineup.

So, will it be a four-peat for Nanuet?  Or a new team at the head of the class?

“I think a number of teams could win,” Jacobson said.  “It seems that injuries often play a tremendous role and keeping teams fresh is important.  It often doesn’t come down to the big guns; it’s the other kids getting points on the backside, getting those third-fourth-fifth place finishes that really lift the team.  It should be a good race this year.”

 

We will continue to post Section previews as the season approaches.  Here are some others already released:

Section 1

Section 3

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Section 10

Section 11

PSAL

More from the Garden: Monsignor Farrell Wins BTS/PSAL Dual Tournament; Middle School Champions Crowned

In addition to the college action that took place at the Grapple at the Garden on Sunday, New York high school and middle school wrestlers also took the mat in the World’s Most Famous Arena.

That action included the conclusion of the Beat the Streets/PSAL Thanksgiving Dual Meet tournament, won in impressive fashion by Monsignor Farrell.  The squad bested Brooklyn Tech 41-22 in the final round to finish off a dominant few days of action.

To get to the title bout, Farrell cruised through the earlier competition, including a trio of victories on Saturday against Horace Mann, Cardozo and Eagle Academy in pool play.  The CHSAA school had at least 54 points in each match and none of the matches were within 30 points.

Brooklyn Tech was also in control throughout pool action, with victories over James Madison, Fordham Prep and Poly Prep.

Earning bronze on Sunday was Fordham Prep by virtue of a triumph over Eagle Academy. Sixteen teams took part in the event.

Middle School Champions are Crowned

Several middle school champions were crowned in New York City as well, including Outstanding Wrestler Justin Bierdumpfel of Scorpions (NJ), who won his three bouts by a combined score of 18-0 on his way to the 77-pound title.  After earning All-America honors at the Tulsa Nationals a few weeks ago, Dylan Ryder of 631 Elite came up big again, taking gold at 84.   Beat the Streets NYC had a trio of titlewinners at the event — David Berkovich at 91, Jaden Ramirez at 175 and Nasir Rasheed at 190.

The brackets can be found here.

 

The championship bouts were:

77:  Justin Bierdumpfel (Scorpions) over Chase Shields (Bishop McDevitt) 2-0

84: Dylan Ryder (631 Elite) over Ryan Zimmerman (Triumph) 2:16 (pin)

91: David Berkovich (BTS NYC) over Patrick Gould (Dark Knights) 4-3

98: Richie Koehler (Shore Thing) over Anthony Dushaj (Olympic) 6-0

105: Travis Tavoso (George Washington Middle School) over Danny Fongaro (Boonton) 7-5

112: Kyle Slendorn (Farmingdale, NJ) over Andy Lombard (Rhino Wrestling Club) 10-3

120: Jack Chesman (Olympic) over Russell Benson (Hazlet Middle School) 5-2

128: Ethan Dolan (Long Valley) over Connor Thomas (Yorktown Athletic Club) 9-5

136: Robert Patrick (Young Guns) over Joseph Yanis, Jr. (Minisink Valley-Underground) 22-3

144: Grayson Dolan (Long Valley) over James Carney (Red Nose) 1:30 (pin)

152: Michael Petite (Piscataway) over Daniel Brothers (Monsignor Farrell) 0:38 (pin)

175: Jaden Ramirez (BTS NYC) over Kendrie Gonzalez (BTS NYC) 3:36 (pin)

190: Nasir Rasheed (BTS NYC) over Dylan Budnik (Cranford PAL) 0:44 (pin)

210: Calvin Hayford (Winooski Vermont) over John Moran (American Top Team) 0:33 (pin)

 

For more on these events, see The Beat the Streets website.

Heavyweight State Placer Ian James Chooses University at Buffalo

Making it to the state tournament.  That was the main goal of Greece’s Ian James going into his junior season in November of 2012.

That objective was within his reach as he took the mat in the 285-pound SuperSectionals title bout last February.  The task wouldn’t be easy, however, as he was set to face a familiar foe – Spencerport’s Austin Coleman.

The two heavyweights had already met three times during the season.  In the first match, James came out on top 3-1, however, Coleman had captured the last two.  To ensure a spot in Albany – and achieve his goal – James knew he had to even the score.

“By the fourth time wrestling him, I was confident,” James said. “I stuck to what I did the first time and was able to win the match.”

Indeed, he was, earning the Section 5 title and a ticket to the Times Union Center with a 4-1 triumph.

Courtesy of Ian James

“It was a really big step for me,” he said. “It felt great to accomplish that – I knew I worked hard enough to get it done.”

But there were still more achievements on the way in Albany, although James didn’t have the start he was looking for in the state capital.

“Going into my first match was nerve-wracking,” he said. “It felt like my first time ever wrestling. The nerves stuck with me the whole match. I felt flat; not on top of my game at all.”

That opening bout with Anthony Puca of Huntington was a battle that went three overtimes before the Suffolk County grappler came out on top, 3-2.

But after focusing all year on getting to the state tournament, James wasn’t going to make it a short, two-bout experience.

“I felt like after my first match, all the jitters were gone,” he said.  “I just got into my zone where I wanted to be and focused on what I wanted to do.  After being down, I pushed myself to do better.  Those were the hardest matches of the year with everyone going for the same goals.  My wins were probably the best wrestling I did all year.”

He captured three contests in a row, beginning with an overtime victory over Chris Alianakian.  He then won 5-1 against Andrew Brinser of Union-Endicott and 7-5 versus Terrence Cheeks of Newburgh to clinch All-State status.  He finished with one-point losses to bronze medalist James O’Hagan of Seaford and Mike Manni of Tappan Zee to nab sixth place in the state.

Afterwards, he continued to pick up quality wins, including at the Section 5 vs. Finger Lakes Wrestling Club dual meet that was part of the Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge in March.

In that competition, James pinned Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond, a Division II state placer who had some impressive offseason results, including crowns at the Journeymen Classic and the Freak Show.

“It felt good to be selected to be in that kind of event,” James said.  “It was the best kids in the Section doing what they love to do most.  I felt honored and kind of nervous to be in that environment – at Cornell, with great high school and college wrestlers around.”

He soon will be a college wrestler himself, as he committed to the University at Buffalo.

“I decided on Buffalo for a lot of reasons,” James said. “It’s close to home and it’s a program on the rise.  I like where the program is going and I want to be a part of it.  It’s also good that there will be a lot of Section 5 kids there.”

Speaking of Section 5 kids, James keeps thinking about his rival last year, Austin Coleman, who went on to the state finals after James defeated him at the state qualifier.

“It’s something that drives me, that I beat someone who took second in the state,” James said. “The way I’m working in the practice room, I feel like I can win states this year. That’s my goal. I was pretty excited to place last year.  It got me ready for this year, where I plan to come back and win it all.   Last year was just a stepping stone.”

A stepping stone to potential state glory.  And a stepping stone to college wrestling at Buffalo.

——————————————————-

Ian James wanted to thank all of the coaches who helped him through the years, since he started wrestling in seventh grade.

Grapple at the Garden Recap: Cornell Tops Illinois and Maryland; Hofstra Wins a Pair of Duals and Much More

Cornell and Hofstra both went 2-0 at the second annual Grapple at the Garden in New York City on Sunday, with one dual coming to down to the wire for each squad.

Lane, Photo by BV

In the spotlight meet of the day, the #6 Big Red took on #7 Illinois.  While more than 10 ranked wrestlers took the mat in the dual, it came down to the only bout not featuring at least one nationally-ranked grappler — heavyweight.  Entering the 285 pound contest, the score was deadlocked at 15.  And after two periods, Stryker Lane and Chris Lopez were tied at 2, with riding time at over a minute and a half for the Illini competitor.  Lane rode out the third to send it to overtime, where in the second set of tiebreakers, the Cornell senior got the early escape during his turn on bottom and then hung tough on top to earn the victory and an 18-15 triumph for the Big Red.

Both teams won five matches, with only one bonus point contest – a pin for Gabe Dean at 184 pounds over Nikko Reyes.  In that pivotal bout, Dean trailed 4-2 entering the third, but quickly escaped and kept pushing the pace.  He notched a takedown with less than 30 seconds to go and then turned Reyes for back points and the fall with just five seconds remaining.

Cornell dropped into a 6-0 hole early, with #1 Jesse Delgado topping #2 Nahshon Garrett 6-2 and Zane Richards winning the battle of super freshmen at 133 over Mark Grey.  Cornell rebounded by taking three decisions in a row, by Mike Nevinger (141), Chris Villlaonga (149) and Brian Realbuto (157) to go ahead 9-6.  The first two got out to early leads and controlled their matches, while Realbuto came from behind with a dominant third stanza to win 8-3 over #15 Zach Brunson.

The Illini pulled ahead 12-9 with wins at 165 (Jackson Morse) and 174 (Tony Dallago) before the previously mentioned Gabe Dean pin made it 15-12 Cornell.  The win by Mario Gonzalez at 197 over Jace Bennett set up the 15-15 tie and Lane’s heroics.

The first dual of the day had a lot less drama, as the Big Red captured a 31-9 victory over Maryland. Nahshon Garrett got the Big Red off to a strong start with a fall and Mark Grey followed up with a decision in which he controlled the bout throughout.  At 141, Mike Nevinger‘s season debut was spoiled by Shyheim Brown, who used solid mat wrestling to get the Terps on the board with a decision.  However, the Big Red responded with four consecutive victories, beginning with Chris Villalonga‘s 5-0 win at 149.  It was then bonus point time as Brian Realbuto majored Danny Orem at 157, Dylan Palacio held a commanding lead at 165 before his opponent injury defaulted and Duke Pickett came out on top by double digits at 174.

Then, at 184, freshman Gabe Dean faced #2 Jimmy Sheptock.  In a hard fought bout, the Maryland All-American picked up a 5-3 decision.  Jace Bennett collected Cornell’s seventh win of the morning with a technical fall at 197 before #7 Spencer Myers edged Stryker Lane at heavyweight, 2-1.

 

Hofstra Takes Two

New York teams Hofstra and Army squared off in Round 1 on Sunday in a dual that came down to the final match.  It was Pride freshman Mike Hughes picking up a 6-4 win at 285 over the Army’s starting 197-pounder Bryce Barnes to make the final score 23-16.

Franco, Photo by BV

The Pride began well, capturing the first four contests via decisions by Jamie Franco at 125 and Cody Ruggirello at 149 as well as bonus victories by Jamel Hudson and Luke Vaith at 133 and 141, respectively.  Hudson majored Logan Everett 11-3, while Vaith pinned Tyler Rauenzahn.

Army got things rolling after that, taking four of the last six.  Paul Hancock avenged a loss at the last weekend’s New York State Intercollegiates when he majored Nick Terdick at 157. Alex Smith (174) and Austin Wilding (197) grabbed decisions for Army, with Ryan Tompkins adding valuable points with a fall at 184.  That set up the big finish at heavyweight.

Hofstra’s next dual didn’t come down to the wire.  In fact, the Pride nabbed eight victories, including falls by Jamie Franco (125) and Jamel Hudson (133) to give the squad an immediate 12-0 advantage.  Also winning by bonus were Luke Vaith (141), Frank Affronti (174) and Zeal McGrew (197) while Cody Ruggirello (149), Joe Booth (165) and Dwight Howes (184) also were victorious.

 

And More New York Action . . .

After the close dual with Hofstra, Army had another tight clash with Princeton in the afternoon, with the Tigers winning 21-15. The Black Knights picked up three decisions – by Tyler Rauenzahn (141), Coleman Gracey (165) and Ryan Tompkins (184).  In addition, Hunter Wood got the fall at 125 over 2013 NYS champion Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.

In a NCWA showcase, two local teams, Stony Brook and Westchester took the mat at 10 a.m. After Westchester’s Charles Gonzalez earned a 14-6 major at 125, Stony Brook won the next eight contests, including three falls (by Michael LaNasa at 141, Michael Shimer at 149 and Jon Campenelli at 197).  Matt Frey and Kris Martin both picked up majors, at 165 and 184, respectively, while Jonathan Crespo (133), Joe Jackson (157) and Scott Dunkirk (174) also got their hand raised. Obum Anayiche of Westchester brought a positive ending for his squad with a fall at heavyweight.

NYU at the NYS Intercollegiates, Photo by BV

Additional nearby squads, NYU and Stevens Tech competed in the second session in a Division III meeting.  All-American Brandon Jones won by major at 141 for NYU, while Patrick Sheehan also got his hand raised at 184, however the New Jersey team grabbed a 25-7 decision.

Seeing action in freestyle matches were a number of New Yorkers, including former Cornell All-American Frank Perrelli and Long Island native Jenna Burkert. In addition, assistant coaches Hudson Taylor of Columbia and Enock Francois of Army both won their bouts, with Francois blanking Austin Trotman 7-0 at 185 pounds and Taylor besting Rustam Ghsiev, 10-2 at 220.  Former Buffalo star Kyle Cerminara also came out on top, beating Ryan Martinez in a 285-pound bout.

The box scores for the Grapple at the Garden college matches involving New York teams are below (courtesy of Track Wrestling):

Cornell defeated Illinois 18-15
125 – Jesse Delgado (Illinois) over Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) Dec 6-2
133 – Zane Richards (Illinois) over Mark Grey (Cornell) Dec 4-2
141 – Michael Nevinger (Cornell) over Steven Rodrigues (Illinois) Dec 7-2
149 – Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) over John Fahy (Illinois) Dec 8-3
157 – Brian Realbuto (Cornell) over Zach Brunson (Illinois) Dec 8-3
165 – Jackson Morse (Illinois) over Dylan Palacio (Cornell) Dec 8-4
174 – Tony Dallago (Illinois) over George Pickett (Cornell) Dec 9-4
184 – Gabriel Dean (Cornell) over Nico Reyes (Illinois) Fall 6:55
197 – Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) over Jace Bennett (Cornell) Dec 7-1
285 – Stryker Lane (Cornell) over Chris Lopez (Illinois) TB-2 4-3

Cornell defeated Maryland 31-9
125 – Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) over Paul O`Neill (Maryland) Fall 3:00
133 – Mark Grey (Cornell) over Tyler Goodwin (Maryland) Dec 4-1
141 – Shyhiem Brown (Maryland) over Michael Nevinger (Cornell) Dec 5-0
149 – Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) over Derrick Evanovich (Maryland) Dec 5-0
157 – Brian Realbuto (Cornell) over Danny Orem (Maryland) Maj 16-5
165 – Dylan Palacio (Cornell) over Tyler Manion (Maryland) Inj 3:23
174 – George Pickett (Cornell) over Anthony Gardner (Maryland) Maj 12-2
184 – Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) over Gabriel Dean (Cornell) Dec 5-3
197 – Jace Bennett (Cornell) over Chris Jastrzebski (Maryland) TF 19-1
285 – Spencer Myers (Maryland) over Stryker Lane (Cornell) Dec 2-0

Hofstra defeated Army 23-16
125 – Jamie Franco (Hofstra) over Hunter Wood (Army) Dec 3-1
133 – Jamel Hudson (Hofstra) over Logan Everett (Army) Maj 11-3
141 – Luke Vaith (Hofstra) over Tyler Rauenzahn (Army) Fall 5:15
149 – Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) over Mark Marchetti (Army) Dec 4-0
157 – Paul Hancock (Army) over Nick Terdick (Hofstra) Maj 15-6
165 – Joseph Booth (Hofstra) over Coleman Gracey (Army) Maj 14-4
174 – Alex Smith (Army) over Frank Affronti (Hofstra) Dec 3-1
184 – Ryan Tompkins (Army) over Victor Pozsonyi (Hofstra) Fall 0:50
197 – Austin Wilding (Army) over David Heitman (Hofstra) Dec 8-4
285 – Michael Hughes (Hofstra) over Bryce Barnes (Army) Dec 6-4

Hofstra defeated Boston Univ. 35-6
125 – Jamie Franco (Hofstra) over Chris McGinley (Boston Univ.) Fall 3:20
133 – Jamel Hudson (Hofstra) over Dane Harlowe (Boston Univ.) Fall 1:27
141 – Luke Vaith (Hofstra) over Tyler Scotton (Boston Univ.) Maj 8-0
149 – Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) over Nick Tourville (Boston Univ.) Dec 7-0
157 – Nestor Taffur (Boston Univ.) over Nick Terdick (Hofstra) Dec 4-2
165 – Joseph Booth (Hofstra) over Mitchell Wightman (Boston Univ.) Dec 4-1
174 – Frank Affronti (Hofstra) over Andrew Maksimovic (Boston Univ.) Maj 9-0
184 – Dwight Howes (Hofstra) over Aaron Conrad (Boston Univ.) Dec 5-2
197 – Zeal McGrew (Hofstra) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
285 – Kevin Innis (Boston Univ.) over Michael Hughes (Hofstra) Dec 3-1

Princeton defeated Army 21-15
125 – Hunter Wood (Army) over John Aslanian (Princeton) Fall 4:28
133 – Jordan Laster (Princeton) over Logan Everett (Army) Dec 5-2
141 – Tyler Rauenzahn (Army) over Christopher Perez (Princeton) Dec 8-4
149 – Kevin Moylan (Princeton) over Mark Marchetti (Army) Dec 7-4
157 – Mathew Gancayco (Princeton) over Paul Hancock (Army) Dec 5-3
165 – Coleman Gracey (Army) over Judson Ziegler (Princeton) Dec 4-1
174 – Brett Harner (Princeton) over Alex Smith (Army) Fall 2:52
184 – Ryan Tompkins (Army) over Scott Gibbons (Princeton) Dec 9-3
197 – Daniel Santoro (Princeton) over Bryce Barnes (Army) Dec 6-4
285 – Cole Lampman (Princeton) over Stephen Snyder (Army) Dec 3-2

Stevens Institute of Technology defeated New York Univ. 25-7
125 – Rob Murray (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Wayne Yuan (New York Univ.) Dec 3-0
133 – Ryan Wilson (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Corbin Lee (New York Univ.) Dec 3-2
141 – Brandon Jones (New York Univ.) over Rick Perrine (Stevens Institute of Technology) Maj 17-6
149 – Mike Polizzi (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Darryl Albonico (New York Univ.) Maj 13-2
157 – Jake Odell (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Matt DiGiovanni (New York Univ.) Dec 4-0
165 – Conner Bass (Stevens Institute of Technology) over John Messinger (New York Univ.) Dec 8-6
174 – Ryan Dormann (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Brian Anderson (New York Univ.) Dec 3-0
184 – Patrick Sheehan (New York Univ.) over Tristan Hollenbaugh (Stevens Institute of Technology) Dec 4-0
197 – Alex Moreno (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Daniel Brereton (New York Univ.) Dec 7-1
285 – Chris Florek (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Anthony Chu (New York Univ.) Dec 3-2

Stony Brook defeated Westchester CC 35-10
125 – Charles Gonzalez (Westchester CC) over Austin Hecher (Stony Brook) Maj 14-6
133 – Jonathan Crespo (Stony Brook) over Frank Lazo (Westchester CC) Dec 8-6
141 – Michael LaNasa (Stony Brook) over Kevin Jiminez (Westchester CC) Fall 1:12
149 – Michael Shimer (Stony Brook) over Mike Figueroa (Westchester CC) Fall 6:58
157 – Joe Jackson (Stony Brook) over David Rivera (Westchester CC) Dec 6-0
165 – Matt Frey (Stony Brook) over Ibrahin Simreen (Westchester CC) Maj 15-2
174 – Scott Dunkirk (Stony Brook) over Ray Ramos (Westchester CC) SV-1 8-6
184 – Kris Martin (Stony Brook) over James Danko (Westchester CC) Maj 13-4
197 – Jon Campenelli (Stony Brook) over Adolphe Lubin (Westchester CC) Fall 2:07
285 – Obum Anayiche (Westchester CC) over Lautaro Epstein (Stony Brook) Fall 1:32

2013-14 Section 11 Preview: Suffolk Features Numerous State Title Threats, Including Two of New York's Top Wrestlers, Nick Piccininni and Corey Rasheed

Five state champions (and two silver medalists) graduated from Section 11 in 2013.  However, the cupboard is full of potential titlewinners again, including two of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in the state – Nick Piccininni and Corey Rasheed.

Piccininni, Photo by BV

Piccininni, ranked fifth nationally at 120 pounds by Intermat, continued to show he’s among the country’s elite.  WIN Magazine named him New York’s Wrestler of the Year for the 2012-13 campaign after he compiled his second consecutive undefeated state championship season.  He continued to impress by taking second at the FloNationals in the spring and going undefeated at the Disney Duals, Waterway Duals, Journeymen Classic and Iron Horse Invitational. The Ward Melville wrestler completed the offseason with a fourth placing showing at the Super 32 Challenge. For more on Piccininni see here.

You can also find Rasheed in the national rankings.  The Longwood senior sits in the number six spot at 160 pounds, according to Intermat and both that website and FloWrestling rank Rasheed as one of the top 60 seniors in the country.  The three-time state finalist got his hand raised in the championship match in Albany for the first time in 2013 when he pinned Chris Koo of Great Neck South in less than a minute.  It wasn’t an unusual outcome for Rasheed, who picked up 22 falls in 34 matches.  For more on Rasheed, see here.

In addition to Rasheed, who are some other seniors ready for stellar seasons in Suffolk?

Travis Passaro certainly qualifies.  After a third place medal in his first appearance at the Times Union Center, the Hofstra recruit took eighth at the FloNationals at 120 pounds, went 10-1 at the Disney Duals and won the Journeymen Classic. He’ll be among the title favorites at 126 pounds.

That Disney Duals squad also included Kings Park’s Nick Weber, who notched fifth in the state at 195 pounds a year ago. Weber, who stayed active in the offseason, will be a force in the upperweights this season.

We haven’t forgotten about Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman.  The 2012 All-State grappler put together another solid campaign as a junior, before falling one match short of repeating on the podium.  He wasn’t the only senior who finished in the top 8 in Albany.  That was also true of Dennis Ferro of East Islip who won two matches in Albany and then put together some solid offseason results, including making the top 16 at the Super 32 Challenge.

Anthony Puca of Huntington wrestled three matches in Albany – and spent a lot of time on the mat with multiple bouts that went beyond regulation.  In round one, he defeated eventual placer Ian James in three overtimes before dropping matches to state champion Mike Hughes and to David Varian of Yorktown (in another three overtime contest). He’ll be among the top heavyweights in New York.

Of course, it won’t just be seniors who will be threats to win it all this year.

After earning fourth at 99 last year, Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip showed he is one to watch again when he defeated defending state champion Kyle Quinn at 113 pounds at the Journeymen Classic in September.  Dellavecchia also nabbed fifth at 106 pounds at the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals in Virginia Beach. 99 pounds was loaded last year and the wrestler who captured the Section 11 title – Huntington’s John Arceri – will also be a force, after a 37-4 season full of quality victories.

A trio of other returning qualifiers could all climb very high on the medal stand. Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point (fourth at 138) and Mike D’Angelo of Commack (fifth at 120) both picked up All-State accolades for the first time in 2013 and will look to do so again while moving up in weight.  Look for D’Angelo to make his presence felt at 132. In the fall, Dutton twice beat highly ranked Gary Dinmore, a two-time New Jersey state runner up, including at the Super 32 Challenge where the Rocky Point wrestler made the podium at 145 pounds with a seventh place showing.

Speaking of making the national podium, Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge, who won a match in the state capital as a freshman, followed up his ninth grade campaign in Suffolk with his second consecutive title at the NHSCA National championships in Virginia Beach, this time at 132 pounds.

Corey Jamison of Huntington wasn’t at the state tournament last year after coming in as the number two seed in 2012.  However, he did achieve something no one else in New York did last year.  He defeated both the Division I and Division II state champions at 126 pounds – TJ Fabian and William Koll.  He has another shot to return to Albany and earn hardware of his own.

Those wrestlers all have some experience in Albany.  It seems every year, however, that some Suffolk grapplers make a significant splash in the Times Union Center during their first appearance.  Last year, for example, Brentwood’s Carlos Toribio captured the New York championship in his initial trip to the event.  Who could make that kind of impact?

Middleweights

Sachem East’s Jakob Restrepo definitely comes to mind, as he has been on a roll, earning All-America honors at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and then again in Freestyle at Fargo at 145 pounds.  He then won the Super 32 Shippensburg qualifier before topping a trio of NYS silver medalists (Frank Garcia and Brandon Lapi at the Journeymen Classic and Vincent DePrez at the Iron Horse Invitational).  In the same bracket as Restrepo at Fargo was Gino Titone of Connetquot, who just missed making the medal stand in North Dakota while collecting five victories in the nation’s toughest summer event.

Who are some others to look out for in the middleweights?  Sean O’Hagan was a double finalist at the New York States in Freestyle and Greco after winning more than 35 matches for Sachem North, while James Matias of Rocky Point ended one spot higher than O’Hagan on the Suffolk podium at 132, taking fourth. Erik Adon of East Islip earned a finals spot in the county championships at 152 in 2013.

How about some All-Americans? Michael Pistone, a multi-time placer at the NHSCA Nationals, had 37 wins at 152 a year ago for Sachem East, including a bronze finish at the Suffolk tournament.  And Brandon Aviles of Newfield took sixth at 145 at the NHSCA Nationals event after earning All-County honors in February.  Right behind Aviles at the Suffolk championships was Zach Lugo of Deer Park after winning around 30 matches in 2012-13.

And while they might not be on the radar for everyone yet, Greg Chery (fifth at 138 at the Section 11 championships) and Evan Mayer (Comsewogue) sought out tough competition in the offseason and look to translate that to success in the upcoming campaign. The same could be said for Eduardo Ramirez of Amityville, who compiled 30 victories a year ago at 145 pounds and followed with a strong showing at the Summer Heat tournament, taking first with a win over Suffolk finalist Jimmy Leach.  Ramirez also went undefeated at the Waterway Duals and won his bracket at the Journeymen Classic.

Moving Down in Weight . . .

How about some lower weights? Last year’s 126 pound state champion, TJ Fabian, won his New York crown after taking third at the Suffolk championships a few weeks before Albany.  Grabbing second in the Section 11 event was Eastport South Manor’s Jimmy Leach, who has competed all over this offseason and may be ready for a run of his own.  He was one of many 126 pounders to have over 30 wins a year ago. Anthony Messina of Sachem East, BJ Jackson of Brentwood and Brad Wade of Islip were some of the others who will be formidable again this year. Wade, who is looking to become the fourth Wade brother to win a state championship in New York, topped Jamison twice a year ago, as well as Leach.

There’s no doubt that 126 pounds was loaded last year.  The same could definitely be said of the 99 pound class, which sent three wrestlers to the state tournament (the previously mentioned Dellavecchia and Arceri as well as John Busiello, who is now at Wyoming Seminary).  But several others who were in that class are ready to make an impact, including a number of grapplers who went on to earn All-America honors at the NHSCA Nationals such as Suffolk fourth placer Zach Ancewicz of John Glenn, Rocky Point’s Anthony Cirillo, Smithtown East’s James Trezza and Hauppauge’s Ben Tepperman.

In addition, last year’s fifth place finisher at 99, Bobby Pease of Pat-Med, Huntington’s Kyle Mock, Deer Park’s Tommy CoxNorth Babylon’s Anthony Sparacio and Hauppauge’s Jake Silverstein will all be in the 99/106 pound lightweight mix.  CJ Archer of Rocky Point had over 30 wins at 99 a year ago, but is likely to move up several weights this season, possibly to 126/132.

While discussing the lightest weights, it’s worth mentioning that Adam Busiello will make his debut as a seventh grader for Eastport South Manor.  His list of achievements is long, including multiple national youth championships and his second-straight Super 32 title a few weeks ago. He is currently ranked as the #30 Junior High wrestler in the land by FloWrestling.

Staying in the lower classes, James Szymanski excelled at the Eastern States Classic in 2013, grabbing third place. Although he didn’t earn a spot in Albany, he has a strong chance to do so this year.  Danny Murray of Brentwood also had a solid season at 106 and followed with an All-America showing – seventh at 106 in Virginia Beach.  The wrestler who topped him for third at the state qualifier, Kyle Scully of Newfield, could have another strong year.  Some young guns to keep an eye on are Anthony Sobotker of North Babylon and 106 or 113 pounder Eddie Matyka from Riverhead, who is back after injuries kept him off the mat.  Additional All-County wrestlers that will be in the mix this year are Austin Munro of Hauppauge (fourth at 120) and Tim Johnson of Harborfields (fifth at 113).

Upperweights

While state champion Mike Hughes is now competing for Hofstra, there is still a lot of talent in the upperweights.  Looking to take the top spot at 285 now will be the previously mentioned Anthony Puca of Huntington (Another Puca, JP, had a win over All-Stater Dan DeCarlo in 2013).  In addition, there are other solid heavyweights, such as John Glenn’s Edwin Rubio. Rubio took second in the country at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in the spring after a strong ninth grade year, as did 182 pounder Christian Araneo of Ward Melville, another wrestler to follow.

Some other upperweights we’ll be watching include the Islip duo of Ronnie King and Craig Hinrichs, Steven Lee of Kings Park, Jake Horton of Patchogue-Medford, as well as Vincent Feola of Walt Whitman, who picked up All-America status in Virginia Beach at 220 and then again at the Super 32, where he was fourth.  Also making an impact at that event was Rocky Point’s Joe Russo, a returning fourth place finisher in Suffolk, who battled into day two in North Carolina.  He dropped the bronze bout in the county to Sachem East’s Mark Tracy, who won more than 30 times last year.  Another participant in the third place matches a year ago, Dom Pirraglia of Shoreham-Wading River, could do big things, likely at 182.

Team Race

Last year, Sachem East captured the Section 11 tournament title without an individual champion.  The Flaming Arrows were fueled by seven placers, including a runner up (the graduated Jackson Mordente) and five bronze medalists.  Three of those All-County grapplers from 2013 return – Jakob Restrepo (fourth at 138 last year), Michael Pistone (third at 152) and Mark Tracy (third at 160).  When you add competitors like Anthony Messina and Connor Farrell into the mix, the squad will have a solid shot of making it two in a row.

But there will be strong challengers, who are all capable of taking the top prize if the chips fall their way.

One is certainly Rocky Point.  The Eagles were third in Suffolk last year and boast 2013 Section 11 champion Tommy Dutton as well as returning placers Joe Russo (fourth at 160) and James Matias (fourth at 132).  Grapplers such as Sean Ferguson, Anthony Cirillo, Nick Pagnotta, Jack Gold and CJ Archer all have the ability to tack on points and make the team a strong title threat.

It’s also worthwhile to track 2013 runner up East Islip, a team that lost some standouts to graduation, but still has plenty of talent coming back.  That includes the previously mentioned Jesse Dellavecchia, Dennis Ferro and Erik Adon as well as others such as Sal Cipolla and Jonathan Wilson.

Huntington, Hauppauge and Islip all finished within two points of each other at last year’s Suffolk championships (in sixth, seventh and eighth place).  Huntington looks prepared to make a run, with the return of  two finalists (champion John Arceri and heavyweight Anthony Puca) as well as fourth placer Corey Jamison.  In addition, Kyle Mock, Brandon Mendez and JP Puca will bolster the squad and provide significant points.

Meanwhile, Hauppauge welcomes back All-County wrestlers Chris Mauriello, Austin Munro and Dominic Holder, as well as lightweights ready to make waves such as Jake Silverstein and Ben Tepperman.  And Islip has a formidable core of Brad Wade, Ronnie King, Craig Hinrichs and Pat Sheppard while Sachem North will be tough as well with wrestlers like Sean O’Hagan, Matt Marino and Anthony Nunziatta.

Other squads to keep an eye on include Eastport South Manor, led by Travis Passaro, Jimmy Leach, Nicky Garone and Dylan Kane and Ward Melville, driven by Nick Piccininni, Cristian Araneo and Don Donnelly.

The race can shake out in numerous ways.  We’ll see what team rises to the top in February.

Division II

Last year, Mattituck won the Division II tournament.  With a number of contributors returning, the squad could very well make it two in a row, led by state qualifier Bobby Becker.

“Mattituck had a pretty young squad, so they’ll have a lot of guys returning,” said Bayport-Blue Point head coach Rich Reilly. “They’re looked at as the favorite to repeat and rightfully so.”

But there will certainly be challengers.  One could be Port Jefferson, a group that has significant upperclassmen presence, according to Reilly.

“Port Jefferson will have a senior laden team and they’re pretty deep,” the coach said. “They’ll be right in the thick of things for the title.  It’s a long season. It often comes down to who shows up when it’s most important – what kids peak at the right time and stay hungry out there.”

Reilly’s Bayport-Blue Point team gave Mattituck a run for the money at last year’s championships, but after graduating double digit seniors, the squad will have several new faces in the lineup.

“We’ll be a little on the young side, but we’ll be okay,” Reilly said. “When it comes time for the sectional tournament, we’ll have nice depth and we may be able to do some good things.”

Let’s take a look at some of the individuals expected to shine in the small school division of Section 11 this season.

DeVincenzo, Photo courtesy of cnywrestling.com

Matteo DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson had a fantastic freshman campaign, going all the way to the state finals at 99 pounds and taking silver.  He didn’t stop working after finding that success, however, as he participated in a number of offseason events, including the NUWAY Nationals, the Waterway Duals, the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational.  Expectations are once again high for the upcoming campaign.

“I thought DeVincenzo was going to win the state title,” Reilly said. “He was dominating that match [against Adirondack’s Derek Spann] on his feet.  He’s been wrestling a lot and doing really well.  He’s definitely a legitimate title threat again.”

DeVincenzo has some other teammates who will look to break through as well.  They include Tristan DeVincenzo, who was third in the county at 120 a year ago with close to 25 wins and also has done significant travel and competition this offseason.  In addition, Ryan Woodward made an appearance in Albany representing Suffolk after a 27-7 regular season and looks for another trip to the state capital.  Reilly mentioned Tyler D’Accordo and Paul Cavanagh as two other wrestlers who will be in contention for titles.  Both were second in the county in 2013, however, Cavanagh wrestled at the Times Union Center in 2012.

Two other wrestlers that stayed very active after the end of the high school slate were Southampton teammates Rafal Rokosz and Peter Strassfield.  Rokosz earned All-America status in Greco Roman at Fargo this summer, while both competed at other tournaments, including the Super 32 Challenge.  After getting experience at the NYS tournament in 2013, both are looking to get their hand raised in Albany this time around.  Strassfield was 25-2 with 21 pins going into the Times Union Center, while Rokosz had 30 wins.

“Southampton doesn’t have a lot of kids on the team, but the ones they have are talented,” Reilly said. “They’re doing a great job, taking the guys around and working to get better. Rokosz and Strassfield have been wrestling all over and improving.”

One wrestler who did get his hand raised at the Times Union Center in 2013 was Cody Nolan of Hampton Bays.  After he took second at the Suffolk qualifier, it looked like his season was over. However, he got a ticket to Albany when Babylon’s Brian Loskamp was unable to attend.  And he took full advantage of the opportunity, coming within one win of placing at the state level. After losing to eventual champion Zack Zupan in round one, Nolan earned a pin and then a decision over returning medalist Andy Martinez.  He then dropped a double overtime bout to Brad Burns of Hoosick Falls, a wrestler who has made the medal stand two straight years.

“Nolan did a nice job,” Reilly said. “He went from not qualifying to almost placing.  He wrestled well and should do well again this year.”

Like Nolan, William Hamilton took second in the Section 11 tournament. (He was at 195 pounds). The Center Moriches grappler looks to climb a spot higher this time around.

“Hamilton will be very tough to beat,” Reilly said.

In addition, Dominick Mazzella of Babylon collected a win at the state tournament in a 29-5 year at 106.  He and teammate Brett Frole (second behind DeVincenzo at 99) are wrestlers to keep tabs on, according to Reilly.

“They’re both very talented, tough kids,” Reilly said. “Wherever we go, we see Frole – he works really hard.”

Speaking of lightweights, Ayan Mandal of Stony Brook, the silver medalist at 106 at the qualifier, was also mentioned as a “tough, scrappy” wrestler.  (State qualifier Hunter Hulse is no longer at Stony Brook, according to Reilly).

Like Hulse, the previously mentioned Bobby Becker of Mattituck collected a win in Albany.  He’ll be looking for more after a 25-win campaign at 138 pounds.  Expectations are also high for his teammates James Hoeg and Brian Pelan.

“Bobby Becker is a key guy for them,” Reilly said. “They also have Hoeg and Pelan, who came on really strong in the sectional tournament.  I really like them and think they’ll do very well.  Lucas Webb was a state qualifier [in 2012] and he’s tough and talented and will be in the mix too.”

Always in the mix is Bayport Blue Point’s Joey Palma, a three-time Suffolk DII silver medalist.

“Joey unfortunately has come close but hasn’t won it yet,” Reilly said.  “He’s a senior now and his main goal is to get up to Albany after falling short three times in the finals.  He’ll make a jump in weight from 120 to 138 or 145.  He’s a very good wrestler and we’d like to see him have that chance in his last year.”

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Thank you to all the contributors to this article.  Special thanks to  John Passaro and Rich Reilly.

 

We will continue to post Section previews as the season approaches.  Here are some others already released:

Section 3

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Section 10

PSAL

Cornell Captures the New York State Intercollegiate Championships, Led By Five Titlewinners

Dean, Photo by BV

In an event featuring more than 20 teams from the Empire State, Cornell captured the New York State Intercollegiate Championships on Sunday in Ithaca, winning five of the 10 weight classes in the “A” bracket.

The Big Red champions were Mark Grey (133), Chris Villalonga (149), Brian Realbuto (157), Gabe Dean (184) and Jace Bennett (197). Those five wrestlers won 21 matches on the day – and 15 of those victories were by bonus points.

In addition, Bricker Dixon nabbed bronze at 125 for the Big Red while Craig Eifert and Dylan Palacio were second and third, respectively, at 165.  (Both lost to Hofstra’s Joe Booth).

Speaking of Hofstra, the Pride earned second, led by a trio of titlewinners – Jamie Franco (125), Luke Vaith (141) and the previously mentioned Joe Booth (165) as well as three silver medalists – Jamel Hudson (133), Cody Ruggirello (149) and Nick Terdick (157).

The Big Red and the Pride accounted for eight of the 10 champions on the day.  The other two were Columbia’s Eric Fajardo at 174 and Binghamton heavyweight Tyler Deuel.   The Bearcats finished third in the team race, with Army and Columbia rounding out the top five.

Cornell saw success in the “B/Open” tournament as well, picking up six crowns.  Logan David won at 133 as did Alex Cisneros (149), Chris Dowdy (157), Duke Pickett (174), Steve Congenie (197) and Jacob Aiken-Phillips (285).  Also collecting titles were Mike Soria of Buffalo (125), Nick Kelley of Binghamton (141), Alex Dahl of Army (165) and Troy Hembury of Columbia (184).

More coverage from the tournament, including match videos, will be posted in the next few days.

For full brackets and scores, see http://www.trackwrestling.com and search for “NYS Intercollegiate Championships.”

Here are the placewinners for the A and B/Open brackets:

A – 125
1st Place – Jamie Franco of Hofstra
2nd Place – Penn Gottfried of Columbia University
3rd Place – Bricker Dixon of Cornell University
4th Place – David White of Binghamton University
5th Place – Max Soria of University at Buffalo
6th Place – Asher Kramer of Brockport State
7th Place – Enriquez DeJesus of Nassau Community College
8th Place – Jimmy Kaishian of Ithaca College

A – 133
1st Place – Mark Grey of Cornell University
2nd Place – Jamel Hudson of Hofstra
3rd Place – Nick Tighe of Binghamton University
4th Place – Joe Moita of Columbia University
5th Place – Angelo Amenta of Columbia University
6th Place – Logan Everett of Army
7th Place – Justin Farmer of University at Buffalo
8th Place – Alex Gomez of Ithaca College
A – 141
1st Place – Luke Vaith of Hofstra
2nd Place – Matt Bystol of Columbia University
3rd Place – Nick Flannery of University at Buffalo
4th Place – Dylan Caruana of Binghamton University
5th Place – Mark Marchetti of Army
6th Place – Brian Bistis of SUNY Cortland
7th Place – Corey Dake of Cornell University
8th Place – Dominick Giacolone of Ithaca College

A – 149
1st Place – Christopher Villalonga of Cornell University
2nd Place – Cody Ruggirello of Hofstra
3rd Place – Robert Dierna of SUNY Cortland
4th Place – Joe Bonaldi of Binghamton University
5th Place – Brad Mayville of Rochester Institute of Tech.
6th Place – Kevin Strong of Niagara Community College
7th Place – Ryan Tadora of University at Buffalo
8th Place – Alexis Blanco of Nassau Community College

A – 157
1st Place – Brian Realbuto of Cornell University
2nd Place – Nick Terdick of Hofstra
3rd Place – Markus Scheidel of Columbia University
4th Place – Paul Hancock of Army
5th Place – John Northrup of University at Buffalo
6th Place – Tyler Bruce of Niagara Community College
7th Place – Kyle Wade of Nassau Community College
8th Place – Colton Perry of Binghamton University

A – 165
1st Place – Joseph Booth of Hofstra
2nd Place – Craig Eifert of Cornell University
3rd Place – Dylan Palacio of Cornell University
4th Place – Josh Houldsworth of Columbia University
5th Place – Coleman Gracey of Army
6th Place – Chandler Smith of Army
7th Place – Joeseph Cataldo of SUNY Cortland
8th Place – Tory Cain of Rochester Institute of Tech.

A – 174
1st Place – Eric Fajardo of Columbia University
2nd Place – Lou Puca of SUNY Cortland
3rd Place – Brian Harvey of Army
3rd Place – Forfeit Forfeit of Unattached
4th Place – Alex Smith of Army
5th Place – Roy Daniels of Brockport State
6th Place – Owen Scott of Cornell University
7th Place – Frank Affronti of Hofstra
8th Place – Victor Pozsonyi of Hofstra

A – 184
1st Place – Gabriel Dean of Cornell University
2nd Place – Tony Lock of University at Buffalo
3rd Place – Caleb Wallace of Binghamton University
4th Place – Zack Hernandez of Columbia University
5th Place – Scott Bova of SUNY Oswego
6th Place – Nickolas Bellanza of SUNY Cortland
7th Place – Dennis Melendez of Hunter College
8th Place – Tyler Brent of Rochester Institute of Tech.

A – 197
1st Place – Jace Bennett of Cornell University
2nd Place – Bryce Barnes of Army
3rd Place – Cody Reed of Binghamton University
4th Place – Angelo Malvestudo of University at Buffalo
5th Place – Joey Giaramita of SUNY Cortland
6th Place – Chad Obzud of Oneonta State
7th Place – Mathew Booth of Ithaca College
8th Place – Zeal McGrew of Hofstra

A – 285
1st Place – Tyler Deuel of Binghamton University
2nd Place – Jim Donner of Niagara Community College
3rd Place – Lance Moore of SUNY Cortland
4th Place – El Shadai VanHoesen of Niagara Community College
5th Place – Michael Hughes of Hofstra
6th Place – Stephen Snyder of Army
7th Place – Cole Tristram of Brockport State
8th Place – James Benjamin of University at Buffalo

 

B (OPEN) – 125
1st Place – Mike Soria of University at Buffalo
2nd Place – Johnson Mai of Columbia University
3rd Place – Dillon Stowell of Brockport State
4th Place – Sean Badua of USMA Prep School
5th Place – Nathan Santhanam of Army
6th Place – Tyler Walsh of Nassau Community College
8th Place – Kyler Agoney of Brockport State
8th Place – Austin Keough of Alfred State College

B (OPEN) – 133
1st Place – Logan David of Cornell University
2nd Place – Chris Araoz of Columbia University
3rd Place – Kyle Krasavage of Hofstra
4th Place – Mike Lanasa of Stony Brook Wrestling Club
5th Place – Dylan Realbuto of FlWC
6th Place – Jaydon Rice of University at Buffalo
8th Place – Austin Marsico of Army
8th Place – Robert Person of Binghamton University

B (OPEN) – 141
1st Place – Nick Kelly of Binghamton University
2nd Place – Maverick Passaro of Hofstra
3rd Place – Patrick Hogan of FlWC
4th Place – Joshua Kennedy of Cornell University
5th Place – Matt Leshinger of Columbia University
6th Place – Jason Estevez of Unafilliated
8th Place – Eli Bienstock of Cornell University
8th Place – Daniel Palmerino of Brockport State

B (OPEN) – 149
1st Place – Alex Cisneros of Cornell University
2nd Place – Connor Melde of Army
3rd Place – Alec Mooradian of Columbia University
4th Place – Cory Goshkagarian of Hofstra
5th Place – Jahlani Callender of Hofstra
6th Place – Adam Troy of Brockport State
8th Place – Connor David of Cornell University
8th Place – Shane Connolly of Army

B (OPEN) – 157
1st Place – Chris Dowdy of Cornell University
2nd Place – Taylor Simaz of Cornell University
3rd Place – Chad Ryan of Columbia University
4th Place – Joeseph Byrne of SUNY Cortland
5th Place – Kevin Brown of Columbia University
6th Place – Jake Kazimir of Columbia University
8th Place – Muhammed McBride of University at Buffalo
8th Place – Sam Friedfeld of New York University

B (OPEN) – 165
1st Place – Alex Dahl of Army
2nd Place – Anthony Risaliti of Army
3rd Place – Russ Benner of Hofstra
4th Place – Conner Burns of RPI
5th Place – Rrok Ndokaj of University at Buffalo
6th Place – Ryan Therrien of University at Buffalo
8th Place – Troy Taylor of USMA Prep School
8th Place – Jacob George of Cornell University

B (OPEN) – 174
1st Place – Duke Pickett of Cornell University
2nd Place – Jesse Shanaman of Cornell University
3rd Place – Jared Lux of University at Buffalo
4th Place – Austin Weigel of University at Buffalo
5th Place – Jack McKeever of Binghamton University
6th Place – Austin Coniker of Columbia University
8th Place – Josh Reed of SUNY Cortland
8th Place – Patrick Rooney of US Merchant Marine Academy

B (OPEN) – 184
1st Place – Troy Hembury of Columbia University
2nd Place – Michael Alexander of Cornell University
3rd Place – Austin Wilding of Army
4th Place – Liam Korbul of Ithaca College
5th Place – Jack Wedholm of USMA Prep School
6th Place – Nathan Dow of Army
8th Place – McZiggy Richards of FlWC
8th Place – Zachary Baron of Nassau Community College

B (OPEN) – 197
1st Place – Steve Congenie of Cornell University
2nd Place – Matt Idelson of Columbia University
3rd Place – Daniel Choi of Cornell University
4th Place – Stuart Curtis of RPI
5th Place – Michael Fetchet of Columbia University
6th Place – Tom Murray of Unafilliated
8th Place – Scott Votino of USMA Prep School
8th Place – Josh Kettel of FlWC

B (OPEN) – 285
1st Place – Jacob Aiken-Phillips of Cornell University
2nd Place – Trevor Smith of Army
3rd Place – Wyatt Baker of Columbia University
4th Place – Connor Sweeney of Columbia University
5th Place – Brian Walker of US Merchant Marine Academy
6th Place – Mike Silvis of University at Buffalo
8th Place – Dennis Atiyeh of FlWC
8th Place – David Farr of Army