Family Affair: Beacon's Andrew Grella Joins Binghamton's Recruiting Class

Thoughts of attending Binghamton entered Andrew Grella’s mind as soon as his older brother Vincent, the squad’s current 165-pound starter, decided to become a Bearcat a few years ago.

“I’m close with my brother, and I’ve always wanted to do what he does,” Andrew Grella said. “I thought it would be a good place because of my brother and because it’s such a good school.”

If the future 197-pounder wasn’t already convinced, he became sure of his decision when he made his official visit to campus.

“It was a really fun time,” he said. “We went out to dinner and lunches and played paintball. It was cool to be a part of that team bonding.  I walked around campus and went fishing with a bunch of the guys, which was great.”

Indeed, for Grella, who wants to study environmental science, the opportunity to pursue outdoor activities was a big selling point.

“I’m a really big outdoors guy. One of the first questions I asked when I got there was whether there were good spots for hunting and fishing around there,” he said. “They just laughed.”

Grella’s road to Division I wrestling is slightly atypical.  After enduring a difficult season as a ninth grader at 152 pounds, Grella said he didn’t compete during his sophomore year at Beacon High School.

“I got my butt kicked as a freshman as a middleweight,” he said. “I wasn’t strong enough and wrestled a lot of tough seniors. My brother was at 152 too, so I didn’t even get that many matches.  I decided to take a year and focus on getting really strong, getting in great shape and improving my technique.”

Photo by Dawn Sela, Courtesy of Andrew Grella

His work seemed to pay dividends when he took the mat at the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals in Virginia Beach at 170 pounds, coming within one win of All-America status at the event.

Then, it was time to return to New York high school action.  He did so with a flourish, racking up a 27-3 mark at 182 pounds (prior to Sectionals) as a junior in 2012-13. All of his losses were to wrestlers who finished in the top four at the New York state tournament, including a pair of silver medalists.

In fact, his first bout at the Eastern States Classic in January was against eventual 195-pound NYS second place finisher Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa.  In a hard fought contest, Ashley came out on top 8-6.

“I didn’t have credentials or seeding criteria, so I knew I’d probably get a great wrestler right off the bat,” Grella said. “I knew it would be a tight match and he hit me with the same move twice to beat me.  It was disappointing.”

He rebounded well, however, capturing five straight matches in the wrestlebacks, including over state placers Andrew Martinez of Liberty and Matt Roberts of Monsignor Farrell as well as qualifier Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy.  His streak was stopped by 182-pound state finalist James Corbett of Wantagh and he later forfeited to take sixth.

“I had a hip injury after my first two wins,” he said. “I wrapped it up and won a few more after that.  I could barely walk back to the center of the mat without falling over.  It was bad. But I showed I could compete with some very good wrestlers.”

He continued to pile up wins before dropping the Section 1 championship bout to Thomas Murray of Yorktown, 3-0. [Murray went on to take fourth in Albany in 2013, a year after losing a close match in the Section 1 title bout and not getting a bid to the Times Union Center].

Murray’s path of second in Section 1 to All-State status a year later is one that Grella hopes to emulate – at least somewhat.

“That’s the plan I want to follow, except I plan to win it all,” he said.  “I expect to do big things this year, including winning a 195-pound state championship.”

And if he needs a tough partner to work with, he knows he can find one whenever his brother returns from Binghamton.

“Whenever he’s home, we wrestle,” Andrew Grella said. “Someone’s always bleeding.  I’d say I get the best of it, but if you ask him, you’ll get a different answer.”

Soon enough, the Grella brothers will have more opportunities to “bleed” together, as teammates for the Bearcats.

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Andrew Grella thanked his parents and acknowledged the significant contributions of the Olympic Wrestling Club in New Jersey.

Weekend Happenings: NYers Win at All-Star Weekend, Army Opens With a Victory, Austin Meys Returns to the Mat and More

Wrestling season has officially arrived!  Action began in many parts of the country this weekend.  Here are some of the stories related to the Empire State.

New Yorkers Come Out on Top at the NWCA All-Star Classic

At last year’s NWCA All-Star Classic, Nahshon Garrett attended as Redman, Cornell’s mascot, and watched Kyle Dake defeat Penn State’s David Taylor.  Garrett said afterwards that he wanted to come back to the event in 2013 – as a participant (see article from 2012). The third-ranked Garrett did just that, taking the mat at 125 pounds on Saturday evening against Oklahoma All-American Jarrod Patterson (#5 nationally).

After regulation, the bout was knotted at 1.  In sudden victory, Patterson, who hadn’t initiated much offense to that point, got in on a deep shot. However, Garrett was able to fight off the attempt, beginning a scramble that ended with a takedown, three near fall points and a 6-1 victory for the Big Red sophomore.

Stevo Poulin with NCAA champion Logan Stieber

That wasn’t New York’s only involvement in All-Star weekend.  On Friday night, in the WIBN Middle School All-Star Meet, a pair of Empire State wrestlers also were victorious at George Mason University in Virginia.  According to Steve Poulin, Eastport South Manor seventh grader Adam Busiello followed up his Super 32 championship performance last weekend by blanking two-time Pennsylvania state titlewinner Cameron DeLucia 5-0 while Stevo Poulin of Schuylerville topped Maryland state champion Meyer Shapiro by a commanding 21-3 score.

The Middle School All-Star participants also had the opportunity to sit matside for the main event and had the chance to meet a number of the top college grapplers in the country.  One of the highlights for Stevo Poulin was meeting two-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber of Ohio State (see right), who bested fellow national titlewinner Kendric Maple in the final match on Saturday night.

Army Begins On a Winning Note Against Franklin & Marshall

The Black Knights were dominant in their opening action of the campaign, topping Franklin & Marshall 34-4 on Saturday night.  Army won nine of the 10 bouts, including a pin by Coleman Gracey at 165 and a technical fall by Bryce Barnes at 197.  Also picking up bonus points were Paul Hancock and Alex Smith, at 157 and 174, respectively.  The squad returns to action against Stevens Tech on Wednesday, November 6. For more from goarmysports.com, see here.

Rutgers Edges Hofstra on Criteria

The Pride’s first dual of the season, against Rutgers, came down to the wire and was tied at 21 after the 10 bouts were complete.  It was the visiting Scarlet Knights that picked up the victory, as they captured the meet 22-21 on criteria on Sunday.

Hofstra got off to a strong start, with senior Luke Vaith recording a technical fall at 141 and Cody Ruggirello following with a pin at 149 for an 11-0 advantage.  The squads traded decisions over the next three contests, with Joe Booth getting his hand raised at 165 for the Pride to make the score 14-6 at intermission.

Rutgers came out on fire after the break with a two-point victory by Dan Seidenberg over Dwight Howes at 184 and pins by Hayden Hrymack and Billy Smith at 197 and heavyweight to grab a 21-14 lead.  Hofstra fought back, however, with Jamie Franco topping Scott Delvecchio 5-1 at 125 and Jamel Hudson picking up a major decision over 2012 New York State champion Sean McCabe at 133 to make it 21-21.  Rutgers picked up the win by virtue of more pins.

The Pride will travel to Virginia next weekend for duals with Virginia Tech, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Virginia Military Institute and North Carolina.

With Three Champions, Cortland Wins Monarch Tournament

At the 2013 Monarch Tournament, Cortland convincingly won the team title, led by three champions and three second place finishers.  The Red Dragons tallied 105.5 points, winning by more than 15.  Other New York teams to participate were Oneonta State (fourth), RIT (fifth) and the College of Mount St. Vincent (12th).

Picking up crowns for Cortland were Brian Bistis (141), Lou Puca (174) and Joey Giaramita (197), while their teammates Jacob Green (125), Sean Kempf (133) and Brian Bulger (184) all finished in the runner up spot.  Additional finalists from Empire State squads were Brad Mayville of RIT (second at 149) and Shaun Gillen of Oneonta State (second at 165).

Brockport and Niagara CCC Feature Four Champions Each at the Golden Eagle Invitational

At the Golden Eagle Invitational at Brockport, a number of wrestlers from the host school picked up titles – 2013 NYS champion from Gouverneur Dillon Stowell (125), Sam Emburgio (149), Josh Powell (165) and Roy Daniels (174).  Also earning first place were Niagara teammates Eric Velez (133), Tyler Bruce (157), Cedrick Stephens (184) and El Shaddai Van Hoesen (285).  In addition, Jamestown’s Chris Broccoli (141) and Alfred State’s Matt Sowers (197) nabbed titles.

Austin Meys Makes His Return at the Clarion Open

While a number of wrestlers began their seasons with championships at the Clarion Open on Sunday, one of the biggest stories at the event came from a wrestler who competed in just two bouts.  Former Shenendehowa standout Austin Meys of Lehigh returned to action and did so in fine form – recording a pair of pins before forfeiting out of the tournament.  (Rumor had it Meys would wrestle only a few matches in his comeback event). After a highly successful redshirt season and then a 21-win campaign in 2010-11 for Lehigh, Meys battled an illness and was unable to compete for the Mountain Hawks for the past two years.    It was fantastic to see Meys back in action.

These were some of the stories from the weekend. Please e-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with further results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

125:

Max Soria, Photo by BV

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

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

133:

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

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

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

141:

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

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

149:

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

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

157:

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

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

165:

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

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

174:

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

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

184:

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

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

197:

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

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

285:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not too shabby for his “worst.”

Rasheed, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

But there was only one thing on his mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY MATT DIANO

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

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

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

Diakomihalis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to all NYS placewinners!

FINAL High School BRACKETS

Final Middle School Brackets (free registration required)

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

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

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

Rifanburg, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hernandez, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

In the quarterfinals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In the wrestlebacks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to Roll: NY Wrestlers to Face Top Competition at the Super 32 Challenge and "Freak Show"

As the season rapidly approaches, numerous New York wrestlers will test themselves against some of the best in the nation this weekend at a pair of events in two different areas of the country.  Close to 100 Empire State grapplers are registered for the Super 32 Challenge in Greensboro, NC while another group will make the trip to Las Vegas for the Southwest Kickoff Classic, aka, the Freak Show.

Photo by BV

Last year, Carthage’s Shayne Brady, now a freshman at North Carolina State, made the podium at the Super 32 at 182 pounds for New York.  Several others came within one victory of the medal stand, including Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni, Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro and Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian (now competing for Sacred Heart).

Piccininni and Passaro will look to go further this time around at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively. Joining them in the field are a number of 2013 state champions, including Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), Kyle Quinn (Wantagh), Louis Hernandez (Mepham) and Adis Radoncic (Poly Prep) as well as 2013 NYS finalists Matteo DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson), Vito Arujau (Syosset), Nick Casella (Locust Valley), Vincent DePrez (Hilton), Frank Garcia (Norwich) and Steve Schneider (MacArthur).

New York saw plenty of success at the Super 32 Middle School event in 2012, with titles from the previously mentioned Diakomihalis as well as Adam Busiello, who will be a seventh grader at Eastport South Manor this year. Plainview’s Peter Pappas was a runner up, while the aforementioned Arujau took third, as did Hilton’s Michael Spallina.  Other Middle School placers included Dylan Ryder, Hector Colom (Dunkirk) and Lou DePrez (Hilton).

Meanwhile, out in Nevada, state champions William Koll of Lansing and Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich are among the wrestlers registered to take the mat at the “Freak Show”, along with New York placers Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond and Theo Powers of Mexico as well as Suffolk County gold medalist John Arceri.

A year ago, a number of youth wrestlers performed well in Vegas, with Carter Schubert taking gold and Michael Gonyea and Carson Alberti earning silver.  Schubert will be back, looking to win it all two years in a row.

For the list of registered Empire State wrestlers at each of the events, see below (registration as of the morning of Oct. 23). Check back for updates on both events over the weekend.

 

Freak Show (Southwest Kickoff Classic)

High School Elite

108 John Arceri (Ascend)

108 Theo Powers (NYWAY)

128 William Koll (NYWAY)

138 Tristan Rifanburg (NYWAY)

143 Julian Korfine (NYWAY)

288 Connor Calkins (NYWAY)

 15 & Under

95 Pounds Thomas Cox (631 Elite/VHW)

95 Pounds Jonathan Gomez

108 Anthony Cirillo (Rocky Point)

125 Jackie Gold (Rocky Point)

9&10

61 Carter Schubert (Superior Wrestling Academy)

 

Super 32 – High School

106

Zach Ancewicz (John Glenn)

Joseph Barber (Cicero North Syracuse)

Tito Colom (Dunkirk)

Chris Cuccolo (St. Benedict’s, formerly Pine Bush)

Matteo DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson)

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton)

Sean Miller (Connetquot)

Brady Robin (Arlington)

113

Anthony Argentieri (Kenmore West)

Vito Arujau (Syosset)

Ryan Burns (Clarence)

Jesse Dellavecchia (East Islip)

Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley)

Danny Murray (Brentwood)

Kyle Quinn (Wantagh)

120

Joe Calderone (Walt Whitman)

Nick Casella (Locust Valley)

Timothy Johnson (Harborfields)

Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s)

Bryan Lantry (Wayne)

Dandre Norman (Rome Free Academy)

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville)

Jack Scurti (John Glenn)

James Szymanski (Shoreham Wading River)

Michael Wisniewski (West Seneca West)

126

Travis Alexander (Long Island Lutheran)

Michael Berkowitz (Long Island Lutheran)

Christian Briody (Chaminade)

Jake Derechin (Iona Prep)

Tristin DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson)

Kellen Devlin (Amherst)

Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor)

Joe Russ (St. Anthony’s)

132

Mike D’Angelo (Commack)

Tommy DiBenedetto (John Glenn)

Freddy Eckles (Lake Shore)

Evan Mayer (Comsewogue)*

Cody McGregor (Tonawanda)

John Muldoon (Pearl RIver)

Adam Santoro (Fordham Prep)

Ryan Snow (General Brown)

138

Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland)

Mack Berkowitz (Long Island Lutheran)

Aidan Conroy (Northfield Mount Hermon)

Justin Cooksey (MacArthur)

Donny Donnelly (Ward Melville)

Danny Graham (West Seneca East)

Kevin Jackson (St. Anthony’s)

Jimmy Leach (Eastport South Manor)

Ralph Maio (Farrell)

James Matias (Rocky Point)

Hunter Sharf (NSHS)

Sam Ward (Locust Valley)

145

Corey Ashe (PMHS)

Vincent DePrez (Hilton)

John Doherty (Monticell0)

Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point)

Frank Garcia (Norwich)

Jakob Restrepo (Sachem East)

Karl Wiesner (Monsignor Farrell)

152

Anthony DePrez (Hilton)

Dennis Ferro (East Islip)

Louis Hernandez (Mepham)

Jon Silveri (Arlington)

160

Mitchell Klein (Horace Greeley)

170

Derek Holcomb (Newark Valley)

Justin Karas (Port Chester)

Alexander Melikian (Kennedy Catholic)

Jerrett Norton (Cicero North Syracuse)

Adis Radoncic (Poly Prep)

Joseph Russo (Rocky Point)

Steve Schneider (MacArthur)

Jake Weber (Clarence)

Jaison White (Jericho)

182

Nicky Hall (Wyoming Seminary, Longwood)

Dominic Pirraglia (Shoreham Wading River)

Collin Pittman (Spencerport)

195

Mike Newman (Monsignor Farrell)

220

Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman)

Rafal Rokosz (Southampton)

285

Peter Strassfield (Southampton)

 

Super 32 Middle School

70

Ivan Garcia (Apex)

75

Ryan Burgos (G2)

Michael Gonyea (Journeymen)

80

Dylan Ryder (631 Elite)

85

Adam Busiello (631 Elite)

95

Luke Bokina (631 Elite)

AJ Burkhart (Waverly)

Haily Finn (Journeymen)

Sal Jones (VHW)

Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen)

100

Jack Bokina (631 Elite)

Hector Colom (Scorpion/Cobra)

105

Jack Ward (Locust Valley)

112

Anthony Sobotker (631 Elite)

145

Tyler Barnes (Journeymen)

 

*means wrestler was listed in two weights

 

 

 

A Look at the Juniors: Who are the 11th Graders to Watch in New York?

We have been discussing some of the top wrestlers in New York over the past month or so.  We started with our #1 Junior High School grappler in the state, Penfield eighth grader Frankie Gissendanner (see link),then profiled top freshman Yianni Diakomihalis and discussed other ninth graders to watch.  Then, we wrote about the wrestler at the top of the Class of 2016 rankings – Christian Dietrich and other standout sophomores. Next, we discussed stellar junior Nick Piccininni.

Now it’s time to talk about some of the other 11th graders to keep tabs on this season. There were significant differences of opinion on how these wrestlers stack up against each other.  The order of this list could go numerous different ways and will no doubt look different as the season progresses.  For now, however, here’s a look at some of the stars in the Class of 2015.

 

Piccininni, Photo by BV

#1 Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville)– In the eyes of some, Piccininni is the top pound-for-pound wrestler in New York.  The two-time state champion breezed through his sophomore campaign, winning all 43 matches with only four regular decisions.  In a bout many were anticipating the entire season, Piccininni completely dominated multiple-time state titlewinner Kyle Kelly, 14-4, to grab his second gold medal in Albany.  The Ward Melville standout finished second at the FloNationals this spring and went undefeated at the Disney Duals in the summer against top flight competition.  He did the same thing at the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational. Currently ranked #12 among juniors by FloWrestling and #30 by Intermat, Piccininni is a heavy favorite to capture state crown number three.  For more on Piccininni see this link.

#2 Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich) – Rifanburg burst onto the scene several years ago when he grabbed a state championship as a seventh grader.  He has been back to the title bout at the Times Union Center two more times, earning second place in 2011 and 2013, while finishing sixth in 2012.  As a freshman, Rifanburg also earned the silver at the NHSCA National championships. The Section IV standout is ranked as one of the top 100 juniors in the nation by FloWrestling.

#3 Adis Radoncic (Poly Prep) – The PSAL’s first-ever state champion (for RKA) didn’t face an easy path to gold in February, defeating top-seeded Christian Dietrich and multi-time placer Troy Seymour.  In fact, by defeating Dietrich 4-3 in the title bout, Radoncic avenged one of his two losses in a 27-2 campaign.  The three-time state qualifier also came within one win of placing at the state tournament in 2012. Radoncic, who transferred to Poly Prep and confirmed that he will be a junior in 2013-14, was active in the offseason, taking fifth at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and competing at Fargo, the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational.

#4 Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) – Quinn had an excellent 36-2 campaign for Wantagh, picking up a state title at 106 pounds.  The multiple-time NHSCA Nationals All-American (third at 106 in 2013) defeated a number of New York state medalists, including Steven Sewkumar and Jon Haas, in the regular season.  In Albany, he pinned All-State wrestler Jimmy Overhiser in the second round before avenging his only two losses of the campaign by beating New Rochelle’s Nick Barbaria, 7-1.  In the state title bout, Quinn came out on top against Westhampton Beach’s Alex Tanzman.  The Nassau County standout also collected victories for Team Kong at the challenging Disney Duals.  His credentials land him high on this list and he will certainly face challenges as a junior, as he may get to face wrestlers who have defeated him in recent weeks – Jesse Dellavecchia, Vito Arujau and Yianni Diakomihalis.

#5 Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point) – Dutton has been competitive at the varsity level for quite some time.  In his 10th grade season, he made his first appearance on the podium in the state capital, taking fourth at 138 pounds after an impressive 50-4 campaign.  The Section 11 star picked up fourth at the Eastern States Classic with his only setbacks coming against an out of state grappler, Derek Arnold of Virginia.  Dutton collected All-American status in 2012, both at the NHSCA Nationals and at Fargo in Freestyle.  He didn’t compete at those events in 2013, but his activity this fall demonstrates that he’s ready to go in his 11th grade campaign.  Dutton took second at the Journeymen Classic up at 152 pounds, losing only to returning state champion Louis Hernandez of Mepham. He then captured the title at the Iron Horse Invitational, including an impressive victory over Gary Dinmore, a two-time New Jersey state runner up who is ranked among the top 100 seniors in the land.

#6 Nick Casella (Locust Valley) – After taking second place at the 2012 New York State championships, Casella earned his way back to the finals in Albany this February where he picked up his second silver medal, this time up at 113.  It was the end of a 39-4 campaign in which half of his losses were to eventual state champion Dillon Stowell of Gouverneur.  Casella followed up the high school season by showing he could compete with some of the nation’s best.  He collected All-America accolades at Virginia Beach and at Fargo, where he took seventh in Greco Roman.  He also competed at the Junior Duals for Team New York in Oklahoma in a busy offseason.

#7 Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa) – Porter has made only one trip to Albany after taking the Section II title as a freshman.  A year ago, he didn’t have the opportunity, as an injury sidelined him after the end of December.  However, he demonstrated clearly this summer that he is formidable wrestler on the national level when he went all the way to the finals in Cadet Greco Roman at Fargo at 152 pounds before placing second.  He followed that showing with a fifth place medal in Freestyle in North Dakota.  Porter looks to be ready for a breakout year in the Empire State.

#8 Nick Gallo (Schalmont) – Gallo grabbed the silver medal at the state tournament in February at 160 pounds, after falling one win shy of the podium as a freshman at 152 (losing to the third and fourth place finishers).  This February, Gallo had a tough path to the finals, besting placers in each of his first three bouts – Gunnar Van Curen (6th), Tyler Silverthorn (5th) and Matt Fisher (3rd).  He went 45-4 as a sophomore in Section II, also making the medal stand at the Eastern States Classic where his losses were in sudden victory to Virginia’s Steven Aiello and 4-2 to the state runner up in Division I, Steve Schneider (and by disqualification).

Garcia, Photo by BV

#9 Frank Garcia (Norwich) – The Division II state runner up at 145 pounds this year also took fifth at the Eastern States Classic in January.  After missing time early in the season, Garcia came back strong, avenging a loss to fellow All-Stater Jordan Torbitt to win the Section IV title and collecting a win against past state medalist Isaiah Riccio along the way. The Norwich grappler was one match from placing at 132 as a freshman where he was edged by eventual state champion Connor Lapresi, 3-2.

#10 Anthony Orefice (Lockport) – The two-time placer from Lockport began last season at 113 pounds, where he notched impressive wins such as a convincing 7-1 triumph over eventual Division II state champion Dillon Stowell.  He transitioned up to 120 as the season progressed and went 41-6 overall. All but one of his losses were to All-State wrestlers – three times to New York runner up Steve Michel as well as to Travis Passaro and Mike D’Angelo. A multiple-time NHSCA All-American, Orefice will likely be right back in the mix in 2013-14.

#11 Sam Ward (Locust Valley) – Ward notched his first appearance on the medal stand at the Times Union Center when he took fifth at 132 pounds.  He compiled a 38-4 mark, including quality wins over state placers Vinny Turano and Ryan Kromer.  Three of his losses were to top three medalists in New York – champion Matt Leshinger (by a 3-2 score), runner up Tristan Rifanburg (by a 3-1 tally) and Clyde Carey.  He has also made his mark on the national stage, capturing All-America status at Fargo in 2012 and in Virginia Beach in 2013.  He recently was second at the Journeymen Classic.

#12 Jesse Dellavecchia (East Islip) The Section 11 grappler had a great year at 99 pounds for East Islip, earning fourth at the state tournament and beating several strong opponents.  He also tacked on a fifth place showing at the NHSCA Nationals tournament and notched a victory over the previously mentioned Kyle Quinn at the Journeymen Classic.  He’ll be moving up in weight, but has the potential to go very high on the podium in Albany once again.

Mike D’Angelo was discussed by a number of contributors to this article as someone who will no doubt move up this list as the season moves forward. In a tough weight in Suffolk County, he had a strong sophomore campaign in which he racked up 40 victories and took fifth in Albany. He was defeated twice by state champion Alex Delacruz and twice by third placer Travis Passaro, but registered solid wins over state qualifiers Joe Russ and Lou DePrez as well as All-Staters John Muldoon, Santo Curatolo and the aforementioned Anthony Orefice.  The previous season, as a freshman, D’Angelo was also stellar as he went 33-3 with all three setbacks coming by decision to Nick Piccininni.

Speaking of accomplished wrestlers, Tony Recco of Lyndonville was a state champion as a freshman, but was injured prior to the postseason as a tenth grader and was unable to go for another title in Albany.  We look forward to seeing him back in the fray.

Another lightweight to consider is Mike Raccioppi of Minisink Valley.  The Section 9 grappler faced many of the Empire State’s best last year and took sixth at the Eastern States as well as winning two matches in Albany to come one win from a medal at 126.  Richie Burke of Ithaca, did the same, capturing two victories at the Times Union Center at 132 while Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter also got his hand raised in Albany. While we’re mentioning lightweights, Shoreham Wading River’s James Szymanski put on a show at the Eastern States Classic, taking third at 106 pounds.  He didn’t earn a bid to the state tournament, but will be someone to monitor this year as well.  Another wrestler who notched third at SUNY Sullivan, North Rockland’s Blaise Benderoth, a multiple-time state qualifier, will look to place for the first time.  As will Islip’s Brad Wade, a wrestler with a number of quality wins who looks join three other ‘Wades’ on top of the state podium.

How about some others who did find a spot on the medal stand in 2013?  Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa earned fifth at 99 pounds while Dolgeville’s Danny Fox grabbed second at 106.  Cody McGregor placed twice in NYS for Tonawanda but didn’t make an appearance on the mats at the Times Union Center this year.  He’ll look to get back in 2014.

One of the wrestlers who has grabbed our attention this offseason is Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East. He and Jordan Bushey of Peru both earned All-American status at Fargo at 145 pounds.  (Connetquot’s Gino Titone also picked up five wins in the same bracket, just missing the podium). In the last few weeks, Restrepo has defeated a trio of state silver medalists – Brandon Lapi and Frank Garcia at the Journeymen Classic and Vincent DePrez at the Iron Horse Invitational.  It looks like he’s ready for a breakout year.

In addition to those victories, Restrepo was also sixth at the NHSCA Nationals in the spring where other New York wrestlers placed.  They are: Brandon Aviles (Newfield), Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s), Richie Jones (St. Joseph’s Collegiate), Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman) and Trevor Allard (Mexico).

In the middleweights, Connor Lawrence of Duanesburg came within a match of placing in Albany, defeating another 40-win wrestler, Max Lloyd of Palmyra Macedon along the way. Section 2’s Jake Ashcraft and Geno Brancati also have been mentioned as wrestlers with the potential to make a jump, along with Clarence’s Nathan Schwab, Locust Valley’s Michael Dusold and Indian River’s Nick Toutant.

In the upperweights, Ryan Marszal is another wrestler to keep tabs on in 2013-14. The Unatego wrestler nabbed fifth at 182 pounds in his sophomore campaign in Division II and is the only returning placer in that bracket. Marszal had a 36-win season where he moved between 170 and 182 pounds.  Another 182-pounder to mention is Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy, who went 0-2 as a freshman in Albany at the Division II tournament, but bounced back this February in the Division I event, coming within one win of placing at 182 pounds.  He also fell just one victory short of medaling at Eastern States.  This could be the year he finds his way onto the podium.

Who else will make their presence felt in Albany in 2014 from the Class of 2015? There are bound to be other juniors ready for outstanding seasons. Send us an e-mail at newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with suggestions.

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Thank you to Mike Carey and Matt Diano for all their hard work to make this article possible and to Kris Harrington for his insights.  Thanks to all of the other contributors around the state – too many to name, but they know who they are.

Teammates Now and in the Future: Newark Valley's Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb Commit to Buffalo

BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE

Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb have been friends and teammates since they were five years old.  They are entering their senior seasons at Newark Valley, but they recently ensured that they will be on the same squad for several more years, as both committed to the University at Buffalo.

Hoffmier

“It’s going to be great going to college with someone who is one of my teammates and best friends,” Hoffmier said. “It’s someone I’ve always wrestled with and am comfortable with but also someone who I know is dedicated to his studies and will always be focused and helpful in both the academic and athletic aspects.”

Hoffmier, a two-time Section IV champion, was also looking at Bucknell and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  The future 157-pounder was planning to visit the latter school shortly after going to Buffalo, but after touring the Buffalo campus, he knew where he belonged.

“Coach [John] Stutzman made my decision easy,” Hoffmier said. “I love how he coaches and presents himself.  I have a lot of confidence that he can help me become successful.”

Hoffmier has already been successful in his high school career, racking up more than 25 wins as a sophomore and 32 victories as a junior while making appearances at the state tournament both years (and winning a match each time).  In 2013, he got his hand raised in Albany at 145 pounds against Jamiel Stapleton, sandwiched in between a pair of one-point losses to state placers.

Holcomb had a similar path at the Times Union Center after earning his first Section IV crown with an overtime win at 160 pounds over All-State wrestler Alex Francik, a future teammate with the Bulls.  In Albany, Holcomb, who went 35-3 overall as a junior with 25 bonus wins, picked up a victory before losing in extra time to eventual fifth placer Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell.

Holcomb, who projects at 165 or 174 pounds in college, responded well with a standout showing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach in the spring, nabbing All-America honors with a seventh place finish at 152 pounds.  He pinned his first opponent before dropping a close decision to Terrence Mason of Nevada in round two.  Holcomb then got to work in the wrestlebacks, collecting five straight victories before beating Mason in a rematch to grab seventh.

Holcomb

It was actually the second consecutive seventh place medal for Holcomb at that event, as he took the same spot at 152 in the NHSCA Sophomore competition in 2012 with a similar run in the consolation bracket.

The strong performances continued at the recent Journeymen Classic as Hoffmier went undefeated at 152 pounds, while Holcomb went 3-1 with a 1-0 victory over NYS champion Adis Radoncic at 170 as well as wins over Pennsylvania state qualifier Johnny Dambro and New England runner up Brad Drover.

Now, the teammates will try to collect some hardware for the Cardinals. According to cnywrestling.com, Newark Valley’s last state champion was Barry Sutter in 1964 and the last placer was in 2000.  Hoffmier and Holcomb look to change the record books before getting their college careers started.

Holcomb called the recruiting process, in which he also considered Binghamton and Bucknell, “very exciting, however very stressful.” In the end, the Buffalo staff won him over.

“I really connected with the coaches and enjoyed the great facilities,” Holcomb said. “I also thought the campus was the best fit for me and my major.”

It didn’t hurt that a familiar face, Hoffmier, had provided his verbal pledge to the MAC institution just a few days before.

“We’ve been partners since five years old,” Holcomb said. “We have molded each other into the wrestlers we are today. I’m happy that everything worked out and we will be able to push for our common goals together.”