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



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.

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?


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).


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

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.”


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


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 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

Section 8 Preview: Five State Finalists, Including Champions Hernandez and Quinn, Return for Nassau

Nassau County featured eight state finalists and New York’s top team a year ago (Wantagh).  2013-14 should be another strong campaign for Section 8 as five of those finalists return as do several others who are capable of making a big splash in the postseason.

Division I

Hernandez, Photo by BV

Let’s start with the New York champions who are back looking for two in a row.  Mepham’s Louis Hernandez capped off a 51-1 season by running the table in Albany.  He racked up more than 40 bonus point wins and his performance has been recognized nationally as well, as he is ranked sixth in the country at 152 pounds by FloWrestling.  His standing in the polls was recently bolstered by an impressive performance at the Super 32 Challenge, where he took bronze with a victory over Fox Baldwin of Florida, who was ranked third in the land at the time. Hernandez is also now listed among the top 50 senior recruits in the country by Intermat.

Hernandez was joined atop the podium last year by Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn, who captured the 106-pound title over Alex Tanzman after avenging his only two losses of the season (to New Rochelle’s Nick Barbaria) in the semifinals. Quinn added to his trophy collection in the spring, collecting All-America honors for the second consecutive year at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach (third at 106).

Two other Nassau Division I grapplers took part in the championship bouts in the state capital.  Syosset’s Vito Arujau had a stellar eighth grade season, racking up over 45 wins and just one loss – in the finals to Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the ultimate tiebreaker. Arujau followed up by going undefeated at the challenging Waterway Duals and taking third (including a victory over Quinn) at the Journeymen Classic.  He also won his bracket at the Iron Horse Invitational and came within one victory of placing at the Super 32. Look for big things from Arujau once again, this time as a freshman at 113.

Also winning his group at the Iron Horse was MacArthur’s Steve Schneider.  The Binghamton recruit stood out throughout his junior year, grabbing third at the Eastern States Classic before following up with a silver medal in Albany.  He went to the quarterfinals at the Super 32 before falling one win shy of the podium. He’ll be among the favorites in the state capital this time around, likely at 170.

Who are Some Other Seniors to Watch?

Hernandez and Schneider are two of the top members of the Class of 2014 in the Empire State.  The same could be said of Seaford’s James O’Hagan, a heavyweight who made a statement last year in Albany.  In the second round, he upset top-seeded El Shaddai Van Hoesen and then beat the Section II wrestler again in the third place bout.  His only losses during the campaign were to undefeated state champion Mike Hughes (now starting for Hofstra).  O’Hagan, who is headed to Buffalo to play football, sits in the #8 spot nationally at 285 according to FloWrestling.

While O’Hagan is certainly the favorite at the highest weight, there are some other quality heavyweights in the county. Last year’s Nassau runner up Bryan Tenny of Farmingdale and Massapequa’s Tim Gungor both racked up more than 30 victories and split a pair of matches against each other.

Also in the upperweights, Jaison White and Robert Ng are two wrestlers to track.  Plainedge’s Ng was 38-7 at 182 pounds a year ago with 28 bonus point wins, taking second in Nassau behind New York State silver medalist James Corbett. After a loss to Brandon Cassar of Island Trees in late December, Ng captured over 25 straight bouts, including a county semifinal victory over Cassar. At the Times Union Center, Ng went 2-2, coming within one victory of All-State status.

Jericho’s White may be a little under the radar for some fans, but he looks ready for a big year, possibly at 160.  White went 32-6 at 170 pounds as an 11th grader and notched bronze at the Section 8 championships. He also had a strong offseason, going undefeated at the Pop & Flo Duals in the spring as well as the Journeymen Classic in September.

And don’t forget about Justin Cooksey of MacArthur, who took second in the state in 2012 at 106 pounds. After moving up to 126 last year, he won more than 20 matches, but didn’t qualify for Albany.  The Buffalo-bound grappler will look for a return trip to the state capital in his final season with the Generals.

Who Else is Ready to Make a Run?

Arujau won the 99-pound class a year ago, but a number of other wrestlers from that weight have the ability to make noise this season (although most will be in a different weight class).  That includes MacArthur’s Travis Cooksey, a winner of more than 30 bouts, Nassau runner up David Yablans of Jericho, who racked up a 28-2 mark in 2012-13, and Wantagh’s Jonathan Loew, who had quality wins as a seventh grader and will be back at 99.

Peter Pappas of Plainview will be tough at 106 after earning bronze in Nassau in 2013 (and taking second at the Super 32 Middle School event last fall).  Speaking of 106 pounders, Chris Donnelly of Island Trees went to Albany at that weight last year after compiling close to 40 wins.  (He’ll be moving up in weight this year).

One of the wrestlers to beat Donnelly last season, Hector Guerrero of Plainedge comes off a 30-win campaign and is one to watch in the lightweights, as is the wrestler who topped him for third at the Nassau championships – Alan Teemer of Long Beach.   In fact, the Marines have a number of young wrestlers who were mentioned as possible breakout performers, including Matt Maquet, Jacori Teemer and Charlie Spada.  Spada, who will likely move to 120 or 126, lost in the all-county round last year and has had a great offseason, while Jacori Teemer was impressive at the Schoolboy Nationals in the spring, going 6-0 in Freestyle with five wins by pin or technical fall.  When asked about Jacori Teemer, Long Beach coach Ray Adams said “he’s definitely the real deal.”

Speaking of Long Beach, former standout Steve Sewkumar took third in the state last year as a senior.  He had a tough Section 8 title bout, winning by a point against Adam Smith of East Meadow.  Smith is back and one Nassau observer said he’s “a tough, physical kid who will have a great year.”

There was a lot of star power at the 2013 Section 8 championships, but the Outstanding Wrestler and Champion of Champions award went to a freshman – Hewlett’s Owen Bachelder, who had a tremendous run through the tournament.  On the way to the title, he defeated qualifier Michael Fera as well as NHSCA National titlewinner Chris Araoz of Wantagh.

Araoz is one of a number of studs who graduated from Wantagh in 2013.  But on that loaded Warriors team, Matt Langan and Joe Hill found a way to make significant contributions with close to 30 victories each.  Hill registered solid wins over state qualifiers Hunter Dusold and Hunter Richard.  Both will play integral roles for the Warriors this time around as will Nick Vines, who suffered an injury and missed a chunk of the season, but came back and earned bronze in Section 8.

In addition to Vines, other returning Nassau bronze medalists who are looking to climb the ladder include Nick Rondino of Syosset, Adrian Berry of Uniondale and Julius Diaz of Freeport. (They were at 113, 132 and 152, respectively, last year).  In addition, Naquan Warren of Farmingdale and Robert Oliver of Plainedge took fourth (at 120 and 220) in 2013 in the county and are the highest returning placers in their classes.

“I think Naquan Warren is a kid to keep an eye on,” Adams said. “He worked very hard in the offseason. I also think his teammate Dave Brown could do some great things.  He was tough last year and will be someone to watch.”

While Sam Goldman (Port Washington) and John Sherlock (Mepham) were in the fifth place matches in Section 8 last year, some feel they will be climbing much higher this time around. Goldman went 31-4 a year ago (entering the Nassau tournament).  He took fifth at 106 at the Section 8 qualifier, right behind a pair of wrestlers he had defeated earlier in the campaign according to the NWCA Scorebook – the previously mentioned Alan Teemer and Hector Guerrero – and has put in significant offseason work. Sherlock had over 20 victories at 120, including over state qualifier Tom Stobe and against NYS third placer Steven Sewkumar.

Who else could have a breakthrough year? Quite a few nominees were named. Tom and Jack Reina of Garden City provided solid production last year, going a combined 46-12, according to the NWCA Scorebook. (Their teammates Timmy Halaby and upperweight Tom Lane were also mentioned as ready to make a statement).   Hunter Sharf of North Shore was 35-3 prior to counties with a win over Bachelder during the year, while others discussed were Mepham’s Matt Assael, MacArthur’s Jeremy Hughes and Division’s Ricky Stamm (132/138) and Chris Ponce (99).

Team Race

Wantagh lost a lot of firepower with the graduation of wrestlers such as Chris Araoz, Danny McDevitt, James Corbett and Vinny Turano.  However, a strong base of returners, including the previously mentioned Kyle Quinn, Jonathan Loew, Joe Hill, Nick Vines and Matt Langan will lead a lineup that has solid contributors throughout. The Warriors won all the big events last year — the Union-Endicott duals, the Eastern States Classic, the Nassau Dual and Tournament titles and the New York State Division I championships.  Can they continue the tremendous streak?

“To me, Wantagh is still the team to beat,” Adams said. “Until someone beats them, they’re the champions.  They bring back a lot of talent and they work very hard all year long.”

Looking to challenge are a number of squads, including MacArthur, last season’s runner up in the Section. The Generals also boast some heavy hitters with Steve Schneider and the Cooksey brothers leading the way and will also receive contributions from wrestlers with significant match experience such as Sal Randazzo and Jeremy Hughes.

Plainedge will certainly be a threat, led by a number of standouts, including previously mentioned wrestlers such as 2013 Nassau runner up Robert Ng (2013 Nassau runner up) and a trio of returning fourth place Section 8 medalists – Hector Guerrero, Jake Lerner and Robert Oliver.

Like last year, Mepham has a chance to put several wrestlers on the county podium, led by returners Louis Hernandez, John Sherlock (sixth at 120) and Joel Zambrano (fourth at 99).  The Pirates were third in the Nassau tournament in 2013.

Adams also mentioned a few other teams he was looking forward to watch.

“I think Syosset’s tough. Mike Murtha does a really nice job,” the coach said. “Hewlett has come such a long way in a short time.  With Bachelder and Pincus leading the way, they’ll be good.”

Others, on the other hand, mentioned Adams’s team at Long Beach.

“They have so many quality young kids,” said Ascend Wrestling Club’s Craig Vitagliano. “They’re young now, but they have some guys who will win a lot of matches. Two years from now, they’ll be unbelievable.  Once the guys grow and spread out in weight, they’ll be extremely tough.”


Division II

Nine Division II section champions return – and seven are from Locust Valley.  It goes without saying that the Falcons will be a tough team to beat in 2013-14.  In fact, Vitagliano said he believes Locust Valley is the best team in Nassau in either Division.

We discussed state finalists Quinn, Arujau, Hernandez and Schneider above in the large school section, but we didn’t forget about Nick Casella who has been in the Division II championship match in Albany for two consecutive years (at 99 pounds in 2012 and at 113 in 2013), taking silver on both occasions.

After a 39-4 campaign as a sophomore, Casella kept his winning ways going in the offseason, placing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and at Fargo in Greco Roman.  He wrestled in numerous other high profile events and plans to compete at 120 pounds in 2013-14. Is this the year he wins it all in New York?

“Nick has continued to work extremely hard,” said Locust Valley head coach Joe Enea.  “He sought out the toughest competition and more than held his own.  He’s setting himself up to win a state championship. We’re hoping to see all our wrestlers take the next step and for Nick, that’s a state title.”

Also returning after an All-State finish (fifth at 132) is Sam Ward.  Like Casella, he has competed all over the country, notching All-America honors in Virginia Beach and placing second at the Journeymen Classic.  His coach said he could compete at 138 or 145.

“With the amount of time Sam put in during the offseason, he’ll be disappointed if he’s not in the state finals,” Enea said. “A lot always comes down to draw and seeding, but we figure him to be one of the top wrestlers in the state this year.”

Just missing the podium in 2013 was Hunter Dusold, who has already qualified twice for the state event and is only a freshman.  He picked up a pair of victories at the Times Union Center last year and is looking to get over the hump as a ninth grader for his first All-State showing. (Dusold made the medal stand at the Junior High Nationals in Virginia Beach this spring).

“Hunter has continued to wrestle throughout the year,” Enea said. “He is hoping to certify at 115 and having two years at the state tournament already separates him from a lot of other guys who might be up there for the first time.  That should be an advantage for him.”

“Hunter Dusold could be a state champion this year,” added Vitagliano.  “He’s that good.”

There were two ‘Dusolds’ in Albany a year ago and that’s the plan again for 2014.  Mike Dusold made his first appearance in the state capital and got his hand raised.

“He has his sights set on 145; we’ll see if he’ll be there or at 152,” Enea said. “He’s one of the tougher guys in the area and hopefully that will translate upstate.  He definitely has the ability to be an All-State wrestler, it’s whether he puts everything together at the right time.”

Additional middleweights that represented Locust Valley and Section 8 in Albany last season, Jordan Formicola (160) and Yamique Webb (170), will be back to try and do it all again.

“Jordan is a tremendous athlete and leader,” Enea said. “He’ll probably stay at 160.  It’s All-State or bust for him – it’s his senior year and it would be his third time in Albany.  I can’t wait to see him on the podium.”

Webb, like Formicola, also plays football for the Falcons.

“[Webb] started wrestling as an eighth grader and picked it up pretty quickly; had a great deal of success as a freshman,” Enea said.  “Last year, he came into his own and the experience he had will really help him.  He’s such a good athlete that anything’s possible.”

The last returning Nassau champion for Locust Valley is Bryan Coll, who won the 99 pound class in 2013.  Coll’s teammate Patrick Briody was third at the Section 8 qualifier.  According to Enea, we could see Coll or Briody at 106 later in the season. (Jon Gomez will man 99 for the Falcons, while Jack Ward will handle 106 in the earlygoing).

That’s a lot of high quality wrestlers from Locust Valley.  But there are several other grapplers to keep an eye on in Division II.  One is eighth grader John DeRidder of Carle Place, who just missed a state bid when he lost in overtime in the county finals to Coll.  (He took third at 85 pounds at the Junior High NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach this spring).

“John DeRidder is an outstanding wrestler,” Enea said. “He will be someone to watch out for.  If he gets to the states, he is definitely capable of making a run there.”

A few wrestlers have already gotten there and are looking to go back.  They include Clarke’s Tom Stobe, who piled up more than 30 wins a year ago at 120 pounds.

“Stobe was extremely tough,” Enea said. “He’s a tenacious, hard worker.  Clarke runs such a great program that I’m sure he’s only going to be better this year.”

Enea had similar sentiments about Cold Spring Harbor’s Robert Incorvaia, who went 26-6 with 14 pins as a junior at 220 pounds.

“He was a bit undersized last year,” Enea said. “Having him back only helps the Section 8 team because he’ll be better.”

Who are some other wrestlers to track?

Oyster Bay’s Cassidy Exum wrestled in the state tournament in 2012, however, an injury prevented him from finishing last season.  He will be one to watch as will his teammate Kevin Velasquez, who took second in the Section at 182 pounds as a freshman.

“[Velasquez] did very well,” Enea said. “He was a first year wrestler, but he showed some athletic ability and understanding of wrestling.  When you put those together in the upperweights, you could have something special.”

Erik Rodriguez of Wheatley looks to make something special out of his season as well.  He notched silver behind Sam Ward in Nassau a year ago, but Enea mentioned that he has the talent to compete upstate.

Team Race

Locust Valley may be among the best teams in the state this year, with the seven returning qualifiers and several other solid starters.

“With the team we have this year, we’re looking for continued growth,” Enea said. “We believe we can contend to be in the top three or four in the state. It comes down to a couple of tournaments a year that make the difference.  I expect our returning qualifiers to be in the running to go back, although our goal is to send 15 guys upstate.”

Cold Spring Harbor boasts a large group of returning Nassau placers and will look to challenge.

“Cold Spring Harbor definitely returns a lot of good guys,” Enea said. “They were young last year in a lot of spots.  They have the depth to make things interesting.  As much as it’s easy to say that we’re the favorites, we can’t take anyone lightly.  We won’t look past anyone.”


Thank you to all of the contributors to this article, including Irwin Loew, Craig Vitagliano, Ray Adams, Vougar Oroudjov and Joe Enea.

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

Section 3

Section 6

Section 7

Section 10


Section 6 Preview: Rodriguez-Spencer Goes for Two In a Row; Who Else Will Earn Gold in 2013-14?

State champion Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, currently ranked #5 in the nation at 138 pounds by Flowrestling (and #8 by Intermat), will look for a second-straight NYS crown to end his high school career.  He is among the many state placers returning in Section 6 this year.  Here’s a look at some of the wrestlers and teams to watch in 2013-14.


Division I

Two finalists and two other fifth place finishers that represented Section 6 in the Division I tournament in Albany last year graduated.  But there will certainly be contenders for podium slots at the Times Union Center this year, including Anthony Orefice of Lockport, who will likely be at 126.

A two-time state placer, Orefice began last season at 113 where he registered some quality wins, including a 7-1 decision over Dillon Stowell, the eventual Division II NYS champion.  He later transitioned up to 120 pounds, where he once again qualified for the state tournament but went 1-2.  (Three of his six losses came to New York silver medalist Steve Michel).  Will Orefice return to All-State status as a junior after fourth and fifth place finishes earlier in his career?


Seniors to Watch

Orefice has made several trips to the state capital, as has Frontier’s Rocco Russo, a three-time qualifier.  Russo, a future member of the Buffalo Bulls and the all-time wins leader at his school, won 50 matches in 2013-14 at 126 pounds and will look to pick up his first state medal (likely at 145 pounds) before leaving for the MAC conference.

Jake Weber of Clarence went 45-3 with 33 pins as a junior at 160 pounds. He had a tough road in Albany after his opening round pin, as his losses were to the first and third place finishers.  A few weeks later, Weber was chosen for the Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge and competed in offseason events such as the Super 32 Challenge, in which he advanced from day one into the final 16 at 170 pounds.  Weber qualified for the state tournament in 2012 and 2013 and has earned All-America honors at the NHSCA Nationals.  Will 2014 bring a trip to the medal stand?

“[Weber] had a great year,” said Keith Maute, Owner/Operator of the Buffalo Wrestling Club and head coach at Niagara County Community College. “His only losses were to the wrestlers who finished first, second and third in the state [Tyler Grimaldi, Steve Schneider and James Marquez].  It would be surprising if he didn’t place and I expect him to be high on the podium.”

Also at the Super 32 in North Carolina was West Seneca East’s Danny Graham at 138 pounds. Graham rolled through the regular season last year with a perfect 37-0 mark before losing his bouts in Albany.  He hopes to have another shot to get his hand raised this time around.

“I think he’ll be back at 138 again and he should be on the podium this year,” Maute said.

Three other members of the Class of 2014 took the mat at the Times Union Center for Section 6 last February.  Andrew Paulsen of Iroquois wrestled at 170 pounds, but could move down as low as 152 this season, according to Maute.

Meanwhile, Lancaster’s James Empfield competed in the state capital at 195 and Lockport’s Marshall Taylor made an impact at 220 pounds, picking up a pair of wins and coming within one round of making All-State.

“[Marshall Taylor] was very good all year long,” Maute said. “For some people, [James Empfield] kind of came out of nowhere, but he’s a really athletic kid with good size for the weight class.  I think he’ll do very well again.”


Who Else is Ready to Make an Impact?

Earning valuable experience at the Times Union Center in 2013 were a number of grapplers, including Niagara Wheatfield’s Shane Helbig, a qualifier as a freshman at 113 as well as a trio of juniors – Clarence teammates Ryan Burns and Nate Schwab and Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls. Burns, who will likely be at 113 according to Maute, has put in the time in the offseason, competing at numerous challenging events.  Schwab had more than 40 wins as a sophomore and hopes to improve upon a season in which he won his opener in Albany before dropping an overtime decision to eventual fifth placer Dan DeCarlo.  McCoy also won his first match in Albany before facing a pair of All-Staters in his last two bouts there.

McCoy and Burns will be joined in the lightweights by a number of other quality competitors who will look to break through to the state’s biggest tournament in 2014.  Tristan Almeter of Iroquois and Anthony Argentieri of Kenmore West both were second in the Section last year, at 99 and 106, respectively.  Argentieri competed at the Super 32 Challenge and earned All-America honors at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.

Also nabbing a spot on the medal stand at the NHSCAs was Lake Shore’s Freddy Eckles, who comes off a season in which he recorded over 45 victories.  He appears to be ready for a breakout year, either at 126 or 132.

“Freddy made a lot of strides this offseason and he’s really, really tough,” Maute said. “He will surprise some people.”

If Eckles is at 132, he could face Matt Kloc of Iroquois, who was injured late last year and didn’t compete at the Sectional tournament. Kloc did, however, finish third at the state qualifier the previous year and is ready for his chance to compete in the postseason again.

Who are some others to keep tabs on? Jevon Flynn of Niagara Falls racked up close to 25 wins and was the runner up in the Section tournament at 220 pounds, after spending much of the season at 195.  He lost twice to Marshall Taylor in February.  We’ll see if they meet up again.   At heavyweight, two of the top contenders are Luke Catalano of Lake Shore and Marcellus Hinton of Lockport.  And speaking of Lockport, Kirk Feeney grabbed second at 138 at the state qualifier as part of a 30+ win campaign.


Team Race

Clarence returns a trio of Sectional champions – the previously mentioned Jake Weber, Nate Schwab and Ryan Burns.  All three racked up big win totals, as did 99-pounder Dylan Arena, who compiled more than 40 victories a year ago.  Despite the losses of Brandon Glaubner and Nate Ward, the Red Devils should score significant tournament points once again in 2014.

“I think Clarence is the top DI team, both in the dual and tournament formats,” Maute said.

Lockport also has some heavy hitters, with the aforementioned Anthony Orefice, Marshall Taylor, Kirk Feeney and Marcellus Hinton leading the way.

What other teams will step up to challenge?  We’ll find out soon enough.


Division II

Section 6 was just five points behind Section 5 in the final Division II standings in Albany, boosted by double-digit wrestlers who finished in the top four in New York.  Seven of those grapplers return, giving the Section a very strong foundation for another run.


Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowaga, a two-time NYS finalist and the 2013 132-pound champion, will lead the way.  After picking up state gold for the first time as a junior, he went on to capture a national title at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach with a victory over highly-ranked Alfred Bannister of Maryland.  The future Iowa State Cyclone looks to cap off a stellar career with another trip to the top of the podium, likely at 138 pounds.

Two of the top sophomores in New York, Dakota Gardner of Fredonia and Kellen Devlin of Amherst, stood out at the state tournament with Gardner, already a two-time NYS placer, going all the way to the finals before dropping a decision to William Koll of Lansing.  Devlin earned third with four bonus point wins in the state capital. His only setback was against eventual champion Trey Aslanian by one point in a match that Devlin led much of the way. Both will move up in weight, with 138/145 possible for Gardner and Devlin likely at 126, according to Maute.

In addition to Devlin, who are the other returning bronze medalists?  Southwestern’s Ryan Hetrick, Maple Grove’s Brad Bihler and Eden’s Alex Smythe.

Hetrick’s path at 99 pounds was anything but easy.  He endured three overtime matches and notched victories over a 2012 placer (Andrew Flanagan) and the bracket’s top seed (Hunter Olena) along the way.

Courtesy of Alex Smythe

Bihler racked up a technical fall, a major, a pin and a 7-0 shutout during his road to third at 106, while the Buffalo-bound Smythe recorded All-State honors for the second time in his career, defeating the fourth seed, Tyler Spann, twice at 152.

Ryan Kromer of Lewiston Porter was fourth at 132 pounds after winning three straight in the consolations.  Kromer, who was second in the Section behind Rodriguez-Spencer, had 48 wins (25 by fall) last season.

“Kromer got a lot bigger and could go up to 152 or 160,” Maute said. “He’s looking very good.”

Yet another Lew Port grappler, Andrew Shomers, came out on top in his first bout at the Times Union Center at 113, before facing the second and sixth place finishers.  He’ll be back looking for more, as will the wrestler who took second at the Section 6 championships at that weight – Andrew Marra of Olean, a 2012 All-Stater who came within one win of making the podium again.

While Marra received a ticket to the state tournament after a silver medal at the state qualifier, Cameron Swick of Royalton Hartland (106), Abdul-Fatah Alshawai of Lackawanna and Brian Westerdahl of Southwestern did not.  However, watch out for them this year (Swick went 25-5, Alshawai was 42-4 and Westerdahl was 41-5 in 2012-13).

Westerdahl beat Ed Hutschenreuter three times a year ago.  However, the Alden grappler is one to watch as he is a two-time state qualifier who won a match in Albany in both 2010 and 2011 before an injury cut his campaign short in 2012.

We haven’t forgotten about Cody McGregor of Tonawanda, who is already a two-time state placer, although he didn’t wrestle in Albany in 2013.  He recently took the mat at the Super 32 Challenge, picking up four victories at 132 pounds against tough opposition from around the country.  Is another trip to Albany in store?

“Last year’s 132-pound bracket was really tough,” Maute said. “There were four guys there who were All-State before and [McGregor] was the one that didn’t make it to the state tournament.  The three guys that finished ahead of him [Rodriguez-Spencer, Kromer and Fredonia’s Tyler Cassidy] all went to Albany and all placed. Cody was right there with them.  He’ll be back and ready to go.”

Like McGregor, Austin Acquard didn’t compete in the state capital last season despite having done so in the past.  Wrestling for Iroquois, Acquard had over 35 victories in the brutal 120-pound class in Division I that featured state runner up Steve Michel, multi-time placer Anthony Orefice and Lake Shore’s NHSCA All-American Freddy Eckles, among others.   Now competing for Pioneer, Acquard will look to represent Section 6 in the small school event, likely at 126 pounds.

Acquard isn’t the only one transitioning from DI to DII this season.  According to Maute, Dunkirk will be changing divisions and as a result, the small school competition now will have to think about Hector and Tito Colom. As a seventh grader, Hector had a 37-5 mark as of early February with a win over state qualifier Kyle Blake. Tito Colom, now a sophomore, had a similarly successful year, with 35 wins, including three over Division II state third placer Brad Bihler of Maple Grove.  Both were completely dominant in winning their brackets at the Journeymen Classic in September. Hector also added a third place showing at the Super 32 Middle School tournament at 100 pounds earlier this fall and a silver medal at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Oklahoma last weekend.

While we’re talking about Dunkirk, keep an eye on freshman Nick Jones and Marquis Buchanan.

“Nick Jones could win the Section at heavyweight as a ninth grader,” Maute said. “Garrett Rath from Lew Port may be the favorite, but Jones beat him twice this summer.  He won more than 20 matches as an eighth grader at 285, which is pretty good, and he’s improved and bigger, so he’s definitely in the mix.  Buchanan started wrestling in 10th grade, so he was behind, but he put in a lot of work.  He probably wrestled 75 matches this offseason.  He got much more experience and has closed the gap and could do good things.”


Team Race

Lewiston Porter has the ability to compile significant points in the Section 6 tournament, led by wrestlers who notched more than 40 victories in 2012-13 — Ryan Kromer, DJ Marshall and Andrew Shomers.  In addition, Garrett Rath will certainly rack up wins at the heavyweight spot.

Falconer lost state placer Brandon Muntz and qualifier Kyle Blake, but the squad brings back wrestlers like Jake Penhollow, Kyle Ross and Jacob Peru as well as several others who had more than 25 victories in 2012-13.

“Falconer is always a really good dual meet team,” Maute said. “They may not have a lot of stars, but every guy they have is a good, solid wrestler.  They usually have lots of guys who win 20 or more matches. I think they’ll be in the mix again this year.”

Fredonia graduated a ton of talent with wrestlers like Zach Buckley, Jude Gardner, Tyler Cassidy, Pat McCarthy and Chris Saden finishing their careers.  However, Dakota Gardner is back and will lead the way, along with wrestlers like 26-match winner Julius Woma.


Thank you to the contributors to this article, especially Keith Maute.

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

Section 3

Section 7

Section 10