Section 9 Preview: Five State Placers Return, Looking for More in 2013-14


Section 9 is the home of the top in-season tournament in New York – the Eastern States Classic.  However, it’s also the home of a number of wrestlers who made the medal stand in 2013 and have the potential to do even more this upcoming campaign.  Read on to find out more about what the Section has to offer in 2013-14.

Division I

Four Division I wrestlers return after reaching the podium in Albany a year ago — the Port Jervis duo of Dylan Booth and Dan DeCarlo, as well as Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa and Pine Bush’s John Stramiello.  Let’s take a look at those wrestlers, plus some others to watch in 2013-14.

Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury) – After battling cancer, Vespa made an incredible return to the mat for the Crusaders, winning 40 matches and taking fifth at the state tournament at 99 pounds.  We’ll see what he can do for an encore, likely at 106.

John Stramiello (Pine Bush) – Stramiello, a four time state qualifier and three-time Section 9 champion, made his second appearance on the podium last February, taking sixth at 113 pounds.  (He was sixth at 106 as a sophomore).  In his senior campaign, Stramiello is looking for his highest finish, likely at 113.

Photo by Josh Conklin

Dylan Booth (Port Jervis) – Booth topped Stramiello three times last season, including in the fifth place bout at the Times Union Center.  After a strong season in which he racked up 34 victories, Booth will be looking for another All-State showing, either at 113 or 120 pounds.

Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis) –  Like his teammate Booth, DeCarlo nabbed fifth in Albany last year (at 152 pounds).  A two-time Section 9 titlewinner, DeCarlo, who also was fourth at the Eastern States Classic, will move up to 160 this year.

Other than those returning placers, who is ready to make an impact?

From Monroe Woodbury, Evan Barczak and Rob Kelly are good candidates.  Barczak, now a freshman, was a Section champion as an eighth grader at 106 pounds and won a match at the state tournament.  In fact, his two losses in Albany were to the second and third place finishers, one of them in overtime.  He’s projected at 120 pounds this year.  Senior Rob Kelly was the runner up in Section 9 to NYS fourth placer Josh Bonneau at 220 pounds.  Kelly, who had 30 wins last year, will be a factor at either 220 or 285.

Minisink Valley’s Mike Raccioppi and Chris Truglio will be wrestlers to watch as well.  Raccioppi, a two-time state qualifier, was sixth at the Eastern States in a 43-victory campaign in which he defeated All-State wrestler Ryan Snow and won twice in Albany.  He’ll be a podium threat, likely at 138, this year. Truglio is expected to be back at 132, where he notched a win at the state tournament. Their teammate Gerard Daly was the Section 9 champion at 99 pounds in 2012, but missed last season with an injury.  He’s back and will surely be a factor at 113 or 120.

Warwick Valley junior Thomas Wightman dropped an overtime decision to All-State wrestler Matt Caputo in the opening round in Albany last year. The Section 9 champion won 28 bouts in 2012-13.  Look for him to make waves at 145.

James Bethel of Saugerties won 38 matches last year and really boosted his stock with a great offseason, including an undefeated showing at the Cadet Freestyle National Duals and an All-American performance at Fargo in Greco Roman (third at 220).

[2013 Eastern States champion at 99 pounds, Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush, is now attending school in New Jersey.]

Team Race

Monroe Woodbury and Minisink Valley are the two teams everyone is looking at, but Section 9 will have a bit more depth this year than in the past few seasons.  Monroe Woodbury finished 2012-2013 ranked eighth in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll and they return a state placer (Vespa), two qualifiers (Barczak and PJ Smoot), and three other 20+ win wrestlers.  Meanwhile, Minisink Valley ended last season ranked 17th in New York and the squad returns Raccioppi, Truglio, and multiple other 20+ win wrestlers.

Warwick Valley will once again be in contention with an extremely strong middle of the line up featuring Wightman, Ryan Ferro, and AJ Aeberli.  Cornwall, with NYS Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Don Blaine, should never be overlooked and will have a few wrestlers with a legitimate shot at going to Albany.  Speaking of Hall of Fame coaches, Jeff Cuilty and Wallkill will surprise a lot of teams this year as a program on the rise.  We can also anticipate significant improvement out of Port Jervis, Middletown, Saugerties and NFA as the squads feature several wrestlers who have put in a lot of offseason work.

Division II

Ingraham, courtesy Skip Dickstein/Times Union

Highland’s Austin Ingraham earned sixth place at 113 pounds last year in Albany after coming one win from placing as a sophomore.  The senior will look to end his career in style, possibly at 113 but more likely at 120.

Who Are Some Other Wrestlers to Watch?

Matt Rauch (Red Hook) – The senior was undefeated going into the state tournament last year and had a solid performance in the state capital, finishing one win from placing at 126 pounds.

Sean Cramsie and Troy Grant (New Paltz) Like Rauch, both Cramsie and Grant represented Section 9 in Albany last year.  Both won a match at the Times Union Center, Cramsie at 132 and Grant at heavyweight.  Can they notch a few more victories this time around, likely at 138 and 285, respectively?

Dustin Mackenzie (Onteora) One of the most improved wrestlers in small school Section 9, the senior was a state qualifier last year at 195 pounds.  Look for him to build upon the 33 wins he compiled as a junior.

Edon Lulanaj (Eldred/Fallsburg) – The 2013 Section 9 finalist lost 1-0 to the previously mentioned Grant.  The senior is new to the sport, however, and has a lot of upside for his final high school campaign after going 20-3 last season.

Team Race

Onteora, Red Hook and Highland will be the teams everyone is gunning for this year in Division II.  All three squads are traditionally among the best in the Section and each also has five returning Section 9 medalists returning this year.  Ellenville could be the surprise team of the year, as the Blue Devils also bring back five Sectional placers, including finalists Nick Disessa-Leon and Javier Cortes.

[Aidan Mathews of Marlboro, a qualifier last year at 170, has moved to Wyoming Seminary].

Division I

Returning State Placers from 2013

Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury) – fifth at 99

Dylan Booth (Port Jervis) – fifth at 113

Johnny Stramiello (Pine Bush) – sixth at 113

Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis) – fifth at 152

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) 106

PJ Smoot (Monroe Woodbury) 120

Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley) 126

Chris Truglio (Minisink Valley) 132

Thomas Wightman (Warwick Valley) 138

Kyle McGuire (Newburgh) 170

Division II

Returning State Placer from 2013

Austin Ingraham (Highland) – sixth at 113

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Taylor Benson (Red Hook) 99

Mike Felicano (Highland) 106

Matt Rauch (Red Hook) 126

Sean Cramsie (New Paltz) 132

Dustin Mackenzie (Onteora) 195

Troy Grant (New Paltz) 285

For more on Section 9 wrestling, see here.


For other Section previews see (more to come):

Section 3

Section 10

"A New Level of Connectedness to the State": NYWAY Develops Long Island Board; Opens Development Tourneys to Non-Members

Connecting all areas of New York wrestling is something NYWAY President Clint Wattenberg has talked about from the first day the organization started.

He believes another significant step has been taken toward that goal with the recent development of a NYWAY Long Island regional board.

“We’ve been looking to bring a new level of connectedness to the state,” Wattenberg said. “One of our main agenda items over the past year has been developing boards in all the regions around New York.  This board in Long Island is bringing together some great people and will build upon the collaboration between upstate and downstate.”

Taking charge of the new board is Gary Redding, who is involved in youth sports as the Director of Middle Country girls lacrosse.

“Gary is really motivated and has a great understanding of youth sports and the educational component of wrestling,” Wattenberg said. “He understands what youth sports can provide kids to support their growth.”

Redding said he got involved partially because of the experience he had with the organization last year.

“I did the NYWAY state tournament with my son and I thought it was phenomenal,” he said. “The way they ran it was great – with the right idea that it’s about the kids. Everyone wants to have a unified, true state tournament with participation from everywhere and if NYWAY can facilitate that, that’s great.  I want to help Long Island be a big part of that.”

For this year, Redding said he is looking to solidify the board, which currently includes five members and another five or six who are “Friends of the Board.” The hope is to have one or two tournaments on Long Island this year and continue to build that number over time.

In the short term, Redding is excited to work toward strong Nassau and Suffolk involvement in the major NYWAY events this year.

“We’ve already started putting together our dual team for the NYWAY Kickoff in late December,” he said. “We anticipate having a lot of kids at the Kickoff events, the regional qualifier (especially because it shouldn’t conflict with the Freestyle and Greco states this year) and the state tournament.”

Having a lot of kids at events all over New York is something NYWAY is hoping to encourage with a new initiative.

From the 2013 NYWAY State championships, Photo courtesy of John Drew/

“We’re doing something different this year that’s very simple but could make a world of difference,” Wattenberg said.  “We’re enabling any wrestler to enroll in NYWAY development tournaments (which does not include the Kickoff, state qualifiers or state championships) without being a NYWAY member.  Both NYS wrestlers without a NYWAY membership and out of state wrestlers can simply register for tournaments through our website for a day-insurance fee ($5 for NYS and $2 for out-of-state).   We’re looking to reduce barriers to participation and to provide opportunities rather than force people to choose one organization over another.  Once we get young wrestlers and families in the door, we are confident that the expanding opportunities and consistency of these experiences will help retain and grow participation in the sport we all love.”


Wattenberg also noted that NYWAY regional boards across the state are continuing to build and welcome input.  Other Regional Directors/Contacts:

Capital: Michael LaPorte-

Central: Mel Cutrie-

Far Western- Kevin Lucinski-

Hudson Valley: Jeff Jones-

Long Island: Gary Redding-

Northern: Randy Morrison-

Southern Tier: Kent Maslin-

Western: Adam Burgos-


Some Key NYWAY Dates for 2013-14

Kickoff Classic Dual Team Tournament, December 28 (SUNY Sullivan)

Kickoff Classic Individual Tournament, December 29 (SUNY Sullivan)

State Tournament, March 15-16 (Onondaga County Community College)


For more information on NYWAY, see NYWAY Flyer Year 3 Update(1)

Weekend Recap: News and Notes from Brockport, the NYAC International, Hofstra's Trip to Virginia and Much More

The following is some of the action that took place this weekend involving New York teams.  It was a busy weekend inside the Empire State borders, with events such as the Brockport/Oklahoma Invitational, the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open, the NYAC Holiday International and the Ithaca Invitational.  And it was also action-packed outside the state, as several New York teams took the mat elsewhere, including Virginia and Michigan.

The recap for the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open is here.

Brockport/Oklahoma Invitational: Tompkins Wins for Army; NCAA Champion Kendric Maple Upset

For the 15th consecutive year, Oklahoma took the title at the Brockport/Oklahoma Invitational.  The Sooners won on the strength of six champions.  However, perhaps the biggest story for the Big 12 school was one of the first big upsets of the college wrestling season.  2013 NCAA champion Kendric Maple was defeated 5-3 in overtime in the 149-pound title bout by Bloomsburg’s Bryce Busler.

Busler, named the event’s Outstanding Wrestler, was one of two titlewinners for the Huskies.  Several of his teammates finished high on the medal stand Saturday, including three who did their high school wrestling in New York.  Josh Veltre won the 165-pound bracket, while Greene graduate Nick Wilcox was second at 133 and Monsignor Farrell’s Kevin Hartnett notched third at 157.

The New York teams at the event — Army, Buffalo and Brockport — finished third, fourth and sixth overall.  The Black Knights were led by 184-pound champion Ryan Tompkins as well as second placers Paul Hancock (157) and Brian Harvey (174) and bronze medalists Logan Everett (133) and Chandler Smith (165).  Meanwhile, Buffalo received solid performances from Nick Flannery and Tony Lock (second at 141 and 184, respectively) as well as Max Soria (third at 125).  The host squad from Brockport had four placers, led by Cole Tristram, who was fourth at heavyweight.


Simaz, Francois and Burkert Take Third, Perrelli Grabs Fourth at the NYAC Holiday International

There was more than just folkstyle competition in New York this weekend.  Wrestlers from around the world came to take the mat at the 2013 NYAC Holiday International tournament.

Simaz, Photo by BV

On Saturday, a pair of former Cornell stars made the top four at the event.  Cam Simaz capped off a 4-1 day with an 8-1 victory over Jack Jensen for bronze at 96 kg.  Simaz recorded a fall and his other three wins were all by at least a seven-point margin.  Frank Perrelli lost his first contest to eventual champion Samat Nadyrbek Uulu from Kyrgyzstan, but rebounded with four straight consolation victories over tough foes before dropping the third place bout to Kyle Hutter.  On his winning streak, he topped Mark McKnight, Zach Sanders, Steven Takahashi and Olympian Sam Hazewinkel.

At 84 kg, Army assistant coach Enock Francois earned bronze with a 3-1 record.  His only loss came against the champion, Raymond Jordan.  He outscored his opponents 16-2 in his three victories.

On the first day of action on Friday, Long Island native Jenna Burkert notched third at 63 kg in women’s freestyle competition after going 5-1.  She lost to the first place finisher Yurika Itou in round two, but then finished strong with two falls and two 8-0 wins on the backside.


Hofstra Splits Four Duals in Virginia; Ends on a High Note With a Win Over #22 North Carolina

There was quite a bit of action within the New York borders, however, some New York squads went elsewhere over the weekend, including Hofstra.

Vaith, Photo by BV

The Pride traveled to Virginia, where they began with a dual on Friday against nationally-ranked Virginia Tech.  Freshman Jamel Hudson (133), Nick Terdick (157) and Joe Booth (165) all won, however, the Hokies came out on top 28-9.

On Sunday, Hofstra resumed action with a trio of meets.  While Luke Vaith (141) and Dwight Howes (184) picked up major decisions in the opener against Tennessee-Chattanooga, the Mocs captured a 19-14 victory.

The Pride turned things around in a big way in their next competition, besting VMI, 43-3.  The first eight wrestlers in the lineup scored bonus points for head coach Rob Anspach’s squad, giving the team its first dual triumph of the season.

And the momentum continued later in the day, when Hofstra improved to 2-3 for the year with a 25-15 win over #22 North Carolina.  After falling behind 3-0, Hudson tied things up with an overtime victory and then Vaith followed with an extra session win of his own – over #5 Evan Henderson, to put Hofstra in the lead for good.

The Pride returns to the mat next weekend at #5 Oklahoma.


Matt Bystol Takes Second, Josh Houldsworth Nabs Third for Columbia at the Michigan State Open; Zach Hernandez Wins the Freshman/Sophomore Division

While Hofstra went South, much of Columbia’s roster traveled to the Wolverine State for the Michigan State Open.  In the Open division, Matt Bystol went to the finals at 141, taking second behind Zach Horan of Central Michigan with a 4-1 mark on the day. Fellow NCAA qualifier Josh Houldsworth also had a strong performance, nabbing third at 165.

Also losing just once at the event was freshman Markus Schiedel, who had a strong debut at 157, taking fifth (only semifinal losers can enter the third place match at the event).  In his last bout, Schiedel beat Edinboro’s Johnny Greisheimer, a nationally ranked opponent (and Wantagh native) by a point.  Another New York high school wrestler, Ernest James of Edinboro, was fifth at heavyweight.

The Michigan State Open also offers a Freshman/Sophomore division and Columbia grapplers saw success there as well, including a championship showing by 184-pounder Zach Hernandez.  He was joined on the podium by a pair of 141 pounders – Ryan Murdock (second) and Matt Leshinger (fourth) as well as fifth placers Britain Carter (125) and Troy Hembury (184).  In addition, Frewsburg High School graduate Nick Mitchell (Edinboro) was the runner up at 174.


Also in Michigan . . .

Speaking of Michigan, Jamestown Community College and Niagara CCC traveled there as well.  Jamestown swept a pair of duals on Friday night over Triton (Illinois) and Mott (Michigan), led by Mike Southwick, Austin Lynn, Jake Nicholson, Pat McCarthy and Kevin Mulcahy, who each won twice. At the Ben McMullen Open in Muskegon, Niagara featured a number of placers, including champions Kevin Strong and El Shaddai Van Hoesen (285). Tyler Bruce grabbed second, Eric Velez was third and a trio of grapplers – Jude Gardner, Max Antone and Shane Currey, were fourth.


Bombers Win The Ithaca Invitational With Five Champions

Ithaca started the season off strong at home, capturing first in the standings with five champions at the Ithaca Invitational.  Earning first for the host squad were Alex Gomez (133), Dominick Giacolone (141), Kris Schimek (165), Carlos Toribio (174) and Mathew Booth (197). Both Gomez and Giacolone are currently nationally ranked while Schimek was an All-American last season for Niagara County Community College. Freshmen Toribio and Booth were both All-State wrestlers in high school in 2013 – Toribio a state champion for Brentwood and Booth a third place finisher for Cattaraugus Little Valley.

Last year’s team champion, Johnson & Wales, nabbed second with a pair of titlewinners –  Everet Desilets (157) and Colin Lenhardt (184), while Springfield was third with Tom Casper (125) and Irakli Kakauridze (285) capturing their brackets.  Former PSAL wrestler Abubakarr Sow of Oswego won the 149 pound class.

NYU took fourth, while Oswego (fifth), Alfred State (seventh) and Sullivan (eighth) also competed.


For full results from the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open, Brockport/Oklahoma Invitational, NYAC Holiday International, Michigan State Open and Ithaca Invitational, see and search for those tournament names.

To report results, e-mail


2013-14 Section 10 Preview: After Crowning Two State Champs in 2012, Who Will Challenge in Albany This Season?

Last year, we previewed each Section prior to the start of the high school season.  We began with Section III earlier this week.  Now, here’s a look at Section 10.

Only one school in New York had multiple state champions at the Times Union Center in February.  It was Section 10’s Gouverneur, which saw a pair of seniors – Dillon Stowell (113) and Hunter Ayen (195) – win it all in Albany to end their high school careers on top.

“It was awesome,” said Gouverneur coach Joel Baer.  “It took a while after the season was over to even digest it and believe it.  It was wild, with one champion in the lightweights and one on the other end.  For Dillon [Stowell], it was his fourth time placing. He came into the year expecting to be a state champ.  Hunter [Ayen] seemed to come out of nowhere and surprised a lot of people.  We expected he would do really well this year but he wasn’t as well known around the state. He’s someone that didn’t even have 100 career matches – forget about 100 wins. His body matured later – he grew four or five inches later on and the next thing you knew – wow.”

‘Wow’ described Ayen’s state tournament performance.  He pinned his first three opponents, but then fell behind 6-0 in the championship match against returning finalist Bryce Mazurowski of Avon.  He stormed back, however, to capture a 9-6 decision.

“I’ll never forget his comeback,” Baer said. “To fall behind 6-0 and look like you’re out of the match and come back the way he did was crazy.  I thought he had the pin and four matches and four falls at the state tournament would have been amazing, but Hunter told me he was happy to win the way he did.”

Another Ayen, Hunter’s cousin Zach, will look to follow up with a memorable senior year of his own.  Zach Ayen is no stranger to the medal stand – he took fifth in Albany in 2012.  Last season, he competed at the Times Union Center at 132 pounds.

“Zach has definitely put in the time,” Baer said. “This is his last go round and he saw what the others had to endure and put in to become champions.  He did lots of freestyle in the spring and early summer and did a lot of lifting. He won some matches in Virginia Beach. I definitely think he has the potential to place again. He had two heartbreaking losses at the state tournament, in the first round to the kid who went on to take third.  He knows he’s not far away and he’s capable of having a great last year.”

Lapiene, courtesy of Dylan Morrison/North Country Sports

Ayen isn’t the only Section 10 wrestler with All-State accolades.  Ogdensburg Free Academy’s Tanner Lapiene earned fourth at 99 pounds as an eighth grader with a strong showing in the state capital.  He began with a 14-0 major in his opening bout before upsetting the bracket’s top seed, Hunter Olena of East Rochester, by a 3-1 score.  After being edged by Port Jefferson’s Matteo Devincenzo in the semifinals, he bounced back to grab fourth.

According to Baer, Lapiene will be a contender again as a freshman, although most likely at either 106 or 113.

“Tanner will be right there,” Baer said. “He has a unique style of wrestling.  He’s a grinder, with really good hips and he likes to scramble and get funky. He’s a tough kid.”

According to Baer, Lapiene was the first Ogdensburg Free Academy wrestler to ever place at the state tournament.  Baer added that one of Lapiene’s training partners, Brody Sheppard “has a lot of potential” and is someone to watch this year.

Sheppard qualified for the state tournament last season at 106 pounds as a seventh grader.  Those two lightweights will be joined by three other returning Section champions for Ogdensburg– Josh Wangler, Alex Cole and Cody-Allen David.

So while Gouverneur has been the team to beat in the Section in Division II, Baer believes things could be interesting when the squads collide in 2013-14.

“I think we’ll probably be the favorite,” he said of his team. “But [Ogdensburg] has a bunch of guys that we probably won’t beat and it may come down to who gets pinned.  I expect it to be a competitive dual – the most competitive dual we have in the Section.”

Other than Ayen, who will win a lot of matches for Gouverneur this year?  Joey Love, Aaron Bush and Mike Mandigo all went to the state tournament a year ago.

“We’ve had some success and we’re hoping to bring our kids along to keep improving,” Baer said.  “As a Section we were pretty happy to place where we did last year, scoring 69 points.  We don’t have numbers, so it was pretty neat for us.  We’re hoping to get some more people on the podium this year again.”

Division I

There will certainly be experience back in Division I this year.  12 of the 15 wrestlers who represented Section 10 at the state tournament in 2013 are scheduled to return.  Who can break through for some victories and a shot at a medal?

One wrestler to certainly keep tabs on is Massena’s Nathan Marshall, who did not compete a year ago, as he was abroad.  In 2011-12, however, he went 29-3 at 106 pounds, including a major decision at the Times Union Center.

“[Marshall] wrestled with us at the 1000 Islands Duals in August and he looked good,” Baer said. “He said when he was in Brazil he didn’t wrestle at all, but he looked pretty tough for his first time on the mat in a while.  He may be a 113-pound senior and he could wrestle his way onto the podium.  I know that’s his goal.”

Terrance, Courtesy of Dylan Morrison/North Country Sports

Marshall is unlikely to be the only Massena wrestler to challenge in Albany.  In fact, seven other returning grapplers from that school wore the Section 10 singlet at the state event in 2013.  One of them, heavyweight Nolan Terrance, is one to watch.  He saw success in the offseason with second place showings in both Freestyle and Greco at the New York State tournament in May.

“[Terrance] has wrestled everywhere,” Baer said. “He was at Fargo, up in Canada at the Canadian Games – all over.  He did a lot of freestyle and Greco and wrestled non-stop.  He’s a big kid and he definitely had a good offseason.”

Also having a good offseason was Malone’s Jamiel Stapleton, a multi-time New York qualifier.

“[Stapleton] had a great summer,” Baer said. “He got better and better.  He went to wrestling camps and to dual tournaments and he beat some good kids. He’s tough.”

Another wrestler who comes back with over 20 wins and more than one trip to Albany is Canton’s Ryan Brown.  The lightweight has beaten Lapiene in the past (although Lapiene came out on top three out of four times last season). Could this be the breakthrough season for Brown?

“If he can get certified for one of the lightest weights, he’ll be hard to handle,” Baer said. “He’s good, but he’s always been too light. Now, he’s gotten taller and filled out.  He’s older and has more confidence.  He could do very well.”

With the significant number of returning Section champions, Massena appears to have the upper hand in the team race.

Thank you to the contributors to this article, especially coach Joel Baer.


A year after boasting two state champions, can wrestlers from Section 10 do it again?  We’ll have to wait until 2014 to find out, but here are the grapplers returning with 2013 Albany experience.

Division I

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Ryan Brown, Canton 99

Michael Brown, Massena 106

Skyler Cameron, Massena 113

Konner German, Massena 120

Austin Learned, Malone 126

Jamiel Stapleton, Malone 145

Hunter Perrine, Massena 152

Jared Cascanette, Canton 160

Nate Moose, Canton 170

Joseph Ferrera, Massena 182

Jeremy Malone, Massena 195

Nolan Terrance, Massena 285

Division II

Returning Placer from 2013

Tanner Lapiene, Ogdensburg Free Academy 99, 4th

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Brody Sheppard, Ogdensburg Free Academy, 106

Aaron Bush, Gouverneur, 120

Josh Wangler, Ogdensburg Free Academy, 126

Zach Ayen, Gouverneur, 132

Joey Love, Gouverneur, 138

Cody-Allen David, Ogdensburg Free Academy, 160

Alex Cole, Ogdensburg Free Academy, 182

Mike Mandigo, Gouverneur, 220


Who's #1? Yianni Diakomihalis Ascends to the Top of the National Rankings at 106; 10 NYers Included in the Polls

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

It may not be a surprise after he captured the Super 32 Challenge title in a loaded field.  But on Wednesday, it became official.  Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis is the top ranked wrestler in the country at 106 pounds (according to FloWrestling).

Diakomihalis defeated the now-#2 grappler, Gage Curry of Pennsylvania, in the championship match in Greensboro, North Carolina and also beat current #3, Tyler Warner of Ohio, by a 14-3 score in the semifinals at the Super 32.  He’ll look to capture his second consecutive New York state crown in 2013-14 after winning gold at 99 pounds as an eighth grader last year.

Diakomihalis is one of 10 Empire State wrestlers in the rankings, including six others in the top 10 at their respective weights. Here’s the list of New Yorkers:

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton, Freshman, Section 5) – 1st at 106

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville, Junior, Section 11) – 6th at 120

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowaga, Senior, Section 6) – 5th at 138

Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich, Junior, Section 4) – 20th at 138

Louis Hernandez (Mepham, Senior, Section 8 ) – 6th at 152

Corey Rasheed (Longwood, Senior, Section 11) – 8th at 160

Burke Paddock (Warsaw, Senior, Section 5) – 9th at 160

Christian Dietrich (Greene, Sophomore, Section 4) – 14th at 182

Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell, Senior, CHSAA) – 15th at 220

James O’Hagan (Seaford, Senior, Section 8 ) – 8th at 285

Section III Preview: State Champion Derek Spann and Runner Up Danny Fox Among the Title Contenders in 2013-14

Last year, New York Wrestling News previewed each Section prior to the start of the high school season.  To kick things off this fall, here’s a look at Section 3.

Special thanks to John Drew of for his significant contributions to this article.

For the past two years, Nick Tighe of Phoenix, Zack Zupan of Canastota and Shayne Brady of Carthage have represented Section III in the finals at the state tournament. Tighe won three New York State championships, while Zupan added two and Brady one.  Now, with all three on rosters at Division I schools, who will be next to represent Section III on Saturday night at the Times Union Center?

Spann, Photo courtesy of

You don’t have to look far in Division II, as a pair of finalists return (champion Derek Spann of Adirondack and runner up Danny Fox of Dolgeville), in addition to numerous other medalists.  In Division I, New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna is back after earning All-State honors for the first time.  Let’s take a glance and see what Section III has to offer for 2013-14.

Division I

Seniors to Watch

Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt picked up a bevy of quality victories last season at 195 pounds after making a name for himself nationally with All-America honors at Fargo in the summer of 2012.  Honis brought a 39-3 mark into the state tournament after defeating eventual Division II state champion Hunter Ayen and returning placer Tyler Smith during the season.  He also took third at the prestigious Eastern States Classic. However, he suffered an injury while capturing gold at the Section III championships and as the number three seed, dropped his first bout in Albany to eventual runner up Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa before defaulting out of the tournament.  In his last season, he has the capability to finish high on the medal stand.

Multiple 12th graders won a bout at the Times Union Center in 2013 and will look to win a few more this time around –  Thomas Hill of Fulton in the lightweights and Carthage heavyweight Trevor Gibbons. (Kevin Paul of Baldwinsville also wore the Section III singlet in Albany for the second time).

While Joe Nasoni of Baldwinsville and Patrick Quinlan of Fayetteville-Manlius haven’t had a shot at the state championships yet, this could be their chance.  Nasoni has been third at the qualifier the past two seasons and had a stellar 41-3 campaign at 195 pounds as a junior, including a December pin over two-time state champion Zack Zupan of Canastota (who bumped up in weight for the match).  Quinlan, the Section runner up at 132, won more than 30 bouts, including multiple victories against state qualifiers.  In fact, he defeated Connor Grome of West Genesee, who represented Section III in Albany, three out of four times, with the only loss coming at the Section championships.

Who Else is Ready to Make a Run?

Clearly, Kelan McKenna knows the feeling of earning All-State status.  He began with a loss in the state capital, but responded with three consecutive consolation victories to make the podium with a sixth place showing.  Now, he’ll be looking to climb higher on the ladder.

In his first taste of state tournament action, Sonny McPherson recorded a pin over Suffolk County’s Joe Piccolo at 170.  McPherson, a Section champion as a freshman in 2013, followed up with All-America honors at the NHSCA tournament in Virginia Beach.  The future looks bright for the Indian River grappler as well as his teammate Nick Toutant, who faced a tough road after topping seventh grade phenom Frankie Gissendanner in his opening bout at the Times Union Center at 126 pounds. Toutant picked up close to 40 victories and has what it takes get his hand raised plenty of times again this year.  The same could be said for Fulton’s Mitchell Woodworth, who notched a win at the state tournament as a sophomore at 106 and looks for more after collecting more than 30 victories.

Dempsey King of New Hartford is no stranger to Albany, as he competed in 2012 at the state tournament.  Last season, he compiled over 30 wins at 113 pounds, but didn’t get a return ticket.  He hopes to change that in February.

King faced Andrew McFarland three times last year and the Carthage grappler won each time.  McFarland recorded 33 total wins, including one against state qualifier Thomas Hill (although Hill returned the favor at the Section III event).  In addition, McFarland continued his winning ways after the season, becoming an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.

Jerrett Norton of Cicero North Syracuse, a transfer from Central Square, had 31 wins last year before sustaining a season-ending injury at the CNY tournament in January.  At that time, he looked to be on course to contend for a Section title. He recently wrestled at the Super 32 Challenge and according to John Drew, he’ll be among the favorites at the state qualifier this time around.

Mike Mills of Liverpool had quite a summer.  According to Drew, he defeated multiple All-State wrestlers at summer dual meet events.  He’ll have a chance to translate that success onto the mats for the Warriors this season.

Team Race

Baldwinsville won the Section tournament last season with a slim, two-point margin over Fulton.  Around 30 points behind was third place CBA/Jamesville-Dewitt.  Who will step up to the top this year?

Baldwinsville should have a strong foundation and a lot of returning points as one of the squad’s two champions (Kevin Paul) is back as are bronze medalists Connor Ross, Chad McArdell and Joe Nasoni and fourth placer Gunnar Sutphen.

As for Fulton, champions Mitchell Woodworth and Thomas Hill should be in the lineup again, although finalist Brennan Roberge graduated. Third placer Brandon Hill and fourth placer Joe Abelgore also should pick up significant victories for the Red Raiders.

Keep an eye on Fayetteville-Manlius, a team on the rise that could contend for a top three finish at the Sectionals, according to Drew.

Division II

Seven placewinners return in the small school division, including five top four finishers.  Leading the way is Adirondack’s Derek Spann, who went all the way to state gold in a one-loss season.  Spann actually split 99-pound duties with Ryan O’Rourke for part of the season until the latter wrestler moved up to 106.  O’Rourke seemed to handle the transition just fine, as he went on to take fourth in New York at the higher weight.

Fox, Photo courtesy of

Both Spann and O’Rourke shared the podium with fellow Section III grapplers in Albany.  Theo Powers of Mexico nabbed sixth at 99 and Dolgeville’s Danny Fox was the runner up at 106.  All four lightweights are threats to win big again in 2013-14.

Seniors to Watch

Ryan Snow has been a fixture at the state tournament.  The General Brown senior has taken second, third and fourth in his career.  Can he get over the hump to grab the top prize in his last high school season?

His teammate, Tyler Silverthorn, will be looking to do the same thing.  A sixth place finisher in 2012 at 160 pounds, Silverthorn moved up to fifth as a junior and is looking to progress a few more spots. Silverthorn has shown the ability to compete at the national level, earning All-America accolades in Virginia Beach on multiple occasions.

Like Silverthorn and Snow, Laken Cook of Ilion (Central Valley) is familiar with the podium in Albany, having placed twice earlier in his career (as an eighth grader and as a freshman).  He entered last year’s tournament as the number two seed at 126 pounds, but was unable to get back to medal status.  Can he return to the podium one more time?

Nick Koelmel emerged as a contender last year, bringing an undefeated mark into the state tournament at 145 pounds.  He ultimately grabbed fourth after garnering a 3-2 record at the Times Union Center, however, he has another chance to go for gold for Immaculate Heart Central.

Daniel Smith of South Jefferson has shown he can go with some of the nation’s elite with victories over wrestlers such as Fargo All-Americans Ryan Preisch (PA) and Christian Stackhouse (NJ).  Now, he wants to translate that to state glory.  The University at Buffalo recruit has kept very active in the offseason, including a fall appearance at the Iron Horse Invitational, and looks to make it count while moving up in weight.  His teammate Logan LaFlamme has placed behind Zack Zupan in the Section the past few years, but earned a wildcard to Albany in 2013 where he registered a pin in less than a minute in his first wrestleback contest.  He will look for his first title at the qualifier and more.

And speaking of upperweights that got their hand raised in Albany, Lane Frost (VVS) rode the momentum of his 195-pound triumph at the Section 3 championships to a 12-0 major decision in his opener at the NYS tournament.

Wyatt Morris of Morrisville Eaton will begin the season as one of the top heavyweight prospects in Division II.  He won a pair of bouts in Albany last season, coming within one victory of placing. All of his matches in the state capital were nailbiters – a 3-2 opener, an overtime loss to eventual runner up Matt Montesanti in round two, a double overtime triumph and a 1-0 setback against former finalist Alex Soutiere.  He’ll aim to turn those close losses into victories as a senior.  But he’ll have some notable challengers in the Section, including Canastota senior Jacob Morris, who had 35 victories a year ago and has a Class championship on his resume.  Also look out for Tyler Havener of Oneida.

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent collected All-State honors in eighth grade.  He moved up several weights to 132 a year ago and again qualified for the tournament, but didn’t make it back onto the podium.  He’ll have another chance as a sophomore to do so.  His teammate, Hunter Richard, is another young wrestler to watch. As an eighth grader in 2013, he won the Section and made his Albany debut.  He kept active in the offseason, including an 11-2 combined record in Freestyle and Greco at the Schoolboy Nationals in Indianapolis.

How about Dolgeville’s Noah Handy?  He racked up over 30 wins, a tournament title (Class D) as well as several second and third place showings in the lightweights.  According to Drew, he’s right on the cusp of breaking into the next level after his third place finish in the Section in 2013.  And speaking of Dolgeville, after a narrow 4-3 loss in the semifinals to eventual champion Mike Boyle at 120 pounds a year ago, junior Ben Nastovski should make noise.  He had more than 30 wins and nearly 20 pins a year ago.

Onondoga junior Tyler Field rolled to a 36-3 mark and four tournament titles a year ago.  After a 5-2 semifinal defeat at the hands of Ryan Snow in the 126-pound semifinals at Sectionals, he’s itching to get back on the mat in 2013-14.

Mexico’s Trevor Allard and Jacob Woolson both had successful seasons in 2012-13 with at least 40 wins.  Woolson finished second in the Section at 170 behind the previously mentioned Daniel Smith, with four of his seven losses coming to the South Jefferson wrestler.  Allard saw success in the offseason, collecting All-America honors at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach with a seventh place showing at 160.

In addition to Allard’s podium finish, Section III was well represented in that tournament. The appearances of Sonny McPherson and Andrew McFarland on the medal stand were already discussed.  Additionally, Owen Albanese of Canastota (220), William Hilliard of Phoenix (170) and Riccardo Dawkins of General Brown (182) earned All-America status.

Team Race

South Jefferson had a magical ride in 2012-13, winning the Section both in the dual and tournament formats.

Two of three finalists for the Spartans will take the mat again, as Daniel Smith and Logan LaFlamme will man the upperweights while lightweight placers Caleb Beach and Jared Carroll will look to move higher.  According to Drew, the squad should be tough in tournaments and duals once again.

Don’t count out General Brown, which returns the bulk of the lineup from last year’s 20-plus win team that made a deep run at the Section III Dual championship.  The star-studded upperweights, featuring Tyler Silverthorn, Colton Erb, Riccardo Dawkins and Zech Pitre should carry the Lions far again this year.

Mexico returns a number of studs, including the previously mentioned Trevor Allard, Theo Powers and Jacob Woolson.  Those wrestlers form the nucleus of the most powerful Tigers lineup in recent memory, according to Drew.

You can never forget about Phoenix.  The Firebirds lost a pair of state finalists to graduation (Nick Tighe and Rowdy Prior), however, the squad has the potential to score a lot of tournament points with returning fourth placer Brad Dietz as well as medalists William Hilliard and Tim Gandino, among others.

Looking for a darkhorse?  According to Drew, Dolgeville may be a good place to look.  The Blue Devils boast one of the best lightweight lineups in the Section with Noah Handy, Danny Fox and Ben Nastovski and when you throw in 40-match winner Triston Engle and class champs Richard Lyon and Kasey Foster, it’s easy to see the squad piling up dual and tournament victories.

Returning Qualifiers from 2013 – Division I

Kelan McKenna, New Hartford (99) – 6th Place

Mitchell Woodworth, Fulton (106)

Thomas Hill, Fulton (113)

Kevin Paul, Baldwinsville (120)

Nick Toutant, Indian River (126)

Sonny McPherson, Indian River (170)

Ben Honis, Jamesville-Dewitt (195)

Trevor Gibbons, Carthage (285)

Returning Qualifiers from 2013 – Division II

Derek Spann, Adirondack (99) – Champion

Theo Powers, Mexico (99) – Sixth

Danny Fox, Dolgeville (106) – Second

Ryan O’Rourke, Adirondack (106) – Fourth

Hunter Richard, Holland Patent (113)

Ryan Snow, General Brown (126) – Fourth

Laken Cook, Ilion (126)

Alex Herringshaw, Holland Patent (132)

Nick Koelmel, IHC (145) – Fourth

Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (160) – Fifth

Daniel Smith, South Jefferson (170)

Logan LaFlamme, South Jefferson (182)

Lane Frost, VVS (195)

Wyatt Morris, Morrisville Eaton (285)


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

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

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

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

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

Stevo Poulin with NCAA champion Logan Stieber

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

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

Army Begins On a Winning Note Against Franklin & Marshall

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

Rutgers Edges Hofstra on Criteria

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

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

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

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

With Three Champions, Cortland Wins Monarch Tournament

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

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

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

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

Austin Meys Makes His Return at the Clarion Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Max Soria, Photo by BV

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to all NYS placewinners!


Final Middle School Brackets (free registration required)

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

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

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

Rifanburg, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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