Cornell Defeats Binghamton 33-6 in Home Opener; Realbuto and Dean Dominate With Pins for the Big Red

The night before the New York State intercollegiates, two Empire State squads, Cornell and Binghamton, took the mat in Ithaca with the Big Red winning eight of 10 bouts in a 33-6 final.

The home team started five freshmen and four of them came out on top.  Mark Grey made his home debut with a dominant 18-3 technical fall over fellow rookie (and three-time New York state champion) Nick Tighe at 133 pounds.  Both Brian Realbuto (157) and Gabe Dean (184) recorded pins in their first bouts in Bartels Hall, while Dylan Palacio captured a 10-6 decision at 165.  Corey Dake, in the lineup for All-American Mike Nevinger, dropped a 4-2 match at 141.

“I think the young guys showed the style we want our team to perform on the mat,” said Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn.  “They did a great job in their first duals.  I think the veterans wrestled well, but they can do some things differently with match strategy.  As a whole, I think the guys wrestled well for our opener.  It’s important to get those jitters out right away.”

The Bearcats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead when David White edged Bricker Dixon at 125 by a 4-3 score.  The Big Red junior got on the board first with a takedown and held a 3-2 lead in the third period. However, White won a late scramble to pick up two points and the victory.

Grey, Photo by BV

Mark Grey took control right away at 133, collecting a 9-2 lead after one with a combination of takedowns and back points, before notching the technical fall early in the third.

The next two bouts were a lot closer, however. Both were 4-2 decisions with the winning points scored late.

At 141, Cornell’s Corey Dake squared off with Dylan Caruana.  The match was deadlocked at two in the final period when the Bearcat grappler took Dake down with less than 10 seconds to go for the 4-2 victory and a 6-5 Binghamton advantage in the meet.

Then, in a rematch of the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open semifinals at 149, Chris Villalonga and Joe Bonaldi were tied at two after seven minutes of action. In sudden victory, both wrestlers were close to scoring on the edge before Villalonga picked up a takedown to win 4-2 and put the Big Red ahead on the scoreboard for good.

In the last bout before intermission, Brian Realbuto made a stellar impression in his first home contest, scoring less than 15 seconds after the opening whistle and holding a 10-1 lead after the first period.  In the second, he reversed Colton Perry to his back and registered the pin to make the halftime score 14-6.

Continuing the youth movement for Cornell was Dylan Palacio, who controlled the 165-pound contest with Vincent Grella.  In fact, he took a 2-0 advantage just 10 seconds into the match and kept attacking throughout, leading to a 10-6 triumph.

The Big Red kept the ball rolling, winning the final four matches.  Owen Scott was completely dominant at 174, nabbing a 15-2 major over John Paris, while Gabe Dean had three quick takedowns in the first before turning Caleb Wallace for the fall.

At 197, Jace Bennett took Cody Reed down with just 20 ticks left in the third for a 4-2 victory and Stryker Lane followed with a win at heavyweight. Lane led 3-0 after two. However, Deuel made a furious comeback with a trio of takedowns before Lane’s riding time gave him a 7-6 victory.

Wrestlers from the Big Red and Bearcats will be back in action on Sunday at the New York State Intercollegiates on Cornell’s campus, along with over 20 other New York squads.

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.”

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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

PSAL

World Team Member Alexis Porter of Shenendehowa Commits to McKendree University

It’s been quite a week for Alexis Porter.  On Saturday, she picked up a dominant win in international action in her home gym.  And just a few days later, she committed to McKendree University in Illinois, where she will receive a full athletic scholarship.

“I took a visit and I really, really liked the campus,” Porter said. “The school is a good size and there are really good academic programs in areas I’m interested in.  I thought it was the best fit for me.”

It didn’t hurt that the Bearcats have already seen success in their debut season (with wins over the #4 and #5 teams in the nation). And there are plans in place to build a dedicated wrestling building.

Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

“The brand new facility wasn’t the deciding factor, but it influenced me,” she said. “I’m definitely excited about it.”

Porter, a four-time national champion who represented Team USA at this summer’s Cadet World Championships in Serbia, also considered King, Campbellsville and Lindenwood.

She said she will finish her last high school season with Shenendehowa, but then looks forward to transitioning away from folkstyle – for good.

“In women’s college wrestling, it’s just freestyle,” she said. “I think I’m better at freestyle and I enjoy it more.  It will keep me on track for my international goals.”

Porter put on a great display of international wrestling this past weekend.  Prior to the USA vs. Russia Dual at Shenendehowa High School, Porter took on Canadian Keagin Collie at 65 kg.  She took command from the start, racing out to a 6-0 lead after the first period and winning by 7-0 technical fall early in the second stanza.

“It was an incredible event,” Porter said. “It was a packed gym and being able to wrestle in front of the home crowd at my own school was amazing.  Not too many people can say that they represented their country at their own school. I felt the adrenaline and really enjoyed it.  It was a great opportunity for me.”

Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Porter will have more opportunities on the world wrestling scene after going 0-1 at the World Championships a few months ago.  She has a developmental camp coming up in Philadelphia and plans to compete in Sweden in February and then in Austria in June.

“I definitely didn’t finish where I expected or hoped at the Worlds,” she said. “Sometimes you learn more from your failures than your successes.  I took a lot from that trip.  I have some more chances coming up to get some redemption and prove myself on the international stage.  I expect there to be a much different outcome.”

For now, though, Porter is excited to go through her senior year of high school with her future much more clear.

“I’m glad to be done with the recruiting process,” she said. “I enjoyed it – it was definitely an experience.  But now I can settle in and prepare for next year.  There were a lot of decisions to be made and places to look at, but I’m really happy with my decision and how it all turned out.”

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Alexis Porter wanted to thank her family, coaches and friends, saying that she “wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without all of them.”

Buffalo Signs 10 Recruits for the Fall of 2014, Including Eight New Yorkers

The early signing period for wrestling ends today, however, Buffalo’s recruits wasted no time providing their National Letters of Intent.  The Bulls inked 10 wrestlers last week, including eight from New York, according to the school website.

The Empire State wrestlers committed to compete for head coach John Stutzman include state champion Sean Peacock of Midlakes and two-time NYS placers Alex Smythe of Eden and Bryan Lantry of Wayne.  In addition, standouts from Section 2 (Shaker’s Blake Retell), Section 3 (Daniel Smith of South Jefferson), Section 4 (Newark Valley teammates Derek Holcomb and Trevor Hoffmier) and Section 6 (Rocco Russo of Frontier) will take the mat in the MAC conference in the future.

Also joining the class is nationally-ranked Kyle Akins of Illinois and Super 32 placer Jake Gunning of Pennsylvania.

 

For the full release from buffalobulls.com, see this link.

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.

Rodriguez-Spencer, http://www.phototrens.com

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

PSAL

Section 7 Preview: Fargo All-American Jordan Bushey, Former Top 8 Finisher Codie Gillette Among Those Looking to Break Through to the Podium in 2013-14

We have been posting previews for Sections around the state and today we continue with Section 7.  For links to previous articles, please see the end of this story.

A pair of All-State wrestlers from 2013, Troy Seymour of Peru and Gage Bourdeau of Beekmantown completed their senior seasons. And according to Peru coach Mike Hogan, Seymour’s teammate Nick Forget, who took fifth at 126 a year ago, has decided to graduate early and forgo his final season of high school wrestling.

But that doesn’t mean Section 7 won’t have contenders for state placement in 2014.

One wrestler who is likely to make an impact at the state level is Peru’s Jordan Bushey, who came within one win of the podium in Albany last season, with a 2-2 performance at 138 pounds.  Both of his victories were major decisions and his losses were to multiple-time state placers who are now freshmen at Division I programs (Connor Lapresi, Bucknell and Drew Longo, Lehigh).  Bushey had an impressive showing at the summer’s biggest event – the National Freestyle Championships at Fargo. He went 6-2 against some of the nation’s best competition, finishing as an All-American with a seventh place medal at 145 pounds.

“[Bushey] was close to placing at states – in the match to place he unfortunately wasn’t feeling well and it really held him back,” Hogan said. “At any rate, he put in the time this summer and did a great job in Fargo.  He could be at 152. He’s developed nicely and we’re pretty excited about his chances this year.”

Another Peru grappler looking to get back to the state capital is Ethan Feazelle, a sophomore who has won a match at the Times Union Center each of the last two seasons.   Hogan expects him to wrestle at 126 pounds.

While Tanner Phillips hasn’t taken the mat yet in Albany, he is a potential candidate to do so this time around after competing at Fargo this summer.  According to Hogan, the likely 160-pounder has taken second at the Section 7 championships three times.

[Another wrestler Hogan was excited about in the fall was 220-pounder Luke McKee, who made appearances at the Times Union Center the past two seasons and was the runner up in both Freestyle and Greco Roman at the New York States in May of 2013.  Unfortunately, according to the coach, McKee suffered a knee injury during the football season and will miss his senior campaign on the mat].

It isn’t just Peru wrestlers who are threats to make the medal stand.  In 2013, Matt Lashway of Northern Adirondack went 2-2 in Albany at 195 pounds to come within a victory of All-State honors.  After a 35-9 junior campaign, he’ll be one to watch in the upperweights.  Meanwhile, his teammate Austin Trombley got his hand raised in his initial contest at 106 pounds in 2013 at the state tournament before going 1-2 and will look for another shot in Albany.

That isn’t all.  Saranac also has some formidable wrestlers in the mix, including John Devins, who drew top-seeded Hunter Olena of East Rochester in the opening round of the state tournament at 99 pounds in 2013.  James Black of the Chiefs also had a tough test right away at the Times Union Center – nationally-ranked Burke Paddock of Warsaw.  Hogan also mentioned another strong lightweight from the Saranac squad – Jake Nolan.

“Devins was the Outstanding Wrestler in our section tournament last year,” Hogan said. “He’ll probably go 106. He’s very athletic and has wrestled since he was four.  He actually has generations of wrestling in the family – he’s definitely been around the sport.  He was only in seventh grade last year, but he was pretty tough.”

Also likely to represent Saranac at the last event of the high school calendar is Codie Gillette.  After making the top 8 as a sophomore in Albany, Gillette began strong with a major decision in the state capital this year before facing Norwich’s Frank Garcia, the eventual runner up, in the quarters at 145 pounds.  The match went to three overtimes before Garcia prevailed.  With his experience at the biggest event of the season, Gillette is a strong candidate to bounce back with a medal as a senior.

“Gillette is very tough,” Hogan said. “He won two matches at states before, but hasn’t put three together yet.  He’s a very hard worker who puts in time year round. He’s very close.”

A newcomer that could make some noise in Section 7 this year is Jay Oakes, formerly of Section II’s Galway.  According to Hogan, Oakes was undefeated a year ago and won his Class event before sustaining an injury in the Sectional tournament that effectively ended his season.

“He’s a tough kid who transferred in,” Hogan said. “I heard a lot of good things about Jay and he improved a lot this summer.”

From a team perspective, Peru has been the top squad in the Section and once again has a strong foundation with wrestlers such as Bushey and Feazelle.  But other teams, such as Saranac and Northern Adirondack have their share of talented wrestlers to potentially make things interesting.

“We should have a decent team and a good year,” Hogan said. “Saranac sent four kids to Fargo this summer like we did and when you do that, you’re training hard for at least a month and a half of the offseason.  Beekmantown always finds a way to put out a good team too.  I think we’ll have some good performances in Section 7 this year.”

—————————-

Thank you to the contributors to this article, especially Peru coach Mike Hogan.

 

Returning State Qualifiers from 2013

John Devins, Saranac (99)

Austin Trombley, Northern Adirondack (106)

Ethan Feazelle, Peru (120)

Nick Forget, Peru (126)**

Jordan Bushey, Peru (138)

Codie Gillette, Saranac (145)

James Black, Saranac (160)

Matt Lashway, Northern Adirondack (195)

Luke McKee, Peru (220)**

Scott Guerin, Northern Adirondack (285)

**Unlikely to compete according to Hogan

 

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

Section 3

Section 10

PSAL

 

 

USA and Russia Split a Pair of Dual Meets in New York; Plus Cornell Wrestle-Offs, Hofstra in Oklahoma and More

World class international wrestling came to the Empire State this weekend, as Team Russia visited New York for a pair of duals against the USA.  On Saturday in Clifton Park, the visiting team captured a 4-3 victory, but the Americans returned the favor on Sunday in Ithaca by winning four of the seven bouts.

In the latter dual, three former Cornell stars represented the Red, White and Blue in front of the home crowd – Frank Perrelli, Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz.

Perrelli took the mat at 55 kg in the opening contest of the meet against Omak Syuryun.  Both wrestlers placed a week ago at the NYAC Holiday International (Syuryun second, Perrelli fourth).  It was the Russian that took charge early with a takedown shortly after the opening whistle.  He continued to add to his lead and finished with a 7-0 win.

It was a similar story at 60 kg, where Aleksandr Bogomoev got on the board first and controlled the remainder of the bout, defeating Jimmy Kennedy by technical fall to give the Russians a 2-0 dual lead.

However, in a back-and-forth affair, Kellen Russell shifted momentum at 66 kg.  The former Michigan NCAA champion fell behind 3-0 early, but fought back to take a 4-3 advantage at the end of the opening period.  The wrestlers exchanged leads for much of the second, with the score tied at 11 late in the period.  Russell then picked up two points for exposure and recorded the fall with just seconds remaining to get the USA on the board.

Photo by BV

It was then time for the second Big Red grappler – Dake – to take center stage.  He registered a pair of pushouts in the opening stanza to take a 2-0 lead after one. The only scoring in the second period was a pushout by the Russian with less than 30 ticks to go, giving Dake a 2-1 victory and knotting the dual at two matches apiece.

Clayton Foster kept things moving forward for the USA in a strong performance at 84 kg.  The former Oklahoma State upperweight attacked throughout the bout and for his efforts came away with a 9-1 triumph over Vladislav Gabaraev to make the team score 3-1 in favor of the Americans.

Next up was another Cornell graduate – Cam Simaz.  At last weekend’s NYAC Holiday International, Simaz met Georgii Gogaev.   The Russian took a 7-1 lead in that match before Simaz rebounded to win 14-7.  On Sunday, the two had a similar beginning, as Gogaev jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.  This time, there wasn’t a comeback, as the Russian notched a 9-0 win.

With each team having captured three matches, it all came down to the heavyweights —  Zach Rey of the USA and Aleksandr Kusraev of Russia. A passivity point and a pushout fueled Rey to the 2-0 victory and clinched the dual for the United States.

Prior to the main event, there were a trio of freestyle exhibition matches featuring New York wrestlers.

In the first, General Brown’s multi-time state placer Ryan Snow topped Ithaca’s Julian Korfine by a 9-2 score.  Next up was Lansing’s two-time NYS champion William Koll, who cruised to an 8-0 technical fall over Carl Rouse of Chenango Forks.

The third bout was a rematch of the 2013 Division I NYS finals at 99 pounds – Yianni Diakomhalis of Hilton and Vito Arujau of Syosset.  The two have met this offseason, with Diakomihalis, the #1 wrestler in the nation at 106 pounds, coming out on top.  However, on Sunday, Arujau earned a seven-point victory in an action-packed bout between two of the best freshmen in the country.

There were also bonus matches including Empire State standouts on Saturday at Shenendehowa High School before the first USA vs. Russia dual meet (aka, the Resurrection).

Porter, Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Women’s world team members Alexis Porter and Jenna Burkert were both totally dominant against Canadian opponents.  Porter, a high school senior, earned a 7-0 technical fall at 65 kg on familiar turf in her own high school gym over Keagin Collie.  After the first period, Porter led 6-0 and it didn’t take her long into the second stanza to end the match.

Burkert’s appearance on the mat was brief against last weekend’s second place finisher at the NYAC Holiday International, Michelle Fazzari, at 59 kg.  [Burkert was third at that event at 63 kg].  Burkert took control from the opening whistle and recorded a first period fall.

Then, it was time for the men’s competition.  Russia got off to a good start, capturing the 55 and 60 kg matches as Omak Syuryun topped Sam Hazewinkel 8-4 and Aleksandr Bogomoev picked up an 8-0 technical fall over Nick Simmons.

However, 16-year old phenom Aaron Pico of California turned the tide when he registered an 8-0 win over Alibeggediz Emeev, a wrestler who was the 66 kg runner up at the NYAC Holiday International last weekend.  In his senior level debut, Pico began with a pushout for a 1-0 lead about a minute into the match. That’s how the initial stanza ended, however, it wasn’t close for much longer as Pico notched a takedown shortly into the second period, added a pushout and then tacked on two more takedowns to clinch the victory.

Fay, Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Moza Fay then kept the momentum going for the USA, pinning Boris Makoev at 74 kg. But the visiting squad responded. At 84 kg, Keith Gavin controlled most of the contest against Vladislav Gabaraev and held a 4-2 lead late into the match.  It was the Russian, however, who owned the final minute, tying the score with 46 seconds to go and tacking on two more takedowns in the final 30 seconds to win 8-4.  Georgii Gogaev then made quick work of Dustin Kilgore at 96 kg with a 10-2 technical fall before Tyrell Fortune ended the dual on a positive note for the USA with a 2-0 win over Aleksandr Kusraev at heavyweight.

 

Also in Ithaca . . . the Cornell Wrestle-Offs

While Sunday allowed some of Cornell’s recent greats to take the mat on campus one more time, Saturday showcased some of the Big Red’s future stars in the Red/White Eliminations (wrestle-offs). The first five bouts of the afternoon resulted in major decisions, beginning with All-American Nahshon Garrett, who started the day off with a 17-6 victory over Bricker Dixon at 125 pounds.  Like Garrett, Mark Grey won a title last weekend at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open.  Grey continued his strong start to the season, piling up points during a 15-4 win over Logan David at 133.

With Mike Nevinger recovering from an injury, freshman Corey Dake took the spotlight at 141, notching a 9-1 triumph over Josh Kennedy.  Fellow rookies Alex Cisneros and Brian Realbuto then came out on top decisively at 149 and 157.  Cisneros defeated Conner David 10-0 while Realbuto bested Taylor Simaz 11-1.

Palacio, Photo by BV

At 165, fans saw the first close bout of the day.  It didn’t look like it would be tight initially, as freshman Dylan Palacio took control early against Bearcat Open runner up Craig Eifert.  Palacio led 6-1 in the second period after a pair of takedowns and a reversal.  But Eifert stormed back, knotting the score in the third to force overtime.  In the extra session, Palacio struck with a takedown to capture the 9-7 victory.

After grabbing third at the Bearcat Open, Jesse Shanaman followed up with a 10-1 major over Jake George at 174 while freshman Gabe Dean, who entered the national polls this week after beating two ranked foes in Binghamton, topped Billy George 7-2 with a late takedown and near fall at 184.  197 pounders Jace Bennett and Steve Congenie then endured a back-and-forth battle. Congenie had two takedowns but Bennett reversed him both times.  The difference was a pair of back points, as Bennett collected the 6-4 win.

Finishing off the wrestle-offs at heavyweight were Stryker Lane and Jacob Aiken-Phillips.  After a scoreless first period, Lane scored five straight points on an escape, takedown and reversal to win 5-0.

Cornell returns to action next weekend at home with a dual against Binghamton and the New York State Intercollegiates.

Hofstra in the Sooner State . . .

Vaith

The Pride wrestlers have certainly taken on a number of challenges early in the season, facing multiple ranked teams last weekend. Hofstra squared off with another tough opponent on Sunday, dropping a 36-6 dual on the road against Oklahoma.

The home team went ahead early with a decision by returning NCAA champion Kendric Maple over Cody Ruggirello at 149 and a major by Justin DeAngelis against Nick Terdick at 157.  The Pride got on the board with a 1-0 win by Joe Booth at 165 over Clark Glass, but the Sooners then went on tear, capturing six consecutive matches.  In a meeting of ranked wrestlers, Luke Vaith ended the dual on a positive note for the Pride with a 6-3 win over 2012 All-American Nick Lester at 141.

And Results from a Few Additional Tournaments . . .

Several New York wrestlers made the top four at the East Stroudsburg Open on Sunday.  Binghamton’s Jack McKeever nabbed the title at 174 pounds with six victories.  His Bearcat teammate Nick Tighe, a three-time New York state champion, earned third at 133 in his second-ever college tournament.  In the bronze bout, he topped Hofstra’s Kyle Krasavage.  (A few other Empire State natives placed, including Brown’s Billy Watterson (champion at 125) and Anthony Finocchiaro (second at 133).  Two other New York high school wrestlers made the finals – Harrison Cook of Penn and Patrick Hogan, wrestling unattached.  Sean Badura of USMAPS was fourth at 125.

Brockport traveled to the Wolverine State for the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday.  Making the podium for the squad was 197 pounder Paul Glover, who finished first.  He began with three decisions, before coming out on top in the championship round against Kenneth Hayden of Michigan.

At the Roger Williams Invitational, Cortland took third place, driven by champion Lance Moore (285), second placers Brian Bistis (141) and Joey Giaramita (197) and bronze medalists Jacob Green (125), Brendan Dent (157) and Lou Puca (174).

 

In non-college action, three wrestlers from New York took top four medals at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Tulsa.  For a recap of that event, see here.

Here are the results from the USA vs. Russia Duals:

USA VS RUSSIA RESULTS at Ithaca (Sunday) USA 4, RUSSIA 3

55 kg/121 lbs. – Omak Syuryun (Russia) tech fall Frank Perrelli (USA) 7-0
60 kg/132 lbs. – Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia) tech fall Jimmy Kennedy (USA) 8-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kellen Russell (USA) fall Alibeggediz Emeev (Russia)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Kyle Dake (USA) dec Boris Makoev (Russia) 2-1
84 kg/185 lbs. – Clayton Foster (USA) tech fall Vladislav Gabaraev (Russia)  9-1
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech fall Cam Simaz (USA) 9-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Zach Rey (USA) dec Aleksandr Kusraev (Russia) 2-0

HIGH SCHOOL EXHIBITIONS (FREESTYLE)

Ryan Snow (General Brown) over Julian Korfine (Ithaca)

William Koll (Lansing) over Carl Rouse (Chenango Forks)

Vito Arujau (Syosset) over Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton)

 

THE RESURRECTION – USA VS RUSSIA RESULTS (Saturday) at Clifton Park, RUSSIA 4, USA 3

55 kg/121 lbs. – Omak Syuryun (Russia) dec Sam Hazewinkel (USA) 8-4
60 kg/132 lbs. – Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia) tech fall Nick Simmons (USA) 8-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Aaron Pico (USA) tech fall Alibeggediz Emeev (Russia) 8-0
74 kg/163 lbs. – Moza Fay (USA) fall Boris Makoev (Russia) 1:34
84 kg/185 lbs. – Vladislav Gabaraev (Russia) dec Keith Gavin (USA) 8-4
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech fall Dustin Kilgore (USA) 10-2
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Tyrell Fortune (USA) dec Aleksandr Kusraev (Russia) 2-0

WOMEN’S EXHIBITION

59 kg/130 lbs. – Jenna Burkert (USA) fall Michelle Fazzari (Canada) 1:27
65 kg/143 lbs. – Alexis Porter (USA) tech fall Keagin Collie (Canada) 7-0

 

E-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with further results.

 

Hector Colom, Dylan Ryder and Ivan Garcia Finish in the Top Four at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Tulsa

BY MATT DIANO

With the start of the 2013-2014 high school season right around the corner, a quartet of Empire Staters would make the trek all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete in the 2013 Suplay Kickoff Classic.  When the dust had settled after two fierce days of battle, three-fourths of the New Yorkers would find themselves in the top-four as Hector Colom would take second and Dylan Ryder would emerge with a third place finish in the 15 & Under division while youngster Ivan Garcia would claim a strong fourth in 10 U competition.

Ryder, a Candlewood resident who was representing the 631 Elite Wrestling Club, would post five wins at 75 pounds. He began with a defeat at the hands of the eventual champion, Kyle Biscoglia of Iowa, in the opening round of the tournament.  (Biscoglia is Flo’s #42 overall junior high prospect and was second at the 2013 Super 32 Middle School Tournament).  Up against a proverbial wall, finding himself in the consolation bracket a lot sooner than he is accustomed, the young Suffolk County stud would respond in a big way, pitching the 7-0 shutout over Oklahoman Spencer Edwards, and then following it up with back-to-back pins in a combined 3:37 against five-time Georgia Kids State Champion, Trevor Burdick (2:59) and 2013 Ohio Junior High State qualifier, Kyle Ryan (0:38).  In the consolation semifinals, Ryder would keep the momentum going, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before surrendering a late takedown to win 5-2 over 2013 Ohio Grade School State Champion, Gabriel Tagg.  In the bronze medal bout, Ryder would be in control from the opening whistle to the final buzzer, recording the only points of the match in a 5-0 decision over Pennsylvania’s Brandon Seidman. (He would lose his true second bout to Malik Heinselman).

Like Ryder, Hectom Colom’s tournament would begin on a bit of a sour note as he too would find himself on the short end of a decision (3-1) in the first round.  In a 101-pound match versus the host state’s Colton Denney, the Dunkirk eighth grader created multiple scramble positions in the third period in an attempt to even the score with a takedown.  To the credit of his foe, Colom would be unable to get himself sufficiently untangled to score the much needed points.  This hard fought loss would be the only one of the weekend for the Buffalo Wrestling Club representative as he would go on to utilize his excellent skills from the top position to reel off seven consecutive wins. Commencing his comeback effort with a 15-0 technical fall over Kansas’s Dante Rodd, Colom would find himself in a bit of a dogfight in his next bout against another opponent from the Jayhawk State, two-time Youth State placewinner (2nd in 2012; 3rd in 2013), Kaj Perez.  With the score all deadlocked at two apiece heading into the third period and Perez having choice, the New Yorker would come up clutch, breaking the tie with a tilt for three near-fall points.  This would prove to be the difference as he would ride out the full 90 second duration to advance with the 5-2 decision. Colom would have a much easier time of it in his next match, dominating Derek Holschlag to the tune of a 4-0 decision.  The runaway train of success would refuse to stop in the consolation quarterfinals when Colom earned a third period reversal to get a 6-4 win over 2013 Missouri Kids bronze medalist, Jackson Henson.

In the consolation semis, a rematch with Denney would await him.  However, unlike the first matchup, Colom would never allow himself to fall behind, fighting off a deep shot attempt in the first period, earning an escape in the second, and then riding out the entire third to walk away with the 1-0 decision.  In the third place match, it would be a case of déjà vu against New Jersey’s Christopher Cannon.  In identical fashion to his previous victory over Denney, a second period escape would be all Colom would need as he rode his way to victory, working a crab ride for much of the last 45 seconds and just missing near-fall on at least two occasions in the last half minute.

He then tackled one more challenge – a true second bout against Tanner Ward.  He emerged victorious in that contest by a 6-4 score to nab silver, a finish that caps off what has been an unbelievable offseason for Colom, as he adds this medal to the gold he won at the Journeymen Classic in September and the bronze he won in the Middle School division of the Super 32 tournament last month.

Last, but by no means least, would be Port Chester’s Ivan Garcia, who went 5-2 with both of his losses coming to the same opponent, California’s Alex M. Ramirez (3-1 decision in the quarterfinals; by fall in 2:27 in the third place bout).  Aside from his inability to master his rival from the West Coast, Garcia would cruise this weekend, using his excellent defensive skills to limit the offense of his foes. He would outscore his five victims by a cumulative tally of 22-2, beginning with 5-0 and 7-1 decisions in the first two rounds over Isaac Klinkhammer (2013 South Dakota Novice State runner-up) and Mitchell Mesenbrink (5th in the 2013 Wisconsin Kids State Tournament), respectively. Garcia would then shake off the disappointment of his first loss to Ramirez by going on a mini winning streak, beating back-to-back Arkansas wrestlers, Tristan Stafford (2-0) and Tripp Mays (1-0), before getting his hand raised one final time in the consolation semifinals, 7-1 over Jackson Eller.  The win over Eller would have to be considered one of the best of Garcia’s career when you consider that the former entered the tournament as a six-time ASICS/USA Wrestling Kids All-American in the international styles (including an Intermediate National Title in Greco-Roman in 2012).  While the weekend would end in defeat, there is no question that the Section I wrestler should be very proud of his effort as his top-4 finish here surpasses the sixth place showing he put forth last month at the Super 32 Tournament.

Tito Colom of Dunkirk was also in action this weekend, going 2-2 at 108 pounds.

For Full results, please visit Trackwrestling.com.

Big Red Update: Binghamton Open Recap and Some Big Upcoming Events

 

Cornell head coach Rob Koll provided the following update on last weekend’s opening action at the Binghamton Open and some big upcoming events in Ithaca.

 

Our guys opened the season wrestling “unattached” this past weekend in Binghamton. It was a great opportunity to put our practice room training to the test.  I am pleased to say that the vast majority of our guys passed.  Here is a brief synopsis of the weekend.

 

 

125:

I’m pretty sure I/we said that Nahshon Garrett would be a national champion before he graduated from Cornell.  The good news is it looks like he will make us look prophetic sooner rather than later. Nahshon absolutely dominated the field.  This domination included a 7-4 finals victory over Penn State’s 2x NCAA runner-up Nico Megaludis.  Nahshon has improved every facet of his wrestling.

133:

When we recruited current assistant coach Mike Grey almost seven years ago, we did so with the sole intent of attracting his much tougher brother Mark.  Our master plan is currently paying dividends. Mark blew through the weight class and wasn’t challenged until the finals where he defeated his Penn State opponent by a 3-1 score.  Over the past year, Mark has developed into an incredibly physical and athletic 133 pounder.  He is strong in every position and is brutally tough.  I do not recall ever having a freshman who hand-fights or controls the position as well as Mark. That being said, I have to say that in all honesty brother Mike still kicks his a… in practice! (Sophomore Logan David was 1-2).

141:

Mike Nevinger is nursing an injury but will be back in time for the Grapple at the Garden, if not sooner.  Corey Dake won two matches in his freshman debut while fellow freshman Eli Bienstock claimed one victory.

149:

Chris Villalonga looked great, pinning two opponents and winning by major decision in two other bouts.  He has put on a few pounds of muscle and he is wrestling with confidence.  Freshman Alex Cisneros also looked great as he dominated his way to the finals.  The two did not wrestle in the finals.

157:

Freshmen Brian Realbuto (7-1) and Taylor Simaz (5-1) both wrestled well.  This weight was a major question mark going into the season.  I am quite comfortable that this weight class will not be a weakness for the Big Red! (Chris Dowdy was 4-2)

165:

Junior Craig Eifert made a successful return to the mats after sitting out last year due to a knee injury.  Craig cruised to the finals before falling to NCAA champion David Taylor.  Craig is as good as anyone on his feet but needs to commit to his mat work.  Marshall Peppelman and Dylan Palacio were unable to compete due to injury and sickness.  Marshall will be back in two weeks and Dylan will compete this weekend. Jake George was 2-2.

174:

Sophomore Owen Scott wrestled his way to the finals before falling to All-American Matt Brown.  Owen is long, lanky and funky. He got a little banged up and will miss this weekend’s Red/White match.  Jesse Shanaman went 6-1 on his way to third place.

184:

Freshman Gabe “Bear” Dean mauled his way to the finals before falling to 2X NCAA champion Ed Ruth. On his way to the finals Dean defeated the country’s 10th and 15th ranked wrestlers.

197:

Junior Jace Bennett placed second.  Jace has made improvements every year and this year is no exception.  Jace has the physical and technical skills to be on the podium in March.  This will occur when he dedicates himself to dominating for seven complete minutes.  Jace still takes mental breaks but we will fix this weakness. Freshman Steve Congenie went 5-2, and placed 4th.

285: Stryker Lane went 4-2.

For complete results go to: http://www.bubearcats.com/sports/wrest/jkopen13.pdf

 

The Weekend Ahead

This weekend we have our Red/White wrestle-offs on Saturday at 3:00.  We originally set the time for 1:00 but moved it back to allow anyone who is at the football game to attend.  The matches are scheduled to be:

Red/White Wrestle Off

125- Nahshon Garrett vs Bricker Dixon

133- Mark Grey vs Logan David

141- Corey Dake vs. Josh Kennedy

149- Conner David vs Alex Cisneros

157- Brian Realbuto vs Taylor Simaz

165- Dylan Palacio vs Craig Eifert

174- Jake George vs Jesse Shanaman

184- Gabe Dean vs Michael Alexander/Billy George

197- Jace Bennett vs Steve Congenie

HWT- Jacob Aiken-Phillips vs Stryker Lane

 

USA vs. Russia Featuring Big Red Stars Dake, Simaz and Perrelli

Photo by BV

On Sunday, the Russians come to town to face the USA team featuring Kyle Dake, Cam Simaz and Frank Perrelli. The match starts at 1:00.  Admission is free for the Red/White and only $10 for the Russian dual.

Here is a great video promoting the Russian dual:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBKfI9dE8D

Hope to see you there!

All the best, Rob

City Highlights: After a Banner Year, Who Will Stand Out for the PSAL in 2013-14? (Season Preview)

BY MATT DIANO

In addition to crowning the first ever NYS Champion from the PSAL when Adis Radoncic rallied from the #6 seed to win the 170-pound small school title, the boys from the five boroughs would enjoy a banner year in Division I, scoring an all-time high of 61 team points (up from 10 in 2011).  Those points came from the efforts of five All-State individuals, including 126-pound finalist Keanu Thompson (Grand Street Campus).  In DII, Radoncic would be joined on the podium by Brooklyn International’s Cheick Ndiaye (currently competing for the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club), who took 4th at 113 pounds.  With this collective effort, the seven young men (two more than in 2012) who wrestled their way into the top-6 of their respective divisions and weight classes would establish a new standard for the section that has long been hailed as the “Empire State’s richest untapped resource.”

Whether 2013-2014 will continue this trend of growth and progression remains a mystery as the PSAL truly is a section in transition this season.  Gone are the majority of the seasoned veterans who sat at the forefront of last year’s breakout campaign.  Four of the seven placewinners graduated and during the offseason, Radoncic made the decision to transfer to Poly Prep.

On the bright side, while only two All-State wrestlers return, an abundance of others will enter the season with experience at the Times Union Center.  As previous appearances helped provide the maturity the 2013 squad needed to flourish (six of the seven made at least their second trip to Albany last season), the 2014 group will need the returning qualifiers to build off and learn from having one NYS tournament under their proverbial belts. Also imperative will be to get large contributions from those wrestlers who just missed making the trip last season, and have been working toward realizing their own golden moments.

Division I: The Proven Commodities

Malik Grant (Curtis)—A first time City Champion as a sophomore in 2013 at the smallest weight class, Grant compiled an impressive 33-6 record, recording 30 pins.  He cruised to last year’s DI title, winning all of his matches by no fewer than five points, including a pair of falls.  In his debut in the state capital, he would take some lumps, going 0-2 with a 9-3 loss to Section VI’s Donny McCoy before being eliminated by eventual 5th place finisher, Vinny Vespa (Section IX). Grant was also the highest placewinner among DI competitors at the 2013 Mayor’s Cup, finishing 4th.  If the City is to have any chance of matching last season, Grant will need to break into the win column on the big stage.  Early speculation suggests that Grant will be attempting to make 99 pounds for the third straight season (finished 3rd in the PSAL as a freshman in 2012).  If he succeeds, it is hard to envision anyone knocking the returning champ off his throne.

Adam Gomez (Cardozo)—A major catalyst in helping his school rise from 21st in 2012 to 3rd last season in the team standings, Gomez became the first wrestler in the four-year history of the program to win an individual title when he scored bonus points (a fall, two major decisions, and a technical fall) in all four of his matches to claim the 106-pound hardware.  At the state tournament, the now-junior would show that he is going to be one to watch when he narrowly missed the medal stand, falling a single victory short when he was pinned in the blood round by the wrestler who later went on to take bronze, Section V’s Jon Haas. Gomez, who certainly did not show any signs of a sophomore jinx last year, is expected to be back at the same weight class this season and will be hungry to surpass what was an incredible 2013 season that witnessed him go 31-4.

Saidyokub Kahramonov (New Utrecht)—A senior leader, the stud from Brooklyn will look to make his third consecutive trip to Albany.  A city finalist in each of the past two seasons, Kahramonov would be unstoppable last season, punching his ticket to Albany by crushing his opponents with three pins and a technical fall to claim his first individual gold.  However, as nice as it must have been to be among the Kings of the City, this young man would just be getting started, going 3-3 (loses to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place finishers) under the roof of the Times Union Center to earn a 6th place finish.  In doing so, he became the first wrestler in the history of the New Utrecht program to bring home an All-State medal.  And, with last season’s 132 pound bracket being senior heavy, the potential will be there for Kahramonov to make his swan song a memorable one.  If nothing else, history has taught us that the more experience he garners, the better he seems to perform.  In 2012, despite being a sectional runner-up, he would get the call to represent the PSAL when the champion was forced to scratch because of injury.  He would go 0-2, but seemingly grew from the opportunity.  With 2013 rival Sam Melikian (3rd in NYS last year) having moved on to the collegiate scene, Kahramonov will also head into the new year as a favorite to pick up the only NYC honor he has yet to earn, a Mayor’s Cup title.  He has placed 3rd and 2nd respectively in 2012 and 2013.  He completed his junior season with a record of 35-7 with all but one of the defeats coming to opponents who placed at the state tournament.

Konstantin Parfiryev (James Madison)—The only other returning state placewinner for the PSAL, the senior has that fine wine quality about him in that he simply gets better with age.  A 40-match winner (40-7) last season for coach Ned M. Campbell, Parfiryev would hit a home run in his first trip to Albany, kicking off his NYS tournament experience with a 7-5 upset over Section I champion, Joe Mastro, en route to taking home 6th place honors at 152 pounds. (Mastro wrestled back to finish 3rd; was a 2013 FloNationals All-American and currently competes for North Carolina State). Parfiryev will enter his final scholastic season with a chance for his fourth All-City performance.  In each of his first three seasons on the Madison varsity, he has improved his position on the medal stand, going from 4th in 2011 to the previously cited title last year.  Now that he is on top, it would take a Herculean effort to knock him off the perch.  While we never say never, as long as he stays healthy, he is about as big a favorite as anybody in the entire state to be heading back to the capital in 2014.  With two-thirds of the placewinners from the 152-pound NYS bracket back again this season, a run to the title would be challenging, but a repeat All-State showing seems like it is in the cards.

Camilo Gaitan (Brooklyn Tech)—One of the most improved wrestlers in the PSAL last season, Gaitan went from going 1-2 in the 2012 City Championships to winning the 160-pound title as a junior last season.  Getting his hand raised in 31 of the 40 bouts he wrestled in 2013, the Engineer senior would have a few close calls, winning a pair of 6-5 decisions in the quarter and semifinal rounds of the PSAL tournament.  But he would save his best for last, securing his spot on the bus to Albany with an 18-9 major decision over Long Island City’s Thomas Jones in a clash of the top-2 seeds.  Gaitan would struggle in his introduction to the NYS Tournament, going winless and getting pinned in his two matches.  Now a year older and one of the few qualifiers who is back from last year’s 160-pound bracket, Gaitan will be poised to make it three straight years that Brooklyn Tech has put at least one representative onto the podium at the DI tournament.

 

Division I: The Senior Heroes (seeking their first title in their final season)

Daniel “Omega” Amancio (MLK)—The 2013 PSAL runner-up at 120 pounds to NYS 6th place finisher, Santo Curatolo (Tottenville), Amancio darn near shocked the NYC wrestling world when he pushed the three-time defending champion to the brink before dropping a 4-3 decision in the title bout.  Still, even in defeat, the MLK captain proved that when he is at the top of his game, he is as dangerous as any wrestler.  A first time All-City honoree with his silver medal showing in 2013, the wrestler they call “Omega” has continued to progress every year.  Known to be a tireless worker who spends significant time working out at and wrestling on behalf of the Beat the Streets Wrestling Club, if Amancio is able to ascend to the top of the podium, he will become the first Knight wrestler to qualify for the NYS tournament.  When Curatolo moved up to 126 for the Mayor’s Cup, Amancio, who went 32-4 last season, seized the opportunity, going 5-0 with three first period falls to win the hardware.  Last month, he would continue to hone his craft, going 4-1 at the Columbus Day Duals.  In September, against a field consisting mostly of NYC wrestlers, he was the gold medalist at the Steeplechase Open.  He is expected to be back at 120 for his senior season.

Bertin Saimbeau (Wingate)—Like Amancio, Saimbeau found himself on the cusp of glory, only to be denied in the large school finals last season, 7-3 by Julian Alsbrooks of New Utrecht at 138 pounds.  He will be looking to erase those memories in his final crack at the mountaintop.  Already an All-City wrestler, the Wingate grappler has made noticeable strides throughout his career.  As a freshman, he went 1-2 at the City Championships, but has not failed to medal since, earning a 4th place finish in 2012 to complement his performance last season.  Depending on where Kahramonov elects to go this season, Saimbeau could either stay at 138 or move up to 145 where it is possible he will be challenged by Madison’s Marc D’Chiutiis (assuming he is able to make the weight for another season).

Marc D’Chiutiis (James Madison)—D’Chiutiis was a PSAL runner-up last season, losing in the 145-pound finals to Eagle Academy’s Nigel Williams.  With the rumors that Eagle Academy will be returning to the Division II scene after moving up and competing well in Division I for one year, the door has swung open for individuals at this weight class.  And, if there is one wrestler who deserves to go out on top, it would be the Madison wrestler who also played bridesmaid in 2012 at 126 pounds.  Adding to his resume, D’Chiutiis placed 3rd at the 2013 Mayor’s Cup.  A 30-plus match winner in his junior season (31-11), D’Chiutiis might just give coach Campbell one of the top 1-2 punches in all of the five boroughs.

Alex Palmer (MLK)—The three-year Knight captain would have a below average showing at last year’s City tournament, getting upset in the quarterfinal round and then choosing to not wrestle back. But we could not ignore his full resume, which includes his runner-up finish in 2012 and a 4th place finish as a freshman in 2011.  The mere fact that he has a career victory over Parfiryev (6-2 in the 2012 PSAL semifinals) shows that when he is at his best, he possesses the ability to make noise regardless of who lines up opposite him.  Where he needs to improve is in his level of consistency. With so much established talent in the middle weights this season, Palmer can’t be anything less than firing on all cylinders if he hopes to put that elusive cap on his varsity career by winning the City title.  He ended his junior year with a 27-8 record.

John PierreLouis (Springfield Gardens)—PierreLouis is a two-time PSAL bronze medalist who has not deviated much in weight, staying at 189/195 throughout his scholastic career.  In a word, he is a pinner.  In six of his eight career wins at the City tournament, he ended the bout via fall, including in his third place matches the past two years.  In 2012, he stuck 2013 Junior Greco-Roman All-American, Roland Zilberman (who finished as the PSAL runner-up @195 last season for Lincoln).  Last year, his victim was 2012 PSAL small school champion, Miguel Perez from Eagle Academy.  PierreLouis will also be seeking his third straight top-8 finish at the Mayor’s Cup, having claimed 5th place as a sophomore before defaulting to 8th in 2013.  In 2010, it was Springfield Gardens senior Francisco DeCristo taking 5th in NYS @170.  Might that magic be in the air this season for PierreLouis?  Only time will tell!

 

Division I: Team Race

1. Brooklyn Tech—Until someone finds a way to stop this runaway train, Brooklyn Tech has to be considered the early favorite to win a fourth consecutive team title.  Led by defending champion, Gaitan, the Engineers will feature a plethora of returning placers — Julian Polian (6th @106), James Rosado (4th @113), Devon Hoyte (3rd @120), William Hernandez (6th @126),  and Andy Huang (2nd @132).  The only question that remains is how well this deep group of wrestlers will adjust to competing under new head coach Steve Flanagan, who replaced the architect of Tech’s recent success, Todd Bloom. Flanagan has an excellent track record, having led Wingate to back-to-back top-3 finishes in 2011 and 2012. Among his many accomplishments as a coach, Flanagan mentored McZiggy Richards to a 3rd place finish at the 2012 NYS DI tournament.

2. Cardozo—Cardozo is a team that came out of nowhere last season.  When writing the 2013 preview, Chris Milani’s squad was not even on my radar.  However, they were so outstanding last season that not only are they deserving of my apologies, their performance commands that I give it. Still a relatively young program, this is a team that has improved leaps and bounds each year.  In 2011, the squad finished 33rd in the team standings with nine cumulative points and the following season moved up to 21st with 28.5. Then, last year would be the coming of age as the Judges not only took 3rd in the City Championships, but also finished as the dual meet runner-up.  With a strong nucleus returning, Milani and company have no intention of taking any steps backward in 2014.   Joining the previously mentioned Gomez as wrestlers to watch are returning All-City competitors: Jacob Delgado (2nd @99), Douglas Chau (5th @113), Steven Kim (5th @132), Tommy Qu (6th @145), and Taqee Burns (4th @152).

3. James Madison—Coach Campbell’s team earned 3rd in the Dual Meet Playoffs last season before finishing sixth in tournament action to conclude the 2013 campaign.  With a defending champion in Parfiryev, a two-time runner-up in D’Chiutiis, and two other returning All-City student-athletes (Askar Raimbek 4th @132; Mark Ifraimov 6th @285), the squad should be in position to compete yet again in 2014.

4. MLK—Right below Madison is the team they defeated in the Dual Playoff consolation match, the Knights of MLK.  Similar to Cardozo, the Tim Muscarella-coached program is still very much in its youth stage, having been in existence for less than a decade.  However, if recent trends hold up, 2014 may very well be the season that puts the program on the map for good.  Sitting at the head of the table will of course be returning and former City finalists, Amancio and Palmer.  Sophomore sensation Ramel McIntosh (6th @113) and senior Kevin Kabadi (6th @170) make the Knights four strong.  However, in speaking with assistant coach Eric Klein, what will make or break the season will be the efforts from guys who were role players in the past but are now being asked to take on more responsibility.  The perfect examples would be Jose PerezOhanugo Okorie, and Guillermo Rivas, who as #8, #5 and #7 seeds, all missed the medal stand last season by one victory at 138, 160, and 182 respectively.

5. Wingate—Even with the departure of Flanagan, the Wingate program didn’t skip a beat, rolling to a 6th place finish at the City Championships in 2013. With three top-4 wrestlers back to spearhead this year’s team, there is every reason to believe that Wingate will be strong at the end.  Saimbeau is the headliner, but Marcus King (3rd @160) and Maleke Cunningham (4th @182) are quite capable of giving a star performance any day of the week.  Seeded 4th, King came one point shy from being a potential champion last season, losing 6-5 to Gaitan.  Cunningham would wrestle his way into the semifinals, but defaulted his last two bouts, leaving him with a 4th place finish.  If a lightweight like Shamar Griffith, who was seeded 6th but came two wins short of placement, can put all the pieces together and provide Wingate with a fourth threat, it is very feasible to see them challenge for a top-3 spot.

 

Division II: The Incumbents (Former or Defending Champions)

Dolan McColgan (Petrides)—The small school champion the past two years at 99 pounds (finished 3rd as a freshman), McColgan will enter his senior season with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after having what some might deem a disappointing showing in Albany in 2013.   When McColgan defeated Fordham Prep’s Chris Martorello in the finals of the 2013 Mayor’s Cup, the general consensus was that the victory was the sign of good things to come and that he could challenge for a spot on the podium at the Times Union Center.  Unfortunately, the pieces would not fall into place and he would drop his only two bouts of the state tournament to give him an overall record of 1-4 in Albany.  After getting his hand raised in 35 matches last season (35-3), and with one more crack at the medal stand remaining in his scholastic career, we can expect to see a very determined McColgan in 2014.

Mohammed Guernah (RKA)—The departure of Radoncic to Poly Prep leaves this talented super sophomore as one of two defending champions for Robert Dicanio’s RKA squad.  Seeded 3rd (out of 4) in the 120-pound bracket, Guernah would be lights out in his first City Championship tournament, pinning second-seeded Sean Caffrey of Petrides in the second period, before earning a 14-9 decision over top-seeded Jean Marti of Baruch in the title bout. Guernah would receive a very unfavorable draw, getting eventual state bronze medalist, Kellen Devlin, in his opening bout.  The truth is that the Gotham City freshman would never quite get on track, getting stuck by Devlin at the :58 mark and then losing his consolation bout by fall to Section III’s Mike Boyle.  That one weekend aside, as the only freshman qualifier from the PSAL last season, Guernah knows that he still has plenty of time remaining in his career to make his mark.  He finished his frosh campaign with a record of 16-5 and will need to be just as good this season to make up for the loss of his heralded former teammate.

Daniel Padulo (Baruch)—After years of being overshadowed by his older brother, Anthony, a four-time DII City finalist/2012 Champion, Daniel Padulo would finally get his moment to shine. He would capitalize on this opportunity, winning his only match of the PSAL tournament via second period fall over now two-time City runner-up David Medina of RKA.  Padulo would encounter hardship when making the trip to Albany, getting pinned in his first round match by Nick Forget (finished 5th) and then eliminated one match later in the consolation bracket by Section XI’s Hunter Hulse.  If he hopes to conclude his high school career with a top-6 finish in February, Padulo is going to have to work hard to improve upon the 14-16 record that is attributed to him on the NWCA database.

Steven Cook (RKA)—The senior leader will have added pressure on his shoulders with the departure of Radoncic. A City titlist in his first appearance in the PSAL DII tournament, Cook would show that seeding is just a number when he pulled off the upset of top-ranked Nate Muse of Petrides to win the 132-pound crown.  Unfortunately, circumstance would prevent Cook from competing in Albany, robbing him of what would have been an excellent opportunity to see how he compares to the rest of the Empire State elite.

Nigel Williams (Eagle Academy)—Williams might be among the most battle tested wrestlers in the five boroughs, after attending blue chip events across the country.  A first-time champion in 2013 at 145 pounds after previously finishing as the runner-up in his freshman and sophomore seasons, the Eagle Academy senior will be seeking his first win in Albany after going 0-2 in both 2011 (injury replacement) and 2013.  To say that his 0-4 record is misleading would be an understatement.  Williams is a dangerous draw for any wrestler; he has excellent throws and can put opponents on their backs at the drop of a hat.  A winner of three matches at the Eastern States Classic, Williams has proven himself to be a jack of all trades by also winning a handful of bouts at both the Junior Duals and the Junior Nationals in the international styles.

Nathanael Rose (Eagle Academy)—Rose is on pace to become a four-time City Champion, having won the 182-pound weight class in back-to-back years, once in each division. He has continued to gain recognition across the state and his power and raw athleticism are drawing parallels to that of the previously mentioned McZiggy Richards. As a freshman in 2012, Rose demonstrated untapped potential, scoring bonus points in both of his City tournament matches before going 0-2 at the NYS DII tournament.  Last season, he just missed placing at the Eastern States by one victory, finished second at the Mayor’s Cup (to NYS placewinner Matthew Roberts of Monsignor Farrell), and then wrapped up his sophomore season by making the round-of-8 at the NYS Tournament. It is the immense development that he seems to make from year to year that has me thinking that all the stars are aligned for Rose to be 2014’s version of Radoncic for the PSAL.  I believe the Eagle Academy junior is going to be a NYS Champion before his career is over; the only unanswered question is whether he’ll be a multi-time titlewinner.

Miguel Perez (Eagle)—A PSAL DII Champion two years ago as a freshman, for a while, it looked like he was on the path to Titletown when he posted a respectable 1-2 record in his debut in Albany in 2012.  Last season, when his school made the decision to compete at the large school level, Perez would find himself in a deep bracket that featured eventual NYS placewinner Kevin Tynes (previously of Brooklyn Tech; now at Stanford) and the aforementioned Greco All-American, Zilberman. Now that Eagle will be returning to DII, Perez should be considered a heavy favorite to win the next two City titles.  With regards to upstate, with most of the top-8 finishers from last year’s NYS Tournament having graduated, it would not be premature to say that Perez could find himself in the mix to make the medal stand.  After all, if you can win one match as a freshman, winning three (which is what it takes to make All-State) is not unfathomable.  Perez went 32-10 last season.

Christian Gioia (Petrides)—A returning two-time City finalist, Gioia would win his first title in 2013, going 2-0 behind a pair of decisions over Banana Kelly’s Edward Bonner (8-5) and Baruch’s Kenshawn Anderson (5-1).  He would go winless in Albany. Gioia is one of the individuals who might get hurt the most from Eagle Academy’s return to the DII ranks.  If he and Perez are at the same weight class, Perez would need to be considered a heavy favorite because of their 2012 title bout which was won by the Eagle junior, 15-0.

Elvin Gervacio (Brooklyn International)—A three-time finalist as an upperweight wrestler, Gervacio won the PSAL title in 2012 at heavyweight and finished 2nd last season down at 220.  However, despite not being a champion in 2013, the big man would be summoned into action in Albany, taking the place of Anthony Hernandez (Petrides) who went unopposed at 285.  In two trips to the state tournament, Gervacio has gone winless, including 0-2 last season with losses to the wrestlers who finished 3rd and 6th.  On the bright side, with five of six placewinners having graduated, there is reason for optimism.  For the PSAL to match what they did last season, Gervacio is going to have to apply what he has learned the past two years and find a way onto the podium.

 

Division II: One More to Watch

Nate Muse (Petrides)—A wrestler who has experienced nothing other than the City title match thus far in the first three years of his varsity career, Muse is hoping that the fourth time will be the the charm after settling for silver in his previous three attempts.  The top seed at his weight class each of the last two years, if there is anyone in all of Staten Island that is going to be fired up for the postseason, it is Muse, who has unfinished business.  Muse would be called into duty, as an injury replacement in Albany.  He would lose both of his matches, but gained the kind of big match experience that he will need to get over the hump and finish his career with the City title.

 

Division II: Team Race

As has been the case much of the past decade, the team title will be a battle between Eagle Academy and Petrides.  A year removed from finishing second in the DI team standings, on paper, one would have to think that Eagle would have the edge.  The Bronx located school should receive huge point contributions from the trio of defending/former champions (Williams, Rose, and Perez), as well as a group of All-City wrestlers who will be in title contention in the smaller division.  This collection of talent includes, but is not limited to, the following: Jairo Pepin (6th @120), Rashid Powell (5th @126), Zimba Hamm (6th @152), Vance Cuffie (5th @160), Roshane Gray (5th @170), and Marc Diaz (3rd @220).

Petrides, who in the absence of Eagle went on to win the small school team title last season by a 44 point margin over Baruch, will be anchored by McColgan, Muse, and Gioia, and solidified by Caffrey (3rd @120), Jason Falloon (4th @120), Robert Welgoss (3rd @138), Tristan Ferrigno (2nd @145), and Tyler Saracena (2nd @182).

 

Returning Qualifiers from 2013 – Division I

Malik Grant, Curtis (99)

Adam Gomez, Cardozo (106)

Saidyokub Kahramonov, New Utrecht (132)—6th

Konstantin Parfiryev, James Madison (152)—6th

Camilo Gaitan, Brooklyn Tech (160)

Returning Qualifiers from 2013 – Division II

Dolan McColgan, Petrides (99)

Mohammed Guernah, RKA (120)

Daniel Padulo, Baruch (126)

Nate Muse, Petrides (132)—Injury replacement

Steven Cook, RKA (132)

Nigel Williams, Eagle Academy (145)

Nathanael Rose, Eagle Academy (182)

Christian Gioia, Petrides (195)

Elvin Gervacio, Brooklyn International (285)—replacement pick

For more on New York City wrestling, see Gotham City Wrestling.