Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals Preview: What to Watch from the New York Teams

On Saturday, three of New York’s Division I programs will travel to Troy for the 11th Annual Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals.  Binghamton, Buffalo and Columbia will take the mat three times each at Hudson Valley Community College.

Here are some of the things we’ll be watching in those meets.

Buffalo (vs. NC State, Sacred Heart, Clarion)

The Bulls will open their dual slate under first-year head coach John Stutzman against North Carolina State.  One of the intriguing matches will pit Nick Flannery, who grabbed third at the New York State Intercollegiates last weekend, against former Fox Lane standout Sam Speno of the Wolfpack, who was an NCAA qualifier last year as a true freshman.  There are likely to be at least two meetings of Empire State natives, as Tony Lock of Buffalo, fresh off his runner up showing in Ithaca, could face 2013 New York State champion Shayne Brady of Carthage at 184.  In addition, All-American Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State, ranked in the top five nationally at 285, could square off with James Benjamin of Vestal at heavy.  Meanwhile, Nijel Jones, currently ranked in the top 20 at 165 by at least one publication will challenge either Wally Maziarz or Rrok Ndokaj at 165.

Todora, Photo by BV

Speaking of New Yorkers on the opposing squads, the next dual could feature a few more as the Bulls square off with Sacred Heart.  Former Suffolk County stars Nick Lupi and TJ Fabian, who began his college career with a top six finish at the Binghamton Open, could be in the lineup at 285 and 133, respectively, for the Pioneers.  In another potentially interesting contest, Nick Flannery could compete against Andrew Polidore, who led Sacred Heart in victories in 2012-13.

Buffalo’s final competition of the day will come against Clarion.  Justin Arthur, a true freshman, is off to a hot start at 149 and will be a tough test for Buffalo rookie Ryan Todora.  Another set of freshmen could meet up at 157 with Austin Matthews facing Buffalo’s John Northrup, who was fifth at the New York State Intercollegiates.  Mepham graduate Dan Sutherland has seen some action at 184 and 197 for the Golden Eagles and could match up with Tony Lock or Angelo Malvestuto, depending on where he wrestles.


Binghamton (vs. North Carolina, NC State, George Mason)

The Bearcats will take on some challengers from further South.  After a fourth-place finish at the New York State Intercollegiates last weekend at 141 pounds, Dylan Caruana will be tested all day, facing returning All-American Evan Henderson of UNC, NCAA qualifier Sam Speno of NC State and Sahid Kargbo of George Mason, who wrestled in the preliminary bouts at the NWCA All-Star Classic.

In addition to Evan Henderson at 141, the Tar Heels will provide some other strong performers, including a pair of wrestlers who made the Round of 12 at the NCAA tournament last year, Nathan Kraisser (125) and John Staudenmayer (165).  They are likely to square off with David White and Vincent Grella of the Bearcats.  In addition, North Carolina boasts another wrestler who won a match at the NCAAs last year, 184-pounder Alex Utley, who will meet Caleb Wallace, the New York State Intercollegiates third place medalist.

Deuel, Photo by BV

Speaking of Wallace, he’ll be part of another New York state battle in the second dual of the day as he could face the previously mentioned Shayne Brady of NC State.  Other highlight matches in that meet include Cody Reed vs. KaRonne Jones at 197, the aforementioned Caruana vs. Speno tilt and the match between Tyler Deuel and former Binghamton heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski, currently the #3 285-pounder in the country.  Deuel is coming off a weekend in which he either pinned or teched all of his opponents at the New York State championships.  Of course, the match pits NC State coach Pat Popolizio against Binghamton, the team he formerly led before moving to the ACC.

After facing two teams from North Carolina, Binghamton will next wrestle George Mason.  Once again, Tyler Deuel will meet a quality foe in NCAA qualifier Jacob Kettler.  And a match we’re excited to see is freshman Nick Tighe of the Bearcats, who was third at the New York State Intercollegiates, against a solid opponent in Vince Rodriguez at 133.


Columbia (vs. Michigan State, Clarion, Lehigh)

At the Michigan State Open a few weeks ago, there were a few head-to-head meetings between the Lions and Spartans.  There will be 10 more as the two squads compete in Round 1 on Saturday.

One of the highlight bouts looks to be at 157 where Columbia freshman Markus Scheidel could have a rematch against Ryan Watts of the Spartans, who beat him 3-2 earlier in November.  Scheidel then went on to win his next six bouts to take fifth.

Also at the MSU Open, Nick McDiarmid of the Spartans topped Matt Idelson at 197.  We’ll see if a second match between the two is in store.  One more to keep an eye on is at 184, where the champion of the Freshman/Sophomore division in East Lansing, Zack Hernandez (the fourth place finisher at the New York States last Sunday) could take on a solid opponent in John Rizqallah.

Bystol, Photo courtesy of Brock Malone

In the finale, Columbia’s three finalists at the New York State Intercollegiates, Penn Gottfried, Matt Bystol and Eric Fajardo, will look to keep the ball rolling against some young Lehigh wrestlers – Darian Cruz at 125, Laike Gardner at 141 and Elliott Riddick at 174. (The first and last are freshmen, Gardner is a sophomore).  Additionally, one of the two Lions to place at 133 in Ithaca – Joe Moita (fourth) or Angelo Amenta (fifth) will square off with #6 Mason Beckman, while Markus Scheidel will face another ranked opponent at 157 – Joey Napoli.  (Austin Matthews of Clarion, Scheidel’s other opponent on Saturday, is also a highly-touted rookie).

Returning NCAA qualifier Josh Houldsworth of the Lions will compete with yet another Lehigh freshman, Brian Brill. And at 184 pounds, Lehigh has started a pair of New Yorkers, Zach Diekel and Austin Meys, this year.  We look forward to watching one of them take the mat against the Lions.

Rutgers, Virginia, Central Michigan and Illinois are four other teams not mentioned above that will participate on Saturday.

Not Just College Wrestling . . .

There will be more than college wrestling at the event, however.  A high school tri-meet will take place featuring national power Wyoming Seminary, Belmont Hill and St. Vincent Pallotti.  And some top notch wrestlers will take the mat for high school All-Star exhibitions around 3:30.

In addition, the Youth Scrap and Scramble Duals, including eight teams made up of kindergarten to eighth grade wrestlers, will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday.

Stephen Hromada, who is bringing a team representing 631 Elite, is excited about the experience.

“It will be great to wrestle next to college wrestlers,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to the weekend.”

The full schedule is as follows:


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

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

Piccininni, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Moving Down in Weight . . .

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Team Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Division II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DeVincenzo, Photo courtesy of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Section 3

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Section 10


Kyle Dake Tops Former World Champion and World Bronze Medalist on His Way to Fifth at the Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan


Photo by BV

Kyle Dake defeated a Russian opponent, Boris Makoev, in Ithaca last weekend at 74 kg/163 pounds.  On Sunday, he faced two more Russian foes, as well as other accomplished grapplers at the Golden Grand Prix Finals in Azerbaijan, where he took fifth place with some quality victories.  The amazing part – he did it all with a fractured hand.

The four-time NCAA champion began the day well with a 7-1 triumph over Ali Shabanau of Belarus, a 2013 World bronze medalist.  That victory earned him a meeting with two-time World champion Denis Tsargush of Russia and he picked up a huge 10-5 win.

In the semifinals, another Russian opponent, Gadzhi Gadzhiev, defeated Dake and in the bronze bout, the Cornell graduate and Azerbaijan’s former World bronze winner Ashraf Aliyev ended their match tied at 3, with Aliyev getting the victory on criteria.  In his first big international tournament, Dake certainly showed his mettle, beating some of the top grapplers in the world, and doing so with a significant injury.

Jimmy Kennedy was the only USA wrestler with a top three showing, as he collected a bronze medal at 60 kg.

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

Dean, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For full brackets and scores, see and search for “NYS Intercollegiate Championships.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”


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


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.”


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.”