Down to Durham: State Runner Up Alex Tanzman Decides on Duke University

 
 
With a pair of Suffolk County titles and two All-State showings, Duke University-bound Alex Tanzman is the most decorated wrestler in Westhampton Beach history.

However, when the squad looked to clinch the league title in January, the Hurricanes planned to do it with their star sitting on the sidelines.

“It was our last dual meet of the year against Shoreham Wading River and we needed to win it to win the league,” head coach Paul Bass said. “We were hoping to do it without him because he had hardly practiced in three weeks and was in a lot of pain. He had done his job for us 48 hours before when we upset [then-#3 in the state] Rocky Point and we didn’t want to wrestle him again.”

Things did not go according to plan, however.  When it came time for the 106-pound weight class, instead of being in a solid position to capture the meet, Westhampton Beach trailed by double digit points.

“Alex put his head gear on, took his warm ups off and said he had to go out there for the team,” Bass said.

Tanzman wasn’t facing just an average opponent.  He was set to take on James Szymanski, ranked in the top five in the state at the time after an outstanding third place performance at the Eastern States Classic.

According to Bass, Syzmanski jumped out to a three point lead lead after two periods.  But Tanzman fought back in the third, escaping to begin the stanza and picking up a takedown to tie things up.  In overtime, Tanzman completed the comeback to win 7-5 and propel his squad to the championship.

“It was the gutsiest thing I’ve seen in 31 years of coaching,” Bass said.

Coming from behind late in a match against a top foe takes guts, but Alex Tanzman was dealing with much more.  He always had his mother, Jina Tanzman, and her battle with pancreatic cancer in his thoughts.  And physically, he suffered a painful intercostal rib injury in early 2013 that impacted him the rest of the season.

“It was January 5 at our home tournament,” Tanzman said. “It was a short match.  I just did a wrong motion and twisted the wrong way. After that, I slowed down.  I took three weeks off to try to heal, but it didn’t really work. I wasn’t going to not wrestle my senior year so I just toughed through it.  I had to change the way I wrestled. I just had to adapt.”

Adapt is a good word for what he did, according to Bass, as he moved away being from the ultra aggressive wrestler he had always been.

According to his coach, Tanzman set the Long Island record with 37 pins as a junior and was on pace to challenge that mark with 11 falls in November and December.  However, the injury didn’t allow him to attack the way he typically had.

“He couldn’t be aggressive,” Bass said. “He started using a very defensive style.  He gave up more takedowns in the last three weeks of the season than he had in his whole career combined.  He had to square up his stance and score off of defense.”

That led to falling behind in bouts, something that had not been common for the senior in the past.

“I actually was losing in a lot of matches this year that I ended up winning,” Tanzman said. “I never got too nervous, I just tried to stay focused.  I never expected to lose, even with the pain.”

A great example was in the Suffolk County finals against West Babylon’s Steven Lee.  He trailed early in the contest, but responded with a pin and his second straight Section 11 title.  At that point, he had a 32-1 record with his only setback coming up a weight against nationally-ranked Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.

A few weeks later, the returning New York State bronze medalist (at 99 pounds) was the top seed at the Times Union Center at 106 and he went all the way to the championship bout before dropping a decision to Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn.

While Bass desired a different outcome, he marveled at Tanzman’s ability to achieve second place.

“To win Suffolk and go all the way to the state finals in that kind of condition is pretty amazing,” the coach said. “Everyone we talked to said that injury shuts most guys down completely.  You can’t really twist certain ways.  Honestly, Alex couldn’t do much and we were nervous about the lack of work he was able to do.  It was touch and go for a while and we had to take one day at a time, one week at a time.  He kept coming through.”

That kind of ‘can do’ attitude was reflected by the entire Westhampton Beach squad this year. Both Tanzman and Bass emphasized how the tight-knit group pulled through a lot of adversity – and on top of that, earned a lot of success on the mat.

“We had a bunch of hard, tragic events going on all around us,” Bass said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of coaching.  But the kids stuck together.  There was no quit in anyone.  Alex was a perfect example. He was wired from his parents and teammates to keep going no matter what.”

“Our team was really close this year, all of us,” Tanzman added. “We stuck together and encouraged each other through some really hard times.  It was everyone – family, friends, coaches, teachers.  We were proud to win the leagues, which we wanted so bad.  We were able to support each other.”

One of the many evidences of that support came from the T-shirts the team sold.  According to Tanzman, the shirts were purple for pancreatic cancer and there was a “JT” on the sleeve for Jina Tanzman.  The money from the sales of the apparel went to the Lustgarden Foundation, an organization that funds pancreatic cancer research.

Tanzman’s ability to fight through it all was one of the many reasons the Duke coaching staff was excited to welcome him aboard.  His outstanding work in the classroom was, of course, another.

“I was always interested in Duke for the academics,” he said. “I visited a few weeks ago and met with Coach [Glen] Lanham and the wresting team.  It’s a beautiful school with great sports and I really liked the coaches.  It was my number one choice since the beginning of the year.”

The future economics major, who said he weighs about 122 pounds now, will redshirt his first year in Durham, North Carolina with the intention of wrestling at 125 the following season.

“Alex has all the tools,” Bass said. “He’s a very good athlete who is very explosive and strong for his size.  We always knew he was tough, from the time he was in our kid program in fifth grade.  He listens, he’s smart and he learns quickly.  You’re on your own a lot more in college and you need to be self-motivated and independent to succeed.  That’s Alex.  He has his priorities straight. He chose a great university and knows that education comes first.  I know he’ll do awesome.”

It's Almost Tournament Time: Division I State Tournament Preview

First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division I state tournament in Albany.  We will be posting a similar article on Division II. The votes have been rolling in, but if you haven’t already, feel free to give us your thoughts on who will win the titles by participating in our prediction contests.

For the Division I contest, click on this link.

For the Division II contest, click on this link.

 

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

Huntington’s John Arceri got the top seed, but it’s far from an easy road for him. In a 35-2 season (one of his losses was at 106), he defeated five of the grapplers in this bracket, including the number two, three and four seeds. His reward? A possible meeting with the undefeated Vito Arujau of Syosset if both make the quarterfinals. An intriguing first round bout pits CHSAA winner Garrett Baugher, who has been a force throughout the campaign, against NHSCA Middle School National Champion Kelan McKenna of Section 3.

On the bottom of the bracket, we’re excited to see Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip against Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury in the opening round. Having Vespa back on the mat this year has been an amazing story after his well-documented battle with cancer. But beyond that, it is always interesting to watch two medal contenders clash early in the event. Speaking of Section 9 wrestlers, number two seed Chris Cuccolo recovered from some early season setbacks to win the Eastern States and breezed through the remainder of the year (other than a loss to Arceri). He could have a meeting with Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the Round of 8. Diakomihalis has won just about every event he’s entered in the past year and is nationally ranked.

So . . . We’ve had Diakomihalis at #1 and Arujau at #2 for the entire season at this weight. While 99 is often unpredictable at the state tournament, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those two put on a show in the finals as they did in the Super 32 Middle School tournament in the fall when Diakomihalis came out on top and took the title.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (Third at 99)
Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (Fourth at 106)
Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (Sixth at 99)

Alex Tanzman, the top seed, has followed up a stellar junior season with an even better senior campaign. He has a 32-1 mark, with the only loss coming at the hands of state champion Nick Piccininni up a weight at 113. Fellow Section 11 grappler Steven Lee is back in Albany after coming within one win of placing last year. He’ll be part of an intriguing first round bout against Colonie’s Golan Cohen, a wrestler who stood out with a fourth place showing at the Eastern States Classic.

On the bottom half, a number of wrestlers with experience at the Times Union Center will take the mat. Spencerport’s Jon Haas was one bout from making All-State last year and has been on a roll, winning 14 matches in a row since a loss to Diakomihalis. If he gets to the quarters, he could face Nick Barbaria, who made the medal stand a year ago and has an unblemished record (40-0) this year. On the way to the Eastern States Classic title this season, Barbaria topped Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser in an overtime bout and Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the championship match. Those two wrestlers are also very much in the mix for titles and could collide in the Round of 8 if they both advance there. (Quinn’s only two losses are to Barbaria).

So . . . This should be a very interesting class, but in the end, we expect Tanzman, the senior from Section 11, to end his career on a high note on Saturday night against the very tough Barbaria.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (Champion at 99)
Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (Champion at 106)
Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (Fourth at 99)
Bryan Lantry, Wayne (Fifth at 99)
John Stramiello, Pine Bush (Sixth at 106)

It’s clear that there are many very good wrestlers at this weight, especially considering how many returning state placers are in the bracket. Bryan Lantry of Wayne and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush competed for third at the Eastern States and have both been on the state podium before. Corey Ali of Shenendehowa and Thomas Hill of Fulton have won multiple Section 2 and 3 championships, respectively. Joe Calderone also was All-State last year.

So . . . Despite the obvious quality throughout the field, if anyone other than Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni and Chenango Forks’s Kyle Kelly takes the mat in the Saturday night finals, it will be a huge upset. It’s a match that fans in Sections 4 and 11 have been talking about all season and one that both Piccininni and Kelly have expressed excitement about in interviews we did with them prior to the season. Both are nationally ranked by at least one publication and both were undefeated state champions in 2012 (Kelly at 99 and Piccininni at 106). The last time Piccininni lost a match in New York, it was to Kelly in the 2011 99-pound semifinals when Kelly went on to win his first state crown. How similar will this match be to that close decision? We expect it to be an absolute battle between two of the very best wrestlers the Empire State has to offer. We’ve had Piccininni in the top spot in the rankings all year . . . we’ll see if we were right.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Anthony Orefice, Lockport (Fifth at 106)
Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (Fifth at 113)
Steve Michel, Lancaster (Sixth at 120)

We go from two state champions, Kelly and Piccininni, to a field full of grapplers who can make the finals. Who will win at 120 Pounds? Great question. Recently, I asked a handful of people and, predictably, I got a handful of different answers.

Will it be Steve Michel, the top seed? He is a returning placer and has had a strong season, including wins over Division II state champion Sean Peacock, three victories over multi-time placer Anthony Orefice and a pair of triumphs against Kellen Devlin of Amherst. At Eastern States, however, where a sizable number of wrestlers in this bracket competed, Michel didn’t place. Neither did another returning All-Stater, Robert Person. However, the Nassau County wrestler seems to be back to form. After all, he lost to MacArthur’s Chris Cataldo at SUNY Sullivan but responded with a commanding major against the same opponent in the Section 8 final.

Ok, but if those guys didn’t place in Loch Sheldrake – who did? The answer: lots of wrestlers who will compete in Albany. John Muldoon of Pearl River took second, Blaise Benderoth was third, Travis Passaro grabbed fourth, Blake Retell picked up seventh and Santo Curatolo took eighth. Alex Delacruz was in the semis before being disqualified.

Let’s face it, everyone mentioned above is capable of being on the podium. As is Mike D’Angelo, who has a win over Muldoon. And Orefice, who has been a placer before. Only one thing seems safe to say – there shouldn’t be a dull match at this weight.

So . . . The winner here will have navigated tough customers in every round. Who will it be? We’ll put forward the wrestler who got the most votes in our informal poll – John Muldoon.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Dylan Realbuto, Somers (Champion at 113)
TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (Fourth at 120)

Fabian, Photo by Josh Conklin

There are so many good story lines here. One that we’ll definitely be watching is how seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield fares in his first state tournament appearance. He sure hasn’t looked at all intimidated so far, including during his seventh place finish at Eastern States in a very challenging class. He sits in the top part of the bracket, along with a number of accomplished wrestlers. The #1 seed is Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a returning placer who was upset in the Section 11 tournament but came back for bronze. The match that many thought would be the Suffolk finals – Fabian vs. Hauppauge’s Mark West, didn’t come to fruition last weekend. However, it could be a semifinal showdown. Both Section 11 grapplers have plenty to contend with early on, however. For example, West gets Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s a former state placer, in Round 1.

The lower half is no cakewalk, either. Returning state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers begins with upstart Owen Bachelder of Hewlett, who starred in the Nassau County event, including a pin against NHSCA National Champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh. Aroaz, however, will be in the field in Albany for the first time and will start off in another excellent opening round contest as he takes on Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Both Jacob Green of Chenengo Forks and Keanu Thompson have significant Times Union Center experience and will be a challenging matchup for anyone.

So . . . Realbuto has been in the finals for two consecutive years and we think he’ll leverage that experience to get back for the third time, where we could see a rematch of the Eastern States title bout with Fabian. Fabian beat Realbuto on a third period reversal at SUNY Sullivan this year. Realbuto won his state title last year on a last second takedown. With a late charge, Realbuto may do it again.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Matt Leshinger, Sayville (Third at 120)
Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (Fourth at 113)

Matt Leshinger, the top seed, looks to move up a few spots on the ladder after taking third as a junior. He has wrestled well all year, avenging his one loss against Vinny Turano by beating the Wantagh wrestler the next day to grab bronze at Eastern States. There could be a third meeting in the semis but plenty of wrestlers are capable of stopping that from happening. Turano will have an immediate challenge from freshman Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge.

Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam, the #2 seed, has been on the podium multiple times but will be tested right away by returning qualifier Richie Burke of Ithaca, who has put together a 38-3 season. Also sitting in the bottom half is Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian, the Eastern States runner up. The CHSAA champion has blitzed through the season.

So . . . Leshinger was the top seed last year at 120 and took third. This time, as the top seed, we think he’ll finish with the gold against Melikian.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (Third at 132)
Vincent DePrez, Hilton (Second at 113)

Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley and Hilton’s Vincent DePrez had one thing in common last year – both only lost once, and it was at the Times Union Center. Kelley was edged in the semifinals by eventual champion Jamel Hudson while DePrez lost in the waning seconds of the title bout against Dylan Realbuto.

They are the top seeds at 138 (Kelley is at #1). Among the wrestlers on the top half of the bracket to watch are Derrick Gray of Indian River, a five-time Sectional champion, who came within a bout of placing last year and North Rockland’s Matt Caputo, who has over 50 wins according to the NWCA Scorebook.

There are some first round matchups in the bottom half that we’re excited about. One is Rocky Point’s Tommy Dutton, who has been dominant nearly the entire season, against undefeated Danny Graham of West Seneca East. In addition, Isaiah Perry of Massena, who has been at this tournament for many years, will give it one last shot to make the podium, beginning against Joey Butler of Burnt Hills, a returning qualifier who gave Kelley his closest match against a New York wrestler this year in an 8-6 loss.

So . . . Kelley, one of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in New York and a regular in Albany since seventh grade, has been waiting for the chance to get on top of the podium. We think he’ll get there this time, with a challenge from Dutton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (Third at 138)

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

When David Almaviva of Shenendehowa and Louis Hernandez of Mepham squared off in the quarterfinals of the Eastern States, a fan sitting nearby told me it was a preview of the state finals. It could be. Hernandez won that day, 4-2, and went on to win the tournament.

A number of wrestlers will provide very formidable challenges to those two, however. In the top half, where Hernandez sits as the #1 seed, he could see a wrestler such as Anthony DePrez of Hilton, who has just a single loss this year and has been impressive. In addition, Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi is a big threat. He handed Almaviva his only loss at the Times Union Center last year. Jackson Mordente of Sachem East is yet another to keep tabs on.

In the bottom half, Brendan Dent may be under the radar for those outside of Long Island, but he has been strong all year and has yet to lose. In addition, Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster is a very dangerous wrestler who has been to the finals before and is on a mission to get back. Trevor Hoffmier is a formidable first round foe for Almaviva as well.

So . . . We believe the fan at the Eastern States had the title bout pegged. The stage is brighter, but we expect a similar match in Hernandez vs. Almaviva II to what we saw in the Eastern States quarters.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Corey Rasheed, Longwood (Second at 145)

Longwood’s Corey Rasheed is a three-time state placer, including two runner up finishes. If he wrestles the way he has all year, he will be extremely difficult to beat. Eastern States provided a great example of that. In a solid bracket, he pinned his first three foes and then outscored the opposition 28-4 in the semis and finals to earn the crown. He could face some of the other medalists from that event as both Joe Mastro of Yorktown and Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis sit in the top of the bracket.

Columbia’s Angelo Kress is the number two seed and has topped the wrestler in the number three spot, Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa, twice by a single point in February. For them to meet again, they will have to overcome a number of very strong wrestlers, among them, returning qualifier Zach Colgan of Johnson City, Section 3’s Tommy Quinlan and two-time NHSCA All-American Chris Koo.

So . . . Rasheed has been unbelievable this season. He’s been close to a state title twice before and this time takes gold instead of silver against the very solid (and currently unbeaten) Koo.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (Second at 160)
Dale White, John Jay East Fishkill (Fifth at 145)

Tyler Grimaldi was the runner up in this class last year. He has dedicated himself to making sure he gets that elusive last victory in 2013 before heading to Harvard. Who stands in his way? Clarence’s Jake Weber has put together a good season in Section 6 as has Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley, an NHSCA All-American. Holcomb will have an interesting first match as he faces returning medalist Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill, a wrestler who missed the bulk of the season with an injury but has looked solid upon his return.

Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell announced his presence among the state’s elite with his fourth place showing at the Eastern States. In the bronze bout, he lost to MacArthur’s Steve Schneider. The Nassau County champion has appeared to get better and better as the season progressed and is the #2 seed.

So . . . Grimaldi and Schneider have already faced off twice this season with the Hills West senior getting his hand raised both times. The finals may give us a third battle. Harvard thinks they found a champion.  We agree.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Danny McDevitt, Wantagh (Fifth at 138)

McDevitt, Photo by http://www.phototrens.com

Wantagh’s Danny McDevitt is familiar with being the number one seed in Albany as he was on the top line of the 138-pound bracket a year ago, and took fifth. His senior campaign has been nothing short of spectacular as he has seamlessly adjusted to wrestling four weight classes higher. On the way to his Eastern States crown, McDevitt saw (and defeated) some of his challengers, including Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Piccolo, who is the fourth seed. A number of other grapplers who have appeared in the state rankings are in the top part of the bracket, such as St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas and Monroe Woodbury’s AJ Voelker.

Another one of McDevitt’s victories at SUNY Sullivan was against John Jay East Fishkill’s Brett Perry, who resides in the bottom of the bracket. Perry will have a very tough opening battle with Brockport’s Jared Mesiti, a returning qualifier who is 36-2 this season. Carlos Toribio of Brentwood has suffered just one setback in his senior campaign – against Piccolo by fall. However, he beat Piccolo twice, including a dominant victory in the Suffolk finals in which Toribio looked like he was healthy again after an injury.

So . . . McDevitt completes the perfect season before he begins his Ivy League career as a Quaker at Penn with a squeaker against the impressive Toribio.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Shayne Brady, Carthage (Second at 170)
James Benjamin, Vestal (Fifth at 182)
Gio Santiago, Sachem North (Sixth at 182)

Shayne Brady went all the way to the championship bout last year at 170. After placing at the Super 32 Classic and going 32-1, he’s on top of the bracket this time. A couple of returning placers with a tendency to pin could be in his path. Vestal’s James Benjamin notched four pins at the state tournament last year and 28 overall this campaign. Gio Santiago also knows how to throw opponents to their backs, with 30 falls. Don’t forget about Thomas Murray of Yorktown. At the beginning of the year, when asking about potential sleepers in Section 1, we were told to watch out for Murray and he has delivered with a good season.

James Corbett of Wantagh and Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South both lost 6-4 decisions to Trent Egenlauf of Spencerport. It was Liberatore’s only setback of the year, while Corbett had only one more (to Zack Zupan). There are a number of other tough wrestlers in the bottom half, but one of these three is likely to get a shot in the finals.

So . . . Finals experience helps Brady get back to the Saturday night main event, but in an upset, we’ll pick Egenlauf to stay undefeated for the title with very close decisions in the semis and finals.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Reggie Williams, Johnson City (Second at 195)

Reggie Williams has been among the best upperweights in the state for years now. As a freshman, he took sixth and last year he was second with all of his losses coming to state champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. He has been focused on one thing since stepping off the mat in Albany last February and that’s winning it all. So far, he has an unblemished record in 2012-13 and sits as the top seed. Will he get that crown? There will certainly be some obstacles for him. Before the brackets came out, we considered some possible finals opponents for Williams. Among those were Dan Choi of Syosset, undefeated pinning machine Chris Chambers of East Islip and Steven Sabella of Yorktown. (Williams beat Sabella with very late points, 7-5, at Eastern States). Guess what? A finals meeting between any of those guys won’t happen because they’re all on the top half.

So, who will emerge from the bottom? Colton Kells has marched through his senior year with an unblemished record. If he wins his first contest, he’ll certainly be tested by either Deon Edmond of Kingston, who came within one bout of placing last year or the tough Nick Weber of Kings Park. After earning All-American status in Fargo, Ben Honis has put together a nice resume with wins over several top 195 pounders and he’ll have a chance to add to that list when he faces Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley in Round 1.

So . . . All in all, it’s an impressive group of big guys. But despite the many obstacles in his way, Williams has been here before and knows what it takes. We think he’ll get it done in a tight bout over Kells, who came within a match of placing last year and has improved on his feet.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Nick Lupi, Huntington (Fifth at 220)

We were ready to go with a finals prediction of Nick Lupi of Huntington (31-1 after a fifth place showing in this class a year ago) against Rich Sisti of Monsignor Farrell (25-0, 20 pins). With the way the seeds fell, that won’t happen. There are candidates to upset either of those wrestlers, however. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau showed resilience when he came back from a first round loss at Eastern States to take third. In addition, the winner of the first round tilt between Section 8 champion Tom Sinclair of Island Trees and Marshall Taylor of Lockport could certainly go far.

On the bottom, there are many wrestlers with finals potential. John Hartnett of Tappan Zee and Jason Johnson of Colonie put together solid seasons. We think both Steven Mills of Sachem North and Matt Mott of Lynbrook have been somewhat under the radar this year. Our prediction is that one or both won’t be after the weekend.

So . . . Sisti will make it difficult, but we’ll say Lupi’s experience at this tournament leads him to a crown, over a tough fellow Long Islander.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (Second at 285)
Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (Sixth at 285)

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Our rankings have showcased El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia at #1 and Mike Hughes of Smithtown West at #2 for the whole season. Van Hoesen, a silver medalist in 2012, has been nothing short of dominant as a senior, going 37-0 with 24 pins and only two regular decisions. “Nothing short of dominant” could be used to describe Hughes as well. His numbers read: 38-0, 29 pins, 1 regular decision (over qualifier James O’Hagan). If Van Hoesen and Hughes continue to wrestle the way they have all year, the two returning medalists would battle in the semis.

Like Van Hoesen and Hughes, Mike Manni of Tappan Zee is unbeaten this year. He defeated returning qualifier David Varian of Yorktown in the Section 1 finals and a rematch could happen in the semis. However, there are several wrestlers who could stand in the way. Austin Coleman of Spencerport has over 35 wins, as does Newburgh’s Terrence Cheeks, who has exchanged wins with Varian this year.

So . . . The top half winner gets the gold. We’ll say that will be Van Hoesen, who will add a few more pins to his collection before the weekend’s over. After testing himself throughout the year, we’ll say Cheeks gets through the bottom.

New York State High School Rankings #3 – Where Things Stand As The Postseason Really Begins

The postseason is finally here.  Soon, we’ll find out who will have the opportunity to battle for a state title in Albany.  But before the Sectional championships get underway, here’s a look at where our panel thinks things stand across the weights in New York State.  There are sure to be some surprises and some great performances in the coming weeks by these wrestlers and by others.  Please feel free to provide comments or suggestions and we’ll consider them as long as they are done respectfully.

Good luck to all . . .

99 Pounds:

Photo by BV

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  5. Chris Cuccolo, Pine Bush (9)
  6. Garrett Baugher, St. Joseph’s Collegiate (C)
  7. John Busiello, Eastport South Manor (11)
  8. Andrew Flanagan, Holley (5)

A Few Notes: Busiello re-enters the rankings after splitting matches with John Arceri, although the Huntington wrestler came out on top in their bout this past weekend.  The Suffolk tournament will no doubt be tough at this weight with those two wrestlers and Jesse Dellevecchia all in the top 8.  Holley’s Andrew Flanagan also joins the list after edging Jake Yankloski of Wayne.  Flanagan looks to improve upon last year’s fourth place finish in this class in Albany.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  3. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  4. James Szymanski, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  5. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  6. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  7. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
  8. Luis Weirebach, Hoosick Falls (2)

A Few Notes: Golan Cohen of Colonie looked great at Eastern States and will likely be in the mix at the state tournament.  However, Luis Weirebach‘s recent decision against Cohen vaults him into the rankings, a year after placing at 99 pounds for Hoosick Falls.

Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  4. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  5. Tyler Walsh, West Islip (11)
  6. Andrew Shomers, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (11)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: The departure of Anthony Orefice to 120 pounds moved several wrestlers up a few slots from the last time.  In addition, Tyler Walsh of West Islip joins the rankings after his victory over Walt Whitman’s Joe Calderone, a returning fourth placer, in last weekend’s qualifier.  Andrew Shomers has been solid all year long with a 42-1 record, including wins over All-State wrestlers Orefice and Drew Marra.

120 Pounds:

  1. Alex Delacruz, Ossining (1)
  2. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  3. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)
  4. Blaise Benderoth, North Rockland (1)
  5. Travis Passaro, Eastport South Manor (11)
  6. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  7. Steve Michel, Lancaster (6)
  8. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)

A Few Notes:  The top five hasn’t changed since the last version of the rankings. Muldoon did lose a match in overtime to Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano (who has a number of solid wins), but Muldoon avenged that loss shortly thereafter. The injury to Nick Tolli of Arlington moved him off the list and Steve Michel re-entered. The returning state placer from Lancaster has several quality wins this year including over Sean Peacock, Anthony Orefice (twice) and Kellen Devlin of Amherst (twice).  We expect to see strong surges from proven postseason performers such as Robert Person and Trey Aslanian.

Photo by Josh Conklin

126 Pounds:

  1. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  2. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Mark West, Hauppauge (11)
  5. Brad Wade, Islip (11)
  6. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  7. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  8. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)

A Few Notes: The top four remain the same as last time at 126.  However, there is a bit of a shake-up afterwards. Islip’s Brad Wade moves into the rankings.  He has been impressive, beating Corey Jamison twice and state runner up Justin Cooksey. Honestly, eight slots don’t seem to be enough in this class.  Wrestlers such as Mike Raccioppi of Minisink Valley, Rocco Russo of Frontier, Laken Cook of Ilion, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo and Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s, among others, could do a lot of damage in Albany.

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  3. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  4. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  5. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  6. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  7. Conor O’Hara, Sachem East (11)
  8. Sam Ward, Locust Valley (8)

A Few Notes: Sam Ward of Locust Valley will be someone to watch in the Division II ranks. He upended Vinny Turano shortly after Eastern States and also had a win over Conor O’Hara in early December.  Two wrestlers that may be under the radar for those outside of Section 5, Jacob Sepor of Pavilion and Clyde Carey of Addison, are ones to keep tabs on as well.

Photo by Josh Conklin

138 Pounds:

  1. Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Nick Tighe, Phoenix (3)
  3. Connor Lapresi, Lansing (4)
  4. Tom Dutton, Rocky Point (11)
  5. Vincent DePrez, Hilton (5)
  6. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)
  8. Skylar Kropman, Penfield (5)

A Few Notes: Nothing has changed here. However, one wrestler we will be following the rest of the way is Danny Graham of West Seneca East.  Before the season, he was mentioned to us by a Section 6 coach as someone who could have a breakout year.  Thus far, he is undefeated.

145 Pounds:

  1. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  2. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  5. Brendan Dent, Connetquot (11)
  6. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  7. Jordan Torbitt, Whitney Point (4)
  8. Nick Koelmel, Immaculate Heart Central (3)

A Few Notes: Louis Hernandez holds the top spot and Eric Lewandowski remains in the rankings, although both dropped a match since our last update.  Hernandez’s only setback of the year came up a weight at 152 against the tough Michael Marrero. However, Hernandez’s run through some of New York’s best at Eastern States kept him in the same position. Tom Grippi has been on a tear since dropping a close one to Lewandowski at Eastern States.

Brendan Dent enters the rankings after an impressive campaign, including a win over Sachem East’s Jackson Mordente, while Jordan Torbitt blanked Norwich’s Frank Garcia, a wrestler who came within one win of placing in Albany last year. Nick Koelmel of Immaculate Heart Central handed Derrick Gray of Indian River (see 138 pound rankings) his only loss early in the season and has remained undefeated. Fredonia’s Jude Gardner placed in the Times Union Center last year and has only lost to Drew Hull this season (twice).  He may get another shot at Hull this weekend.

Photo by Josh Conklin

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  3. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  4. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  5. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  6. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  7. Joe Mastro, Yorktown (1)
  8. Alex Smythe, Eden (6)

A Few Notes: The small school tournament in Section 3 will be extremely tough this weekend at 152 pounds.  Tyler Spann, Rowdy Prior and two-time state placer Isaiah Riccio of Beaver River will fight it out for the  title.  Riccio has taken third and fifth the past two years in Albany and knows how to perform on the biggest stage. Rasheed and Koo keep cruising to victories.

160 Pounds:

  1. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  2. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  3. Steven Schneider, MacArthur (8)
  4. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  5. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  6. Andrew Psomas, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  7. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)
  8. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)

A Few Notes: There haven’t been any changes here.  Staying on our radar is General Brown’s Tyler Silverthorn, a placer in Albany last year, who seems to be picking up some steam as the most important matches of the year approach. In addition, returning All-Stater Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill is back after injuries kept him on the sideline for much of the season.  He’ll be someone to watch as well.

Photo by Josh Conklin

170 Pounds:

  1. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  2. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  3. Joe Piccolo, HHHW (11)
  4. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  5. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  6. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  7. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  8. Mike Green, Cobleskill-Richmondville (2)

A Few Notes: Joe Piccolo goes to third after pinning Carlos Toribio at the Islip Cup.  Previously, Toribio had notched a 5-0 decision over Piccolo.  The rubber match could happen in a few days.  Mike Green makes his debut in the rankings. The Section 2 wrestler is 40-1 with his loss coming against Vrasidas.  He has defeated state placer Brad Burns and previously ranked Brett Perry of John Jay East Fishkill.  Brockport’s Jared Mesiti is another wrestler who could made a big impact at the state tournament.

182 Pounds:

  1. Zack Zupan, Canastota (3)
  2. Shayne Brady, Carthage (3)
  3. Tim Schaefer, Warsaw (5)
  4. Trent Egenlauf, Spencerport (5)
  5. James Corbett, Wantagh (8)
  6. James Benjamin, Vestal (4)
  7. Gio Santiago, Sachem North (11)
  8. Anthony Liberatore, Williamsville South (6)

A Few Notes: Williamsville South’s Anthony Liberatore, who won multiple matches in the state capital last season, comes in at number eight.  He has put together an impressive season with a single loss (to Egenlauf).  Thomas Murray of Yorktown is also a medal contender.

Photo by Josh Conklin

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  4. Chris Chambers, East Islip (11)
  5. Steven Sabella, Yorktown (1)
  6. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)
  7. Ben Honis, CBA/Jamesville-Dewitt (3)
  8. Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (2)

A Few Notes: Ben Honis made the podium at Fargo this summer and has followed up with a strong season, including wins over wrestlers like Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur, Tyler Smith of Midlakes and Scott Wymbs of Horace Greeley.  He also recently beat Joe Nasoni of Baldwinsville, who was in the last set of rankings.  The two could meet again for the Section 3 crown. Joining this list at 195 is Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa, who has moved up after spending much of the campaign at 182. Syosset’s Dan Choi has been dominant and should be a contender in Albany.

220 Pounds:

  1. Zack Bacon, Hornell (5)
  2. Ryan Wolcott, Waverly (4)
  3. Dan Breit, Nanuet (1)
  4. Nick Lupi, Huntington (11)
  5. Mike Silvis, Holley (5)
  6. Richard Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  7. Joe Sprung, Berne Knox Waterloo (2)
  8. Matt Mott, Lynbrook (8)

A Few Notes: Matt Mott of Lynbrook enters the rankings after his undefeated campaign.  He will definitely be tested this weekend, however, as he wrestles a very tough group in Section 8. Steven Mills of Sachem North will look to top Nick Lupi in Section 11 after a 34-1 season.

Photo by BV

285 Pounds:

  1. El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (2)
  2. Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (11)
  3. Matt Montesanti, Medina (6)
  4. Alex Soutiere, Ravena (2)
  5. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  6. Terrence Cheeks, NFA (9)
  7. Austin DiCerbo, Colonie (2)
  8. David Varian, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: There was some movement here.  The trio of Austin DiCerbo of Colonie, David Varian of Yorktown and Terrence Cheeks of Newburgh have taken turns beating each other with Cheeks coming out on top of recent meetings.  Brandon Fayle of Lowville was upset last weekend, while Austin Coleman of Spencerport looks to be peaking at the right time and will be a tough matchup in the postseason.

————

Special thanks to Mike Carey.

2 weeks to go until the state tournament!

High School Round Up: Weekend News and Notes from the Road to Albany

It’s February and that means the road to the state championships has begun.  On Saturday and Sunday, a number of postseason events took place across the state, helping to shape the brackets for this weekend’s Sectional qualifiers.

There were too many big matches and results to recap, but here are just a few of the things that caught our eye.  The countdown to the first whistle at the Times Union Center is now just about two and a half weeks away!

In Section 1, Yorktown has had a strong presence in our individual rankings this season with Joe Mastro, Steven Sabella and David Varian included in the last version and Thomas Murray falling just outside our top 8 at 182.  Those wrestlers continued their winning ways this weekend, with Sabella having a tough match with another high quality wrestler – Scott Wymbs of Horace Greeley.  Both of those wrestlers have what it takes to make some noise later this month.

Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill made the medal stand at 145 a year ago and was someone we were tracking as a potential state title contender coming into the campaign.  However, he didn’t compete due to injury until January.  This weekend, he picked up a title and is undefeated in limited action thus far at 160.  Perhaps his time off will benefit him down the stretch run.

Ashley, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 2, Levi Ashley spent a bulk of the season at 182 pounds for Shenendehowa where he took fourth at the Eastern States Classic and nearly placed at the Reno Tournament of Champions against some of the nation’s best.  For the past few weeks, however, he has been up at 195 pounds and has gone undefeated there.  That run includes multiple wins over the tough Wayne Burt of Colonie, including a major decision in the finals over the weekend.  He seems primed for a strong postseason.

Meanwhile, El Shaddai Van Hoesen continued his total dominance, quickly pinning Colonie’s Austin DiCerbo, a wrestler who could contend for the medal stand in Albany if he earns the opportunity.

In Section 3, a few wrestlers ranked in the state were upset. At heavyweight, Canastota’s Jacob Morris beat Brandon Fayle of Lowville 3-2 in the semifinals of the Class C tournament before topping Brandon Yager of Ilion for the championship.  Fayle pinned Morris to win the Class title a year ago.

In addition, Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack (ranked at 99), fell at 106 pounds to Hunter Owen of Sherburne-Earlville while Ben Honis, who was in the honorable mention section of the rankings, continued his strong season with a 3-2 win over Baldwinsville’s Joe Nasoni.  It was Nasoni’s first loss at 195 this year.

In Section 4, Jordan Torbitt of Whitney Point took center stage at the Class B Championships. Last year as an eighth grader, Torbitt won more than 25 matches and took second at the Sectional tournament at 152 pounds behind All-Stater Dan Dickman of Greene.  He has continued to shine as a freshman, bringing a 33-1 mark into the weekend after avenging his only loss to Newark Valley’s Trevor Hoffmeir.  Torbitt impressed again on Saturday, beating Norwich’s Frank Garcia, a returning state qualifier who was ranked in New York.

Dietrich, Photo by Josh Conklin

The Greene middle/upper weights looked solid with Mike Beckwith and Christian Dietrich grabbing first place. Teammate Joel Roselle missed some time in the lineup but returned at 182 pounds where he took second behind Unatego’s Ryan Marszal.

In Section 5, a pair of wrestlers ranked in New York squared off in the finals of the Class A tournament at 99 pounds, with #1 Yianni Diakomihalis pinning Wayne’s Jake Yankloski.  It was a good day for a number of Diakomihalis’s teammates as well, as brothers Vincent, Anthony and Lou Deprez all won Class A crowns.

In that same tournament, Yankloski’s teammate Bryan Lantry picked up a major decision over Brockport’s Barton Peters, who had come in with a 22-2 mark.

Like Diakomihalis, Hornell’s Zack Bacon sat atop our last set of individual New York State rankings.  The 220 pounder has rarely been challenged this season as he won by bonus points in his first 33 matches.  However, John Martisch presented an formidable obstacle as Bacon edged the Penn Yan wrestler 2-1.

In Section 6, in a battle of All-State wrestlers, Steve Michel of Lancaster pinned Anthony Orefice for his second victory over the Lockport wrestler this season at 120 pounds. (The first was a close decision). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the two of them square off again next weekend as they look to get back to Albany.

In another meeting of previous placers, returning state runner up Drew Hull of Royalton Hartland edged Jude Gardner at 145 pounds.  It was Hull’s second victory over the Fredonia wrestler this year.

Gardner’s teammate Chris Saden brought an unblemished record into the weekend, however, he was upended in the finals, as Steven Warthling of Tonawanda earned a 9-6 decision.  It should be an interesting weight at Sectionals.

Troy Seymour became the first-ever wrestler from Section 7 to reach 200 wins.  On Thursday night, the Peru senior pinned Hunter Bishop in the first period at 170 pounds to pick up the milestone victory.  In addition, Peru captured the Champlain Valley title over Saranac.

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 8, Mepham’s Jamie Dunn was an All-County wrestler in 2012 and figured to contend for the Nassau title this year.  However, he entered the qualifier with a 23-15 record.  He exited with a title, winning four straight matches, including avenging a loss to Matt Krause and beating top seeded Lucas Pincus in the finals.  His teammates Louis Hernandez and Dan Tracy breezed to championships as well with all bonus wins and look to return to the Times Union Center for the second straight time.

138 pounds will certainly be interesting in the Nassau tournament. Highly ranked wrestlers like Rob Bennett of MacArthur, Quinn Knauer of Baldwin and Rob Rosenberg of Hewlett were among those upset and new contenders emerged, such as Brian Quiroz of Valley Stream Central who came in with a 3-1 record with all four matches in December up at 152 pounds.

Also of note, returning state runner up Justin Cooksey of MacArthur didn’t compete.

Section 9 held its JV Championships over the weekend.  For full results, see here.

In Section 10, Gouverneur closed out another undefeated conference season with a home victory over Massena.  Senior Dillon Stowell collected his 150th career victory and will try for his first state title in a few weeks after placing multiple times.

In Section 11, there were a number of rematches between wrestlers ranked statewide. At 99 pounds, John Arceri of Huntington avenged a loss by fall to John Busiello by edging the Eastport South Manor wrestler 3-2 on Saturday.

In another rematch between two of the top grapplers in New York, Alex Tanzman defeated James Szymanski again, this time by pin. The two had recently wrestled a close bout at 106.

In addition, Islip’s Brad Wade topped Huntington’s Corey Jamison at 126 pounds by a 2-1 score for the second time this season. Wade has been on a very impressive run after a few early losses and looks like a threat to win some matches in Albany – if he can get through the challenging 126-pound Suffolk bracket.

Tyler Walsh of West Islip lost 9-4 to returning fourth placer Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman earlier in the campaign.  This weekend, he prevailed by the same score against Calderone.  Walsh has quietly had a very strong 32-2 year with his only other setback coming against Danbury’s Kevin Jack, the Eastern States Champion at 120.

An article on the PSAL Dual Championship won by Brooklyn Tech, can be found here.

In CHSAA action, Monsignor Farrell crowned seven champions in the New York City qualifier and at least 19 wrestlers from the squad will compete in the Catholic States next weekend.  In the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA League Finals, St. Anthony’s Johnny Vrasidas was named Most Outstanding Wrestler while teammate Joe Russ earned Champion of Champion accolades.

The following is a compilation of some of this weekend’s results. More will be added when available.  That countdown to Albany continues . . .

 

Section 1, Divisional Results

Section 2 Class Results

Section 3 Results

Section 4 Results

Section 5, Class A

Section 5, Class AA

Section 5, Class B

Section 5, Class BB

Section 5, Class BBB

Section 6, Class A

Section 6, Class AA

Section 6, Class C

Section 6, Class D

Section 8, Division I at Mepham

Section 11 Results

Catholic Qualifier (Upstate)

Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA

 

Weekend Recap: Titles for Wantagh, Johnson City and S. Jefferson; Mayor's Cup and More News and Notes from Around the State

As the postseason draws closer, the action continues to heat up.  Over the past few days, fans were treated to previews of some of the key matchups we’ll see at state qualifiers in the coming weeks.  We also saw teams like Wantagh, Johnson City and South Jefferson pick up additional trophies, as well as a plethora of other results.  Here are some of the highlights (and more may be added):

  • Wantagh, the Empire State’s top-ranked squad, followed up titles at the Union-Endicott Duals and the Eastern States Classic with the Nassau County Dual Championship at Clarke High School on Saturday. The Warriors ended a dominant four match run with a 45-16 result in the championship match against MacArthur.

 

  • South Jefferson and Johnson City followed up dual meet crowns in Sections 3 and 4 with additional first place showings at the Frontier League and STAC tournaments, respectively.  Nearby, Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton stood atop the MAC while Holland Patent did the same at the Center States and Phoenix won the Liberty/Patriot League.

 

  • The Mayor’s Cup in Manhattan showcased the best the five boroughs has to offer.  State contenders such as Sam Melikian, Cheick Ndiaye, Andrew Psomas and Richard Sisti were overpowering champions, while Monsignor Farrell captured the team race.

 

  • West Seneca West edged Kenmore West at the Ken-Ton Invitational, where Renaldo-Rodriguez Spencer of Cheektowoga was once again dominant in taking the title.  Also in Section 6, Lewiston Porter won the Peter Rao Memorial Tournament with 138-pounder Dan Reagan notching MOW honors at 138 pounds.

 

  • At the Rockland County Championships, John Muldoon of Pearl River responded to his recent overtime loss to Anthony Calvano by taking the rematch.  A number of other Section 1 stars were on display at that event as well as the Super 16 tournament in Yonkers, where Fox Lane took top billing.

 

  • John Arceri of Huntington upended Eastern States Champion Chris Cuccolo to take the 99-pound crown at the Big Ten Invitational in Albany over the weekend. More details on that tournament which had representation from Sections 1, 2, 7, 9, 11 and from Massachusetts.  The final results are here:  Big 10 Results

 

  • It’s worth noting that Westhampton Beach captured a league title over the weekend with a win over Shoreham Wading River in Section 11. A few days earlier, the Hurricanes put themselves in position for the championship when they topped the state’s third-ranked dual team, Rocky Point, 31-28.  In addition to a pin by the state’s top ranked 106 pounder, Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach was propelled by a pair of upsets. Jake Martin upended Sean Ferguson at 220 while Pete Broccoli‘s victory over James Matias sealed the victory for the Hurricanes.  Both Ferguson and Matias are ranked in Suffolk County.

 

  • In addition, Brockport ended a big week with a 71-15 win over Lansing on the campus of Cornell University. According to head coach Mike Ferris, 113-pounder Barton Peters had a standout performance with a technical fall at 113 while Bobcats junior William Koll also was impressive at 126.  The triumph in Ithaca came a few days after the Blue Devils recorded their first victory over rival Spencerport in 28 years to seal a league title.

For more on some of these stories, read on:

Another Title for Wantagh . . .

Quinn, Photo by Josh Conklin

Wantagh has continued to win week in and week out.  The state’s top-ranked squad captured the Union-Endicott Duals, the team title at the Eastern States Classic and, on Saturday, the Nassau County dual championship.  The Warriors cruised through the event, beginning with a 51-18 pounding of Island Trees.  They followed with a 57-12 win over Division, a 50-18 semifinal result against Mepham and a 45-16 triumph in the finals against MacArthur.  Leading the way were wrestlers ranked among the top 8 in the state –  Danny McDevitt (170), Chris Araoz (126), Vinny Turano (132), Kyle Quinn (106) and James Corbett (182), who combined for eight pins and eight technical falls.

Johnson City Picks Up More Hardware

Williams, Photo by Josh Conklin

Johnson City followed up last weekend’s Section 4 Duals title with another crown – this time at the STAC.  The Wildcats piled up 232.5 points to outdistance runner up Vestal and third place squad Union-Endicott. Johnson City was propelled by four champions (Isaiah Colgan at 106, Joseph Hamdan at 145, Zach Colgan at 152 and Reggie Williams at 195) as well as silver medalists Tyler Brazinski (99), Nick Bidwell (138), Conner Halladay (160) and Dominic Taylor (170).

Vestal’s run was highlighted by 182-pound champion James Benjamin, a returning All-State wrestler who won his title by fall in less than 30 seconds.

Benjamin will be in the mix in Albany for another spot on the podium.  Also prominently figuring into the title picture at the Times Union Center will be two-time state champion Kyle Kelly.  The Chenango Forks star earned a pin in the 113-pound finals against returning state placer Jimmy Overhiser of Corning, who bumped up from his usual weight. Another clash of contenders happened at 126 pounds, where Kelly’s teammate Jake Green edged Ithaca’s Richie Burke, 3-2 in the tiebreakers.  Former state champion Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich also earned gold with a technical fall at 132 pounds.

For more results, see STAC here.

Also in Section 4 . . . BGA Takes the MAC

Also in Section 4, Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton won the MAC tournament at Unadilla Valley.  Leading the way for BGA were a trio of titlewinners, Jesse Griswold (132), Justin Cirigliano (138) and Mark Viviano (195).  Second place Unatego was very strong in the middleweights, boasting winners in three consecutive classes – Codie Nichols (145), Kevin Thayer (152) and Leland Slawson (160).

For more results, see here.

South Jefferson Keeps the Momentum Going

South Jefferson and General Brown have seen a lot of each other lately.  The Spartans won a regular season dual against the Lions and then defeated them again for the Section 3 dual meet title a few days later.  On Saturday, South Jefferson added another trophy with the Frontier League championship, won by over 30 points over General Brown.

Jared Carroll (99), Caleb Beach (106), Jon Crast (132), Daniel Smith (170) and Ryan Charlebois (195) took gold for South Jefferson while Nick Toutant of Indian River was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after defeating Ryan Snow for the 126 pound crown.

For more results, see here.

Also in Section 3 . . . Holland Patent and Phoenix Victorious

At the Center States tournament, the top three teams finished within seven points of one another, with Holland Patent taking first, followed by Dolgeville and Canastota.  The top squad featured a pair of champions – Hunter Richard at 113 and Josh Langley at 220.

The state’s top ranked 182-pounder, Zach Zupan of Canastota, breezed to the championship with a pin, while his teammates Jesse Puchales (170) and Wyatt Albanese (195) also won titles.

In matches featuring wrestlers who could figure into the picture at the Times Union Center, Ilion’s Laken Cook picked up a 3-1 decision over Rome Free Academy’s Antonio DeLuco at 126 pounds. In addition, highly regarded 99-pounder Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack won a 2-0 battle against New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna while his teammates Derek Spann (106) and Tyler Spann (160) were named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestlers.  In a bout between previous state qualifiers, Tyler Spann edged Oneida’s Matt Fisher.

In the Liberty/Patriot tournament, Phoenix was first by a margin of more than 25 points. Nick Tighe dominated his way to the 138 pound crown while teammates Rowdy Prior (152) and Justin Rhodes (160) joined him on top of the podium.

For more results, see Center States and Liberty/Patriot.

West Seneca West, Rodriguez-Spencer Shine at the Ken Ton Tournament

The Ken-Ton Invitational included some of the best in Section 6, including Cheektowoga’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer.  The returning state runner up cruised through the competition at 132 pounds, including a technical fall, a first period pin and a 15-6 major over All-State grappler Cody McGregor of Tonawanda.  West Seneca West was the 7.5 point winner of the event over second place Kenmore West.

For more on the event, see here.

Reagan, Photo by BV

A number of other standouts from the same area took part in the Peter Rao Memorial.  Lewiston Porter grabbed top billing, with Lockport next.  Lew Port’s Dan Reagan earned MOW honors after two pins and a major on his way to the 138 pound title.  Other notable winners included Lockport’s Anthony Orefice, an All-Stater who stood atop the podium at 120 pounds.

 

 

 Rockland County Championships and Super 16 Feature Section 1 Standouts

Muldoon, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 1, a pair of tough tournaments took place over the weekend – the Rockland County Championships and the Super 16. Among the finals bouts that stood out at the RCCs was the 120 pound contest between Pearl River’s John Muldoon and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano.  Muldoon avenged a recent overtime loss to Calvano with a convincing victory.  Just to reach the title bout, the Pearl River wrestler had to beat the very tough Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland.  Another intriguing contest took place at 138 pounds where Benderoth’s teammate Matt Caputo topped Colby Kash, 9-2.

Among the champions at the Super 16 tournament were multi-time state placer Drew Longo of Ardsley (138) and Yorktown’s Thomas Murray (182), who has had a very strong season.

For an in depth look at these events, see here.

 

 Who is the Best in the City? Mayor’s Cup Results

Who is the best in the City?  That question was answered this weekend as the best from the five boroughs gathered at the Armory in Manhattan for the Mayor’s Cup.

Monsignor Farrell was the overall winner with 225 points, with Brooklyn Tech second (212 points) and Poly Prep third (168).

Farrell’s victory was fueled by dominant performances from a number of champions.  At 160 pounds, Andrew Psomas earned a pin or a technical fall in all five of his bouts on the path to the title.  Similarly, teammates Richard Sisti (220) and Matt Roberts (182) won by bonus points in all but one of their matches on the way to first place. The final gold medalist for Farrell was 138-pounder Karl Weisner, who topped teammate Blaise Rufo, 7-4, in the championship tilt.

Brooklyn Tech was paced by upperweights Shaquille Williams and Kevin Tynes. Williams defeated Quasar Hampton 1-0 but otherwise stuck all of his opponents at heavyweight while Tynes recorded a trio of falls in addition to his 3-1 title victory at 195.

Melikian, Photo by Josh Conklin

Poly Prep’s Noah Malamut put on an impressive show, pinning his way to the top of the 106-pound podium.  Also demonstrating complete control were a number of wrestlers who competed in Albany last season.  These included returning state runner up Cheick Ndiaye of Brooklyn International at 113, Sam Melikian of Fordham Prep at 132 and Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy at 145.  A highly anticipated showdown between Tottenville’s Santo Curatolo and Grand Street’s Keanu Thompson didn’t come to fruition in the 126 pound final as Curatolo got the win by default.

For the full results, see here.

In the female competition, Curtis had champions in three consecutive weights – Leslie Schoberl at 120, Rosemary Flores at 126 and Shannon Henry at 132.

For the results of the girls competition, see here.

To report results, e-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com

New York State Rankings #1 for 2012-13 Season

Here we go . . . the first and probably most difficult rankings of the year.  Soon, wrestlers will settle into their weights, more top wrestlers will go head to head and others will be back from injuries. Rankings, especially at this time of year, are subjective and we’re sure there are some wrestlers not included who will make an impact.  They are the opinions of those who collaborated on this project and are meant to generate conversation. We will seriously consider all of your feedback . . . as long as it’s done respectfully.  So, have at it.

Special thanks to Mike Carey for his incredible work to make these rankings happen.

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

99 Pounds:

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. Peter Pappas, Plainview (8)
  5. Ryan Hetrick, Southwestern (6)
  6. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  7. John Busiello, Eastport South Manor (11)
  8. Vinny Vespa, Monroe Woodbury (9)

A Few Notes: There are some terrific young wrestlers in this weight, but #1 is Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who has been extremely impressive not only on the mat for Hilton thus far but all over the country over the past several months.  Before this high school campaign began, he captured the Junior High Championship at the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina. On his way to that title, Diakomihalis defeated Syosset eighth grader Vito Arujau (who took third). Arujau has been dominant thus far, both at 106 and 99. Suffolk county will have quite a battle in this class.  Over the holidays, Jesse Dellevecchia edged John Busiello in a very close and entertaining match while Arceri won the Windsor Christmas Tournament with a technical fall in the title bout.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  3. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
  4. Andrew Flanagan, Holley (5)
  5. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  6. Jake Yankloski, Wayne (5)
  7. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  8. Steven Lee, West Babylon (11)
A Few Notes: Tanzman took bronze at 99 a year ago, and started the season up at 113 (where he dropped a decision to state champion Nick Piccininni). Overhiser took fourth at this weight a year ago and has picked up where he left off, including a title at the Windsor Christmas Tournament.  Recco, a state champion in 2012, and Flanagan, a placer, have done well up a weight after competing at 99 a year ago. Yankloski caught our attention when he defeated qualifier Bryan Ruggeri of Fairport by technical fall early in the year.  He won his first 16 bouts.

 

Piccininni, Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Anthony Orefice, Lockport (6)
  4. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  5. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  6. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  7. Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush (9)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: This is one of two weights where there was a lot of back and forth on who is #1 and who is essentially 1A. We expect Piccininni and Kelly to settle things on the mat in the finals at the Times Union Center.  Two years ago, Kelly defeated Piccininni in the state semifinals and neither has lost in the state of New York since.  The Ward Melville wrestler’s outstanding performances against top competition outside the state, and a victory over the nation’s top sophomore, Zahid Valencia, gave him the edge.  Of course, Kelly’s many achievements are extremely impressive, including two state titles and placements at Fargo and Virginia Beach.  Anthony Orefice also has had a lot of success both inside and outside of the Empire State.  He was 40-2 a year ago, with his losses coming to Piccininni and Jimmy Overhiser (by default) and he registered a solid 7-1 win over Stowell over the holidays. Like Orefice, Bryan Lantry was fifth in 2012 in the state capital.  After a slow start at the Madison Square Garden title bout, Ndiaye gave Kelly a tough match a few weeks ago, dropping a two point decision.

Person, Photo by BV

120 Pounds:

  1. Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (8)
  2. Rocco Russo, Frontier (6)
  3. Steve Michel, Lancaster (6)
  4. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  5. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)
  6. Trey Aslanian, Edgemont (1)
  7. Kellen Devlin, Amherst (6)
  8. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)

A Few Notes: Person, a two-time placer out of Section 8 is looking to make the finals for the first time after placing multiple times in the past. A number of these wrestlers have met this year.  Russo defeated Michel early on and then Michel beat Peacock.  Meanwhile, in last year’s state finals at 113, Peacock topped Aslanian.  The Edgemont grappler, headed to Princeton, is on a mission to win a state title after two runner up finishes in Albany.  Mike D’Angelo may not be a familiar name to those outside of Long Island but he suffered only three losses last year – all to Nick Piccininni.  In fact, Piccininni had only four regular decisions prior to Albany and three were against D’Angelo.  Truthfully, D’Angelo won’t have an easy time in Section 11 this year, because a pair of wrestlers who made it to the Round of 12 at the Super 32, Connetquot’s Steven Bulzomi and Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro, are also very strong.

Realbuto, Photo by BV

126 Pounds:

  1. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  2. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  5. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  6. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  7. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  8. Antonio DeLuco, Rome Free Academy (3)

A Few Notes:  Realbuto captured a state title a year ago and will have a challenging group to beat to repeat. Fabian took fourth last season at a deep 120 pound weight and has impressed so far for Shoreham Wading River, as he did while winning seven straight after an opening round loss at the Super 32.  Chris Araoz knows about long winning streaks at national events as he took the 120 pound NHSCA National title last spring. Meanwhile, former state gold medalist William Koll has made the move up a few weights.  He took second this weekend at the Windsor Christmas Tournament behind Corey Jamison, who came into Albany as the number two seed last year but didn’t compete the second day.

Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by BV

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  3. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  4. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  5. Cody McGregor, Tonawanda (6)
  6. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  7. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  8. Ben Ettlinger, Fox Lane (1)

A Few Notes: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer is currently ranked nationally at this weight and has a boatload of achievements in the international styles. Last year, he took second in Albany behind Nick Tighe in an entertaining, back and forth, match. Future Columbia Lion Matt Leshinger of Sayville, a returning bronze medalist, went through one of the state’s toughest brackets (Section 11, 120 pounds) just to get to the Times Union Center last season.  Rifanburg, McGregor and Lapi have made a number of appearances on the medal stand and Melikian came within one match of joining them a year ago.

Kelley, Photo by BV

138 Pounds:

  1. Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Nick Tighe, Phoenix (3)
  3. Connor Lapresi, Lansing (4)
  4. Tom Dutton, Rocky Point (11)
  5. Vincent DePrez, Hilton (5)
  6. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  7. Codie Gillette, Saranac (7)
  8. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)

A Few Notes: A pair of Binghamton-bound wrestlers are the favorites to capture titles at this weight in 2013. On the Division I side it’s Kelley, who is looking for his first crown to cap off a terrific career. On the other hand, Tighe is aiming for his third straight championship in Albany. Tighe may have to battle returning 132 pound gold medalist Connor Lapresi, who will wrestle for Bucknell in the future. On the large school side, Tom Dutton had a stellar offseason, placing at both the NHSCA Nationals and Fargo after a successful regular season in Section 11. DePrez and Lewandowski have both competed in the Saturday night finals in the past and will look to get back there this February.

Almaviva, Photo courtesy of Anthony Almaviva

145 Pounds:

  1. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  3. Isaiah Riccio, Beaver River (3)
  4. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  5. Jude Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  6. Joey Butler, Burnt Hills (2)
  7. Jackson Mordente, Sachem East (11)
  8. Colby Kash, Clarkstown North (1)

A Few Notes: Almaviva, an All-American, lost some matches this year but did so while making the Round of 12 at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions. After taking bronze in Albany last year, he’ll be looking to get to the finals this time. A number of other wrestlers on this list have solid experience at the Times Union Center, such as All-Staters Riccio, Reagan and Gardner. Hernandez made the trip to the state capital last year and wrestled with a severe injury. Now back in form, he dominated tough competition in and outside of the Empire State in the offseason and is looking for big things in a return trip.

Rasheed, Photo by BV

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  5. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  6. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  7. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  8. Kyle Halliday, Chenango Valley (4)

A Few Notes: Rasheed is a three-time placer and two-time runner up going into his junior year.  He took second at 145 in D-I last season while Drew Hull, a two-time medal winner, was the silver placer in the small school tournament.  Tom Grippi handed our #1 at 145 David Almaviva his only loss in Albany last year and finished one match from placing.  He already has over 20 wins.  Kress pinned his way through the PSAL Holiday tournament and racked up a number of wins in offseason events in the international styles. At the state tournament last season, he lost to nationally ranked Nicky Hall in the opening round before winning three straight in the consolations.  Chris Koo has been an All-American twice in Virginia Beach but has yet to travel to the state capital.  He has the ability to not only qualify but go far at the Times Union Center. He most recently was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Massapequa Holiday Tournament. Prior had a 32-3 season last year but two of his setbacks came in the Section 3 tournament (including to Spann).  He has been on fire this year thus far.

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

160 Pounds:

  1. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  2. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  3. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  4. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  5. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  6. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)
  7. Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (3)
  8. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)

A Few Notes: Speaking of 1 and 1A back at 113, Grimaldi and Paddock are both in the national rankings.  Some have Grimaldi higher and some have the reverse. We expect both to stand on top of the podium in Albany in their respective divisions.  Why do we have Grimaldi higher?  He defeated Paddock at the New York State Freestyle championships this year and placed at Fargo while both were in the same bracket. Needless to say, Paddock has a plethora of achievements over the years and will be difficult to beat. Mike Beckwith encountered a number of setbacks a year ago but with very little practice under his belt won Section 4 and a match in Albany.  He has blistered through the competition this year. Silverthorn was one of the few non-senior medalists in either division at 160 in 2012. Gallo came within a bout of the podium as a freshman and Goldup, a former All-Stater, is off to a great start. Weigel was one bout from the All-State status at 170 and will be a handful down at 160. [Dale White has been out injured].

170 Pounds:

  1. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  2. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  3. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  4. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  5. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  6. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  7. Joe Piccolo, Half Hollow Hills West (11)
  8. Andrew Voelker, Monroe Woodbury (9)

Seymour, a national runner up and fourth placer at the state tournament last year, stands on top of 170.  Behind him are a number of talented competitors, none of whom have tasted the podium yet at 170.  However, McDevitt was on the medal stand as a fifth placer in 2012 — down at 138. After a growth spurt, he is up several classes and after beating some tough customers this summer, he’s looking like a solid bet to medal again. Johnny Vrasidas made it to the top 8 in Albany in February.  Toribio has started off the year on fire in Section 11, beating All-Stater Gio Santiago and returning qualifier Matt Roberts, both while wrestling up a weight. He also handled Piccolo this past week at the Long Island Challenge. An interesting wildcard is Deitrich, who medaled at 152 as a seventh grader in 2011 and who looked overpowering as he cruised to the Windsor Christmas Tournament title.

Zupan, Photo by BV

182 Pounds:

  1. Zack Zupan, Canastota (3)
  2. Shayne Brady, Carthage (3)
  3. Tim Schaefer, Warsaw (5)
  4. James Corbett, Wantagh (8)
  5. James Benjamin, Vestal (4)
  6. Trent Egenlauf, Spencerport (5)
  7. Gio Santiago, Sachem North (11)
  8. Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (2)

A Few Notes: Zack Zupan, the top ranked recruit in New York, stands at #1 while fellow Section 3 wrestler Shayne Brady, the Division I runner up a year ago comes in at #2.  The two met in the finals of the Herkimer Invitational, which ended quickly after some good early action when Brady injury defaulted.  Tim Schaefer, a multi-time state placer, is off to another great start for Warsaw after taking third at this weight in 2012.  Benjamin is back after his All-State showing out of Section 4 and fellow medalist Gio Santiago returns to the rankings. Above him is Wantagh’s James Corbett, who has impressed during his undefeated start, including a solid win over the Sachem North wrestler. Egenlauf has won multiple tournaments so far this campaign including the Teike Bernabi.

Williams, Photo by BV

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Dan Choi, Syosset (8)
  4. Tyler Smith, Midlakes (5)
  5. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  6. Tyler Morris, Salem (2)
  7. Collin Pittman, Spencerport (5)
  8. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)

A Few Notes: Reggie Williams conquered all challengers as a sophomore at 195 with the exception of four losses to state champion (and now graduated) Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. Williams is the favorite to win his first state title.  Next up is another state silver medalist, Bryce Mazurowski of Avon, a future member of the Binghamton Bearcats.  Two 2012 fourth placers also sit here, Tyler Smith of Midlakes (at 195) and Tyler Morris of Salem (at 182). Colton Kells finished in the top 8 in Division I at 195 a year ago while Choi did the same at 182. Pittman gave Williams a lot to handle in the finals of the Teike Bernabi tournament despite a previous setback.

 

Bacon, Photo by BV

220 Pounds:

  1. Zack Bacon, Hornell (5)
  2. Ryan Wolcott, Waverly (4)
  3. Mike Silvis, Holley (5)
  4. Nick Lupi, Huntington (11)
  5. Dan Breit, Nanuet (1)
  6. Chris Saden, Fredonia (6)
  7. Joe Sprung, Berne Knox (2)
  8. Richard Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (C)

A Few Notes: Zack Bacon of Hornell, currently ranked #16 in the country by Intermat, leads the way. Bacon is familiar with Silvis and they are sure to meet this year again. Lupi also earned a spot in the national polls (by Amateur Wrestling News). The Huntington wrestler was upset in the Windsor Christmas Tournament finals by Ryan Wolcott, a returning Top 8 wrestler (at 170). Breit, Sprung and Sisti all made appearances at the Times Union Center in 2012.

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

285 Pounds:

  1. El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (2)
  2. Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (11)
  3. Matt Montesanti, Medina (6)
  4. Alex Soutiere, Ravena (2)
  5. Brandon Fayle, Lowville (3)
  6. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  7. David Varian, Yorktown (1)
  8. Anthony Puca, Huntington (11)

El Shaddai Van Hoesen earns the top spot with his absolute dominance thus far as a senior after taking second in 2012.  Another silver medalist, Alex Soutiere, has followed up his run at the Times Union Center with an unbeaten start.  A pair of sixth place finishers are also included, with Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes and Medina’s Matt Montesanti in control just about every time they’ve stepped on the mat.  Brandon Fayle of Lowville fell one bout short of placing in 2012 and has put up solid results again, with the one blemish on his record via disqualification.  Rounding out the rankings are Seaford’s James O’Hagan, an NHSCA Nationals third place finisher who went 31-3 last year and who has lost only to Hughes this campaign (the only match Hughes hasn’t won by fall).  Anthony Puca of Huntington and David Varian of Yorktown, a qualifier out of Section 1, round things out.

* Results based on NWCA Scorebook

Section 11 Preview: Four State Champs Graduated, But Plenty of Talent Returns in Suffolk County, Led by Finalists Piccininni, Rasheed and Grimaldi

The dominance of Section 11 at the Division I state tournament last year was obvious.  In the team standings, Suffolk County outdistanced second place Nassau by 79.5 points.  Section 11 boasted nine of the 30 finalists (30%) and more than 25% of All-State wrestlers overall.  Suffolk had at least one placer at 14 of the 15 weight classes (113 being the exception), including five state champions.

Four of those gold medalists graduated as did eight of the others that made the medal stand in 2012 (and Nicky Hall of Longwood moved on to Wyoming Seminary). Both of the Division II All-State wrestlers graduated as well. However, there are still plenty of quality grapplers remaining.  The following is a look at some of the returning superstars, some wrestlers potentially ready for a breakthrough year and teams to keep an eye on as the season develops, both in Division I and Division II.

Division I

Returning Placewinners from 2012

State Champion: Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (106 Pounds)

Second Place:  Corey Rasheed, Longwood (145 Pounds)

Second Place: Tyler Grimaldi, Half Hollow Hills West (160 Pounds)

Third Place: Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (99 Pounds)

Third Place: Matt Leshinger, Sayville (120 Pounds)

Fourth Place: Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (99 Pounds)

Fourth Place: TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (120 Pounds)

Fifth Place: Nick Lupi, Huntington (220 Pounds)

Sixth Place: Gio Santiago, Sachem North (182 Pounds)

Sixth Place: Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (285 Pounds)

Other Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Steven Lee, West Babylon

113 Pounds: Corey Jamison, Huntington

Tyler Grimaldi, Photo by Boris V

Seniors to Watch

Tyler Grimaldi was highly sought after by many colleges before choosing Harvard, and with good reason. He earned All-America status at both the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and at Fargo at 160 pounds.  The senior went all the way to the state finals match in 2012 and is a solid favorite to get back to the title bout – and this time come out victorious.

Matt Leshinger won perhaps the most challenging Sectional bracket in all of New York last year when he captured the crown at 120 pounds over state champions Sean McCabe, Mark West and All-State wrestler TJ Fabian.  The Columbia-commit, who took bronze in Albany, will look to climb a few notches higher in his senior year.

TJ Fabian, Photo by Phototrens http://www.phototrens.com

The previously mentioned Fabian, who was fourth in Albany, has entered numerous events in the spring and summer and has gotten his hand raised often in all of them.  He was an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and a dominant winner at the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat tournament.  Fabian also competed well against some of the Northeast’s top foes at the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational before placing in the top 12 at the Super 32 after winning seven in a row in the consolations.  All of his work figures to serve him well in February.

Upperweights Gio Santiago, Nick Lupi and Mike Hughes all participated in the fifth place match in Albany in brackets full of grapplers who have since graduated.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see any or all of them in the gold medal bout this time around.

On the lighter side of the scale, Alex Tanzman had a 46-2 season with 37 pins in which he lost a match in mid December and then rattled off more than 30 consecutive victories before losing to Jose Rodriguez, who has since moved to Ohio, in the state semifinals.  He will be no doubt be one of the contenders to earn another title for Section 11 at the end of the campaign.

That group of seniors is no doubt impressive.  But some believe that the best Suffolk wrestler may be a sophomore or junior.

Corey Rasheed, Photo by Boris V

Eleventh grader Corey Rasheed is already a two-time New York finalist and three-time placer with two full campaigns to go.  He has shown that he can compete with the best regardless of the weight class, as he first was a runner up in seventh grade at 96 pounds, took fifth at 112 as a freshman and then earned silver in 2012 up at 145.  He also was second nationally this spring when he made the finals of the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  Fellow junior Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman was fourth at 99 a year ago and will be a threat once again.

Nick Piccininni, Photo by Boris V

Several Suffolk fans believe that the top Section 11 wrestler is sophomore Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.  Piccininni followed up a third place showing as an eighth grader with a perfect freshman season in which he went undefeated on his way to a state championship at 106 pounds.  While moving up in weight since then, he doesn’t seem to have skipped a beat, winning the Super 32 qualifier, going unbeaten at the Waterway Duals and taking first at the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational.  He also finished in the top 12 at the Super 32, losing only to the second and third place finishers and splitting matches with the country’s #1 ranked sophomore, Zahid Valencia of California.

But that’s not all Section 11 has to offer. Last year, Grimaldi, Leshinger and Fabian were among those who stood high on the podium in their first trips to the state tournament.  Who will make the medal stand in their initial appearance in Albany in 2013? Here are some of the many possibilities:

Let’s start with a very strong group of lightweights.  Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip racked up 31 wins as a freshman at 99, including triumphs over state qualifiers Steven Lee, Josh Antoine and Hunter Dusold.  He lost two very tight bouts to New York state medalist Calderone (by one point and in sudden victory) and he stayed active in the offseason, winning the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat and taking second at the Journeymen Classic in early October.  But Dellavecchia isn’t the only young lightweight to watch. One of the wrestlers to defeat Dellavecchia last season was John Busiello of Eastport South Manor, who garnered a 26-8 mark as an eighth grader. Huntington’s John Arceri, a freshman this year, picked up 28 wins last season and will be another impact player.

A little bit higher on the weight scale is Mike D’Angelo of Commack.  In his 33-3 season as a freshman at 106 pounds there was only one wrestler D’Angelo couldn’t beat – Nick Piccininni.  All three of the Commack grappler’s losses came against the undefeated state champion from Ward Melville.   He showed dominance throughout the season with 28 bonus point victories.

“D’Angelo had trouble with Piccininni but so did everyone else,” Rocky Point Elite Eagles coach Steven Ketcham said. “He is capable of placing at the state level.”

A few other names to keep in mind are James Szymanski from Shoreham Wading River and Matt Bradice from William Floyd.  Szymanski topped Dellavecchia, Busiello, Lee and CJ Archer a year ago and impressed in the offseason with a championship in his bracket at the Journeymen.  Meanwhile, Bradice, a 2012 Suffolk placewinner at 103, put together a 31-7 campaign as a junior at 113.  If he remains at that weight, contributor John Passaro believes he could make the Section XI finals as a senior.

Steven Bulzomi of Connetquot was fourth in the county as a junior at 113 pounds after posting a 34-5 record.   Three of his losses came against Hauppauge’s Chris Mauriello and another to Suffolk champion Corey Jamison.  He did record solid victories over Mauriello and state qualifier Santo Curatolo of the PSAL.  His 4-2 performance at the ultra-challenging Super 32 tournament in late October showed that he’s ready to go for his senior campaign.

Over the years there have been wrestlers who have made their marks on the national level before achieving All-State status in New York.  That looks like it could be the case with the following grapplers in 2012-13.

Chris Mauriello (Hauppauge) – Mauriello won a national title in the spring at the NHSCA Middle School championships in Virginia Beach after taking third at 113 in Section 11 as an eighth grader.  The Hauppauge wrestler compiled a 37-5 mark a year ago with three of his losses coming to state placers – (two to Mark Raghunandan and one to Brandon Lapi).  He will be looking to break further into the postseason as a freshman, possibly all the way up at 132, according to Ketcham.

Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor) Passaro has a strong resume.  He was the Eastern States champion in 2011 and has been an All-American at NHSCA Nationals.  He has repeatedly tested himself, winning the Super 32 Shippensburg qualifier event, wrestling well at the Waterway Duals while up a weight class, taking second at the Journeymen Classic and making the top 12 at the Super 32 in North Carolina. In Suffolk, he was fifth in a loaded 120-pound class last year and will look to make a state tournament run like his brother Maverick did in 2012.

Thomas Dutton (Rocky Point) – Dutton made the medal stand at the NHSCA Nationals this year at 138 pounds and was also was an All-American at perhaps the top tournament in the country, when he took eighth in freestyle at Fargo. He’ll be seeking some wins in Albany after a fourth place showing at the County tournament at 132.

“Dutton has been all over looking to improve on last year’s finish,” Ketcham said. “His improvement from year to year has been very good and he can accomplish a lot this year.”

And watch out for the upperweights . . .

Carlos Toribio (Brentwood) – Toribio was third at 160 last year and 41-5 overall at 160 pounds.  He avenged an early season loss to Shaun Gillen and suffered his only other setbacks to state placers Anthony Pistone and Tyler Grimaldi (three times).  He looked dominant in the summer in his victory at the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat tournament.  He will be among the favorites to earn a ticket to the Times Union Center.

Grimaldi is a state championship favorite, but he isn’t the only member of the HHH West squad who could make an impact in the postseason.  Teammates Joe Piccolo and Jagger Rebozo also appear ready for successful senior years.  Piccolo compiled over 35 wins at 170 pounds, including victories over state placers Rrok Ndokaj (twice) and Dylen Seybolt and qualifier Zach Colgan of Section 4.  Rebozo also had over 30 wins at 182 pounds.

Ronnie King (Islip) – As a sophomore 160-pounder, King placed fifth at the Section XI tournament.  This year, Passaro predicts that the Islip wrestler has a great opportunity to make the county finals at 170.

Chris Chambers (East Islip) – Chambers was fifth at 182 at the Section 11 event as part of a 31-7 season.  He looked strong in the offseason, however, winning the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat.  In fact, he recorded an impressive victory over All-State grappler Gio Santiago, who had pinned Chambers last season.

Ryan Hughes (Islip) – Hughes had a strong season at 220 pounds, with just a handful of losses and a number of quality victories.  He topped state placer Nick Lupi in sudden victory in early February and will be a threat to go to Albany this year.

Cristian Nunez (Sachem East) – Nunez knows how to rack up points.  He was 36-3 at 195 pounds a year ago with two wins over state qualifier Dan Choi of Syosset and 30 victories by bonus.  He’ll be looking for a big year.

Don’t Forget About . . .

Mark West (Hauppauge) and Corey Jamison (Huntington) – West was a state champion in 2010 but hasn’t made a return trip to the big show.  He was right there with many All-Staters last year as he defeated three placers – Sean McCabe, TJ Fabian and Matt Leshinger (although he lost to them as well).  He’ll be looking to make a run in his last season.  Meanwhile, Jamison came to the Times Union Center as the number two seed after a season in which he defeated credentialed wrestlers such as William Koll and Brandon Lapi.  However, after advancing to Saturday’s action, Jamison didn’t compete on the second day in Albany.  He looks to take that next step as a junior.

Jackson Mordente (Sachem East) – Mordente went 35-8 in 2011-12 at 138 pounds, with five of his losses to champions/high state placers (Jamel Hudson, James Dekrone and Alexis Blanco).  He did well representing Long Island at the Waterway Duals and looks to carry that success through his senior year.  His teammates Conor O’Hara and Jakob Restrepo should also have a strong seasons.  O’Hara went 29-9 with wins over Mike Lofrese and state placer Gio Sanchez in 2011-12.  Restrepo looked good winning a title at the War at the Shore in the spring and is primed for a breakout postseason.

While many wrestlers have been discussed above, there are many more who could have been profiled.  We fully expect that there will be additional Suffolk wrestlers who excel at the county and state levels in 2012-13.

Team Race:

Sachem East offers a very strong group that looks ready to pile up tournament points.  Conor O’Hara, Cristian Nunez and Jackson Mordente earned All-County honors last season and will be in line to do so again.  In addition, the Flaming Arrows will likely add to their medal haul with wrestlers that came close to 30 wins a year ago such as Mark Tracy, Zach Nobre and Jakob Restrepo. Heavyweight Josh Edmonson will also be a key factor as will Connor Farrell and Anthony Messina.

Brentwood is the returning county championship team and one of the favorites again.  The squad graduated a number of Suffolk medalists, including second place finishers Eric Orellana and Alexis Blanco.  However, the team brings back two third placers – Carlos Toribio and Marc Gonzalez as well as Danny Murray, who was fourth.  In addition, BJ Jackson and Luis Rodriguez appear among those ready to contribute heavily.

Huntington can’t be overlooked.  County champion Corey Jamison will take the mat along with runner up Anthony Puca and All-Stater Nick LupiJohn Arceri will be in the hunt for the Suffolk title at 99 pounds and others are capable of winning some matches at the Section tournament, such as Joseph Puca.

Gio Santiago, Photo by Boris V

Yet another possible contender is Sachem North, which brings back finalists Gio Santiago (Suffolk champ and state placer) along with Section 11 runner up Steven Mills.  A large number of wrestlers also return after notching 20 or more wins last season, including Mike Falcon, Matt Stallone, Stephen Guardino, Matthew Marino, Nick Perez, Alec Ross and James Schreck.

When asked for potential team champions, another handful of squads were mentioned.  It wouldn’t be completely surprising if the county champ is none of the teams above.  That’s how the talent is spread across Section 11 this year.

 

 

Division II

 

Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Lucas Webb (9) Mattituck

106 Pounds: Michael Menzer (12) Center Moriches

113 Pounds: Hunter Hulse (10) Stony Brook

120 Pounds: Justin Underwood (12) Bayport-Blue Point

132 Pounds: Ryan Hake (12) Bayport-Blue Point

152 Pounds: Paul Cavanagh (11) Port Jefferson

170 Pounds: Tomasz Filipkowski (12) Mattituck

182 Pounds: Brian Loskamp (12) Babylon

195 Pounds: Chris Baglivi (12) Mattituck

220 Pounds: Kevin Giron (12) Hampton Bays

Both of the All-State wrestlers from Division II graduated (Harrison Desousa and Travis Baskerville), but some tough wrestlers return to try to give Suffolk representation on the medal stand in Albany.

Tomasz Filipkowski of Mattituck came within one victory of placing in February.   The Section 11 tournament Champion of Champions opened with a loss to NSHCA Nationals runner up Troy Seymour of Peru before earning two victories in the consolation bracket.  He then dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to Section 2’s Brad Burns to fall just short of the podium.  After a 34-4 campaign, he looks poised to finish as an All-State wrestler.

“He’s a high quality wrestler who came so close to placing,” Bayport-Blue Point head coach Rich Reilly said. “I don’t seem anyone challenging him in the DII Sections and I think he will be very competitive upstate.”

Ryan Hake of Bayport-Blue Point had 31 wins a year ago, including 18 pins.  He had a victory in Albany, while both of his losses were to placers.  2013 would be his fourth appearance at the state tournament and he hopes to break through to the medal stand.

“Ryan is my best wrestler,” Reilly said.  “He’s been up there three times.  He hasn’t had seeding criteria in the past and we’ve adjusted our schedule this year, which should help Ryan with seeding criteria.  He had an outstanding season last year and the opportunity will be there for him to place. He’s a tough kid who is technical and very smart on the mat. I really believe this is the time for him.”

Michael Menzer of Center Moriches is another wrestler Reilly points to as a threat to make the podium in the state capital.  Menzer went 29-9 overall, including 1-2 in Albany.

“He’s definitely a tough kid who will be in the mix no matter what weight he wrestles,” Reilly said. “He has the experience of being upstate and has a great chance to do very well there.”

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Lucas Webb, Photo by Boris V

Lucas Webb (Mattituck) – Webb won the 99-pound crown a year ago before heading up to the Times Union Center, where he went 1-2.  He will look for a return visit to the state tournament, while the wrestler he defeated in the Section 11 title bout, Jake Palma of Bayport-Blue Point will look for his first journey upstate.  Palma, who may be at 113 this year according to his coach, has put in significant work and has shown improvement.

Joey Palma (Bayport-Blue Point) and Tristan DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson) – Last year’s second and third place finishers behind Menzer at 106 pounds both have the potential to do big things this year, according to Reilly.

“Joey has really impressed me in the offseason,” the coach said. “He gave up football to wrestle more because he took second two years in a row.  He felt like it was time to get to the next level.  He’s a kid I would bet on having a great year.  Joey beat DeVincenzo both times they wrestled last year, but the score wasn’t indicative of the matches.  They were really tough matches and DeVincenzo is a really tough kid.”

Justin Underwood and Dylan McGovern (Bayport-Blue Point) – Underwood traveled to Albany last year and faced a difficult path, dropping contests to state champion Sam Recco and fifth placer Zach Ayen.  When discussing Underwood, Reilly couldn’t help but mention teammate McGovern.  The two wrestlers battled back and forth last year, with Underwood earning a 6-4 decision in the Section 11 championship.

“Dylan hasn’t stopped in the offseason,” Reilly said.  “He’s tired of taking second. I don’t think they’ll be at the same weight class this year and I think they could both be at the top of the Section 11 podium.  Justin is probably more of a technical wrestler, very slick.  Dylan has that nastiness that you like to see.  We were pretty deep last year and there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for them to get away from each other.  Things have opened up now and I think they may be at 126 and 132.  I believe both could win matches upstate.”

Hunter Hulse (Stony Brook) – Hulse racked up 30 wins in 2011-12, primarily at 113 pounds.  He lost his opening round match at the state tournament by one point before rebounding with a technical fall victory.  He was eliminated by multiple-time state placer Cody McGregor of Section 6, but looks to capitalize on his postseason experience.

“Hulse kind of came out of nowhere and had a great year,” Reilly said. “He didn’t place upstate but he did a good job.  He’s the kind of kid who will be in the mix because he’s tough and he knows he can compete.  In that same weight last year were two other very good kids, Peter Schneider of Smithtown Christian and Justin Engel from Bayport-Blue Point.  I think those two are capable of going upstate as well.”   

Chris Baglivi, Photo by Boris V

Chris Baglivi (Mattituck) – The state qualifier went 27-11 with 15 pins in 2011-12.  He had a pair of victories over Ryan Lewis of Center Moriches, including a 1-0 triumph in the Section final.  Lewis is someone to keep an eye on in the upperweights as well after a 28-9 campaign.

Returning state qualifiers Brian Loskamp (Babylon) and Kevin Giron (Hampton Bays) will look to return to Albany to pick up a few more victories after going 1-2 on the big stage in 2011-12.  Paul Cavanagh (Port Jefferson) will also aim to make a return trip after winning the 152-pound Section 11 title a year ago.

Team Race

Bayport-Blue Point won the team title a year ago by 17 points over Mattituck.  Those look to be the top squads again this season.  The Phantoms lost some key contributors including All-State heavyweight Harrison Desousa and Suffolk runner up Ralph Fabiani, but the squad returns champions Hake and Underwood and silver medalists Joe Palma, Jake Palma, Dylan McGovern as well as a trio of third placers.

Mattituck graduated only two All-County grapplers and looks to be a threat with returning state qualifiers Lucas Webb, Tomasz Filipkowski and Chris Baglivi as well as county runner up Brian Pelan and third placers Andre Vega and James Rugnetta.

Reilly believes there are a number of schools that will have a say in this year’s team competition.

“I wouldn’t say we’re the favorite,” Reilly said of his Bayport-Blue Point squad. “We have some holes although we return a lot of kids and are solid in the lower to upper middleweights. Mattituck will definitely be in the race.  Port Jefferson and Center Moriches kids have done a lot of work this offseason.  They’re tough and well coached.  You can never forget about Babylon. They’re always right there and won this thing not too long ago.  They’re rebuilding with some good wrestlers.”

In fact, he believes that some of the somewhat lesser known wrestlers may be the deciding factor.

“The way our section is designed, it could always come down to four or even five teams,” he said. “The parity in our division has gotten better over the past few years. A lot of teams will have their two or three champions and then it comes down to the other guys.  If you’re fortunate enough to have another guy in the weight who can take third or fourth, that’s where you win the tournament.  That’s been our success over the past few years, with guys like Dylan McGovern, second guys at the weight that pick up more points.  It should be an interesting tournament.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this story, in particular, Steven Ketcham, John Passaro and Rich Reilly.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview

Features:

Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak