A Look at the Juniors: Who are the 11th Graders to Watch in New York?

We have been discussing some of the top wrestlers in New York over the past month or so.  We started with our #1 Junior High School grappler in the state, Penfield eighth grader Frankie Gissendanner (see link),then profiled top freshman Yianni Diakomihalis and discussed other ninth graders to watch.  Then, we wrote about the wrestler at the top of the Class of 2016 rankings – Christian Dietrich and other standout sophomores. Next, we discussed stellar junior Nick Piccininni.

Now it’s time to talk about some of the other 11th graders to keep tabs on this season. There were significant differences of opinion on how these wrestlers stack up against each other.  The order of this list could go numerous different ways and will no doubt look different as the season progresses.  For now, however, here’s a look at some of the stars in the Class of 2015.

 

Piccininni, Photo by BV

#1 Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville)– In the eyes of some, Piccininni is the top pound-for-pound wrestler in New York.  The two-time state champion breezed through his sophomore campaign, winning all 43 matches with only four regular decisions.  In a bout many were anticipating the entire season, Piccininni completely dominated multiple-time state titlewinner Kyle Kelly, 14-4, to grab his second gold medal in Albany.  The Ward Melville standout finished second at the FloNationals this spring and went undefeated at the Disney Duals in the summer against top flight competition.  He did the same thing at the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational. Currently ranked #12 among juniors by FloWrestling and #30 by Intermat, Piccininni is a heavy favorite to capture state crown number three.  For more on Piccininni see this link.

#2 Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich) – Rifanburg burst onto the scene several years ago when he grabbed a state championship as a seventh grader.  He has been back to the title bout at the Times Union Center two more times, earning second place in 2011 and 2013, while finishing sixth in 2012.  As a freshman, Rifanburg also earned the silver at the NHSCA National championships. The Section IV standout is ranked as one of the top 100 juniors in the nation by FloWrestling.

#3 Adis Radoncic (Poly Prep) – The PSAL’s first-ever state champion (for RKA) didn’t face an easy path to gold in February, defeating top-seeded Christian Dietrich and multi-time placer Troy Seymour.  In fact, by defeating Dietrich 4-3 in the title bout, Radoncic avenged one of his two losses in a 27-2 campaign.  The three-time state qualifier also came within one win of placing at the state tournament in 2012. Radoncic, who transferred to Poly Prep and confirmed that he will be a junior in 2013-14, was active in the offseason, taking fifth at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and competing at Fargo, the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational.

#4 Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) – Quinn had an excellent 36-2 campaign for Wantagh, picking up a state title at 106 pounds.  The multiple-time NHSCA Nationals All-American (third at 106 in 2013) defeated a number of New York state medalists, including Steven Sewkumar and Jon Haas, in the regular season.  In Albany, he pinned All-State wrestler Jimmy Overhiser in the second round before avenging his only two losses of the campaign by beating New Rochelle’s Nick Barbaria, 7-1.  In the state title bout, Quinn came out on top against Westhampton Beach’s Alex Tanzman.  The Nassau County standout also collected victories for Team Kong at the challenging Disney Duals.  His credentials land him high on this list and he will certainly face challenges as a junior, as he may get to face wrestlers who have defeated him in recent weeks – Jesse Dellavecchia, Vito Arujau and Yianni Diakomihalis.

#5 Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point) – Dutton has been competitive at the varsity level for quite some time.  In his 10th grade season, he made his first appearance on the podium in the state capital, taking fourth at 138 pounds after an impressive 50-4 campaign.  The Section 11 star picked up fourth at the Eastern States Classic with his only setbacks coming against an out of state grappler, Derek Arnold of Virginia.  Dutton collected All-American status in 2012, both at the NHSCA Nationals and at Fargo in Freestyle.  He didn’t compete at those events in 2013, but his activity this fall demonstrates that he’s ready to go in his 11th grade campaign.  Dutton took second at the Journeymen Classic up at 152 pounds, losing only to returning state champion Louis Hernandez of Mepham. He then captured the title at the Iron Horse Invitational, including an impressive victory over Gary Dinmore, a two-time New Jersey state runner up who is ranked among the top 100 seniors in the land.

#6 Nick Casella (Locust Valley) – After taking second place at the 2012 New York State championships, Casella earned his way back to the finals in Albany this February where he picked up his second silver medal, this time up at 113.  It was the end of a 39-4 campaign in which half of his losses were to eventual state champion Dillon Stowell of Gouverneur.  Casella followed up the high school season by showing he could compete with some of the nation’s best.  He collected All-America accolades at Virginia Beach and at Fargo, where he took seventh in Greco Roman.  He also competed at the Junior Duals for Team New York in Oklahoma in a busy offseason.

#7 Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa) – Porter has made only one trip to Albany after taking the Section II title as a freshman.  A year ago, he didn’t have the opportunity, as an injury sidelined him after the end of December.  However, he demonstrated clearly this summer that he is formidable wrestler on the national level when he went all the way to the finals in Cadet Greco Roman at Fargo at 152 pounds before placing second.  He followed that showing with a fifth place medal in Freestyle in North Dakota.  Porter looks to be ready for a breakout year in the Empire State.

#8 Nick Gallo (Schalmont) – Gallo grabbed the silver medal at the state tournament in February at 160 pounds, after falling one win shy of the podium as a freshman at 152 (losing to the third and fourth place finishers).  This February, Gallo had a tough path to the finals, besting placers in each of his first three bouts – Gunnar Van Curen (6th), Tyler Silverthorn (5th) and Matt Fisher (3rd).  He went 45-4 as a sophomore in Section II, also making the medal stand at the Eastern States Classic where his losses were in sudden victory to Virginia’s Steven Aiello and 4-2 to the state runner up in Division I, Steve Schneider (and by disqualification).

Garcia, Photo by BV

#9 Frank Garcia (Norwich) – The Division II state runner up at 145 pounds this year also took fifth at the Eastern States Classic in January.  After missing time early in the season, Garcia came back strong, avenging a loss to fellow All-Stater Jordan Torbitt to win the Section IV title and collecting a win against past state medalist Isaiah Riccio along the way. The Norwich grappler was one match from placing at 132 as a freshman where he was edged by eventual state champion Connor Lapresi, 3-2.

#10 Anthony Orefice (Lockport) – The two-time placer from Lockport began last season at 113 pounds, where he notched impressive wins such as a convincing 7-1 triumph over eventual Division II state champion Dillon Stowell.  He transitioned up to 120 as the season progressed and went 41-6 overall. All but one of his losses were to All-State wrestlers – three times to New York runner up Steve Michel as well as to Travis Passaro and Mike D’Angelo. A multiple-time NHSCA All-American, Orefice will likely be right back in the mix in 2013-14.

#11 Sam Ward (Locust Valley) – Ward notched his first appearance on the medal stand at the Times Union Center when he took fifth at 132 pounds.  He compiled a 38-4 mark, including quality wins over state placers Vinny Turano and Ryan Kromer.  Three of his losses were to top three medalists in New York – champion Matt Leshinger (by a 3-2 score), runner up Tristan Rifanburg (by a 3-1 tally) and Clyde Carey.  He has also made his mark on the national stage, capturing All-America status at Fargo in 2012 and in Virginia Beach in 2013.  He recently was second at the Journeymen Classic.

#12 Jesse Dellavecchia (East Islip) The Section 11 grappler had a great year at 99 pounds for East Islip, earning fourth at the state tournament and beating several strong opponents.  He also tacked on a fifth place showing at the NHSCA Nationals tournament and notched a victory over the previously mentioned Kyle Quinn at the Journeymen Classic.  He’ll be moving up in weight, but has the potential to go very high on the podium in Albany once again.

Mike D’Angelo was discussed by a number of contributors to this article as someone who will no doubt move up this list as the season moves forward. In a tough weight in Suffolk County, he had a strong sophomore campaign in which he racked up 40 victories and took fifth in Albany. He was defeated twice by state champion Alex Delacruz and twice by third placer Travis Passaro, but registered solid wins over state qualifiers Joe Russ and Lou DePrez as well as All-Staters John Muldoon, Santo Curatolo and the aforementioned Anthony Orefice.  The previous season, as a freshman, D’Angelo was also stellar as he went 33-3 with all three setbacks coming by decision to Nick Piccininni.

Speaking of accomplished wrestlers, Tony Recco of Lyndonville was a state champion as a freshman, but was injured prior to the postseason as a tenth grader and was unable to go for another title in Albany.  We look forward to seeing him back in the fray.

Another lightweight to consider is Mike Raccioppi of Minisink Valley.  The Section 9 grappler faced many of the Empire State’s best last year and took sixth at the Eastern States as well as winning two matches in Albany to come one win from a medal at 126.  Richie Burke of Ithaca, did the same, capturing two victories at the Times Union Center at 132 while Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter also got his hand raised in Albany. While we’re mentioning lightweights, Shoreham Wading River’s James Szymanski put on a show at the Eastern States Classic, taking third at 106 pounds.  He didn’t earn a bid to the state tournament, but will be someone to monitor this year as well.  Another wrestler who notched third at SUNY Sullivan, North Rockland’s Blaise Benderoth, a multiple-time state qualifier, will look to place for the first time.  As will Islip’s Brad Wade, a wrestler with a number of quality wins who looks join three other ‘Wades’ on top of the state podium.

How about some others who did find a spot on the medal stand in 2013?  Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa earned fifth at 99 pounds while Dolgeville’s Danny Fox grabbed second at 106.  Cody McGregor placed twice in NYS for Tonawanda but didn’t make an appearance on the mats at the Times Union Center this year.  He’ll look to get back in 2014.

One of the wrestlers who has grabbed our attention this offseason is Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East. He and Jordan Bushey of Peru both earned All-American status at Fargo at 145 pounds.  (Connetquot’s Gino Titone also picked up five wins in the same bracket, just missing the podium). In the last few weeks, Restrepo has defeated a trio of state silver medalists – Brandon Lapi and Frank Garcia at the Journeymen Classic and Vincent DePrez at the Iron Horse Invitational.  It looks like he’s ready for a breakout year.

In addition to those victories, Restrepo was also sixth at the NHSCA Nationals in the spring where other New York wrestlers placed.  They are: Brandon Aviles (Newfield), Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s), Richie Jones (St. Joseph’s Collegiate), Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman) and Trevor Allard (Mexico).

In the middleweights, Connor Lawrence of Duanesburg came within a match of placing in Albany, defeating another 40-win wrestler, Max Lloyd of Palmyra Macedon along the way. Section 2’s Jake Ashcraft and Geno Brancati also have been mentioned as wrestlers with the potential to make a jump, along with Clarence’s Nathan Schwab, Locust Valley’s Michael Dusold and Indian River’s Nick Toutant.

In the upperweights, Ryan Marszal is another wrestler to keep tabs on in 2013-14. The Unatego wrestler nabbed fifth at 182 pounds in his sophomore campaign in Division II and is the only returning placer in that bracket. Marszal had a 36-win season where he moved between 170 and 182 pounds.  Another 182-pounder to mention is Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy, who went 0-2 as a freshman in Albany at the Division II tournament, but bounced back this February in the Division I event, coming within one win of placing at 182 pounds.  He also fell just one victory short of medaling at Eastern States.  This could be the year he finds his way onto the podium.

Who else will make their presence felt in Albany in 2014 from the Class of 2015? There are bound to be other juniors ready for outstanding seasons. Send us an e-mail at newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with suggestions.

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Thank you to Mike Carey and Matt Diano for all their hard work to make this article possible and to Kris Harrington for his insights.  Thanks to all of the other contributors around the state – too many to name, but they know who they are.

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

 

Section 6 Preview: 10 All-State Wrestlers from 2012 Return, Led by Finalists Hull and Rodriguez-Spencer

Division I

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

Anthony Orefice, Lockport, 106 Pounds, Fifth Place

Steve Michel, Lancaster, 120 Pounds, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Tyler Hartinger, Lancaster

113 Pounds: Ron Duguay, Kenmore West

113 Pounds: Kellen Devlin, Amherst

120 Pounds: Rocco Russo, Frontier

132 Pounds: Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster

160 Pounds: Jake Weber, Clarence

170 Pounds: Anthony Liberatore, Williamsville South

 

Seniors to Watch

Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster) – Lewandowski, who took second in New York as a 96-pound sophomore in 2010, had another strong year in 2011-12, registering a 43-10 record at 132 pounds.  He captured the Section 6 title with a 7-1 victory over eventual state runner up Dylan Cohen before going 2-2 in Albany with losses to champion Jamel Hudson and fourth place finisher Nick Mauriello.  He will look to return to the podium as a senior.

Anthony Liberatore (Williamsville South) – The senior cruised through Sectionals with a pair of falls and a major decision at 170 pounds.  In Albany, he picked up where he left off in his opening match, earning a first period pin against Cody Smith of Section 10.  He went 2-2 overall to cap off a 40-5 season, coming within one win of making All-State.  That will clearly be on his to-do list for 2013.

Ron Duguay, Photo by Boris V

Ron Duguay (Kenmore West) – After taking second in the Section, Duguay notched an impressive upset in the first round of the state tournament, defeating top-seeded Mark Raghunandan by a 5-3 score.  The road didn’t get much easier after that victory, as Duguay next took the mat against All-State wrestler Robert Person and number two seed Corey Jamison to end his run.  However, Duguay has a lot to build on, including his big victory and a 39-5 overall season.

 

Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Of course, the conversation has to start with two wrestlers who were on the medal stand in 2012 in the state capital – Lockport’s Anthony Orefice and Lancaster’s Steve Michel.   Orefice is very familiar with the podium.  In 2011, he took fourth at 96 pounds and last season he was fifth at 106 on the heels of a 40-2 campaign.  Orefice had wins over All-State wrestlers Drew Marra of Olean (twice), Freddie Dunau (a 2011 medalist from St. Anthony’s) and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush.  His only losses of the season were at the Times Union Center — 11-8 to state gold medalist Nick Piccininni and to Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser (by default).  Orefice’s accomplishments stretch beyond the Empire State.  He has been an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals multiple times.

Meanwhile, Michel began the state tournament with a pair of victories over Section 1 champion Jake DiMarsico and PSAL representative Keanu Thompson before losing to state champion Sean McCabe of Section 11 and forfeiting to sixth.  He will be looking for more in 2013.

Although he was a state placer, Michel didn’t win the Section 6 crown in 2012, dropping the title bout to Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Russo went 43-3 with his only regular season setback coming against Michel.  In Russo’s second appearance in Albany, he went 1-2 but stayed active in the offseason, including a trip to Fargo.

Jake Weber (Clarence) – As a sophomore, Weber was 35-6 at 160 pounds.  At the state tournament, he drew eventual runner up Tyler Grimaldi of Section 11 in round one and dropped his first wrestleback match.   However, he demonstrated the ability to put opponents on their backs, with 21 pins and just five regular decisions.  And he also has national credentials, having placed at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  With that experience, he can be expected to get his hand raised in Albany this year.

Austin Acquard (Iroquois) – Acquard won a match in Albany in 2011 at 96 pounds however he didn’t get a return trip back to the Times Union Center after a fourth place Sectional finish at 113.  According to Niagara County Community College coach Keith Maute, he was a small 113 pounder who was caught between weight classes.  Having grown into the weight more, he will have a chance to go back to the state capital.

 

Kellen Devlin had a lot of success as an eighth grader.  Who are some of the other young guns to watch?

Nate Schwab has to be near the top of the list.  As a freshman at 152 pounds, he went 38-9 with seven of his losses to seniors.  At the Section 6 tournament, Schwab lost to state qualifier Luke Falzone 1-0 and then came back to take third.  He has also made his presence felt beyond the New York borders, taking seventh at 152 pounds at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals tournament this past spring. Also worthy of mention is his teammate Ryan Burns, also a sophomore, who recently demonstrated his skills at one of the most challenging tournaments on the high school calendar – the Super 32 in North Carolina.  In a loaded 106-pound bracket, he compiled a 4-2 record after his 40-5 ninth grade campaign for the Red Devils.

Matt Kloc of Iroquois, another sophomore, took third in a tough 120-pound weight behind Michel and Russo.  He lost his first bout 1-0 and then captured three consecutive victories for third to complete a 33-10 season.  The younger brother of two-time state champion Jimmy (now wrestling at Buffalo), will look for his first bid to the state tournament.

Tyler Hartinger of Lancaster racked up a 36-9 mark as a freshman 99-pounder.  He had a difficult first match in his opener in Albany – losing to two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, but he came back to earn a victory in his next bout.   Hartinger was joined by a number of talented youngsters at 99 pounds a year ago, including fellow sophomore Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls, who was second in the Section and 34-7 overall (1-3 against Hartinger).

Hector and Tito Colom of Dunkirk are likely to both be at 99 pounds this year.  The brothers have earned some quality results, both making the finals at the Ohio Tournament of Champions while Hector took seventh at the Middle School Super 32 Classic. According to Maute, both will make an impact this year, with Tito having the potential to not only make it to Albany but win several matches there.

 

A Few More to Keep an Eye On . . .

Luke Catalano (Lake Shore) – As a tenth grader, Catalano was second in Section 6, compiling a 31-7 mark while splitting time between 220 and 285 pounds.

Marshall Taylor (Lockport) – As a 195 pounder a year ago, he was third in the Section, racking up close to 30 wins and recording over 20 pins.

Danny Graham (West Seneca East) – Graham has placed third in the Section multiple times.  He sported a 34-5 record in 2011-12, defeating All-State wrestler Cody McGregor and topping former state qualifier Austin Acquard three times.  According to Maute, Graham has a very good chance to make the trip to the state tournament this year, possibly up several weight classes at 138 or 145.

Jose Pagan (Lockport) – Pagan took second at 145 pounds in the Section 6 tournament last year, losing the title bout to two-time state champion Jimmy Kloc of Iroquois.  The Lockport grappler won over 30 matches a year ago and the wrestlers who handed him more than half of his losses (Jake Baer, Michael Roman, Luke Falzone and Kloc), all graduated.  Look for him to make an impact in the middleweights in his senior season.

William Brady (Williamsville East) – Brady is the highest returning placer in the 220 pound class after taking fourth as a junior.  He notched over 30 victories in 2011-12, including 21 by fall, and was mentioned as a wrestler to watch in the upperweights in the upcoming campaign.

 

Team Race:

Kenmore West won the title in 2012 by an eight-point margin over Lockport, with Clarence not far behind in third.  Those three squads look like they’ll once again be battling for the Division I crown.

While Clarence was the bronze team in February, Maute believes they may have the upper hand this time around, especially with seven returning team members that finished in the top 6 in the Section tournament a year ago.  While the Red Devils said goodbye to several placers, they return 160-pound runner up Jake Weber, 152-pound bronze medalist Nate Schwab, fourth placers Ryan Burns and Nate Ward as well as Brandan Glauber (fifth at 120), Austin Czaja (sixth at 113) and Austin Krawczyk (sixth at 126).

But, of course, last year’s top two teams, Lockport and Kenmore West, both bring back plenty of firepower.  Lockport has three finalists on the roster, led by All-State wrestler Anthony Orefice.  Section silver medalists Brad Feeney (126) and Jose Pagan (145) will look to move one step higher on the podium while Marshall Taylor (third at 195) and Marcellus Hinton (fifth at 285) will be threats as well.  Wrestlers such as Josh Steinman and Seth Anderson didn’t get on the medal stand a year ago, but will look to pick up some points to compensate for the losses of Mike Feeney (champion at 138) and Joe Sansone (third at 182).

While Lockport will miss Feeney and Sansone, Kenmore West will be without the services of graduates such as Section champions Dylan Caruana and Brandon Lathrop as well as second place finishers Zach Skiba and Nicolas Burgos.   Leading the way in 2012-13 will be 113-pound runner up Ron Duguay, fifth place medalist Christian Bauman (106) and sixth placers Anthony Argentieri (99) and Mark Stucke (138).   Adding some experience will be Shane Currey and Jon Szurczynksi in the upperweights.

Iroquois brings quite a few top notch wrestlers to the table, especially in the light and middleweights.  Returning placers Jacob Slade (third), Austin Acquard (fourth), Matt Kloc (third) and Eric McEvoy (fourth) will lead the charge for the Chiefs in the postseason.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

106 Pounds: Drew Marra, Olean, Fourth Place

113 Pounds: Cody McGregor, Tonawanda, Fifth Place

120 Pounds: Dakota Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

126 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga, Second Place

138 Pounds: Dan Reagan, Lewiston-Porter, Fourth Place

138 Pounds: Jude Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

145 Pounds: Drew Hull, Royalton-Hartland, Second Place

285 Pounds: Matt Montesanti, Medina, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Dylan Lundmark, Southwestern

113 Pounds: Pat McCarthy, Fredonia

113 Pounds: Ryan Kromer, Lewiston-Porter

120 Pounds: Andrew Lazickas, East Aurora

160 Pounds: Zach Buckley, Fredonia

 

Top Seniors

There’s no question that there are a large number of impact twelfth graders in Division II this year, including four returning All-State wrestlers.

Drew Hull, Photo by Boris V

Drew Hull has twice been on the podium in Albany.  Last year, he went all the way to the state finals, dropping a one-point decision to Tyler Button at 145 pounds.  He followed that up by competing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach where he was an All-American in the past.  Hull has been active in the offseason and is capable of not only making his third appearance on the medal stand, but standing on the top step.

Dan Reagan and Jude Gardner aren’t strangers on the mat.  They went 2-2 against each other as juniors in the midst of highly successful seasons.  (Gardner was 46-9 overall, while Reagan was 45-6).  They met twice in the postseason with Gardner winning by fall in the Section 6 championship bout and Reagan capturing a 4-1 victory at the state tournament on his way to fourth place.  Meanwhile, Gardner took sixth.   The two could battle a few more times in 2012-13.

Matt Montesanti, Photo by Boris V

Matt Montesanti was 30-3 with 17 pins entering the Times Union Center, where he won his first two bouts at 285 pounds.  The Medina senior then lost to eventual state champion Hayden Head of Beekmantown and forfeited his remaining two matches to take sixth.  One of only two placers to return at heavyweight, his sights are set on a title.

Fredonia teammates Zach Buckley and Pat McCarthy both went 1-2 in Albany to conclude seasons in which they won over 40 bouts and registered some quality victories over state qualifiers.  Joining them at the Times Union Center was East Aurora’s Andrew Lazickas, who also notched a win.  Can they end their careers with a few more wins in Albany?

 

Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Like in Division I, there are some obvious answers to this question as Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cody McGregor, Dakota Gardner and Drew Marra already demonstrated their ability to place last year.

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by Boris V

Rodriguez-Spencer was the silver medalist in a difficult weight featuring past state champions like Nick Tighe and Tristan Rifanburg as well as multiple-time placer Corey Dake.  He showed resolve, winning both his second round and semifinal matches in overtime (including an 8-6 win over Rifanburg).  He also shined in the spring and summer in the international styles, which he has done for years.  In 2012 alone, he placed in a number of elite Greco-Roman events, including Junior Nationals in Fargo, FILA Cadets and FILA Juniors.

Marra went 3-2 at the Times Union Center to cap off a 42-7 sophomore campaign in which he was fourth in New York at 106.  Cody McGregor, a fourth place finisher in 2011 as an eighth grader at 96 pounds, made his way onto the medal stand again, this time taking fifth at 113.   He’ll go for his third All-State showing this season, looking to climb his way up the podium.

An opponent McGregor was very familiar with is Lewiston Porter’s Ryan Kromer.  Kromer went to Albany as the Section 6 winner after beating McGregor 1-0 in the semifinals.  They met again at the Times Union Center and McGregor came out on top in the ultimate tiebreaker by the same 1-0 score to eliminate Kromer one victory shy of the podium.  It was Kromer’s second trip to Albany.  He’s looking for the third time to be a charm.

Like McGregor, Dakota Gardner was ready to wrestle some of the state’s best, capping off a strong season by grabbing sixth in the final tournament of the season. He followed that performance off with a third place showing at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals at 127 pounds.

As an eighth grader, Kellen Devlin of Amherst was impressive, notching a 34-5 record, including a dominant performance at the Section 6 tournament on his way to the title (in Division I).  He outscored his opponents 18-1 and defeated Duguay in the championship bout.  It looked like he was on his way to victory in his first match at the Times Union Center against All-Stater Robert Person of Nassau County, however, he was reversed to his back with less than 30 seconds left.  Devlin quickly rebounded after his 0-2 showing in the state capital, winning a number of spring and summer events, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.   He will be a lightweight to track closely this year, but according to Ross Conti, it will be in Division II this time.

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

DJ Marshall (Lewiston Porter) – Marshall went 33-10 at 120 pounds with a number of his setbacks at the hands of Section 6’s top wrestlers (Dylan Caruana, Dakota Gardner, Andrew Lazickas).  He rebounded from a loss to state qualifier Lazickas in the semifinals to take third place in the Section.

Eddie Hutschenreuter (Alden) – The junior enters the season as a two-time state qualifier who won a match at the state tournament in both 2010 and 2011.  However, he didn’t have an opportunity to make it three years in a row in Albany after he suffered a season-ending injury in December of 2011.  According to Maute, the Alden wrestler has returned to the mat and “is definitely a threat to place; in fact, I think he should place this year.”

Alex Smythe (Eden) – Smythe is familiar with the medal stand on the state level.  He took fifth at 125 pounds in 2011 at the Times Union Center.  Last year, he was fourth in the Section at 145 pounds after amassing a 31-7 mark, with two of the losses to an out of state wrestler and three others to All-State opponents.  Smythe will look to return to Albany.

Zach Bickle (Royalton Hartland) – Bickle is a two-time state qualifier, who came within one win of making All-State in 2011 at 103 pounds.  He will look for his third journey to Albany as a senior after winning more than 30 matches as a junior.  Bickle registered quality wins over Kellen Devlin, Pat McCarthy and Ryan Kromer a year ago.

Austin Lynn (Frewsburg) – Frewsburg’s Nick Mitchell had a terrific season a year ago, with his only loss coming in the state finals at 170 pounds.  Lynn is another Bears upperweight who is primed for a strong season.  He went 33-8 as a junior, taking second in the Sectionals at 182 pounds.

Andrew Shomers (Lewiston Porter) – Shomers, who wrestled at Niagara Falls last season, was second behind Anthony Orefice at 106 in the Section.  In fact, four of his six losses came against Orefice with one other against qualifier Bryan Ruggeri from Fairport.  Shomers certainly knows how to finish a match – he notched 29 victories with 21 of them coming by pin.  He should be an impact player for his new team.

Kyle Blake (Falconer) – Blake was 31-9 in 2011-12 at 99 pounds with a second place showing at the Section 6 tournament.

“He was really impressive last year,” said Ross Conti.  “He lost by a point in the [Section 6] finals and he really came on as the season went on.  He’s a kid that has the look of someone who will definitely do really well.”

Brandon Dallavia, who racked up a 35-4 record at 132 pounds for Lewiston Porter as an eighth grader, has left the Empire State for Blair Academy.  However, there are other young grapplers to watch, including Depew’s Philip Calandra, who according to Maute, has a good chance of winning Division II this year in the lightest weight class.  

 

Team Race

Lewiston Porter won the Division II race a year ago by an incredibly slim margin of 1.5 points over Fredonia.  The two teams look poised to be at the head of the class again with a slew of returning placers.

Fredonia’s lineup looks very tough heading into 2012-13 as the Hillbillies bring back six Section 6 medalists, including champions Dakota Gardner (120), Jude Gardner (138) and Zach Buckley (160).  In addition, Pat McCarthy returns for his senior year as do fourth placers Tyler Cassidy (132) and Christian Saden (195).

Dan Reagan, Photo by Boris V

Lewiston Porter will challenge, however, with 113-pound champion Ryan Kromer back, along with All-State wrestler Dan Reagan and Section bronze winner DJ Marshall (120).  Garrett Rath (fifth at 285) will look for a move up the podium to help offset the lost production of graduates Jason Kromer and Kevin McMurray and the departure of Brandon Dallavia.  The addition of Andrew Shomers will add another top wrestler to the mix.

Royalton Hartland, third in 2012, will put a number of wrestlers on the podium as well, beginning with Drew Hull who was the runner up in the Section as well as in the state.  Taking third a year ago were Garrett Baugher as an eighth grader at 99 pounds (who has since departed for St. Joseph’s of the CHSAA) and Alex Jensen at 220.  Cameron Swick and Zach Bickle also took top 5 spots for the Raiders.

According to Ross Conti, there are a few other teams to keep an eye on in Division II.  Conti said Falconer was the top ranked small school dual team a year ago and will be worth watching again.

“[Falconer] usually has a good wrestler in every weight class, although they don’t have a lot of stars,” he said.  “Fredonia sent four to states and had other kids on the bubble, yet Faulkner beat Fredonia in a dual meet.  They lost a few guys, but they always have solid numbers and a very good coaching staff.  Those kids seem to get better in a hurry.  They’ll be tough, especially in duals.”

Another team Conti mentioned was Ripley.

“I think Ripley might have been the smallest wrestling school in the whole state,” he said. “For years, Ripley’s been a good team with state representatives and placers.  But it’s hard to have depth as such a small school.  Now that they are merging with Westfield and Chautauqua Lake, I think they’ll be a team to watch out for.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Keith Maute and Ross Conti.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

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Section 7 Preview

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Section 9 Preview

Section 10 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

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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