Returning State Placewinners
Fifth Place: Bryan Lantry, Wayne, 99 Pounds
Second Place: Vincent Deprez, Hilton, 113 Pounds
Additional Returning Qualifiers
99 Pounds: Jon Haas, Spencerport
106 Pounds: Bryan Ruggeri, Fairport
106 Pounds: Barton Peters, Brockport
170 Pounds: Jared Mesiti, Brockport
195 Pounds: Colton Kells, Fairport
Seniors to Watch
Colton Kells (Fairport) – The Red Raiders crowned the first state champion in school history in 2012 when Josh Lackey took the 220-pound title. Kells, a fellow Fairport upperweight, looks to make it two years in a row. He came within one victory of making the medal stand as a junior as he won a pair of bouts in Albany. His 35-8 campaign included a victory over bronze medalist Jake Kelly of Niagara Wheatfield and all but one of his losses came against wrestlers that have now graduated.
Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport) – Like his teammate Kells, Ruggeri made the trip to the state tournament. He had a difficult draw, losing to undefeated champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville and fourth place finisher Jimmy Overhiser of Corning. However, he showed his ability in a 35-win season that included a win over All-State grappler Corey Hollister. He’ll be looking for more in 2013.
Jared Mesiti (Brockport) – Mesiti went 36-9 at 170 pounds a year ago, making an appearance at the Times Union Center after winning the Section 5 title by a point over Jessi Kimmerli. The victory was significant because the Spencerport grappler had defeated Mesiti the first three times they met in 2011-12. (Kimmerli earned fifth in Albany). Now that he’s had a taste of the state tournament, Mesiti is looking to get his hand raised at the event as a senior.
Austin Coleman (Spencerport) – Coleman, the returning Section 5 runner up, had a number of quality wins at 285 a year ago, including over state silver medalist El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia, and looks to punch his ticket to Albany in 2013. He’s favored to do just that as opposing coaches such as Brockport’s Mike Ferris believe he’s the wrestler to beat at heavyweight this season.
Also Keep an Eye On . . .
Vincent DePrez (Hilton) – Deprez had a nearly perfect season as a sophomore that ended just short of a state title. He went 49-1 at 113 pounds, with his only setback coming on a takedown at the buzzer in the state championship bout against Dylan Realbuto of Somers. He racked up a collection of impressive triumphs, including wins over Sean Peacock (Division II state champion) and additional placers Cody McGregor, Pat Skinner and Robert Person. He will be up several weight classes but will be among the favorites to stand on top of the podium in late February.
Barton Peters (Brockport) – Peters is already a two-time Section 5 champion, including the 106 pound title in 2012. During his 39-win sophomore campaign, he tallied several quality victories, including a pin against Fairport’s Bryan Ruggeri in the first period of the Section championship bout.
Lightweights Jonathan Haas (Spencerport) and Bryan Lantry (Wayne) know each other pretty well. Two of the top 99-pounders in the state last season, they met three times in February. Haas came out on top on the first two occasions, including in overtime in the SuperSectional final. However, when they met in Albany, with a place on the podium on the line, Lantry (45-5) captured a 5-1 victory on his way to fifth. Both will once again be in the running at the end of the year.
Although the following wrestlers didn’t take the mat at the state tournament last year, they will certainly be in the mix to do so this time around.
Anthony DePrez (Hilton) – As a tenth grader, he went 41-6 with three of his losses to state runner up Brady Baron. The last of those defeats came by a slim 4-3 margin in the SuperSectional title bout. DePrez had 11 pins and another 17 bonus wins. Not to be outdone by his brothers Vincent and Anthony, Lou DePrez piled up 29 wins as a seventh grader at 106 and will another important part of the Hilton lineup.
Jacob Pincus (Pittsford) – Pincus took second at the SuperSectionals behind Angelo DeAngelis after a 35-4 campaign. He registered 20 pins and defeated NHSCA All-American Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley.
Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua Academy) – Romeo took third in Section 5 to cap off a season in which he won 38 matches at 126 pounds, including 16 pins. His bronze medal match victory at SuperSectionals came against Jacob Boice of Honeoye Falls-Lima, another wrestler to keep an eye on. Boice had defeated Romeo multiple times earlier in the campaign.
Peter Armbruster (Webster Schroeder) – Armbruster was 40-9 in 2011-12, taking third place in Section 5 behind a pair of state qualifiers Jessi Kimmerli and Jared Mesiti. He registered some solid wins, such as a victory over Josh Maier of Brockport, and looks to make an appearance in Albany.
Collin Pittman (Spencerport) – Like Armbruster, Pittman was a bronze medalist at the SuperSectionals behind two wrestlers that earned bids to the state capital – Colton Kells and Jesse Kozub. After his successful junior season at 195 pounds, Pittman will look to make an impact not only in the Section but at the state level in the upperweights.
Youth Movement . . .
Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) – Diakomihalis captured trophy after trophy in the spring and summer as he won several events in various states, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions, the Empire Nationals and the NYWAY State championships. As a seventh grader, he went 35-3 with his losses coming to Haas (twice) and Lantry. Intermat currently has him pegged as the sixth best Junior High School wrestler in the nation.
He demonstrated yet again that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in New York this year at the Journeymen Classic at the beginning of October where he went undefeated and won his bracket in convincing fashion, including victories over Suffolk County’s Jesse Dellavecchia and All-American Tommy Aloi of Virginia. For an encore performance, he won the Middle School national crown at the Super 32 in October.
“He is the closest thing I’ve seen to a young Quinton Murphy,” said Section 5 Class Chairman and Byron-Bergen Athletic Director Rich Hannan. “He’s really special. He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t care who he’s wrestling. He just does his thing and stays composed.”
Parker Kropman (Penfield) – Kropman was another seventh grader who produced good results at 99 pounds, with more than 30 wins. He lost a one-point decision to state champion Tony Recco of Lyndonville and also dropped matches against Diakomihalis (twice) and state placer Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle. He and brothers Skylar and Cooper will rack up many victories over the years for Penfield. Teammate Frankie Gissendanner will be in his first year of varsity eligibility and is a wrestler to keep tabs on. He had a highly successful offseason, winning titles at just about every event he entered, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.
“The team race will be more interesting than it’s been in years,” Hannan said. “Brockport has been inching closer and closer to Spencerport each year. Last year, the team race wasn’t locked up until somewhere close to 220 pounds and that was unusual. Several teams will be fighting it out this year.”
Brockport coach Mike Ferris agrees that it will be an intriguing race in 2013, naming a number of squads he thinks can contend, such as Spencerport, Brockport, Hilton, Webster Schroeder, Penfield, Fairport and Pittsford.
“It’s always exciting to see how coaches prepare their teams for the final tournament of the year,” Ferris said. “It seems that this year more than ever, any one of those teams has the ability to finish on top. The team that finishes hot at the end of the season will prove to be Section 5’s best.”
Let’s take a look at some of those teams.
Spencerport, which finished fourth in the state polls last year, is of course a team that will be in the thick of things. The squad graduated a fair bit of firepower with state qualifiers Steve Maier, Angelo DeAngelis and Jessi Kimmerli moving on. But Jon Haas, Austin Coleman and Collin Pittman will be back to form a strong core for the always-tough Rangers.
Brockport, eighth in the state a year ago, is in a similar situation, welcoming back Section 5 champions Mesiti, Peters and Class A Section champion Ryan Mattison, but losing a large group of solid competitors in Joe Carter, Jesse Kozub, Alex Love, Josh Maier, Mark Nesbitt, Owen Peters, Jimmy Porteus and CJ White.
“It is always difficult to say goodbye to a special group of seniors like we had last season,” Ferris said, mentioning that his squad sent a Division I team record of six athletes to the state tournament. “However, like every year, it is important to build off of the successes of past athletes to build the future. I am confident our team will be ready to go when it matters the most.”
As always the highly anticipated Brockport vs. Spencerport dual is circled on the calendar for Section 5 wrestling fans. January 24th will be sure to draw a crowd as the Blue Devils host the Rangers in what is typically a battle.
Don’t forget about Fairport. The team’s first-ever state champion Josh Lackey now suits up for North Carolina State and his classmates Dakota Taylor and Pat Van Bortle aren’t wearing Red Raider singlets anymore. But James Arao, Zack Barker, Colton Kells, Andrew Pieri and Bryan Ruggeri will give Fairport a tough squad to beat.
“Fairport always finds ways to replace talent with young tough kids,” Ferris said. “I’m sure Coach Kohl has his Raiders ready to contend for an AA sectional title once again.”
Other teams that will make their mark include Penfield, which returns Keith Langdon, Parker Kropman, Skylar Kropman and Eric Harley and Hilton which offers a standout lightweight group of the three DePrez brothers (Vincent, Anthony and Lou) as well as Diakomihalis.
Pittsford will be in the mix despite the loss of state runner up Brady Baron with a core made up of Jeff Gould, Tyler Gross, Rob Klotz, Jacob Pincus and Tyler Schaefer.
And while Webster Schroeder said goodbye to Section 5 finalists Alec Dierna, Josh Reed, Andrew Wightman and Mike DeMarco, they are a team to keep tabs on as well, led by returning placers Armbruster and Rosario Venniro.
“Webster Schreoder lost a solid core of athletes but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coach Salvaggio competes for a AA championship again this year,” Ferris said. “He has some tough kids returning on his team.”
Returning State Placewinners
99 Pounds: Andrew Flanagan, Holley, Fourth Place
99 Pounds: Tony Recco, Lyndonville, State Champion
106 Pounds: Corey Hollister, Perry, Fifth Place
113 Pounds: Sean Peacock, Midlakes, State Champion
113 Pounds: Austin Keough, Warsaw, Sixth Place
170 Pounds: Burke Paddock, Warsaw, Third Place
182 Pounds: Tim Schaefer, Warsaw, Third Place
195 Pounds: Bryce Mazurowski, Avon, Second Place
195 Pounds: Tyler Smith, Midlakes, Fourth Place
220 Pounds: Zack Bacon, Hornell, Second Place
220 Pounds: Mike Silvis, Holley, Fifth Place
Additional Returning Qualifiers
106 Pounds: Matt Boyle, Batavia
126 Pounds: Jake Nicholson, Waterloo
132 Pounds: Clyde Carey, Addison
145 Pounds: Austin Hedges Letchworth
182 Pounds: Jeff Day, Letchworth
Some of the Wrestlers to Watch . . .
Section 5 was the big winner in Division II in Albany and although outstanding state champions Sam Recco, Quinton Murphy and Chris Nevinger have graduated, as have medalists such as Jeff O’Lena and Kacee Sauer, the Section still returns a host of qualifiers that will account for a large number of points again in February. In fact, 16 wrestlers who represented the section in 2012 will be back.
Tony Recco made a tremendous debut at the state tournament, earning a championship to match the one his brother Sam (now at Edinboro), captured. On his title run in Albany, Recco defeated fellow Section 5 star Andrew Flanagan, who also made All-State.
A few minutes after Tony Recco earned his title, Sean Peacock completed a 49-2 campaign with a crown of his own in one of the brackets most densely packed with former All-State grapplers. One blemish on his record was a SuperSectionals finals loss to Austin Keough, who was sixth at the states. Recco, Peacock and Keough will once again be threats to earn gold in 2013.
A pair of upperweights also stepped on the mat for the Saturday night title bouts in Albany, with both Avon’s Bryce Mazurowski and Hornell’s Zack Bacon coming up just one match short of being state champions themselves. Mazurowski racked up a 46-2 record a year ago (including a victory over Bacon up at 220) and may be the preseason favorite statewide. To win the Section 5 crown, Mazurowski defeated Tyler Smith of Midlakes, who took fourth at the state tournament. They could meet again during the season . . . or in Albany.
Bacon and Mike Silvis may be on a collision course to meet not only to determine the best in Section 5 but also the best in the Empire State. Bacon was dominant a year ago, with all but one of his victories by bonus points coming into the state tournament. When they met in Albany, Silvis gave Bacon one of his toughest bouts in a 4-1 decision. Look for some more battles, as according to Hannan, Silvis put in significant work in the offseason, including attending the 28-day J Robinson camp, and is getting serious looks from several Division I college programs.
Two other wrestlers looking to win it all this season are Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer and Burke Paddock. The pair has combined to make the medal stand seven times, but neither has reached the top yet. Both hope to change that in 2013.
Also Keep an Eye On . . .
Here are some wrestlers who didn’t make the drive to wrestle in Albany last year, but have a solid chance to do so this year.
At 99 pounds, Hannan pointed to a pair of wrestlers who could break through this year, Tyler Hamsher of Wayland-Cohocton and Jason Charlette of Midlakes (34-13), the third and fourth place finishers at Supers. They split a pair of close, late season matches.
“I think both Charlette and Hamsher will be very good,” Hannan said. “Hamsher lost a tight 3-1 match to [state champion] Tony Recco in the semis at the Supers. I think both are right there at the state level if they’re back at 99.”
Another bonus name to remember over the next few seasons is Dane Heberlein. The Alexander wrestler made the varsity squad last year as a seventh grader but didn’t meet the minimum weight requirement to compete. However, he has proven himself in a number of events around the country, including winning an NHSCA Middle School National championship in the spring. According to a number of coaches, Heberlein will be dangerous, especially once his weight is high enough.
In the 106/113 range, keep tabs on Matt Boyle of Batavia, who went 34-7 with 11 pins as a sophomore 106 pounder. He dropped a 2-1 decision to state placer Corey Hollister and would like to join the Perry grappler in the Times Union Center in 2013. In addition, don’t lose sight of Hunter Taylor of Byron Bergen, who captured 33 bouts as a freshman 113-pounder and took fourth at the SuperSectionals. Interestingly, Taylor has wrestling in his family as he often watches his uncle, Tim Taylor compete in Greco Roman at high profile events. Tim Taylor has been second on the Olympic ladder behind Dremiel Byers for a number of years.
While two familiar faces, Sam Recco and Jeff O’Lena, the top two finishers in the state a year ago, are no longer in high school, Section 5 will still be tough at 120 pounds. The top returner, Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, piled up 42 victories as a tenth grader, including wins over state medalists Zach Ayen of Gouverneur (by major) and Dakota Gardner of Fredonia. He faced a tough schedule, battling Recco and O’Lena twice each as well as Dylan Rifenburg. That experience should help him as a junior.
At 126 pounds, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo came so close to going to Albany in 2012, losing by a point in triple overtime to state placer Dylan Rifenburg at 126 in the SuperSectionals. In his 33-3 campaign, he lost only to state silver medalist Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Rifenburg twice (although he also beat Rifenburg) and recorded 21 pins.
“126 last year was a bag of rattlesnakes,” Hannan said. “I didn’t know who was going to come out of it. Nicholson wrestled well and won it. He’s very athletic on the mat.”
Speaking of 126 pounds, two wrestlers to monitor this year are Jake Sepor of Pavilion and Derek Draper of York, although one or both may move up to 132. Draper placed at the SuperSectionals in 2011, according to Hannan, and a top three finish in 2013 could result in a trip to Albany. Draper has overcome some obstacles to get back on the mat and will be someone to cheer for in his final campaign.
“I’ll be very surprised if Sepor doesn’t make it to states this year. He’s definitely good enough to do it,” Hannan said. “As for Draper, he came up with the [Bobby and Alec] Diernas and Quinton Murphy and was right there as a young guy. He’s had some serious medical issues and at times looks like a shell of his former self but you can still see the glimpses of really great wrestling. If he puts it together, he may be at states and that would be a gigantic victory.”
If either Sepor or Draper are at 132, they might face Addison’s Clyde Carey, who was one victory from placing in Albany last year. A few things should be noted about that performance. One, his losses were to eventual state champion Connor Lapresi in the first round and then to bronze finisher Tom Page of Eden by a 4-3 score. Second, while many compete at less than 100% at the end of the campaign, Carey was far less than that.
“Clyde wrestled with a broken collarbone at the end of the year,” Hannan said. “You could see he was hurting in the semis and finals of the Supers, but he did what he had to do. He gutted it out. He actually wrestled well at states, but you’re not going to be able to get away with being that injured and still win at that level. He doesn’t stop moving. He’s technically very good. He beat up on some kids in Section 5 that I thought were very good wrestlers. I’m excited to see what he can do when he’s healthy.”
Moving on to the middle and upperweights, Collin Fox of Midlakes is one to keep tabs on this year. The numbers were very good for Fox as he was 46-2 with 25 pins and a bronze medal at SuperSectionals a year ago. He also defeated qualifier Austin Hedges of Letchworth and hopes to take a few steps forward in the postseason.
Austin Baker from Canisteo-Greenwood was 40-10 at 160 pounds with four losses to New York state medalists (champions Chris Nevinger and Ben Haas and third placer Hayden Wagner) and another four to now-graduated Corey Vail of Pioneer. He defeated state qualifier Conner Fox of Midlakes and “will be very good” according to Hannan.
At 170 pounds, Nick Winkley, who took fourth at Supers last year is back, and another name to keep an eye on is a grappler who didn’t participate in the postseason after a 32-7 record — Byron Bergen’s Jon Levchuk.
“I think Jon could have been in the finals against Burke Paddock last year in the SuperSectionals if he had wrestled,” Hannan said. “He had a fantastic year and will make some noise this year, even possibly at the state level.”
Yet another upperweight who will be a breakout threat is Penn Yan’s John Martisch. As a sophomore in 2011-12, Martisch went 43-6 with five of his losses to state placers (four to Tyler Smith and one, a 6-5 decision to Jesse Kozub). He registered 32 pins along the way.
“He had Kozub on the ropes. A call went Kozub’s way late in the match but Martisch had him beat. He’s big and well put together and he can definitely wrestle,” Hannan said. “Little mistakes cost him last year but if he cleans them up, he can be one of the top guys in the state, that’s for sure. No one in the state knows his name, kind of like [current Binghamton wrestler] Tyler Deuel a few years ago. We saw Deuel coming but he surprised a lot of people in New York. Martisch is the same way and is even built like him.”
Holley won the team title in 2012 for the first time since 2008, less than 10 points ahead of Midlakes and about 20 in front of Warsaw. Each of those squads returns multiple SuperSectional placers, but Midlakes may be the preseason favorite, according to Hannan, as the Screaming Eagles bring back a large number of top performers.
State champion Sean Peacock and All-Stater Tyler Smith lead the charge for Midlakes while Collin Fox, Rafael Mateo, Hammond Raes and Jason Charlette, who all finished in the top six at SuperSectionals, will put plenty of points on the board as well. “I think Midlakes will be very tough to beat. They have to be at the forefront because of what they did last year,” Hannan said.
Challenging for top billing will be Warsaw, which welcomes back Burke Paddock and Tim Schaefer who are among the best in New York as well as multiple-time state medalist Austin Keough and Colin Royce, who was fourth in the Section a year ago. Of course, the return of Aaron Paddock strengthens the team on the mat and serves as an inspiration to wrestlers throughout the state and the country. For our recent story on the Paddock family, see here.
Holley can’t be discounted in its bid to repeat despite the losses of four-time state champion Quinton Murphy and multiple-time All-Stater Kacee Sauer. Andrew Flanagan and Mike Silvis both made the podium at the Times Union Center and Nick Winkley is set to come back after a fourth place SuperSectional showing.
“Holley will be solid,” Hannan said. “No one in Section 5 reloads better than [head coach] John Grillo. One year, they had seven seniors in the finals of the SuperSectionals and the next year, after all those guys graduated, they scored more points with a new team. You can’t count Holley out.”
Also offering strong squads will be Canisteo-Greenwood as well as typically tough Palymra-Macedon. Byron Bergen has a solid group of returning starters such as Hunter Taylor, Jon Levchuk, Warren Oderkirk and Austin Yockel. “There’s a nice mix of veterans and a really good group of youth wrestlers at Byron Bergen,” Hannan said. “The future looks pretty bright.”
Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Mike Ferris and Rich Hannan.
More Season Preview Articles:
Section 11 Preview
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