Buffalo Announces Recruiting Class, Including Nine New York Wrestlers

On Friday, Buffalo announced the incoming recruiting class for the fall of 2013 put together by new head coach John Stutzman and his staff.  The group, which consists of 16 wrestlers from five different states, has a strong New York presence, with nine Empire State grapplers included.

Photo by BV

Those New York wrestlers are: Corey Hollister (125 pounds, Perry), Brandon Muntz (133, Falconer), AJ Voelker (165, Monroe Woodbury), Alex Francik (165, Vestal), Rrok Ndokaj (174, Monsignor Farrell/Bloomsburg), Austin Weigel (174, Onteora), Anthony Liberatore (184, Williamsville South), James Benjamin (197, Vestal) and Mike Silvis (197, Holley).

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Courtesy of buffalobulls.com

BUFFALO, NY – With at least one newcomer at every weight class, the 2013 wrestling recruiting class has covered all the bases for first-year head coach John Stutzman. In the mix for the upcoming season will be a group of Division I transfers, and high school standouts from five different states.

Stutzman describes the class of 16 wrestlers as crucial pieces of the team’s future.

“These guys want to be here and build a foundation for future success,” Stutzman said about his incoming recruits. “They want to put UB back on the map and make us a contender. We want to compete in the MAC and become a consistent top-20 team. That’s what this class is all about.”

For the full release from the University at Buffalo Athletics site, see this link.

Buffalo Bound: Onteora's Austin Weigel Set to Join the Bulls

 
 
Austin Weigel knows the route from Onteora to the Albany area well.

Extremely well.

At least three times per week, the Section 9 standout made the 1.5 hour trip after school up to Journeymen Wrestling Club practices. And afterwards, he’d get back in the car for another 1.5 hour drive, typically arriving home around 9 p.m. to start his homework.

However, as Weigel talked about his recent commitment to the University at Buffalo, he had no doubt that all the time on the road was worth it, helping him emerge as a Division I prospect.

“I really got into wrestling after my sophomore year,” Weigel said. “Before that I was a three-sport athlete who wanted to get better but wasn’t totally into it yet. As a sophomore, I lost in the Section 9 finals and it motivated me. Wrestling was what I wanted to do and I wanted to win – not just the Section, but everything.”

Courtesy of Austin Weigel

He decided that competing in the offseason, in addition to his training with Onteora, would provide him with a boost.

“Working with Journeymen pushed me to more serious tournaments and competition,” he said. “I went to Super 32 and Fargo. I went to a lot of new and different places and got more experience.”

That experience showed during his 38-4 junior campaign at 160 pounds (after a 26-11 mark as a sophomore).

“It took me a few matches to realize how different things were, how much better I was,” he said. “I wasn’t cutting a lot of weight and I felt good the whole year.”

He captured the Section 9 title with ease, winning all of his bouts by bonus points. And he followed up with a pair of victories at the state tournament, falling one win shy of All-State status.

“Being there in Albany wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I wasn’t seeded but I just wrestled hard and was just one match away from placing. It was a close [3-1] loss [to the eventual bronze medalist] and it definitely motivated me.”

Weigel perhaps used some of that motivation at the Journeymen Classic in the fall, winning a round robin bracket full of accomplished wrestlers – fourth place finishers Daesean Johnson (New Jersey, 160), John Messinger (New York DII, 170) and Dale White (New York DI, 160).

“It was a really tough group up at 170,” he said. “I wrestled really well and had a lot of good wins there.”

He had a lot of good wins as his senior campaign began for Onteora as well, including a major over 2012 All-State grappler Andrew Martinez of Liberty. In the earlygoing, Weigel wrestled up at 170 but wasn’t sure where he would finish the season.

“I contemplated staying at 170 with my coaches but we felt that my best shot at a state championship was at 160,” he said. “I committed to 160 at Eastern States and knew that’s where I would be the rest of the year.”

It looked like a solid choice as he made the medal stand at the prestigious tournament held at SUNY Sullivan. After winning his first two contests, he faced nationally-ranked Burke Paddock in the quarterfinals. In a hard-fought match, Paddock came out on top, 1-0, his closest victory of a dominant season.

Courtesy of Austin Weigel

Weigel then won two of his three consolation bouts, to grab seventh. His setback was to eventual state placer Andrew Psomas in sudden victory.

“I was pretty happy with how that tournament went overall,” he said. “Getting down to weight wasn’t always ideal this year, but I felt pretty good there. I thought I could beat Paddock and wrestled a tough match against him. I was a little shaky afterwards, and had a really disappointing loss to Psomas. I was in on his legs the whole match, but I just couldn’t score. He kept going out of bounds. It was a frustrating loss.”

He rebounded to pin his way to his second straight Section title and picked up his 100th victory during the campaign for good measure.

He began his quest for a state title well, picking up a major in round 1. He then met Greene’s Mike Beckwith, who handed him a defeat in Albany in 2012. One year later, the outcome was the same and Weigel moved into the wrestlebacks where he dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Section 6’s Gunnar Van Curen.

“It’s hard to think about, but [Beckwith] just wrestled the better match,” he said. “I didn’t get to do anything I wanted to. He got an early takedown and rode me well. I was really disappointed and tried to get my head straight afterwards. In the next one, I don’t know what it was. It was like the Psomas match because I was in on his legs a lot and couldn’t score. It was one of the worst losses of my career because he escaped with 30 seconds left to win 1-0 and I knew my high school career was over. I didn’t perform like I should have and know I could have. For a while, I felt bad about myself but looking back now, I realize I can’t take away from the rest of my accomplishments because of one disappointing weekend. I’ve beaten kids that did much better at states, but that’s the way it went.”

He got a chance to face some of those that fared better in Albany this spring, at the Journeymen Freestyle Duals. He said he expected to wrestle at 182, but due to team needs, he cut to 170.

In the first dual of the day, Journeymen met Vougar’s Honors Wrestling (VHW), the eventual winner of the event. Weigel was set to face Division I 160-pound state runner up Steven Schneider of MacArthur.

“I was really tired that morning after the cut, but I was excited because we were wrestling a team of Long Island studs first,” he said. “I saw Schneider at Eastern States – he beat Psomas and other guys I lost to. My teammate Jimmy Marquez got a pin at 160 and he came off the mat and slapped my hand and got me all amped up because he lost to Schneider at the state tournament. He told me I could beat him and I got fired up.”

Weigel took the first and third periods to get the victory in what he called an important win for him.

“I was in a funk, still getting over the season and that was a big momentum moment – wrestling to my potential against a great wrestler. I was relaxed and wrestled the match I wanted.”

There wasn’t much time to celebrate, however, as he next faced Matt Fisher, the Sacred Heart-bound senior who earned bronze in the same bracket as Weigel at the state tournament.

“I knew he beat Beckwith to take third at states,” he said. “I was thinking about the win I just had and there wasn’t a time I was worried about giving up points or losing. I got back on track and showed what I didn’t show at the state tournament.”

The future exercise science major hopes to keep showing what he can do at Buffalo, where he believes he will begin at 174 pounds but could go up higher given his six-foot-one frame.

“I took trips to other schools and liked every school I saw,” he said, mentioning Binghamton and Bloomsburg, among others. “I really liked Coach Stutzman when I went to Bloomsburg and when I heard he moved to Buffalo, I felt like I was basically done with the process. I liked everything about Buffalo – the campus, the facilities, the big school atmosphere. I’m really excited to be part of a program that’s going in the right direction and revamping everything. I think Coach Stutzman will rebuild the program strong.”

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Austin Weigel had a long list of people he wanted to thank.

“I want to thank my family, friends, coaches and the community for everything. The support for the program is amazing and helped me to get where I am.”

He mentioned the huge contributions of Journeymen’s Frank Popolizio and his high school coaches Lou Chartrand and Eric Pezzello “who are more than coaches – they are second and third fathers to me.” He also thanked Donnie Van Buren, CJ Goldizen and Dustin MacKenzie for being influential workout partners and his “brother” Avery Leighton who “was my best practice partner because we did everything together. I owe a lot to him. He made me the hardest worker I could be and was a huge part of my wrestling career.”

Section 9 Preview: Stramiello and Martinez Look to Make All-State Again, While Fans Await the Return of Vinny Vespa

 

By Mike Carey, sectionixwrestling.com

 

Division I

Returning State Placewinner:

Sixth Place: Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush, 106 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Gerard Daly, Minisink Valley

99 Pounds: Vinny Vespa, Monroe Woodbury

106 Pounds: Michael Raccioppi, Minisink Valley

160 Pounds: Dan DeCarlo, Port Jervis

195 Pounds: Deon Edmond, Kingston

220 Pounds: Connor Leavell, Warwick

Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Johnny Stramiello, Photo by Boris V

Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush – The three-time defending Section 9 champion placed sixth at the state tournament last season.  His offseason work at Apex Wrestling plus his appearance at tough events such as the Journeymen Classic will greatly improve his chances of ascending up the podium.

Michael Raccioppi, Minisink Valley – Raccioppi is as tough as they come.  Last season, he finished 39-7, was a state qualifier and took seventh at the Eastern States Classic.  His “offseason” has included a fourth place finish at the MAWA Eastern Nationals, a 10-day J. Robinson Intensive Camp and an appearance at the Journeymen Classic.

Dan DeCarlo, Port Jervis – DeCarlo is as strong and athletic as any wrestler in the state but he typically only wrestles four months of the year.  His skill and technique are improving each season, so don’t be surprised if you see him on the podium in Albany.

Gerard Daly, Minisink Valley – As a first year varsity wrestler, Daly recorded impressive wins over state qualifiers Steven Sewkumar of Long Beach (Section 8), Kevin Parker of Shenendehowa (Section 2) and Josh Antoine of the PSAL.  He also earned sixth at the Eastern States Classic.  Daly went 1-2 at the state tournament and was eliminated when he dropped a closely contested 8-5 bout to fourth place medalist Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman (Section 11).

Deon Edmond, Kingston – Edmond is talented, hard working and well coached.  He was one win from making All-State last year when he went 2-2, including an impressive victory over Mike Spinelli from Mahopac in Albany.  Edmond has set his goals very high for his senior campaign.

Also Keep an Eye On . . . 

AJ Voelker, Monroe Woodbury – Talented and self-motivated; he can “taste” it

Travis Edwards, Port Jervis – Wrestled hard all summer; very athletic

Terrence Cheeks, Newburgh Free Academy – Has the ability; defeated Ethan Stanley (New York State fourth placer) in 2012

Brett Johnson, Cornwall – May surprise some opponents; on the cusp of the next level

Donald Brown, Middletown – Explosive wrestler with lots of “upside”

Bryan Mongiello, Washingtonville – 2012 Section 9 finalist looking for his first trip to Albany

Dylan Booth, Port Jervis – Will his 10-day stint at the J. Robinson camp put him over the top?

Team Vinny V

In the hearts and minds of the entire Section 9 wrestling community, the most anticipated moment of the upcoming season will be when Monroe Woodbury sophomore Vinny Vespa steps on the mat for the first time.  Vespa, a New York state qualifier last season, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma this past spring and has been undergoing treatments for several months. Those who know Vinny can attest to the following statement — it’s a matter of “when”, not “if” he returns to the mat in a Monroe Woodbury singlet.

Team Race

Although they graduated five state qualifiers, two-time defending tournament champions Warwick Valley cannot be discounted. However, on paper, Monroe Woodbury and Minisink Valley seem to be the favorites going into the 2012-2013 season.

All three teams finished last season ranked in the top 20 in New York State.  Monroe Woodbury, the 18th ranked team a year ago, returns nearly its entire lineup.  Expect the Crusaders to be led by AJ Voelker, Vinny Vespa, PJ Smoot, Rob Kelly, JP Vandercliff and Drake Barczak.

Minisink Valley also returns the majority of last year’s team which finished the season as the 20th ranked team in the state.  The Warriors are expecting big things from qualifiers Gerard Daly and Michael Raccioppi as well as returning starters Chris Truglio, Nick Truglio, Nick Wentland and Josh Bonneau.

Although hit hard by graduation, last year’s 19th ranked team, Warwick Valley, is expecting another solid year.  The Wildcats will be led by returning state qualifier Connor Leavell as well as Joe Ginley, Thomas Wightman and Andy Sliter.

Several other teams have the potential to be in the hunt for the team title in Section 9.  Cornwall, led by New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Don Blaine, is always tough.  This year’s squad will be no different and has several wrestlers who can make a splash at the sectional tournament including Brett Johnson, Sean Sweeney, Luke Zsido and Quinn Zsido.  NFA is always a solid team, however this year’s squad will have to contend with the loss of Hall of Fame coach Jeff Cuilty, who stepped down from his position in August. Port Jervis, Middletown, Valley Central and Washingtonville are ever-improving and may surprise some teams.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinner:

Sixth Place: Andy Martinez, Liberty, 182 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Dean Stanton, Tuxedo

106 Pounds: Austin Ingraham, Highland

113 Pounds: Declan Dwyer-McNulty, Red Hook

120 Pounds: Eric Januszkiewicz, New Paltz

160 Pounds: Austin Weigel, Onteora

170 Pounds: Mike Rauch, Red Hook

195 Pounds: Dustin Mackenzie, Onteora

285 Pounds: Anthony Tufano, New Paltz

Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Andy Martinez (12) Liberty – Martinez is determined to prove that last season’s sixth place finish in Albany was no fluke.  The gritty and talented senior went 2-3 at the Times Union Center including a 7-5 victory over eventual fourth place finisher Tyler Morris of Section 2’s Salem.

Austin Weigel (12) Onteora – The senior was 2-2 at the state tournament last year.  His hard fought 3-1 loss to eventual third place finisher Hayden Wagner of South Seneca prevented Weigel from making it to the medal stand.  A busy offseason schedule including frequent trips up the Thruway to Journeymen Wrestling Club have continued his progress.  At the Super 32 qualifier in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, Weigel took second at 170 pounds, outscoring his opponents 14-3 to make the finals where he dropped a two-point decision to nationally ranked Garrett Peppelman.  He followed that up by winning his bracket at the Journeymen Classic. The podium is looking like a solid possibility this year.

Austin Ingraham (11) Highland – Prior to the beginning of last season, Ingraham made a commitment to improve his skills and become a competitive wrestler at the state level.  His work paid off.  The Highland junior had a great regular season and was one victory away from placing in Albany.  This year, he has his sights set on the podium.

Eric Januszkiewicz (12) New Paltz – Januskiewicz almost pulled off a huge upset in the first round of last year’s state tournament when he narrowly lost 4-3 to finalist Jeff O’Lena of East Rochester.  The New Paltz senior plans to take home his fourth Section 9 title this year and then cap off his high school career with a trip to the medal stand.

Also Keep an Eye On . . . Jesse Corcoran (12) Eldred – Placed at Eastern States, season ended early due to injury

Team Race

Expect a three-way race in Section 9 D2 between Onteora, Red Hook and Rondout Valley.  Onteora and Red Hook both return two state qualifiers from last year’s squads and neither team was decimated by graduation.  Rondout Valley graduated three Section 9 champs, however coach Dave Hodes always seems to have a competitive team take the mat.  New Paltz returns two state qualifiers and may sneak up on some teams.

 

More Season Previews:

Section 1 Preview

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

Section 3 Preview