Family Affair: Beacon's Andrew Grella Joins Binghamton's Recruiting Class

Thoughts of attending Binghamton entered Andrew Grella’s mind as soon as his older brother Vincent, the squad’s current 165-pound starter, decided to become a Bearcat a few years ago.

“I’m close with my brother, and I’ve always wanted to do what he does,” Andrew Grella said. “I thought it would be a good place because of my brother and because it’s such a good school.”

If the future 197-pounder wasn’t already convinced, he became sure of his decision when he made his official visit to campus.

“It was a really fun time,” he said. “We went out to dinner and lunches and played paintball. It was cool to be a part of that team bonding.  I walked around campus and went fishing with a bunch of the guys, which was great.”

Indeed, for Grella, who wants to study environmental science, the opportunity to pursue outdoor activities was a big selling point.

“I’m a really big outdoors guy. One of the first questions I asked when I got there was whether there were good spots for hunting and fishing around there,” he said. “They just laughed.”

Grella’s road to Division I wrestling is slightly atypical.  After enduring a difficult season as a ninth grader at 152 pounds, Grella said he didn’t compete during his sophomore year at Beacon High School.

“I got my butt kicked as a freshman as a middleweight,” he said. “I wasn’t strong enough and wrestled a lot of tough seniors. My brother was at 152 too, so I didn’t even get that many matches.  I decided to take a year and focus on getting really strong, getting in great shape and improving my technique.”

Photo by Dawn Sela, Courtesy of Andrew Grella

His work seemed to pay dividends when he took the mat at the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals in Virginia Beach at 170 pounds, coming within one win of All-America status at the event.

Then, it was time to return to New York high school action.  He did so with a flourish, racking up a 27-3 mark at 182 pounds (prior to Sectionals) as a junior in 2012-13. All of his losses were to wrestlers who finished in the top four at the New York state tournament, including a pair of silver medalists.

In fact, his first bout at the Eastern States Classic in January was against eventual 195-pound NYS second place finisher Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa.  In a hard fought contest, Ashley came out on top 8-6.

“I didn’t have credentials or seeding criteria, so I knew I’d probably get a great wrestler right off the bat,” Grella said. “I knew it would be a tight match and he hit me with the same move twice to beat me.  It was disappointing.”

He rebounded well, however, capturing five straight matches in the wrestlebacks, including over state placers Andrew Martinez of Liberty and Matt Roberts of Monsignor Farrell as well as qualifier Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy.  His streak was stopped by 182-pound state finalist James Corbett of Wantagh and he later forfeited to take sixth.

“I had a hip injury after my first two wins,” he said. “I wrapped it up and won a few more after that.  I could barely walk back to the center of the mat without falling over.  It was bad. But I showed I could compete with some very good wrestlers.”

He continued to pile up wins before dropping the Section 1 championship bout to Thomas Murray of Yorktown, 3-0. [Murray went on to take fourth in Albany in 2013, a year after losing a close match in the Section 1 title bout and not getting a bid to the Times Union Center].

Murray’s path of second in Section 1 to All-State status a year later is one that Grella hopes to emulate – at least somewhat.

“That’s the plan I want to follow, except I plan to win it all,” he said.  “I expect to do big things this year, including winning a 195-pound state championship.”

And if he needs a tough partner to work with, he knows he can find one whenever his brother returns from Binghamton.

“Whenever he’s home, we wrestle,” Andrew Grella said. “Someone’s always bleeding.  I’d say I get the best of it, but if you ask him, you’ll get a different answer.”

Soon enough, the Grella brothers will have more opportunities to “bleed” together, as teammates for the Bearcats.

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Andrew Grella thanked his parents and acknowledged the significant contributions of the Olympic Wrestling Club in New Jersey.

Weekend Notes: New Dual Meet Champs in Sec 3 and 4, Fairport Earns First Monroe Title Plus Recaps from Shen, Edgemont, Kohl, Islip Cup and More

What a weekend. From dual meet championship tournaments to tough individual events, there were great matchups all over the state. The following touches upon some of the notable results and more may be added later.

South Jefferson and Johnson City captured Dual Meet Championships in Section 3 and 4, respectively. The Spartans dominated their finals matchup with General Brown while the Wildcats won a four-point dual over Union-Endicott. 

In individual tournament action:

• Shenendehowa won its own event with five champions, with St. Anthony’s and Yorktown taking second and third. Among the titlewinners for the Plainsmen were highly ranked Nick Kelley, David Almaviva and Levi Ashley.

• Monroe County in Section 5 has a new champion for the first time in 22 years. Spencerport had captured the last 21 titles, but this weekend it was Fairport earning that school’s first county championship. A number of wrestlers who appear in our latest state rankings won titles at this event, including Colton Kells of the champion Red Raiders, who topped Spencerport’s Collin Pittman in overtime at 195.

• At the Islip Cup, a pair of New York contenders at 170 pounds, Joe Piccolo of Half Hollow Hills West and Carlos Toribio of Brentwood, squared off for the second time this season. Toribio took the first meeting by decision but in the rematch, Piccolo recorded an early pin. It continues a strong run by Piccolo, who was third at the Eastern States Classic last Saturday.

• Huntington took first at the Kohl Invitational with five titlewinners, including Most Outstanding Wrestler Joseph Puca at 152 pounds. Puca upset state ranked Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis.

• Edgemont, led by 120-pound winner Trey Aslanian, was the team champion at its tournament over the weekend, finishing ahead of Section 1 foe Pearl River.

• Clarence took the ECIC Championship, led by champions Ryan Burns (106), Jake Weber (160) and Nate Ward (285).  Taking MOW honors was Cheektowoga’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, who won the 132 pound class with a pin.

• At the Beacon, Valley Central won a close team race by three points over Arlington. Leading the way was top ranked Alex Delacruz of Ossining, who notched a technical fall in the finals.

For more details on these stories, read on:

Section 3 and 4 Dual Meet Championships

Johnson City, the top seed in Section 4, opened with a 50-24 victory over Sidney before defeating Vestal by a 42-27 score in the semifinals. In the championship dual, Johnson City took a commanding lead, clinching the dual with three matches remaining. Union-Endicott’s late rally made the final score 40-36.

In Section 3, the conclusion lacked drama. Top seeded South Jefferson, ranked seventh in the latest state dual poll, looked like one of New York’s elite squads throughout the competition. The Spartans began with a 51-23 result against Cicero-North Syracuse before topping Cazenovia 58-22. In the semifinals, the team had its closest meet of the event, 43-31, over Baldwinsville. In the finals, South Jefferson left little to chance, emerging with a dominant 45-19 score.

Earning wins in the opening three duals for the champions were Jared Carroll (99), Caleb Beach (106), Trevor Cowles (160), Dan Smith (170), Logan LaFlamme (182) and Ryan Charlebois (220).

For more on the championships by Johnson City and South Jefferson, check back tomorrow for a more detailed story.

Shenendehowa Tournament

The host team collected 209.5 points, well ahead of St. Anthony’s at 149 and Yorktown’s 95. The Plainsmen received championship performances from five grapplers – Kevin Parker (120), Nick Kelley (138), David Almaviva (145), Chris Naccarato (160) and Levi Ashley (195).

A host of additional wrestlers ranked statewide took the mat in Section 2. At 113 pounds, returning state runner up Cheick Ndiaye edged St. Anthony’s Ben Lamantia 3-2 and Joe Mastro of Yorktown grabbed gold at 152.

A pair of ranked wrestlers were upended in the finals – Luis Weirebach of Hoosick Falls topped Eastern States medalist Golan Cohen of Colonie at 106 while Elliot Antler of Xavier edged St. Anthony’s Johnny Vrasidas at 170. In a battle of 182-pound wrestlers we expect to make some waves in Albany, Thomas Murray of Yorktown topped Hoosick Falls’s Brad Burns.

For further results from the event, see here.

Monroe County Tournament

As mentioned previously, Fairport won its first Monroe County league title after 21 consecutive years of championships for Spencerport. The Red Raiders had a large number of placers, including titlewinners Colton Kells at 195 and Jordan Seidel at 170.

Courtesy of Jason DePrez

This event featured a number of grapplers who are featured prominently in the latest individual state rankings. Among them were top 99 pounder, Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton, who earned a major in the title match and took lightweight Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. He was joined on top of the podium by teammates Vincent DePrez (138), Anthony DePrez (145) and Mike Spallina (152), an eighth grader. Spallina wasn’t the only young wrestler to take top billing. After impressing nearly everyone in attendance at the Eastern States last weekend, seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield put up another outstanding performance, taking the 126-pound crown over top seed Rosario Venniro, 3-1.

Spencerport was well represented among the titlewinners as well, with champions Jonathan Haas at 106, Trent Egenlauf at 182 and Austin Coleman at heavyweight. Grabbing heavyweight MOW honors was 160-pound champion Josh Powell of Churchville-Chili.

For more details, see here.

Islip Cup

Brentwood sat atop the team standings at the Kris McDonald Islip Cup, ahead of Sachem North and Islip. Leading the way for the top squad were champions Alex Romero (145), Luis Rodriguez (152) and David Rodriguez (285).

Photo by BV

Several state title contenders also picked up first place as the Half Hollow Hills West duo of Tyler Grimaldi (160) and Joe Piccolo (170) were victorious. As mentioned earlier, Piccolo avenged an earlier season loss to Brentwood’s Carlos Toribio with a first period pin. Both will be in the podium picture in Albany. Sachem North’s Gio Santiago has experience on the medal stand at the Times Union Center, as he took sixth a year ago. He continued his solid campaign with a fall over Jagger Rebozo in the 182-pound final.

For more results, see here.

Kohl Tournament

Huntington racked up 268 points, outdistancing Monroe Woodbury (201.5) and Port Jervis (166) for the title. The Blue Devils were led by Most Outstanding Wrestler Joseph Puca, who upset state-ranked Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis for the 152-pound crown, 1-0. Also making the top of the podium for Huntington were John Arceri (99), Corey Jamison (126), Nick Lupi (220) and Anthony Puca (285).

For full brackets, see here.

Edgemont Panther Tournament

Photo by BV

Edgemont won its own tournament by five points over Pearl River on Saturday, spurred by champion Trey Aslanian at 120 pounds. Also making the finals for the host team were Kyle Aslanian (99), Chris Kim (170) and Jason Worobow (182). One of the top 145 pounders in the Empire State, Tom Grippi of Fox Lane, pinned his way to the title.

For more results, see 2013 Edgemont Bracket FINAL RESULTS

 

ECIC Championships

In Section 6, Clarence won the title by almost 100 points over Lancaster.  Clarence had eight finalists, including three title winners.  For full results, see here.

Beacon

In addition to the dominance of Ossining’s Alex Delacruz, there were many standout showings at this tournament. One of those was the 195-pound championship for Horace Greeley’s Scott Wymbs. When Wymbs, named the Outstanding Wrestler, beat Kingston’s Deon Edmond for the title, he became his school’s all-time wins leader.

Dual Meets

For additional dual meet results from the weekend, see here.