1000 Islands Duals: Superior Wins the Jr High Event; Buffalo Wrestling Club Takes Second in the HS Division

It was a bit of deja vu for the Superior Wrestling Academy team at the 1000 Islands Duals – in a very good way.

A year after winning the Junior High title at the summer event, Superior did it again, capturing first place with a 4-0 record on the opening day of competition in Clayton, New York.

Superior Wrestling Academy, Courtesy of Gary Ferro

The team began with a pair of dominant performances – topping Lockport and Midlakes. The semifinals round was a bit of a different story, as Nazareth, Pennsylvania pushed the squad to the limit in a 31-28 battle.

According to Gary Ferro, who coached the team along with Ed Schafer, Superior trailed going into the last three weights.  However, back-to-back falls by David Crow and Brandon Cousino at 155 and 165 pounds provided an insurmountable lead going into heavyweight.  (Superior forfeited at the unlimited class throughout the event).

“We faced Nazareth last year too and both times it was definitely our toughest match,” Ferro said. “They have an excellent team and it went back and forth, but our guys came through at the end.  Those two pins were huge.  [David Crow] was losing 4-0 but came back to get the pin.  Then [Brandon Cousino] followed with another one.  It was a great win to get us to the finals.”

The championship bout was less suspenseful, with Superior putting together a double-digit victory over Delaware Valley to finish first.

“The kids enjoyed coming back and taking a second championship and it was definitely exciting for us coaches too,” Ferro said. “Ultimately, for us, it’s about putting the kids on the mat in the summer and seeing them continue to get better. 1000 Islands Duals is the place to go to do that.  It’s amazing to see the wrestlers dedicating their time at this time of year.  That’s something we get excited about.”

Leading the way for Superior were undefeated wrestlers Ethan Ferro (75), Brian Courtney (105) and Mike Venosa (119) as well as Michael Gonyea (82) and David Crow (155), who both finished with one loss.

“We really enjoyed the tournament,” Ferro said. “We’ll be ready for next year and we’ll be looking to three-peat.”

(It was a good weekend overall for Superior, as the High School squad went 4-1 with the lone loss coming in a 32-31 match versus Northeast Elite, a top 8 placer.  The squad, coached by Ferro and Mark Friske, won the Blue Bracket).

Buffalo Wrestling Club in the Finals Again

In the High School action, another New York team made the finals – Buffalo Wrestling Club.  According to coach Keith Maute, the squad just missed out on the title for the second consecutive year at the 1000 Islands Duals.

“We were second last year too,” Maute said. “Last year against Bound Brook (NJ), it came down to the last match.  This year, it came down to criteria.”

Indeed, the championship dual between Buffalo Wrestling Club and Doughboy ended in a 27-27 deadlock.  However, the Massachusetts team was declared the winner using the tiebreakers.

The Buffalo WC squad, which Maute said was made up of wrestlers from the Cobra Wrestling Academy, cruised through the first three meets of the event, losing just a handful of matches along the way.

In the semifinals, however, things got more difficult in an eight-point triumph over Northeast Elite.

According to Maute, his group jumped ahead in the lightweights, but the opposition fought back to within five heading into 195 pounds.  A victory by James Empfield at that weight in the ultimate tiebreaker was crucial, as was another win at 220 by Tyler Hall to clinch a spot in the title match.

That championship dual followed a similar pattern initially.  Once again, the Buffalo WC built up an early advantage.  In fact, the squad led 27-4 going into 160 pounds, fueled by a number of grapplers who went undefeated throughout the tournament – Dane Heberlein (100), Kellen Devlin (130), Cody McGregor (137) and Dakota Gardner (145/152).  In addition, Troy Keller (107), Tito Colom (115), Danny Graham (145/152) and the previously mentioned Empfield (195) each lost only one bout during the weekend, according to Maute.

However, Doughboy responded to 23-point deficit by capturing the remainder of the matches, resulting in the 27-27 score.

“Doughboy was a tough team,” Maute said. “We were winning big, but then we got beaten up top where they were very strong. It was tough, but the guys wrestled well and it was a good tournament overall.”

Superior Wrestling Academy – Jr High Championship Team (provided by G. Ferro)
75-Ethan Ferro
82-Michael Gonyea
90-Drew Schafer
98-Trent Nadaeu
105-Brian Courtney
112-Tanner Cook
119-Mike Venosa
127-Emerson Block
135-Josh Shamp
145-Jake Ginter
155-David Crow
165-Brandon Cousino
Unlimited- None
Buffalo Wrestling Club (Cobra) High School (provided by K. Maute)
100-Dane Heberlein
107-Troy Keller/Hector Colom
115-Tito Colom/Michael Wisniewski
123-Drew Marra
130-Kellen Devlin
137-Cody McGregor/Freddy Eckles/Maulo Wawior
145-Dakota Gardner
152-Danny Graham
160-Lucas McKeever/Garrett Smead
170-Richie Jones
185-Marques Buchanan
195-James Empfield/Tyler Hall
220-Alex Jones
285-Nick Jones
Superior Wrestling Academy High School (provided by G. Ferro)
100-Trent Nadeau
107-Tanner Cook
115-Mike Venosa
123-Dandre Norman
130-Blake Jackson
137-Freddy Eckles
145-Laken Cook
154-Vinny Romeo
162-Jordan Torbitt
172-James Lukaszonas
185-Mark Friske
197-Ben Honis
220-Landry Cook

"Riot" Recap: NY Wrestlers Excel, Superior Takes Second and Vinny Vespa Recognized at Northeast Youth Duals

The rain came down in buckets on the roof of the open-air venue in Hoosick Falls on Saturday.  But it didn’t stop the intensity of the wrestling for a second nor did it take away from the experience at the Third Annual Northeast Youth Duals, otherwise known as, “The Riot at the Rink.”

“It was like the end of the year bash,” said Superior Wrestling Academy coach Ed Schafer. “You couldn’t pick a better place and it had everything you need for a great tournament.”

According to event director Michael LaPorte, everyone remained dry and the 12-team dual meet competition featuring wrestlers from more than 10 states continued without interruption, with NJ Elite emerging as the championship squad.

The Garden State-based team swept its contests in convincing fashion.

“NJ Elite went undefeated and no one really even came close to them,” LaPorte said. “They were well coached, very deep and had no holes.  It was obvious that every one of those wrestlers has been on the mat for a long time. They were really tough.”

Also very tough was Superior Wrestling Academy, which finished in the runner up spot with a lineup full of wrestlers from the Empire State.

The top two teams met in the opening round on Saturday and it wasn’t quite the start Schafer and his team desired.

“We lost our first dual to NJ Elite right off the jump,” Schafer said.  “If you looked at the score, you’d think we got shellacked. But there were some overtime matches and a bunch of one-point matches that didn’t go our way.  A lot of kids that age could have bagged it mentally and said ‘we’re done.’  But they held their composure and responded.”

Indeed, the Superior wrestlers did.  That first loss was the only setback of the weekend, as they came back to take the silver medal.

“We felt we could make a run at the title coming into the event with the team we had,” Schafer said.  “The level of the competition was over and above what we expected.  But the way the kids competed after the first dual and took true second, that was the best part of the weekend for me.” (See team roster below).

Leading the charge for Superior was a trio of unbeaten wrestlers – Freddy Eckles, Bryce Bailey and Dakota Gardner.  Gardner took sixth place at 120 pounds at the New York state championships this year as an eighth grader.

“When that whistle blows, Gardner is like a little hand grenade out there,” LaPorte said.  “He’s an exceptional athlete.  He was one of many tremendous wrestlers on the mats this weekend.  I felt that the level of wrestling this year was unbelievable — some of the best youth wrestling I’ve ever seen.  The referees were telling me that they were in awe of the abilities of some of these kids.  Sometimes when I watched, I lost track of the fact that they are just young kids.” (The tournament was limited to wrestlers 14 and under).

Photo by Dave Gilchrest

The coaches mentioned a plethora of grapplers who impressed, including Joe Manno of Apex and Peter Del Gallo of Mercury Rising, who according to LaPorte, didn’t yield any points during the weekend.

In fact, when the coaches were asked to vote for the Most Outstanding Wrestler, there were many nominees.  But the trophy went to Brian Courtney of the New York-based G2 World Wrestling Academy for his outstanding efforts.

“Brian Courtney is a great young man in addition to being a great wrestler,” LaPorte said.

Photo by Dave Gilchrest

Courtney and his G2 teammates (see roster below) had a successful weekend, taking fourth place overall in the team race and according to coach Adam Burgos, they’ll be back for another run in 2013.

Superior and G2 were joined by a third Empire State squad in the championship pool.  Team New York, headed by LaPorte, took sixth.

“I couldn’t have been happier with the way our team wrestled,” LaPorte said. “We had at least four kids on our team that had just one loss.  That was tough to do here where there were so many champions and placers from state and national events.”

While the wrestling was the centerpiece of the weekend, the highlight for LaPorte came away from the action, during the awards ceremony.

Many New York wrestling fans are supporting Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa in his battle with cancer.  (For more on Vinny Vespa, see here). Vespa, a state qualifier in 2012, participated in Riot at the Rink for the Olympic Wrestling Club a year ago and returned this weekend to watch his team and his younger brother Marco.

However, Vespa became more than a spectator after the competition was over.  He was called to the mat to receive donations collected throughout the weekend as well as a card and “Riot at the Rink” banner signed by all of the athletes, coaches and fans.  And then, Vinny Vespa was asked to hand out an award, named after him, to a wrestler determined by the Olympic Club.  That recipient was Marco Vespa.

“I felt horrible that I couldn’t make it to the Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament a few weeks ago,” LaPorte said. “We were glad to do a small fundraiser and have everyone sign a card and banner for Vinny.  It was extremely surprising and gratifying that Vinny came to the event.  When he came out on to the middle of the mat, it was a little bit of a tearjearking moment.  I felt like we did a little bit to make a difference and that was the highlight of the weekend for me.”

It wasn’t the only highlight.  While the planned swimming, golf and live band on Saturday evening couldn’t take place due to the inclement weather, LaPorte found different ways to put smiles on people’s faces that night.

“On Sunday, we were able to get in the pool and there was a barbecue,” LaPorte said. “But on Saturday night when the rain was there, I brought a limousine as sort of a team bus, just for fun. We took some of the kids for a ride in the limo, which they got a big kick out of.  I kept telling them, ‘this is how we roll in New York’.  We definitely got some laughs.”

Photo by Dave Gilchrest

So it was a weekend with a high-end car and high-end wrestling. And both LaPorte and Schafer believed it was a good barometer of where New York wrestling is heading.

“To have that amount of talent show up in the middle of the summer to the middle of nowhere, that says something about the strength of our sport,” LaPorte said.  “It’s a good healthy sign that things are going in the right direction, as is the support we’re getting from the clubs, the schools, the community. I believe it shows that New York wrestling is going the right way. Now it’s time to see what we can do for 2013.  I can’t wait to see what next year brings.”

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Check out more photos from the event at:  http://www.davegilchrestphotography.com

Team Results

Champion: NJ Elite

2nd Place: Superior

3rd Place: Olympic Gold

4th Place: G2 World Wrestling Academy

5th Place: Mass Maniacs

6th Place: Team NY

7th Place: Apex

8th Place: Marcaurelle

9th Place: Virginia Slaughter House Black

10th Place: Mercury Rising

11th Place: Olympic Black

12th Place: Virginia Slaughter House Blue

 

Superior Wrestling – 2nd Place Team:

Johnny Aceri

Bryce Bailey

Emerson Block

Jon DeRidder

Freddy Eckles

Ethan Ferro

Dakota Gardner

Myles Griffin

Nathaniel Grubham

Kyle Mock

Stevo Poulin

Theo Powers

JP Puca

Drew Schafer

Jace Schafer

Carter Schubert

Joey Sliowski

Mike Venosa

G2 World Wrestling Academy – 4th Place Team:

48 Pounds: Michael Santore

53 Pounds: Carson Alberti

58 Pounds: Andy Lucinski

63 Pounds: Greg Diakomihalis

68 Pounds: Ryan Burgos

73 Pounds: Max Kropman

78 Pounds: Cooper Kropman

85 Pounds: Brian Courtney

93 Pounds: Derek St. James

99 Pounds: Parker Kropman

105 Pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis

112 Pounds: Louie DePrez

119 Pounds: Charlie Kane

126 Pounds: Keith Penny

134 Pounds: Logan Smith