Weekend Watch: "Battle at the Beach" Goes on Despite Severe Hurricane Damage, Plus Andersen Tournament and the Cliff Keen Invite in Vegas

While the first tournament of the season is always something to look forward to, it’s a little more special for some of those headed to the Lynbrook High School this weekend.

“The start of competition is exciting every year,” said Long Beach head coach Ray Adams. “But this year, it’s definitely a little more exciting than usual.”

That has a lot to do with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, as Long Beach was one of the many communities devastated by the storm.

“Every kid was impacted in one way or another,” Adams said. “We had kids whose homes were destroyed, who lost cars, clothes, heat and so much more.  Families were displaced.  Not a good situation at all.”

Long Beach High School also suffered significant damage to the gym, wrestling room, team uniforms and much more.

It was unclear whether the ninth annual Long Beach “Battle at the Beach” would be held.

“We knew we couldn’t have it at our school,” Adams said. “But we really still wanted to keep the tournament going to start off the season.  We knew a lot of teams would be looking forward to coming.  We are thankful to Lynbrook coach Richie Renz and Athletic Director Tom Graham who have done so much.  They stepped up and offered to run it there.”

While the tournament will be in a new location, it will still have the same tough competition.  In addition to Long Beach and Lynbrook, a number of Long Island squads will be in attendance, including one of the state’s best teams – Wantagh.  They will be joined by East Meadow, Clarke, South Side, Syosset and Hewlett. Representatives from the PSAL will also make the trip, including Eagle Academy, Wingate and a PSAL All-Star team as well as the CHSAA’s Kellenberg.

The full entry list hadn’t been submitted at the time of the interview, but Adams pointed to the 113-pound class as one that would feature many accomplished wrestlers.  Adams mentioned the possibilty of Long Beach’s Steven Sewkumar, Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn and Syosset’s Nick Rondino competing in that bracket, among others.

“Practice has been really good for the kids after everything that happened,” Adams said.  “It helped get everyone back with their friends and into a normal routine again. We’ve been traveling about 20 minutes to Calhoun every day to practice and everyone is working really hard.  We’ve been trying to make the best out of the situation.  We can’t wait to get the season started.”

In addition to the Battle at the Beach, there are a large number of high quality high school tournaments taking place this weekend as wrestling season kicks into high gear, including one not too far away at MacArthur which will include teams from Sections 1, 8, 9, the CHSAA and PSAL.

In fact, there are too many events to mention.  However, one to keep an eye on is the Andersen Tournament at Cicero North Syracuse High in Section 3, featuring not only several strong programs in that Section, such as the host school, Canastota, Fulton and South Jefferson, (among many others), but also squads from Section 2 (Amsterdam), 4 (Chenango Forks, Greene, Windsor, Elmira), 5 (Canandaigua, Rush-Henrietta) and 10 (Massena, Canton-Potsdam).

Zack Zupan, Photo by BV

Among the many storylines will be tournament debut of defending state champions Kyle Kelly and Zack Zupan at new weight classes and the start of a new era at Fulton under Chris Stalker after the departure of longtime coach Mike Connors.  In addition, fans will have a chance to watch Christian Dietrich of Greene, who accomplished a rare feat when he was All-State as a seventh grader in the middleweights (152 pounds).  After missing a full year due to injury, Dietrich made a successful return this week up at 195 pounds, with a pin against Dryden in just over a minute.

College Action

On the college scene, the biggest tournament of the weekend takes place in Nevada.  Two of the Empire State’s squads, Cornell and Army, will participate in the 32-team Cliff Keen Invitational, which features close to 70 ranked wrestlers this year.

Kyle Dake was the champion in Vegas a year ago at 157 and will look to repeat at 165.  In the 2011 version of the competition, the Big Red also had finalists at 125 (Frank Perrelli) and 184 (Steve Bosak).

Cornell’s new starting 125 pounder, Nahshon Garrett, is off to a 13-0 start in his freshman campaign and will look to go deep into the tournament in a class featuring six of the nation’s top 20.  With Bosak not ready to return to the lineup yet, former Palmyra Macedon star Craig Scott will look to keep the Big Red on the podium at 184 and improve upon his 10-2 rookie record.

Both Mike Nevinger and Chris Villalonga have placed at this event in the past and will aim to do so again, at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively.  The Big Red captured the tournament title in 2010.

Army will take part in the Cliff Keen for the second consecutive year.  The Black Knights will be led by nationally-ranked 149 pounder Daniel Young and 184 pounder Collin Wittmeyer, who has compiled a 10-5 record to date.  In his rookie campaign, Bryce Barnes has picked up nine wins at 197 pounds, matching the victory total of 165 pounder Paul Hancock.

In other Division I action, both Hofstra and Binghamton will be looking for their first ‘W” of the season when the Pride take on Penn, Lehigh and Drexel and Binghamton faces Oklahoma.  Meanwhile, Buffalo will participate in the Nittany Lion Open in Pennsylvania.

 

To report results of weekend events, please contact: newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com

 

Binghamton-Bound Stars Tighe and Zupan Lead the Way for Section 3 in 2012-2013 (Section Season Preview)

Section 3 finished second in the Division II state championships last year, with five finalists and three champions.  Two of those titlewinners, Nick Tighe (Phoenix) and Zack Zupan (Canastota) look to finish their careers atop the podium before heading to Binghamton.  Carthage’s Shayne Brady made an impressive run to the finals a year ago in Division I and looks to move step higher on the podium in his final season of high school wrestling.  For more on the wrestlers and teams to watch in Section 3 in 2012-13, read on.  

(Special thanks to John Drew of cnywrestling.com for his significant contributions to this story).

Division II

 

2012 Returning State Placewinners 

Sixth Place: Alex Herringshaw, Holland Patent, 99 Pounds

Third Place: Ryan Snow, General Brown, 106 Pounds

State Champion: Nick Tighe, Phoenix, 126 Pounds

Third Place: Isaiah Riccio, Beaver River, 138 Pounds

Sixth Place: Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown, 160 Pounds

State Champion: Zack Zupan, Canastota, 170 Pounds

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

113 Pounds: Laken Cook, Illion

152 Pounds: Tyler Spann, Adirondack

160 Pounds: Matt Fisher, Oneida

285 Pounds: Brandon Fayle, Lowville

 

Seniors to Watch:

 

Zack Zupan, Photo by Boris V

Fans in Section 3 will be treated to two of the top seniors in New York this season with Zack Zupan of Canastota and Nick Tighe of Phoenix looking to pick up some more hardware in their final high school campaigns.

Both stood on top of the podium in Albany last year after making their way through two of the toughest weight classes at the event.

Zupan came out on top of a 170 pound bracket that included current Division I wrestler Nick Mitchell (who came into the tournament undefeated) and two wrestlers that finished second at the NHSCA Nationals a few weeks later (Burke Paddock of Warsaw and Troy Seymour of Peru).

Tighe, already a two-time champion, was simply dominant, earning three pins in four matches to capture the title in a field containing such wrestlers as Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (one of the top 50 juniors in the nation, according to Intermat), multi-time placer Corey Dake of Lansing and former state champion Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich.  His 47-2 year featured 31 total falls and only six regular decisions.

Tyler Spann (Adirondack) – Spann had big wins over Kaleb Smith and Rowdy Prior in the Section tournament last season to punch his ticket to Albany, and a return trip is very likely.  He tallied a 35-6 record as a junior at 145 and 152 pounds, going 1-2 at the Times Union Center with his losses coming against state champion Ben Haas and fourth place finisher Dan Dickman of Greene.

Matt Fisher (Oneida) – John Drew described Fisher as an “absolute gym rat” who “possesses freakish strength for someone his size”.  He won more than 35 bouts a year ago at 160 pounds and went 1-2 at the state tournament, although both of his losses were by one point.  He will look to take a few steps further next year to make the medal stand as a senior.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

They weren’t state champions last year, but the following are wrestlers to watch this upcoming season.

Laken Cook, Ilion – Cook didn’t make the podium in 2012 but has in the past (fourth at 96 pounds as an eighth grader and fifth at 103 as a freshman).  He compiled a 36-7 record with 20 pins in 2011-12, including six straight falls in January.  With around 125 victories already in his career, he is a lightweight to watch as he tries to make a return to All-State status.

Brandon Fayle, Photo by Boris V

Brandon Fayle, Lowville – Fayle was within one victory of placing at the state tournament in 2012.  He won a pair of bouts in Albany and lost to both the fifth and sixth place finishers by one point.  The senior brought a 35-2 record into the Times Union Center, with his two losses to wrestlers he also beat during the campaign.  As one of three wrestlers returning from the top 8 a year ago, Fayle could get on the podium – and quite high on the podium – in his last season.

Isaiah Riccio, Beaver River – Riccio earned third place at the state tournament in 2012 at 138 pounds a year after taking fifth at 140 in Albany.  The senior has picked up 30 or more wins in each of the past three campaigns.  In 2011-12, he notched a 41-3 record with all of his losses coming to All-State wrestlers (two close decisions against runner up Anthony Finocchiaro and against fourth placer Nathan Silverthorn).

Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown – The junior reached the century mark in wins last season when he racked up a 46-5 mark and a sixth place finish at the Times Union Center at 160 pounds.  He was the only sophomore to medal at that weight in either Division. (In fact, only one other non-senior placed at 160 — Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West in Division I).  Silverthorn also earned All-America status at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach as both a ninth and tenth grader.

Ryan Snow, General Brown – Snow has finished in the top 3 in Albany in each of the past two seasons.  The lightweight dropped two bouts in December of his sophomore year, but then proceeded to get his hand raised 33 consecutive times before losing 4-2 to Cheick Ndiaye at the state tournament.  He rebounded to take third after earning second the previous February.  Snow will be in contention for a first state title this year.

There are also several others who didn’t get a ticket to Albany but have a great chance of finding themselves on the mats at the Times Union Center this February.

Rowdy Prior, Phoenix – Prior went 40-6 as a junior at 152 pounds.  He lost to All-State wrestler Frank Affronti of Wayne in the first week of the season in early December and then won 31 out of 34 bouts prior to taking fourth at the Section 3 tournament.  Prior defeated multiple state qualifiers during the campaign, such as Conner Fox of Midlakes, Josh Maier of Brockport and Tony Torrese of Fulton.  He will certainly be a contender to go to Albany and win some matches on the big stage.

Dan Smith, South Jefferson – According to Drew, Smith has earned All-America honors and is seeking to pick up some more accolades in the Empire State.  The junior notched a 35-12 mark last season, including a victory over state fourth place medalist Jared Soule.  Six of his losses were to Matt Fisher and Tyler Silverthorn and he may get another chance against those wrestlers again in 2012-13.

Tim Fargo, Lowville – Fargo was mentioned as a possible “sleeper” pick for the upcoming campaign.  He had over 35 wins last year with 19 pins at 132 pounds, with a victory over state qualifier Joey Love of Gouverneur.

Drew also believes that the 126/132 pound weight classes are worth tracking this year in Division II.  “Those weights look like they could be explosive,” he said. “Junior John Mazza of Mohawk and sophomore Triston Engle of Dolgeville put on some of the most entertaining head-to-head matches of the year last season.  Throw General Brown senior Brian Lear and Onondaga sophomore Tyler Field into the mix and you have potentially the deepest weight class in the section.  Those wrestlers faced off many times last year, and the results were rarely more than a point or two either way.  Very interesting weight class to watch, for sure.”  He added that Nick Tighe will of course be the strong favorite wherever he wrestles.

Team Race . . .

Canastota finished 24.5 points ahead of Phoenix last year (although the Firebirds came out on top of Division II statewide in Albany) and the two teams look like they will be fighting for the title again in February.

While both teams suffered significant losses to graduation, including Section finalists Anthony Finocchiaro, Steve Fallon and Travis Conklyn for the Raiders and state champion Tyler Button and Austyn Hayes for the Firebirds, the squads also return several formidable competitors.

In addition to Zupan, Canastota will boast Section runner up (at 113) Nate Walker, two third place finishers from a year ago, senior Wyatt Albanese and junior Jacob Morris and three other medalists – Connor Russ (fifth at 126), Joe Tiller (sixth at 145) and Jesse Puchales (sixth at 182).

For Phoenix, Tighe will lead the way while Rowdy Prior (fourth at 152) and fifth place wrestlers Brad and Nate Dietz will also put significant points on the board.

General Brown, which took third will also make some noise, with Ryan Snow and Tyler Silverthorn leading the charge.  Corey Gaffney, who was fifth at 195 will be among the upperweight favorites.

South Jefferson belongs in the discussion as well.  The squad went 24-4 last year and was a final four team at the Section 3 dual meet championship as well as fourth at the Section 3 tournament.  The Spartans bring back runner up Logan LaFlamme, fourth place finishers Adam Hutchinson (106) and Dan Smith (160) as well as sixth place medalist Ryan Charlebois (195) and could fare very well in the dual meet competition this year.

 

Division I

 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

Second Place: Shayne Brady, Carthage, 170 Pounds

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Dempsey King, New Hartford

106 Pounds: Kevin Paul, Baldwinsville

113 Pounds: Thomas Hill, Fulton

120 Pounds: Derrick Gray, Indian River

126 Pounds: Antonio Deluco,  Rome Free Academy

132 Pounds: Connor Grome, West Genesee

145 Pounds: JT Romagnoli, Jamesville-Dewitt

 

Top Seniors . . . 

Shayne Brady, Photo by Boris V

Zupan and Tighe weren’t the only Section 3 grapplers in the Saturday night finals this past February. Shayne Brady of Carthage racked up a 38-2 record with 14 pins as a junior.  After an end of December loss to Burke Paddock, Brady reeled off over 25 straight victories to earn a state finals bid against Plainedge’s Dan Spurgeon.  After earning the silver medal, he’ll be looking to climb one rung higher on the ladder in 2013.

Derrick Gray, Indian River – The Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Section 3 tournament as a junior, Gray had a successful 2011-12 campaign.  The senior went 41-4 a year ago with 28 pins and a host of quality victories, including wins against state qualifiers Pat Webster, Curtis Barney, Codey Bond and Rocco Russo.  He was one round from making All-State and will no doubt be shooting for that achievement in his final season for Indian River.

Antonio DeLuco (Rome Free Academy) – DeLuco has been a section finalist three times, winning two titles.  He was 38-7 last year and earned a victory by major decision in Albany.  He will look to get on the medal stand in his final season for the Black Knights.

Tim Sposato (Baldwinsville) – After racking up a 36-5 mark last season, Drew believes the senior could be poised for breakout year in his final campaign.  He picked up a win over multiple-time All-State grappler Ryan Snow of General Brown last season.

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Dempsey King, New Hartford – King sported a 28-5 record in his freshman year, with two wins over state placer Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent.  His draw at states was difficult, as he dropped matches to the top two seeds, Kyle Kelly and Jon Haas, but he will be a threat to go further in 2013.

Ben Honis, Jamesville-Dewitt – Honis made his presence felt in Fargo, earning All-American honors in Cadet Greco and coming within one victory of doing the same in Freestyle.  His success in the ultra-competitive event in North Dakota built off a strong sophomore season at 182 pounds, after moving up from 135 pounds as a freshman.  Honis went 30-4 and was edged by a point in the Section 3 finals by Garrick Cook, who pinned him early in the season.  It seems likely that summer momentum will help him go further in the postseason as a junior.

Mitchell Woodworth, Fulton – “Woodworth never stops wrestling,” Drew said. “I think he’s going to have a huge sophomore year in Section 3.  He narrowly lost to Dempsey King in the section finals at 99 pounds (after defeating him in the class finals the week before) and he stood toe-to-toe with Chenango Forks two-time state champ Kyle Kelly at the Bradshaw Tournament last year before bowing out 6-0.”  He is likely to move up after a summer of weight training.

Tom Quinlan and Patrick Quinlan, Fayetteville-Manlius – The Quinlan brothers saw a lot of success last season, with junior Tom registering a 34-6 record with second place showings in five different events.  He’ll try to get over the hump from silver to gold this season while his brother, 30-9 a year ago will aim for a Section title.

Nick Toutant, Indian River – In his 37-3 freshman season at 106 pounds, Toutant lost three matches, each by a single point.  Two of those setbacks came against state qualifiers.  The Indian River lightweight also topped All-State wrestlers Alex Herringshaw and Cody Carbery.

Team Race . . .

Indian River was a 16.5 point winner over Fulton in 2012 and the Warriors will be tough again.  Most Outstanding Wrestler Derrick Gray returns after a 41-4 season in which he came within one win of placing at states.  The other two titlewinners for Indian River, Garrick Cook and Derrek Dalton graduated as did silver medalists Jordan Berry and Matt Simpson.  Trying to make up for those losses will be runner up Nick Toutant (106) and senior Michael Mullins (third at 113) as well as a duo of sixth place finishers Sonny McPherson and Jody Brown.

Like Indian River, Fulton brings back a first, second, third and two sixth placers.   Also like the Warriors, Fulton said goodbye to several standouts, including All-State grappler Adam Wallace, and Section victors Tony Torrese and Nick Woodworth. Junior Thomas Hill is the returning champion and Mitchell Woodworth the 2012 runner up.  Also back are Austin Whitney (third at 106), Connor Aldash (sixth at 132) and Brennan Roberge (sixth at 285).  Of course, another significant change for the squad is the loss of 500 match winner Mike Conners, the head coach who spent 25 years at the helm of the program.  Chris Stalker will try to start a new legacy as he takes over for a legend.

Carthage could be in the mix based on the firepower in the lineup.  Shayne Brady was 38-2 and will be a contender for a state title.  Trevor Gibbons, who was second at 285 returns after a 33 win campaign as does third placer William BateyQuintin Reid and Colin Ryan, fourth and fifth, respectively in 2012 will also be back in a Comets singlet as will Andy McFarland.  The only major pointscorer not returning is Josh McFarland, who was third at 145.

 

For more 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

 

Binghamton's First Class of 2013 Recruit: Canastota State Champion Zack Zupan To Join the Bearcats

2012 State Tournament, Photo by Boris Veysman

When he took the head coaching job at Binghamton, Matt Dernlan said he wanted to win with New York talent.

He’s off to a great start, as one of the top rising seniors in the Empire State, Zack Zupan, verbally pledged to the Bearcats over the weekend.

The Canastota grappler won a loaded 170-pound bracket at the state tournament in 2012, defeating previously unbeaten Nick Mitchell (now at Edinboro) in the finals.  The weight also included All-Americans Burke Paddock of Warsaw and Troy Seymour of Peru.

The Section 3 star has made an impact for several years on both the national and state levels.  He placed fourth and fifth in New York in his freshman and sophomore campaigns before his championship as a junior.  He followed each of those performances in the Empire State by earning medals at national events, including two finals appearances at the NHSCAs in Virginia Beach, which yielded a championship as a ninth grader and a runner up finish as a sophomore.  Last season, Zupan placed at the competitive FloNationals tournament in Philadelphia.

Zupan is currently ranked as the #83 prospect in the country by Intermat and is one of the top 20 170-pounders in the country according to Flowrestling.

Zupan projects as a 184-pounder for the Bearcats.

Check back for an interview with Zack Zupan in the coming days.