Next Generation of Studs Shine at the PSAL Holiday Tournament

 

By Matt Diano

With many of their collegiate wrestling heroes competing directly next to and/or across from them, the student-athletes from nearly 40 schools, spanning everywhere from Long Island, the five boroughs, and New Jersey proved that it will not be long before it is them participating in the main event at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.

Having earned the right to take part in the historic Grapple at the Garden (the first college wrestling event ever hosted by the 34th Street Mecca of sporting events) by surviving an elimination tournament the previous day at Harry S. Truman High School, the top 8 grapplers in each weight class excitedly took their turns creating lifelong memories. Whether they won or lost their respective placement matches, no one will ever be able to take away the fact that their legacies are forever carved into foundation of the building that knows no equal and needs no introduction. And, in the end, hand raised or not, there were no losers. We (fans, competitors, media, etc.) all won because we got the experience the best of both worlds; we were privy to seeing the best of the present, while equally mindful that we were getting treated to a rare and unmatched look at the future. For every Dake/Caldwell or Garrett/Waters match, there was a scholastic equivalent, such as Kelly/Ndiaye, Roberts/Rose, or Thompson/Green. While only 26 (including the ladies) individuals would leave as titlists, all entered and exited as champions.

Getting the party started at 99 pounds would be freshman phenom John Busiello from Eastport South Manor in Suffolk County. A decorated wrestler on the youth level, Busiello, who was a 20+ match winner for the varsity as an 8th grader, entered the Garden as the #3 ranked wrestler in his weight class in Section XI. If he wrestles the rest of the season the way he did this weekend, there is every reason to foresee him moving up a few spots on that totem pole. Going 3-0 between the two day affair, Busiello recorded bonus points in all of his bouts, outscoring his first and last victims by a combined tally of 31-3, sandwiched around a third period fall in the semifinals. He would claim the hardware with a 19-3 technical fall over fellow Long Islander Matt Maquet, of Long Beach in Section VIII.

Brooklyn would be in the house at the 106-pound weight class as defending NYS Private School Champion, Noah Malamut of Poly Prep, would score one for the five boroughs when he bested Maquet’s teammate, Charlie Spada, in a high scoring finals battle. Jumping out to the early lead, including a pivotal tilt for near-fall points, the junior from PP would have to contend with a late rally from his opposition, showing strong defense down the stretch to emerge with the 11-8 decision. Malamut would be the only individual champ for Poly Prep, leading the hometown favorite to a top-10 (8th) finish in the team standings.

Kelly vs. Ndiaye, http://www.phototrens.com

113 would be one of the highlight bouts of the afternoon as Chenango Forks’s two-time defending NYS DI Champion, Kyle Kelly, would be pitted against the 2012 NYS DII runner-up, Cheick Ndiaye, of Brooklyn International. With points expected to be at a premium in such a hotly contested battle of returning Empire State finalists, it would be the Binghamton University bound Kelly that struck in a big way, locking up a cradle and taking it over to gain the early lead. He would not look back, fending off the athletic and immensely polished Ndiaye 6-4. For the weekend, Kelly went 3-0, with Ndiaye being the only foe who was able to make it out of the first period against him.

Two weight classes later, it would be Kelly’s teammate, Jake Green, making it 2-for-2 for Forks over opponents from Brooklyn. Regarded as a slight underdog in the 126 pound title bout after his opponent, 2012 PSAL Large School Champion, Keanu Thompson (Grand Street Campus), defeated NHSCA All-American Travis Passaro (ESM) 7-3 in the semifinals, Green refused to be intimidated, scoring the only takedowns of the match to win a hard fought 4-2 decision. This victory should serve as a major confidence booster for Green as he looks to repeat as a Section IV champion and earn his first All-State placement in 2013. For Thompson, who prior to the loss had been on a hot streak (including a win over Ndiaye earlier in the season), the goal is to put the loss behind him and get back on track. The senior captain from Grand Street Campus came one victory short of the podium last season in Albany.

Getting Staten Island in the win column was standout extraordinaire, Santo Curatolo. A senior who is seeking his fourth career PSAL DI title, Curatolo might be among the fastest growing prospects in the Empire State. After falling to place in Albany for the third straight season, the Tottenville student-athlete has been on a tear, commencing with an All-American finish in Junior Greco-Roman in Fargo this past summer. Curatolo would show no mercy on the field this weekend, pinning two of his opponents and adding a 13-1 major decision to reign supreme at 120 pounds. His finals win, a 1:38 fall via cement mixer (I call it a Billman Mixer in tribute to former Pennsylvania great, Jamarr Billman, who hit a similar variation of the move in the 1997 AAA state finals his senior season) came over Wingate’s Kenton Greaves in what could potentially represent a preview of the 2013 NYC finals.

After watching two of his PSAL peers fall short of their championship goals, one wrestler who had no intention of kowtowing to Coach Rick Gumble’s mighty Forks squad was New Utrecht 132 pounder, Saidyokub Kahramonov. A runner-up in 2012 to current Brown University freshman, Ahmed Elsayed, Kahramonov is a heavy favorite to make his second consecutive trip to the state capital after being an injury placement last season. He certainly had his “A” game on full display 72 hours ago, finishing a perfect sweep of pins when he stuck returning Section IV bronze medalist, Carl Rouse, with 24 seconds remaining in the second period. Kahramonov also had falls over 2012 USA Wrestling Schoolboy Greco-Roman All-American, Leonard Merkin (Poly Prep), and 2012 Catholic High School Athletic Association returning placewinner, Ralph Maio, of Monsignor Farrell.

Starting a trend that would see his school take the titles at three of the next four weight classes was Long Branch’s Nick Menkin. A winner of just under 30 matches as a sophomore, the wrestler who missed out on the chance to compete at the New Jersey State tournament when he finished 4th at the regional qualifier, was not in a generous mood on Saturday and Sunday. 4-0 on the weekend, Menkin did not have a match closer than six points (his 9-3 win in the finals over Farrell’s Karl Weisner), pinning one of his opponents, teching another, and major decisioning the third (15-4) en route to the title bout and the eventual hardware. Complementing the efforts of their teammate were a pair of Georges (cousins). Striking first in the battle for ultimate family bragging rights would be 145-pounder, Nick, who after hanging on for a 6-4 decision in the semifinals over two-time PSAL runner-up, Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy, really poured it on in the finals, controlling all of the action and scoring the only takedowns of the match, defeating Columbia High School’s (Section II) Jim Devine 8-2 in the championship bout. Not to be outdone, at 160, it was Jake, whose older brother, William is a wrestler at Cornell University, making it an even 2-for-2 for the family when he made it back-to-back victories over foes from Columbia (their third consecutive finalist), outlasting Chris Morrissey, 7-5 in overtime. 220-pounder, Vincent Roselli, would also win in overtime, 5-3 over Paul Okeke of Clarkstown South, to account for the fourth and final individual gold for the eventual team champs from across the bridge.

Preventing Columbia from dropping three straight championship matches was Angelo Kress at 152 pounds. A state qualifier at this weight last season as a sophomore, Kress finished 6th (in the adjusted placements that do not include CHSAA or PSAL representatives). If he wrestles in Albany the way he did in the Big Apple, it is almost a surefire guarantee that the defending Section II champion will move up a few rungs on the proverbial ladder. Pinning his first two opponents in an average time of 2:22, Kress must have had big plans on Sunday afternoon as he wasted no time at all coming, seeing, and conquering. Pitted against 2012 PSAL Large School bronze medalist, Konstantin Parfiryev, from James Madison, Kress would put leave no doubt as to who the best of the best was, pinning his finals opponent in 54 seconds, the quickest fall of the championship round. One of two champs on the day for Columbia (the other coming in the last bout of the tournament), Kress would lead his team to a runner-up finish in the final polls.

Having gone four straight weight classes without some local flavor taking home a title, junior Adis Radoncic of RKA, would nip the issue in the bud, snapping the streak with 10-4 decision over Long Branch’s Nick Pappayliou at 170 pounds. Already a two-time PSAL Small School champion (on pace to be a four-time NYS DII qualifier), Radoncic just missed placing at the Times Union Center in 2012, falling one victory short of the podium. A lethal thrower, next to Ndiaye, Radoncic is considered the best medal threat for the PSAL in the Division II ranks. Pappayliou, who transferred to the Garden State perennial powerhouse for his senior season after competing for Ocean Township the first three years of his scholastic career, finished 4th in the district tournament in 2012.

Matt Roberts, Photo by Philip Rufo

Winning a war of returning NYS qualifiers was Monsignor Farrell’s Matt Roberts at 182. Trailing 2-0 early on in his title match against Eagle Academy’s Nathanael Rose, the 2012 CHSAA State Champion, Roberts, did what he does best, utilizing his deep gas tank to claw his way back into the match. Pushing the pace against Rose, who won the PSAL DII title as a freshman last season, Roberts would ascend to the top step of the podium following an 8-5 victory. The senior leader would be the lone champion for the Staten Island program who for the first time in history (after dominating the Mayor’s Cup since its inception) finished behind a fellow five borough school (Brooklyn Tech) in a major city wide tournament.

Speaking of B’Tech, the Todd Bloom led program would not be shutout this weekend, getting on the scoreboard at 195 with senior Kevin Tynes. A PSAL runner-up last last season to McZiggy Richards (the wrestler who finished 3rd in NYS and is currently attending St. Benedicts Prep), Tynes may be one of the hungriest wrestlers in the city this season after seeing the success of the man who beat him in last year’s Large School finals. Cruising in his first three matches (pin, 16-1 TF, 10-1 MD), Tynes would get his first test of the tournament in the finals when he faced the twin brother of the 170 pound runner-up, Chris Pappayliou. A 3rd place finisher at the district tournament, the Long Branch transfer would make his NYC counterpart work for every point, leading to perhaps the most entertaining and competitive title bout. In the end, the home court advantage would be too much for the Jersey boy to overcome as he dropped the bout 7-6 to Tynes.

El Shaddai VanHoesen, Photo by BV

Closing the show in emphatic fashion would Columbia’s other champion, returning NYS DI runner-up, El Shaddai VanHoesen. A full sized heavyweight who makes his impact felt every bit as much on the football field as he does on the wrestling mat, VanHoesen has every reason in the world to want to end his grappling career on top. Having suffered an injury early in the football playoffs, the big man had the misfortune of having to watch as his team was eliminated, powerless to do anything about it. A student-athlete with championship dreams, with one door having been closed, you can bet he will not let anything stop him from going all the way on the mat. He seemed every bit the proverbial man on a mission, notching four straight pins (including two in under 1:00) to stream roll his way to the last title of the afternoon. While not sure if it would be considered a benefit or a curse, the wrestler who found himself in the position of being the final notch on the belt of the VanHoesen locomotion was Tynes’s teamamte, Shaq Williams. The top-ranked 285 pounder per the GCW rankings, Williams will be looking for revenge when the calendar hits February.

Turning our attention to the fairer sex, leading the group of 10 champions for the young ladies was All-American Rosemary Flores of Curtis. A double freestyle champion in Fargo two summers ago, you name it and Flores has seemingly won it at some point in her career. An ASICS 1st Team honoree last year, Flores had little trouble adding another trophy to her growing collection, spending a combined 90 seconds on the mat in pinning two opponents to earn the the 132 pound crown. While she is by far the most well known, Flores is not the only elite philly in the Curtis stable as he was joined on the top step of the medal stand by teammates Leslie Schoberl (120) and Shannon Henry (138). In similar fashion to Flores, Shoberl and Henry would never see the third period as the three blue chippers combined for seven falls in seven matches. Curtis was the only program on the ladies side to have three gold medalists. Other champions in the women’s tournament included the following: 99- Kim Cardenas (Petrides), 106- Ana Salazar/160- Karina Lozano of Grover Cleveland, 113- Jennifer Juarez (Robert Wagner), 126- Sarah Andresen (Hunter), 145- Idalis Graciano (Springfield), and Wingate’s Destane Garrik at 170 pounds.

To see the full results from both the male and female varsity tournaments, please click the following links: 2012 Boys; 2012 Girls

For more information on New York City wrestling, visit Gotham City Wrestling

Keys to the City: A Look at the PSAL's Top Wrestlers and Teams in 2012-13

 

 

By Matt Diano

 

Division I

Returning State Qualifiers (From 2012):

113 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, Tottenville

120 Pounds: Keanu Thompson, Grand Street Campus

126 Pounds: Mike Gannone, Tottenville

132 Pounds: Saidyokub Kahramonov, New Utrecht

170 Pounds: Anatoliy Anchakov, Grand Street Campus

285 Pounds: Leon Gonzales, Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Seniors to Watch

Santo Curatolo (Tottenville) – Curatolo is looking to win his fourth PSAL large school crown, making him the second to accomplish the feat in as many years (joining Jorje Jimenez who pulled off the achievement from 2009-2012).  In his first three trips to the state capital, Curatolo garnered an overall record of 1-6 (1-2 in 2012). Competing in the international styles, Curatolo had a breakout junior campaign, earning All-America honors at the Junior National Greco-Roman Championships, finishing sixth at the 120 pound weight.  While there remains some uncertainty as to whether he will remain at 113 pounds for a second consecutive year or move up to 120, the fact is that given his track record, Curatolo will be a significant favorite at whatever weight he competes at this season.

Keanu Thompson (Gianna Aragona)

Keanu Thompson (Grand Street Campus) – A runner up to Curatolo in 2011, last season Thompson made his debut in Albany, going 2-2, just missing the podium when he dropped a hard-fought 5-3 decision to eventual NYS fourth place finisher, TJ Fabian of Section XI. Competing in the international styles, Thompson has already tasted the glory of the top spot, winning the 2012 NYS Junior Greco-Roman title at 126 pounds.  An odds-on favorite to make a repeat trip to Albany, Thompson is expected to be competing at 126 pounds in 2013.

Leon Gonzalez (FDR) – A career heavyweight who showed a lot of promise as a freshman in 2010 when he placed third at the sectional tournament, Gonzalez experienced a bit of a sophomore jinx the following year, failing to place at the PSAL large school championships.  He more than made amends for his surprising 2011 effort, winning his first sectional crown last season with a narrow 2-1 decision in the finals.  At the NYS tournament, Gonzalez tallied a 1-2 record, pinning Section I representative, David Varian in the first round before ultimately dropping his next two matches to the wrestlers who finished third and sixth respectively (Cole Lampman of Section II and Mike Hughes of Section XI).

Anatoliy Anchakov (Gianna Aragona)

Anatoliy Anchakov (Grand Street Campus) – Joining Curatolo as the only multiple-time champion in DI, Anchakov has been a titlist the past two years for Coach John Zarcone. As he attempts to cap his career with a third championship, evidence would suggest that on paper, he might be the hardest person to dethrone.  He has cruised the past two years, recording bonus point victories in all of his PSAL tournament matches.  He also hopes to break into the win column in Albany, having been competitive in many matches, but going 0-4 in 2011 and 2012.

Bohang Liu (Townsend Harris) – A wrestler who has been on the cusp of breaking out the past two years, Liu finished third in the PSAL as a sophomore, before improving his spot by one slot in 2012, finishing as the runner-up at 106. Expected to remain at this weight class in 2013, his big match experience earned him the #1 ranking in the Gotham City Wrestling preseason rankings.  If Liu wrestles up to his potential, there is every reason in the world to expect that he will close out his scholastic career with his first berth to the NYS tournament.

Kevin Tynes (Brooklyn Tech) – Despite the obvious size difference, there are many career similarities between Liu and Tynes.  Like the person who precedes him in this preview, Tynes has been in title contention the last two years, notching third in 2011, followed by a second as a junior.  A battle tested student-athlete thanks in large part to the competitive schedule wrestled by Brooklyn Tech every year, should Tynes successfully navigate the PSAL (which is the anticipated outcome), he could very well be a sleeper to make the podium in Albany.

Shaquille Williams (Brooklyn Tech) -Despite the fact that he is still seeking his first All-City distinction, Williams is dangerous for the mere fact that last season, he stuck the eventual large school champion Leon Gonzalez on two separate occasions.  And, as the expression goes, “to be the best, you have to beat the best.”  Williams has demonstrated an ability to do just that, thus justifying his #1 rating in the preseason Gotham City rankings.  The victim of an ill-timed (no pun intended) sickness bug, those in the know feel that Williams could have easily been the defending champion if not for the health issue that rendered him unable to compete in the sectional tournament.

 

Also Keep An Eye On….

Saidyokub Kahramonov (New Utrecht) – After rumors that he may have moved out of the city following the conclusion of his sophomore season, a person in the know confirmed that the 2012 PSAL runner-up will be back for his junior campaign.   A finalist last season, losing to current Brown University freshman Ahmed Elsayed, Kahramonov got the call to represent the PSAL when the man who beat him was unable to compete.  In Albany, he went 0-2, but was competitive, losing 7-5 in his lone consolation match.  Now a year older and more experienced, he will be hungry to improve upon last year’s showing.

Alex Palmer

Alex Palmer (MLK) – Perhaps the most decorated and polished wrestler the MLK program has had in its short existence, Palmer has been one to watch since earning All-State honors on the Schoolboy level in 2010.  A two-time PSAL placewinner heading into his junior season, finishing fourth in 2011 and second last season, the coaches at the Manhattan based school are confident that this is the year he will put it together and ascend to the top spot of the podium.  Should Palmer win individual hardware, he would become the first wrestler in program history to qualify for the NYS tournament.

Soslan Gularov (Sheepshead Bay)—A wrestler who seemed to appear from out of nowhere, very little is known about Gularov.  In fact, until his showing at the 2012 NYS Junior GR & FS tournaments (he was a double champion), his was a name that many in NYC had not yet heard.  This anonymity has quickly become a thing of the past as Gularov opened many eyes when he came one victory short of being a Junior Freestyle All-American last July at the 220-pound weight class.  Armed with about as nasty a body lock as you will find in the Empire State, it is with good reason that aficionados are predicting a top-6 finish for him in Albany.  Everything will come down to how well he makes the transition to mat wrestling.

 

Team Race

With no one team bringing back more than four returning All-City wrestlers from 2012, it could be said that the battle for the top spot is as open as it ever has been in recent times.  The parity in talent in 2013 is so widespread that on any given weekend, any one of a handful of teams could get hot at the right time and reap the benefits.

A team that will certainly be there at the end is two-time defending champion Brooklyn Tech.  While graduation did hit hard as the squad lost a pair of NYS placewinners (Christian Masaya, sixth at 152 and Patryk Kopczynski, fourth at 220), Coach Bloom’s team still has the fortune of returning a quartet of sectional medalists.  Let by their hammer, Tynes, Brooklyn Tech will also get solid contributions out of Yaneev Hirsch (fourth at 99), Devon Hoyte (fourth at 113) and William Hernandez (fourth at 120).  Despite not being a returning placewinner, big man Shaq Williams is looked at as a title contender.

Matching the perennial NYC powerhouse in terms of total returning All-Section honorees is Wingate Campus.  Anchored by 2012 PSAL bronze medalists Kenton Greaves (120) and Cedrick Stephens (170), Wingate will also get huge efforts from their two fourth place finishers, Bertin Saimbeau (132) and Malik Francis (145).  Nicholas Bynoe, who came one win short of making top-4 last season will also prove to be a factor this season.

The team that bolsters the best 1-2-3 punch in the City is Tottenville.  Just like the classic Yankees had their murderer’s row, so too does the Staten Island-based school.  Starting out with Curatolo and ending with Gannone, Tottenville features 2012 120-pound finalist, Nick Azen in the middle.  With all three ranked #1 in their respective weight classes in the preseason rankings, if they do work, big numbers will follow.

Yet another squad that you can never sleep on is Grand Street Campus.  Tied for the lead with two returning sectional champions, the Zarcone-mentored team can expect to get mega efforts out of Thompson and Anchakov again in 2013.  Complementing the abilities of the two beasts will be Geudy Tavarez (99) and Justin Vasquez (152) who find themselves ranked in the top-4 in the preseason polls.

Continuing with the trend, James Madison is also a team that has to be considered in the hunt for the team title.  With a trio of returning studs, sectional finalist Marc D’Chiutiis (126), bronze medalist Konstantin Parfiryev (145) and fourth place finisher Javaughn Grant (220), if Madison can get a big effort from one of its 285-pounders, Mark Ifraimov or Kujtim Nikq, the team could be in business.

Finally, the student-athletes from Martin Luther King (MLK) are expected to enjoy the finest season in program history.  While Palmer may sit at the head of the table, the Knights possess quality all throughout their lineup.  Joining Palmer as the only other All-City wrestler from last season is 220-pound bronze medalist, Michael Diese.  Others who may not have found the podium yet in their scholastic careers but are well positioned to do so in 2013 are captains Danny “Omega” Amancio, the #2 ranked 120-pounder in the preseason rankings, and Johnny Alicea, the #4 rated 132-pounder.  Amancio came a single win short of the podium last season, but is fresh off an eye opening performance at the NYS Junior Freestyle tournament that witnessed him finish in the top-6.

 

Division II

2012 Returning State Placewinners

Second Place: Cheick Ndiaye (12), Brooklyn International, 106 pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (From 2012):

99 Pounds: Dolan McColgan, Petrides

132 Pounds: Paul Schoenberg, Baruch

145 Pounds: Adis Radoncic, Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy

160 Pounds: Tyson Simon, Petrides

170 Pounds: Isaiah Blake, Baruch

182 Pounds: Nathaniel Rose, Eagle Academy

195 Pounds: Miguel Perez, Eagle Academy

285 Pounds: Elvin Gervacio, Brooklyn International

 

Seniors to Watch

Alpha Diallo (Brooklyn International) – A bridesmaid in 2012 at 113 (wrestled up to help the team) after finishing third as a sophomore, 2013 is the year that Diallo is finally expected to climb to the top step of the podium.  Ranked #1 at 106 points in the Gotham City preseason poll, Diallo will look to become the next in the growing line of Brooklyn International wrestlers to achieve success at the DII state tournament.

Cheick Ndiaye (Brooklyn International) – Hailed by former Beat the Streets coach Mike Torriero as a kid with the potential to be “the best the City has ever seen,” Ndiaye took a big step last season in turning this compliment into a reality, finishing second at the NYS DII tournament.  In doing so, he became the first PSAL wrestler in either division to make it to the state finals.  Already a two-time PSAL champion (after placing third in the section as a freshman), Ndiaye heads into 2013 as a near lock to add a third title to his mantel.  The only question that remains is whether he will earn the DII state crown to go with it. A multiple-time NYS placewinner in the international styles on the Cadet and Junior levels, the Brooklyn International student-athlete was recently named to the Honorable Mention portion of the top-10 New York senior list published on Intermat.

Paul Schoenberg (Baruch) – A 3x PSAL finalist (who owns a win over Ndiaye as a freshman), Schoenberg won titles as both a sophomore and a junior at 112 and 132 pounds, respectively.  Going 0-4 in his two trips to the state capital, Schoenberg will look to end his career by breaking into the win column.

Tyson Simon (Petrides) – Winning a bronze and a silver in his first two years at Petrides, Simon broke through as a junior, securing his first trip to the state tournament in grand fashion, pinning returning NYS qualifier Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy in the finals.  Simon posted an 0-2 record at the state tournament, but gained a wealth of experience; something he hopes to capitalize on as he attempts to repeat as a sectional champion in 2013.

Isaiah Blake (Baruch) – A three-time DII sectional placewinner, Blake seems to get better with age, as he has improved his position on the medal stand incrementally each year. Finishing fourth as a freshman, and then third as a sophomore, the stars all aligned for Blake in 2012 as he earned the first sectional crown of his scholastic career.  Running into the juggernaut that is Section V’s Burke Paddock in the first round, Blake struggled in his Albany debut, going 0-2.

Faheem Simpson (Eagle Academy) – The 2011 PSAL small school champion at 285 as a sophomore, Simpson struggled with injuries last season and was unable to participate in the sectional tournament.  Now back to full strength, he has the mental edge of knowing that the last time he faced the returning PSAL Champion (in the 2011 finals), he pinned him.  In his 2011 appearance in Albany, Simpson snuck in a win by fall in his first consolation match before being eliminated one round later to finish with a 1-2 record.

 

Also Keep An Eye On….

Dolan McColgan, Photo by Boris V

Dolan McColgan (Petrides) – The 2012 PSAL DII 99-pound champion after finishing third the previous year, McColgan picked up a victory at the state tournament, knocking off Alexis Bleau by a score of 6-1 in the consolation rounds.  McColgan concluded his debut in Albany with a 1-2 overall record, with both losses coming at the hands of 2013 wrestlers to watch, Alex Herringshaw and Tyler Aslanian.

Adis Radoncic (RKA) – On pace to be a four-timer in the PSAL, having won titles at 135 and 145 in his first two years at Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, Radoncic enjoyed a major jump in performance on the state level last year.  He erased the memories of an 0-2 record in his first trip to Albany by compiling a 2-2 mark last season, falling one win short of being a NYS DII placewinner.  A talented thrower, he is capable of putting anyone on his back in an instant.

Nigel Williams (Eagle Academy) – A two-time sectional runner-up, Williams does not know what it feels like to wrestle in a PSAL consolation match because he has never been in one thus far in his career.  This is a pattern that we see continuing in 2013 as the Eagle Academy junior will be intent on making his way back to Albany after serving as a 2011 replacement qualifier.  In his appearance two years ago, Williams took some typical freshman lumps, going 0-2 against older and more polished competition.

Nathaniel Rose (Eagle Academy) – A fab frosh last season, Rose wasted no time making himself a name to know on the NYC wrestling scene, winning the DII sectional title right out of the gate.  Most impressive was the fact that he made a compelling argument for the unofficial title of best freshman in the City, scoring bonus points in both of his sectional tournament bouts.  He was humbled a bit in Albany, though, going 0-2 against a predominantly upperclassmen field.

Miguel Perez (Eagle Academy)- Another diaper dandy in 2012, Perez joined his aforementioned teammate in winning a PSAL small school title as a freshman.  At the DII state tournament, he finished 0-2, but showed signs of growth, rebounding from a loss by second period pin, to make a respectable showing of himself in a 6-5 defeat in the consolation round.  As he continues to grow into body, look for those narrow losses to be transformed into close wins.

Elvin Gervacio (Brooklyn International) – A two-time PSAL finalist, Gervacio went from being the pinned to the pinner in the span of one year, ascending to the top spot and punching his own ticket to the Times Union Center.  He went 0-2 at the DII state tournament, but still has two years remaining to do damage.

 

Team Race

Having taken turns hoisting the hardware the past two years, all signs point to another epic battle for NYC DII supremacy between defending team champions, Eagle Academy and the 2011 top team, Petrides.  With less than 10 total teams in the PSAL DII ranks, both squads are loaded with returning placewinners from last season.

With at least one person indicated at every weight class in the preseason rankings, Petrides may have the most balanced lineup of any team in NYC.  If they do indeed put a person in the top-4 of all 15 weights, it is hard to imagine anyone being able to outscore them in tournament play. Led of course by the dynamic duo of returning champions, McColgan and Simon, the Staten Island-based school will also count on huge efforts from a number of other wrestlers to come up big during crunch time to regain the title.  These wrestlers include 2x PSAL runner-up Nate Musa (132 in 2012), 2011 finalist/third in 2012 Sean Caffrey (at 106), 145-pound fourth place finisher, Isiah Beckles, as well as runner-ups at 182 and 195 pounds, Christian Gioia and Joshua Ferlazzo.

Eagle Academy, very much attached to the championship trophy earned last season, has no intention of lying down as the squad also enters the new season with its share of weapons.  If it’s possible, on paper, Eagle might be more dangerous than Petrides as they possess as strong a backend as you will find in NYS (although 99 isn’t a weight class that includes a member of Coach John McGarry’s team).

With return of former state qualifiers at 182, 195, and 285, Eagle has the luxury of knowing that if they are within striking distance late in the evening, Rose, Perez, and Simpson will close strongly and bring home team gold.  Featuring a complementary front end that includes 2012 99-pound bronze medalist Rashid Powell, 106-pound sectional runner-up Jairo Pepin, and 120-pound third place and fourth place finishers, Randy Ramirez and Trevaughn Cummings, it’s seemingly in the cards that they will have the firepower to stay within reach of Petrides.  Throw in 2x finalist Williams and 145-pound third place finisher, Zimba Hamm, and it might give you the championship formula.

For more on the PSAL, including the preseason rankings mentioned above, check out www.gothamcitywrestling.com

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

Features:

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