Columbia Announces Recuiting Class, Including Three NYers and Fargo Champion Scheidel

On Monday, Columbia University announced the freshman class that will begin in the classroom and on the mat in the fall of 2013.  The nine person group includes a trio of New York wrestlers – state champion Matt Leshinger of Sayville, 2012 NHSCA National champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh and 2013 New York state placer Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell.  Markus Scheidel of Ohio, who captured a prestigious Junior Freestyle crown over the weekend in Fargo, also is part of the class.


Courtesy of Columbia University Athletics

NEW YORK – Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling, Carl Fronhofer, has announced the addition of nine incoming first-years for the 2013-14 season. The incoming class features a pair of grapplers that have won national championships, as well as a plethora of state placewinners over multiple years.

“We are very excited about this class of young men,” said Fronhofer. “They are a talented group of wrestlers with the ability to win at this level. The entire staff is looking forward to the fall when we can start working with them.”

Chris Araoz – Wantagh HS – Wantagh, N.Y.
Araoz became the first Wantagh, Section 8 and Nassau County wrestler to win a national title when he claimed the 120-pound championship at the NHSCA Junior Nationals his junior season. Araoz has been competing at national events for multiple years, winning matches at the Iron Horse Invitational and the Super 32 Challenge.

His Wantagh team has also been very successful, winning the New York State tournament, crowned Dual Meet champions in 2011-12 and winning three Section 8 titles in four years.

For the remainder of the release from Columbia University Athletics and details on the remaining members of the Class of 2017, see Columbia Recruiting Full Release link.



National Champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh Chooses Columbia

Photo courtesy of the Araoz family


By Irwin Loew

Chris Araoz, the reigning NHSCA Junior Nationals champion from Wantagh announced today that he will be attending Columbia University of the Ivy League in New York City next year.  Araoz will be joining forces with head coach Carl Fronhofer, a former NCAA finalist at Pittsburgh, as well as his former high school teammate Chris Loew (now a freshman at Columbia) and Suffolk County standout Matt Leshinger of Sayville, who made his decision a few weeks ago.  Wantagh has had a good run over the last several years, sending wrestlers into Division I programs such as Harvard, Hofstra, Binghamton and Edinboro.

Araoz went on several recruiting visits and was looking at West Point, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.  He had several reasons for choosing Columbia, including feeling very comfortable with the diverse coaching staff of Fronhofer (NCAA finalist), Roman Fleszar (two-time All-American at Hofstra), Adam Hall (two-time NCAA All-American at Boise State) and Hudson Taylor (three-time All-American at Maryland).  He loved the feeling of being in the Big Apple and that he will be close to home and to his brother who attends Fordham in the Bronx.  And, he felt that getting a Columbia education and competing in New York will be a great experience.

After placing second at the Section 8 tournament as a junior, Araoz had a great offseason, capturing the national title at 120 pounds at Virginia Beach. With that performance, he became the first Wantagh wrestler, as well as the first Section 8 and Nassau County grappler to achieve this feat. Keep in mind, this comes from a program that graduated current Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan, a former All-American at Iowa under the legendary Dan Gable.

After that championship, Araoz continued to work extremely hard this offseason, attending practices at the Wantagh 3 Style Wrestling Club several times per week under the tutelage of current head coach and Hall of Famer Paul Gillespie and assistant Reggie Jones, who was recently voted in as a National Hall of Fame member.  He also wrestles at the Ascend Wrestling Club with Craig Vitagliano.

Araoz competed at Fargo over the summer and more recently wrestled at the Iron Horse Invitational in New Jersey where he finished with two wins and two losses in a bracket that contained four nationally-ranked wrestlers.  He also won three matches at the Super 32 Challenge.

Gillespie holds Araoz in very high esteem, saying that he loves the intensity of his senior co-captain, who is as focused as any wrestler he has coached over the last 30 years.  He emphasized that Aroaz works hard seven days per week and is the first one in the room and the last one out.  The coach further stated that Araoz is very coachable and picks up everything, and finished by saying that he wished he had a hundred more kids like Araoz.

Araoz has been an important part of Wantagh’s team success during this career.  During his tenure as a Warrior, the team finished first in the New York State tournament, was crowned the Dual Meet champions in 2011-12 and won three out of the last four Section 8 titles in Division I.  On an individual note, Araoz will be one of the favorites to win a state championship at 132 pounds this year.

The newest Columbia recruit acknowledged wrestlers that came before him and set the bar high at Wantagh (and who also come back to visit and help) such as Paul Liguori, Steve Bonanno, Joe Barbato, John Greisheimer, Nick Fitzmaurice and Chris Loew.

He would like to compete at the next level at either 133 or 141 pounds.

Araoz answered some questions about his commitment . . . and a few other topics.

What were the main reasons you chose Columbia ?

Chris Araoz (CA): It’s the fourth best school for academics in the nation.  I loved being in New York City and I really liked the team and the coaches.

What stood out to you on your official visit? 

CA: The first thing I did when I got there was watch the team lift and they were all really into it and worked together well. Also, I loved that it was only an hour train ride to get there from my home.

What were some of the other schools you seriously considered?

CA: West Point, Princeton, and UPenn.

What weight do you expect to wrestle in college?

CA: Either 133 or 141

Are there any particular workout partners you look forward to wrestling with in college?

CA: I definitely look forward to wrestling with assistant coach Adam Hall.

Did the fact that several other NY wrestlers you may know picked Columbia have an impact on your decision?

CA: Not really.  For the most part, I knew people on all the teams I was looking at, but it is nice to know that there are some other New York guys on the team.

After the County finals [Araoz finished second and didn’t receive a bid to the state tournament], what did it mean to you to win the NHSCA Nationals?

CA: It meant everything. It gave me another chance to really show how I can wrestle and it felt good to win something big after such a disappointment.

Did you get a lot of recruiting attention after that win?

CA: Yes, almost all of the schools I considered contacted me after the tournament.

What are your goals for yourself in your senior season?

CA: To win a county, state, and national title.

What have you done over the spring and summer to prepare for this year?

CA: Just a lot of wrestling, big tournaments and lifting.

What areas do you think you’ve most improved on?

CA: I think my neutral wrestling has gotten way better since last season.

Who are some of the people who have most influenced your wrestling over the years?

CA: Definitely all of my coaches but also some of the older Wantagh guys like Joe Barbato [now at Harvard] and Steve Bonnano [All-American at Hofstra]. Both were former Wantagh wrestlers.

What’s something wrestling followers might not know about you?

CA: I lost almost every match I wrestled in 8th grade.

Any idea about what you’re interesting in studying in college?

CA: Probably Economics

Who are your favorite college wrestlers to watch now and why ?

CA: Kyle Dake and David Taylor because they’re so dominant and I’m really excited to see them go at it this year.

What was your most memorable high school wrestling event?

CA: When we beat MacArthur in my eighth grade season

What motivates you?

CA: I just love winning and knowing I had to work hard for it.

What type of music do you listen to before you wrestle?

Just about anything, but mostly rock or rap.

What was the last movie you saw?


What was the last book you read?


What’s something people would not know about you?

I was voted biggest flirt in school.


New York Wrestlers Ready to Make Their Mark at the Super 32 Challenge

Last year, Jamel Hudson and Maverick Passaro kicked off their state championship seasons by making the podium at one of the nation’s toughest tournaments, the Super 32 Challenge in Greensboro, North Carolina. Both showed their skills in fields loaded with All-Americans and top 100 recruits, with Hudson (now a Hofstra freshman), grabbing fourth at 132 pounds while Passaro (Rutgers) earned eighth in the 126-pound bracket.

This year, over 60 New York wrestlers are entered in the high school division and an additional 19 in the middle school competition.  Action begins on Saturday and runs through Sunday.

Sean Peacock, Photo by Boris V

So, who from the Empire State will earn a spot on the podium this weekend? Here are some of the many candidates:

A pair of 2012 state champions will be taking the mat as Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni and Sean Peacock of Midlakes are registered at 113 and 120 pounds, respectively.  In addition, 2012 state silver medalists Justin Cooksey (126), Vincent Deprez (138), Drew Hull (152) and Shayne Brady (182) are entered, as is bronze winner Isaiah Riccio, who will be at 145.

The parade of All-State wrestlers continues as New Rochelle’s Nick Barbaria, Locust Valley’s Nick Casella and Holley’s Andrew Flanagan are set to go at 106 while Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian, General Brown’s Ryan Snow and 2011 NYS placer Freddie Dunau will be at 126.  In addition, Oxford’s Joe Nelson (113) and Bellmore JFK’s Robert Person (120) will take the mat, as will NHSCA Junior National champion Chris Araoz (at 132).

But the previous New York medalists aren’t the only threats to excel.  In 2011, John Keck (now a freshman at Navy) took third at the Super 32 without having earned All-State honors in his career to that point.  Many other New Yorkers look to follow that path.

Several of the top young wrestlers in New York are set to compete in the Middle School event.  One interesting matchup could take place at 100 pounds where  Intermat‘s #5 ranked Junior High wrestler in the nation, Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton, could collide with Syosset’s Vitali Arujau.  They were both victorious in different brackets at the Journeymen Classic near Albany a few weeks ago.

The full list of Empire State participants at the Super 32 is below:


High School

106 Pounds:

Nick Barbaria (New Rochelle)

Christian Briody (Chaminade)

Ryan Burns (Clarence)

Nick Casella (Locust Valley)

Tito Colom (Scorpion/Cobra)

Jon Errico (Byram Hills)

Brandon Fay (Fox Lane)

Andrew Flanagan (Holley)

Andrew North (Pine Bush)

Jack Scurti (Half Hollow Hills East)

113 Pounds:

Timothy Johnson (Harborfields)

Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s)

Joe Nelson (Oxford)

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville)

120 Pounds:

Travis Alexander (Long Island Lutheran)

Steven Bulzomi (Connetquot)

Anthony Calvano (Nanuet)

Mike D’Angelo (Commack)

Jeffrey Gould (Pittsford Mendon)

Sean Peacock (Midlakes)

Robert Person (Bellmore JFK)

Joe Russ (St. Anthony’s)

Adam Santoro (Fordham Prep)

126 Pounds:

Justin Cooksey (MacArthur)

Freddie Dunau (St. Anthony’s)

TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River)

Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor)

Blaise Rufo (Monsignor Farrell)

Ryan Snow (General Brown)

132 Pounds:

Chris Araoz (Wantagh)

Sam Melikian (Fordham Prep)

Conor O’Hara (Sachem East)

Jon Silveri (Arlington)

138 Pounds:

Vincent Deprez (Hilton)

Kevin Jackson (St. Anthony’s)

Jakob Restrepo (Sachem East)

Sam Ward (Locust Valley)

145 Pounds:

Nick Alessandrini (St. Anthony’s)

Anthony Deprez (Hilton)

John Doherty (Monticello)

Matthew Haenel (Half Hollow Hills East)

Isaiah Riccio (Beaver River)

John Vouzonis (Herricks)

152 Pounds:

Mike Dusold (Locust Valley)

Declan Gray (Chaminade)

Drew Hull (Royalton Hartland)

Joseph Koshakow (Scarsdale)

Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg)

Rowdy Prior (Phoenix)

Matthew Russo (Horace Mann)

Paul Schoenberg (Baruch)

160 Pounds

Joe Mastro (Yorktown)

Andrew Psomas (Monsignor Farrell)

Jun Yoo (Jericho)

170 Pounds:

Johnny Vrasidas (St. Anthony’s)

Austin Weigel (Onteora)

182 Pounds:

Shayne Brady (Carthage)

Matt Roberts (Monsignor Farrell)

Kevin Rodriguez (Patchogue-Medford)

Dan Smith (South Jefferson)

195 Pounds:

Chris Chambers (East Islip)

Collin Pittman (Spencerport)

220 Pounds:

Roman Accetta (Poly Prep)

Nelson Wymbs (Horace Greeley)


Middle School

70 Pounds:

Michael Gonyea (East Greenbush)

Drew Schafer (Marion)

75 Pounds:

Adam Busiello (Eastport South Manor)

Salvatore Jones (Lindenhurst)

Dylan Ryder (Candlewood)

80 Pounds:

Joseph Russo (Wantagh)

85 Pounds:

John DeRidder (Carle Place)

Tony Negron (631 Elite)

90 Pounds:

AJ Burkhart (Waverly)

Peter Pappas (POB)

Jack Ward (Locust Valley)

95 Pounds:

Hector Colom (Scorpion/Cobra)

Zachery Lawrence (Duanesburg)

100 Pounds:

Vitali Arujau (Syosset)

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton)

105 Pounds:

Zachary Ancewicz (John Glenn)

112 Pounds:

Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley)

120 Pounds:

Louis Deprez (Hilton)

157 Pounds:

Michael Spallina (Hilton)


All-State Wrestlers Piccininni, Kelley, Almaviva, Fabian and McDevitt Ready For Tests at the Iron Horse Invitational

Photos of Piccininni, McDevitt and Kelley by Boris V

Last weekend, many New York wrestlers tested themselves against competition from all over the country at the Journeymen Wrestling Classic near Albany.  As the start of the season inches closer, many of the same competitors will travel to New Jersey on Sunday to once again challenge themselves against some of the best from the Garden State, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland and Vermont at the Iron Horse Invitation in South Plainfield.  The round robin tournament includes champions from the states listed above and a plethora of additional placers in the field of about 150 grapplers.

Several wrestlers who won titles in the “A” bracket last weekend at the Journeymen will once again take the mat, including New Yorkers Nick Piccininni and Nick Kelley as well as New Jersey’s Sal Profaci, Anthony Giraldo, Scott Delvecchio, Maaziah Bethea, Chad Walsh and Jon Schleifer.

In addition to state champion Piccininni and Binghamton-bound Kelley, a number of top contenders for All-State honors in the Empire State will compete on Sunday.  The expected entrants from New York are:

Section 1: 

John Muldoon (Pearl River)

Vinny Skokos (Nanuet, state qualifier)

Section 2:

David Almaviva (Shenendehowa, Fargo All-American, Binghamton recruit)

Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa, state qualifier)

Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa, Fargo All-American, Binghamton recruit)

Blake Retell (Shaker, won the 120B bracket at the Journeymen Classic)

Joe Sprung (Berne Knox Westerlo, state qualifier)

Section 8:

Chris Araoz (Wantagh, NHSCA National Champion in 2012)

Dan McDevitt (Wantagh, NHSCA All-American, NYS fifth)

Section 11:

Tom Dutton (Rocky Point, Fargo and NHSCA All-American)

TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River, NHSCA All-American, NYS fourth)

Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor, NHSCA All-American)

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville, NYS champion in 2012)


Sam Melikian (Fordham Prep, state qualifier)


**Entries provided by Iron Horse