Super Sophomores: Take a Look at Tenth Graders to Watch in New York in 2013-14

We have been discussing some of the top wrestlers in New York over the past few weeks.  We started with our #1 Junior High School grappler in the state, Penfield eighth grader Frankie Gissendanner (see link),then profiled top freshman Yianni Diakomihalis and discussed other ninth graders to watch.  Then, we wrote about the wrestler at the top of the Class of 2016 rankings – Christian Dietrich

Now it’s time to talk about some of the other sophomores to keep tabs on this season. There were significant differences of opinion on how these wrestlers stack up against each other.  The order of this list could go numerous different ways and will no doubt look different as the season progresses.  For now, however, here’s a look at some of the stars in the Class of 2016.

Top Sophomores

Photo by BV

#1 Christian Dietrich (Greene) – Dietrich made a splash when he finished on the New York state podium (6th) as a seventh grader at 152 pounds.  While he spent the following season recovering from an injury, his return as a freshman was stellar.  He cruised through the year with a 39-3 record, taking second at the Eastern States Classic and picking up runner up honors in Albany.  Those achievements were impressive, but he solidified his spot in the national spotlight with a fourth place showing at the FloNationals in the spring, including wins over state champions from Michigan, California and Ohio. Currently listed as the 10th best grappler in the land at 170 pounds by Flowrestling, Dietrich is also highly ranked in the Class of 2016.  Intermat has him #12 in the nation for sophomores, while Flo has him 15th.  He went up to 195 pounds recently for the Journeymen Classic and won the title there. For more on Dietrich, see this link.

#2 Kellen Devlin (Amherst) – A very impressive freshman year catapulted Devlin up the charts. In his second trip to the state tournament, he looked sharp, taking third at 120 pounds.  He went 5-1 with a pin, a tech fall and two major decisions while defeating multiple All-State wrestlers. And in his sole loss, he led eventual champion Trey Aslanian for most of the match before the current Princeton Tiger from Section 1 came back for a 4-3 victory. The bronze showing was a strong end of the season for Devlin, who sported a 46-3 mark with his only other losses coming to Division I runner up Steve Michel by one point.  He also made his mark nationally, taking second at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach (after earning third the year before at the same event).

#3 Jordan Torbitt (Whitney Point) – Torbitt has been a national champion two years in a row at the NHSCAs in Virginia Beach.  He captured the Middle School crown in 2012 and followed up with gold at the Freshman event this spring. The latter performance came after he earned All-State recognition in 2013 at 145 pounds, following a 39-2 regular season.  He split matches with New York State silver medalist Frank Garcia, defeating the Norwich standout 7-0 in early February.  In Albany, Torbitt was edged 5-4 in his opening contest, however, he rebounded with three consecutive wins in the consolations before injury defaulting his final two bouts to place sixth.

Photo by BV

#4 Chris Mauriello (Hauppauge) – Like Torbitt, Chris Mauriello collected national championships in Virginia Beach in 2012 and 2013.  (He defeated Kellen Devlin on the way to that first title). Ranked in Intermat’s Top 50 in the Class of 2016, Mauriello had a highly successful season at 132 pounds in ultra-competitive Suffolk County.  The state qualifier racked up 42 wins and four of his six losses were to top-five New York state medalists – (Matt Leshinger, Brandon Lapi, Vinny Turano and Marcus Popp).  He recently took fourth at the Journeymen Classic, defeating state runner up Justin Cooksey in the process.

#5 Dakota Gardner (Fredonia) – Already a two-time state placer, Gardner went from sixth in New York as a 120-pound eighth grader to runner up at 126 as a freshman.  In a 46-2 year, Gardner picked up 36 bonus point wins with his lone setbacks against fellow All-Stater Brandon Muntz of Falconer (now wrestling at Buffalo) and two-time champion William Koll.   He also took bronze at the NHSCA Nationals in 2012.

#6 Derek Spann (Adirondack) – Other than a late December loss to Wayne’s Jacob Yankloski, Spann had a perfect ninth grade year, going 45-1 and winning a state championship at 99 pounds.  He recorded 18 pins along the way. His tough mat wrestling was on display in the finals at the Times Union Center as he made up for an early deficit with strong top work to earn gold.

#7 Matteo DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson) – There was a lot of talk about the tough 99-pound bracket in Division I in Suffolk County, but the small school champion in Section 11 had a terrific year as well.  DeVincenzo went 35-2 and grabbed second place at the state tournament, with his only setbacks coming against Division I state finalist Vito Arujau and the previously mentioned Derek Spann.  DeVincenzo had some solid offseason results as well, including winning a bracket full of state placers at the NUWAY Nationals in New Jersey, and following up with first place at the Journeymen Classic in a talented field.

#8 John Arceri (Huntington) – Arceri came into the state tournament as the top seed at 99 pounds in Division I after winning a deep weight class at the Section 11 championships.  While he went 2-2 in Albany, Arceri proved himself to be among the best in New York with victories over a number of All-Staters during the campaign, including John Busiello (twice), Jesse Dellavecchia and Vinny Vespa. He also defeated Eastern States champion Chris Cuccolo.

#9 Leonard Merkin (Poly Prep) – As a private school wrestler, Merkin won’t be competing at the New York State tournament.  However, he looks to make noise again after winning the New York Prep title in 2013 at 132 pounds, defeating defending champion Thomas McLoughlin, before earning a victory at the National Preps. (He drew Joey McKenna of Blair, one of the top 10 wrestlers in the Class of 2014, in round one of that tournament). Merkin makes the list not only because of his folkstyle prowess, but also because of his work in the international styles.  He went unbeaten for Team New York at the Cadet National Duals in Freestyle and then earned All-American honors at the FILA Cadet Nationals in Greco.  Merkin just missed the podium at Fargo in both styles, but responded by winning all three of his bouts recently at the Journeymen Classic. [On the topic of international styles, another sophomore, Alexis Bleau of Schoharie, a 2012 New York state qualifier, placed second and fourth nationally in women’s freestyle at Fargo this summer and will no doubt continue to represent the Empire State well].

#10 Owen Bachelder (Hewlett) – Bachelder didn’t get the friendliest draw at the state tournament, first facing two-time finalist/2012 state champion Dylan Realbuto before squaring off with eventual fourth placer Jake Green of Chenango Forks at 126 pounds.  However, it was his run to a Nassau County title that really put him on the radar.  He caught fire at the Section 8 championships, going 5-0 with three pins, including wins over 2012 NHSCA Junior National champion Chris Araoz (currently in the midst of his freshman year at Columbia University) and Manhasset state qualifier Michael Fera, on the way to the crown.

The final few spots were discussed quite a bit and some other candidates are likely to have great campaigns as 10th graders as well.  New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna earned his first podium finish at the NYS tournament when he was sixth at 99 pounds in Division I.  The Section 3 standout missed time with an injury early on, however, he got into the swing of things as the campaign progressed to make the medal stand.  In his first round match in Albany, however, McKenna was topped 3-0 by Garrett Baugher (St. Joseph’s Collegiate), a wrestler who was dominant throughout the year, notching 40 wins (35 of which came by bonus points).  At the Times Union Center, Baugher led eventual third placer John Busiello [now at Wyoming Seminary] early on in the quarterfinals before he injury defaulted out of the event.  Those performances came after Baugher racked up more than 30 wins as an eighth grader for Royalton Hartland, taking third in Section 6 that year.  Baugher will be moving up in weight this year but will be someone to keep track of this season.  Also of note –  Theo Powers of Mexico, who picked up All-State accolades in 2013, registered quality wins this summer and will be formidable in the lightweights.

Who are some other sophomores to watch?

Well, there are additional wrestlers that placed at the state tournament last year: Ryan Hetrick of Southwestern (third at 99), Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack (fourth at 106), Chris Cirigliano (sixth at 106) and Brad Bihler of Maple Grove (third at 106). [Bihler was defeated by Dunkirk’s Tito Colom three times a year ago and after an impressive performance at the Journeymen Classic, Colom is one to keep tabs on as well].

Another lightweight on the radar is Penfield’s Parker Kropman, who had a solid 34-8 year at 99 in 2012-13 with two of those losses out of state (at 106) and three more to eventual state champions (Yianni Diakomihalis and Derek Spann). Fellow Section 5 grappler Hunter Olena of East Rochester was the top seed in Division II at the Times Union Center at 99.  Peru’s Ethan Feazelle has twice won a match in Albany and is looking to put together a string of a few more victories this time around, as is Noah Kelvas who got his hand raised in 2013 in the state capital. We haven’t forgotten about Shenendehowa’s Kevin Parker, a former Section 2 champion, who had multiple victories over state qualifiers last season.

Aaron Paddock was a lightweight in 2011 when he placed 6th at 103.  After his amazing return to the mat, he won 40 matches all the way up at 170 pounds in 2012-13. Speaking of 170 pounds, Sonny McPherson of Indian River did well at that weight a year ago and was the only ninth grader to win a Division I Sectional title above 152 last season. He followed up with All-American honors in Virginia Beach — and he wasn’t the only one to make the podium there.

A pair of Suffolk grapplers were national finalists at the NHSCA event after registering over 30 wins in Section 11 in the upperweights as freshmen — Ward Melville’s Christian Araneo at 182 and John Glenn’s Edwin Rubio at 285.  Araneo also made the medal stand at the Eastern States Classic, notching eighth. And the talent in Suffolk isn’t limited to those wrestlers.  There are others to keep an eye on, including CJ Archer of Rocky Point, who won over 30 times as a ninth grader.

Other NHSCA All-Americans from the Class of 2016 at Virginia Beach were: Owen Albanese (Canastota, 220), Wil Hillard (Phoenix, 170), Ricardo Dawkins (General Brown, 182), Andrew McFarland (Carthage, 113), Anthony Argentieri (Kenmore West, 106) and Freddy Eckles (Lake Shore, 132).  Eckles had some stellar offseason results and will make some noise this year.

One final wrestler who commanded our attention as he looks to return to All-State form is Holland Patent’s Alex Herringshaw. Joining Dakota Gardner as the only other 2012 state placewinner on this list (6th at 99 pounds), the Golden Knight jumped up several weight classes during his freshman campaign.  Victorious in his first 20-plus bouts of 2012-2013 while competing predominantly at 126, when Herringshaw moved up even higher to the 132 pound class, he was met with mixed results, finishing the season with an overall record of 37-10. That included a runner up finish at the Section III tournament and a 1-2 record at the “Big Dance.”

We appreciate the additional names sent in after our freshman article.  Once again, this list isn’t all-inclusive.  There will always be some new faces who have breakout performances.  Feel free to send us more sophomores to look out for at newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com.

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Thank you to Mike Carey and Matt Diano for all their hard work to make this article possible and to Kris Harrington for his insights.  Thanks to all of the other contributors – too many to name, but they know who they are.

Long Island's X-Cel Advances to the Semifinals at Pop & Flo National Duals on Saturday

 
 
X-Cel won the title at the Pop & Flo National Duals last year.  The Long Island group will try to repeat that feat on Sunday after advancing to the semifinals on the first day of competition.

The squad looked completely dominant early, opening with a 84-0 blanking of Kryptonite Wrestling Club, followed by a 71-6 triumph over Journeymen Gold.  The quarterfinals brought a tougher challenge, however, as X-Cel squared off with Dark Knights of Pennsylvania.

Two-time state champion Nick Piccininni got the New Yorkers off to a good start with a major decision at 120 pounds.  However, the opponents from the Keystone State responded with three consecutive victories from 125 to 135 to take a 12-4 advantage.

Fabian, Photo by BV

The two teams then traded wins over the next several matches, beginning with a pin by Sacred Heart-bound TJ Fabian of Shoreham Wading River at 140.  The Dark Knights were victorious at 145 and 160, while state champion Louis Hernandez of Mepham earned a 5-4 win at 152 and Steven Schneider got his hand raised at 170 with an overtime triumph.  After regulation ended deadlocked at 1, and there was no scoring in sudden victory, Schneider rode his opponent out for the entire 30 seconds and then escaped when it was his turn on bottom to make the team score 19-16 in favor of the Pennsylvania squad.

After the Dark Knights extended their advantage to 22-16 with a decision at 182, Chris Chambers put four big points on the board for X-Cel with a major at 195, followed by a 9-3 decision by Steven Mills at 220 to put the Long Island group ahead for the first time since early in the dual.  When a forfeit at heavyweight was tacked on, X-Cel took a 29-22 lead as the meet returned to the lightweights.

At 106, the Dark Knights made things interesting, earning a fall to make it 29-28 in favor of X-Cel with just one match remaining.  In that contest, former Wantagh star Jose Rodriguez took control with an early takedown and got his hand raised to push X-Cel to the 32-28 win and to the semifinals on Sunday against Iron Horse (New Jersey).

The 32-team High School field included many squads from New York, including teams from Ascend, Cellar Dwellers, Cobra, Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, Iowa Style, Journeymen, Port Jervis, Razor and 631 Elite.

Meanwhile, close to half of the squads in the Youth field came from New York as well.

In addition to Sunday’s action to determine placement in the team standings, there will be some great bouts on Saturday night.  At 8:30 p.m., some of the top individuals will take the mat for an All-Star dual.

Included are a number of New Yorkers, for example (matches subject to change):

83: Adam Busiello (631 Elite) vs. Patrick Glory (A&B Core)

88: Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen) vs. Gavin Teasdale (Young Guns)

106: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cobra) vs. Devin Brown (Young Guns)

120: Nick Piccininni (X-Cel) vs. Mickey Phillipi (Young Guns)

125: William Koll (FLWC) vs. Kevin Jack (Iowa Style)

140: Nick Kelley (Journeymen) vs. Anthony Ashnault (SKWC)

182: Dan McDevitt (Ascend) vs. Luke Farinaro (Iron Horse)

220: Rich Sisti (Apex) vs. Michael Boykins (Rt. 100)

100: Sam Sasso (Dark Knights) vs. Vince Andreano (APEX)

140: Jason Nolf (Young Guns) vs. Scott Delvecchio (Iron Horse)

152: BJ Clagon (Apex) vs. Miguel Calixto (Catamounts)

170: Chris Koo (Ascend) vs. Ethan Ramos (Iron Horse)

195: Reggie Williams (FLWC) vs. Evan Ramos (Iron Horse)

285: Mike Hughes (X-Cel) vs. Jesse Webb (Catamount)

Mauriello, Torbitt, Rodriguez-Spencer, Rasheed Earn High School National Titles; Numerous Others Become All-Americans at NHSCAs and FloNationals

 
 
There’s going to be a lot of hardware headed back to New York. On Saturday, numerous Empire State wrestlers earned All-American status, including several who went all the way to the top.

At the NHSCAs in Virginia Beach, two ninth graders earned crowns as Hauppauge’s Chris Mauriello captured the 132 pound title and Whitney Point’s Jordan Torbitt joined him as a gold medalist at 152.

Later in the day, a pair of 2013 state champions – Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (138) and Corey Rasheed (152) added national titles to their resumes when they were victorious in the NHSCA Junior event. Also making it all the way to the finals were Reggie Williams (195) and James O’Hagan (285) in the 11th grade tournament and as well as a trio of freshmen – Kellen Devlin (120), Christian Araneo (182) and Edwin Rubio (285).

But that wasn’t all. The Empire State boasted some gold medalists in the Middle School competition as well – Mack Berkowitz at 127 and Travis Race at 165. (New York grabbed first in the team standings in both the Junior and Middle School competitions).

Tomorrow, two grapplers who stood atop the podium at the Times Union Center – TJ Fabian (126) and Mike Hughes (285) – will try to add their names to the list of champions when they take the mat in the finals of the Senior tournament.

Meanwhile, Virginia wasn’t the only place Empire Staters were showing off their skills. A number of New York wrestlers made the medal stand at the FloNationals, including runner up Nick Piccininni (113) and bronze medalist Tyler Grimaldi (160).

For more information on the placers at all of those events, see below.

FLONATIONALS

Second Place:
113: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville)

Third Place:
160: Tyler Grimaldi (Hills West)

Fourth Place:
132: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa)
170: Christian Dietrich (Greene)

Seventh Place:
152: Joe Mastro (Yorktown)

Eighth Place:
120: Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor)

NHSCA NATIONALS

NHSCA JUNIORS

National Champions
138: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga)
152: Corey Rasheed (Longwood)

Second Place:
195: Reggie Williams (Johnson City)
285: James O’Hagan (Seaford)

Fourth Place:
220: Ryan Wolcott (Waverly)

Fifth Place
170: Adis Radoncic (RKA)

Seventh Place
106: Danny Murray (Brentwood)
120: Sean Peacock (Midlakes)
152: Derek Holcomb (Newark Valley)

Eighth Place
113: Bryan Lantry (Wayne)

NHSCA SOPHOMORES

Third Place
106: Kyle Quinn (Wantagh)

Fifth Place
106: Jesse Dellavecchia (East Islip)

Sixth Place
113: Nick Casella (Locust Valley)
138: Jakob Restrepo (Sachem East)
145: Brandon Aviles (Newfield)
160: Richie Jones (St. Joseph’s)

Seventh Place
113: Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s)
160: Trevor Allard (Mexico)

Eighth Place
132: Sam Ward (Locust Valley)
220: Vincent Feola (Whitman)

NHSCA FRESHMEN

National Champions
132: Chris Mauriello (Hauppauge)
152: Jordan Torbitt (Whitney Point)

Second Place
120: Kellen Devlin (Amherst)
182: Christian Araneo (Ward Melville)
285: Edwin Rubio (John Glenn)

Fourth Place
220: Owen Albanese (Canastota)

Fifth Place
170: Wil Hilliard (Phoenix)
182: Ricardo Dawkins (General Brown)

Sixth Place
106: Anthony Argentieri (Kenmore West)

Seventh Place
113: Andrew McFarland (Carthage)
132: Freddy Eckles (Lake Shore)
170: Sonny McPherson (Indian River)

NHSCA MIDDLE SCHOOL

Champions:
127: Mack Berkowitz
165: Travis Race

Second Place:
100: Hector Colom

Third Place:
85: John DeRidder
90: Dane Heberlein
100: Anthony Cirillo
154: Jeffrey Browne

Fourth Place
75: James Langan
85: Mitch Seaver
100: Benjamin Tepperman

Fifth Place

230: Larry Baker

Sixth Place
75: Riley Retell
105: Zachary Ancewicz
112: Hunter Dusold
180: Dominic Pistone

Seventh Place:
95: William Sims
142: Nick Bushey

Eighth Place
80: Christopher Rivera
90: James Trezza
100: Jacori Teemer
135: Nick Coppola
142: Richard Dawkins

NHSCA SENIORS – WRESTLING TO BE COMPLETED ON SUNDAY

Finalists:
126: TJ Fabian
285: Mike Hughes

Others All-Americans:
106: Steven Lee, Jacob Yankloski
113: Mat Bradice, Dillon Stowell, Steven Sewkumar
126: Dylan Realbuto, Chris Araoz
132: Matt Leshinger
138: Nick Tighe
152: Chris Koo
160: Troy Seymour
170: Johnny Vrasidas, Dan McDevitt, Carlos Toribio