Fargo 2012 Recap for NY: Three National Champs and More Than 25 All-Americans

After eight days full of wrestling at Fargo, New York boasted three National Champions, 28 total All-Americans and a number of breakout performances.

The following are some of the stories that emerged during the week.

Seniors Go Out Strong

The Empire State’s class of 2012 was outstanding, featuring the winningest wrestler in state history (Quinton Murphy), a National Champion who represented the USA All-Stars at both the Dapper Dan and Dream Team Duals (Brian Realbuto) and a grappler who remained undefeated throughout the high school campaign, the New York Freestyle and Greco States, the NHSCA Senior Nationals and the Disney Duals (Dylan Palacio). In all, five New Yorkers were ranked in Intermat’s final Top 100.

Brian Realbuto, Photo by Boris Veysman

Murphy, Realbuto and Palacio all placed in the top four in brackets of more than 75 entrants at Fargo, going a combined 23-6 against some of the best in the nation.

After a bronze medal finish in 2011, Murphy returned and took silver at 138 pounds.  He showed resilience, winning five in a row to make the finals after losing a match on the opening day.  He will next compete in the Big 10 as a member of the Indiana Hoosiers.

Realbuto and Palacio will also wear red in college – Cornell Big Red.   Both took fourth on Saturday after impressive runs.

Realbuto, last year’s champion at 145, wrestled well despite an injury.  He defaulted to Oliver Pierce, a wrestler he defeated last year at this tournament, to take fourth.  Similarly, Palacio was dominant for much of the event and stood fourth on the podium after dropping his final bout against Wisconsin’s Matt Gray on Saturday.

All three will be worth watching on the NCAA scene in the coming years.

Stating Their Cases

The early national rankings included several Empire State representatives, such as Nicky Hall, Troy Seymour, Nick Lupi and Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer.  But several of the state’s top rising seniors who weren’t listed made clear statements over the past few days.

Tyler Grimaldi, a 2012 state runner up who was an All-American at the NHSCA Junior Nationals in the spring, once again made his presence felt at a national event, winning seven matches and taking sixth place in the deep 160 pound bracket.

“I always see the rankings, but they don’t mean too much to me,” Grimaldi said. “It’s all about wrestling on the mat and getting the wins.  With more wins, the rankings will come.”

Those rankings may also come for other members of the Empire State squad.

Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, a two-time champion in New York, made the medal stand for the second consecutive year in Greco, and a pair of workout partners from Section 2, Nick Kelley (fourth at 132 pounds) and David Almaviva (eighth at 145 pounds) showcased their skills in Junior Freestyle.  Kelley, a multi-time state placer, picked up seven victories, defeating nationally-ranked grapplers such as Jared McKinley of Indiana.

“Before the tournament, I was really hoping to be an All-American, but you never know how it will work out there with the draw and so many great wrestlers,” Kelley said. “I felt like I was pretty strong at the weight. I had some tough matches where I think my strength and my conditioning were big advantages.  When the matches went on longer, I felt more confident.  I felt like [opponents] started dying down and I started regaining energy.”

The same could be said for Almaviva, who was wrestling up a weight from the high school season.

“It was great watching [Almaviva] do so well, especially wrestling up at 145,” Kelley said. “It seemed like he was still stronger than most of the guys he wrestled.”

Plainsmen on the Podium

Nick Kelley, Photo by Boris Veysman

Kelley and Almaviva weren’t the only success stories from their school this weekend.  Some entire states captured five or fewer medals.  Shenenedehowa High School earned five on its own, including a pair of national titles in the women’s competition by Alexis Porter and a Cadet Greco fourth place showing by Jesse Porter.

“There are a ton of All-Americans to work with in our room now,” Kelley said. “Having practice partners like that helps us all get better. We have a lot of tough wrestlers coming back next year.  I think we’ll be pretty solid.”

Head coach Rob Weeks will certainly have a solid team, one that will likely be a top contender again in Albany.

Girl Power

Speaking of Alexis Porter . . . the ladies brought home three national titles.

“Getting a pin in the Cadet finals like Alexis did – that’s a big deal,” Kelley said.  “Then, winning another title in Junior Freestyle was great. She had a great tournament.”

In addition to Porter’s two championships, Mary Westman improved upon her second place showing in 2011 to demonstrate that she is the top 159-pounder in the land.

Warsaw’s Hanna Grisewood was also a finalist for the Empire State, taking second at 112 and Rosemary Flores was third at 130 pounds a year after taking double titles.

The Future

Quite a few of the stars of this year’s event will be eligible to return.  In addition to wrestlers such as Nick Kelley, Almaviva, Grimaldi, Kyle Kelly, Flores and the Porters, several others who made an impact may wear the New York singlet again in 2013.

Rodriguez-Spencer went 10-2 at the Junior Duals and followed that up with a third place finish in Greco.  He’ll be a threat in both styles next year, as will Chris Cuccolo who medaled in Greco this year after placing in both styles in 2011.

Leading the charge for the Cadets were Freestyle All-Americans Thomas Dutton and Chris Tangora as well as Greco placer Benjamin Honis, who was one win short of medaling in Freestyle as well.  They will be joined by Santo Curatolo, Brendan Goldup and Sam Ward, who will look to climb higher on the podium.

And of course, there are the wrestlers who didn’t become All-Americans this time, but will break through the barrier next year.  Just ask Nick Kelley, who was 3-2 in his last appearance at Fargo in 2010.  Or Grimaldi, who went 1-2 last July.

“I got beaten up last year at Fargo,” Grimaldi said.  “It was tough.  But over the entire year I had the mentality of working hard to do better.  Am I happy with 6th this year?  No.  But if I put it in perspective and look at the step I took from last year, I realize it was a big accomplishment.  I’m 100% coming back next year.  I have unfinished business in Fargo, North Dakota.”

That kind of mentality promises to bring a large medal haul back to New York in July of 2013.  But for now, with Fargo 2012 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to change the focus back to folkstyle.  The countdown to the 2012-13 high school season has begun.

 

2012 New York All-Americans at Fargo

Junior

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco

 

132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place Freestyle

138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place Freestyle

145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place Freestyle

152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi 6th Place Freestyle

 

Cadet

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th

 

138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place Freestyle

195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place Freestyle

 

Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd

 

Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

New York Crowns Six Junior Freestyle All-Americans; Quinton Murphy to Wrestle for the Championship

New York crowned six All-Americans in Junior Freestyle on Friday.  The placement matches will take place on Saturday as the tournament comes to a close.  The Empire State All-Americans are:

Wrestling for the Championship: Quinton Murphy (Holley), 138 Pounds (Took 2nd)

Wrestling for 3rd: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa), 132 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 3rd: Brian Realbuto (Somers), 152 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 3rd: Dylan Palacio (Long Beach), 160 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 5th: Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West), 160 Pounds (Took 6th)

Wrestling for 7th: David Almaviva (Shenendehowa), 145 Pounds (Took 8th)

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Quinton Murphy finished third at Fargo in Junior Freestyle last year and was looking to cap off his high school career this July with a National Championship.  But after losing a match on Thursday, he knew he would have to go on a long winning streak to reach that goal.

He was able to do just that, reeling off five straight victories on Friday to earn his spot in the finals against Bryce Brill of Illinois at 138 pounds.

Friday began on the right foot for Murphy as he pinned Walker Damewood of Oregon in less than 30 seconds.  However, in his next contest, he dropped the first period 6-0 to Davey Dolan of Oklahoma before responding with a fall midway through the next stanza for another win.

From there, Murphy defeated the other three All-Americans in his pool, Darick LaPaglia of Missouri, Justin Arthur of West Virginia and Hayden Tuma of Idaho to reach the title bout.  Against Tuma in the decisive match, Murphy lost the initial period 8-0 before taking the next two by the scores of 5-3 and 5-1.

Last year, Murphy handed eventual champion Ben Whitford a loss in pool action and then watched the Michigan grappler take the title.  This time, Murphy hopes to be the one holding the trophy before beginning his college career at Indiana.

Beginning their college careers soon in Ithaca, NY will be Brian Realbuto and Dylan Palacio.  But before they do, they will look to pick up third place medals at Fargo.

Realbuto won the crown in North Dakota last summer and breezed through the early stages of the tournament, recording two pins and two technical falls in his first five matches.  In his sixth bout against Keilan Torres of Oklahoma, Realbuto dropped the first period 1-0 and fell behind 4-0 in the second while aggravating an injury sustained at the Junior Duals.  However, he was able to overcome the deficit to eventually win the middle stanza 6-5 and then wasted little time in racking up seven points in the third to end the match quickly.

The Somers graduate then defeated California’s Jake Elliott and won the first period against Yoanse Mejia of Florida 4-0 before taking a full injury timeout.  After the action resumed, Mejia grabbed a 0-4, 5-0, 6-0 decision.

On Saturday, Realbuto is slated to meet Oliver Pierce of Texas for third place.

Realbuto’s future teammate with the Big Red, Dylan Palacio will also battle for the bronze.  Palacio was in total control of his first seven bouts during which he didn’t lose a single period and yielded more than one point in just one match (his 2-0, 6-2 triumph over Seth Williams of Ohio).

“He just looks phenomenal,” said coach Craig Vitagliano of Ascend Wrestling in Long Island, after Palacio moved to 7-0 on Friday afternoon. “He had a tough draw, but he kept rising to the occasion.  He’s shown everything.  He can handfight, he wears people down, he works the line and knows when to go offensive and when to go defensive.  He’s such a gamer.”

The “gamer” went undefeated during the high school season, won the NHSCA Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach and went unbeaten at the Disney Duals.  His streak came to an end on Friday night when he lost a battle to California’s Isaiah Martinez, one of the nation’s top rising seniors.

Palacio will square off against Matt Gray of Wisconsin on Saturday for third.

Joining Palacio as an All-American in the 160-pound bracket is Tyler Grimaldi, who will compete for fifth.  The Half Hollow Hills West wrestler showed his composure throughout the tournament, coming back from deficits on numerous occasions.

Grimaldi cruised to wins in his initial two bouts, but then lost the first period in his next four matches.  All four times, he bounced back to take the last two stanzas, outscoring his opponents 33-11 over the last two periods in those bouts.

“Tyler isn’t as experienced in freestyle as a lot of other guys, but he makes up for it with mental toughness,” Vitagliano said on Friday afternoon.  “He’s totally coachable and fights tooth and nail for every point.  He lost some of those first periods but he is so good at making adjustments mid-match.  He’s also so well conditioned so he wears guys down.  If you’re not as experienced in freestyle but you’re good on your feet and you understand par terre defense, you can do well here.  All those things have put Tyler in the position he’s in now.”

That position is a battle for fifth with Idaho’s Austin Dewey on Saturday after Grimaldi topped Chris Lattner and lost to Gray and Nick Wanzek on Friday evening.

More Medals for Shenendehowa

Earlier in the week, Shenendehowa was well represented on the podium as Alexis Porter earned a pair of national titles and Jesse Porter placed in Greco.  Now, the Plainsmen have another two All-Americans to add to an impressive 2012 Fargo event – training partners Nick Kelley (132) and David Almaviva (145).

Kelley compiled an impressive 7-1 mark to earn a slot in the third place bout against Robbie Mathers of Arizona.  The 132 pounder started the day with a hard fought win over California’s Ali Naser.  Although Naser won the first period 4-0, Kelley grabbed the next two, 5-0 and 1-1 to move forward.  The multi-time state placer from Section 2 then defeated George Fisher of Illinois and Jared McKinley of Indiana to run his record to 7-0 before dropping a bout against finalist Zain Retherford of Pennsylvania.

Almaviva went 5-0 on Thursday and added another victory over Phil Downing to begin day two in a three period match.  He was then defeated by Brandon Sorensen and Austin Eads but will meet Brian Murphy of Illinois, a runner up at this weight a year ago, for seventh.

Placement matches begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

The Conclusion of Cadet Freestyle

A pair of rising sophomores earned eighth place medals for New York on Friday afternoon as the Cadet Freestyle event came to an end.

Thomas Dutton captured the first period of the seventh place tilt by a 6-2 tally against Pennsylvania’s Chris Weiler, but his opponent came back to pin him in the second.  Dutton will return to Rocky Point next year after winning over 40 matches as a freshman 132 pounder in 2011-12.

Chris Tangora, a student at Bethlehem Central, also took eighth after losing to Matthew Olauson of Maryland in his final bout.  Tangora won more than 25 matches during the 2011-12 campaign at 182 pounds.

The Full List of New York All-Americans in All Competitions at Fargo

Junior

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco

 

132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place Freestyle

138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place Freestyle

145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place Freestyle

152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi 6th Place Freestyle

 

Cadet

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th

 

138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place Freestyle

195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place Freestyle

 

Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd

 

Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

Dutton and Tangora Become All-Americans; Seven NY Wrestlers Undefeated After Day 1 of Junior Freestyle

New York had four All-Americans in Cadet Greco and now has two in Cadet Freestyle.  On Thursday night, Rocky Point’s Thomas Dutton (138 pounds) and Bethlehem Central’s Chris Tangora (195) clinched spots on the podium.  Both will wrestle for seventh place on Friday.

Dutton has amassed a 5-2 record with three pins, while Tangora has a 3-2 mark and will face Matthew Olauson of Maryland on Friday.

Also remaining in medal contention for New York is Benjamin Honis, who has racked up a 3-1 record thus far.  The Jamesville-Dewitt grappler will face Samuel Colbray of Oregon in his next bout.  With a victory, Honis will be an All-American as well.

Seven Wrestlers Go Undefeated for New York on Day 1 of Junior Freestyle

The Junior Freestyle tournament, the final Fargo event, got underway on Thursday and many Empire State wrestlers got off to a great start.  In fact, seven grapplers finished the day with perfect records, including three in the 160 pound bracket — Dylan Palacio (4-0), Tyler Grimaldi (4-0) and Burke Paddock (3-0).

Reggie Williams, Photo by Boris Veysman

Returning National Champion Brian Realbuto (152) began his run at another title by going 4-0, including two technical falls and a pin.

Shenendehowa teammates Nick Kelley (132 pounds) and David Almaviva (145) also were unbeaten, while Johnson City’s Reggie Williams (195) had an unblemished day as well.

Several others remain in the competition for the Empire State.  They include multi-time state champions Kyle Kelly (106) and Quinton Murphy (138), as well as 2012 state silver medalists Trey Aslanian (120) and El Shaddai Gilmore Van Hoesen (285).  Representing New York at 220 pounds on Friday will be NY Freestyle state champion Soslan Gularov and Matthew Abbott of Windsor, who both registered 2-1 marks on Thursday.

Action resumes at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Friday in both the Cadet and Freestyle competitions.

 

Honis, Dutton, Vines and Tangora Move On in Cadet Freestyle on Day 5 at Fargo

On Wednesday, the fifth day of competition at Fargo, the Men’s Cadet Freestyle tournament began and four New York wrestlers remained in medal contention after the first day of action.

  • At 138 pounds, Rocky Point’s Thomas Dutton went 4-1 with three pins to advance.  He will face Miguel Barreras of New Mexico, who also went 4-1, in his first bout on Thursday.
  • At 145 pounds, Nick Vines of Wantagh won three of his four matches and will take on Weston Dobler of North Dakota in the next round.
  • At 182 pounds, Jamesville-Dewitt’s Benjamin Honis won all three of his bouts and will have a bye in Round 4 on Thursday.  Honis earned All-America honors in the Cadet Greco event earlier in the week.
  • At 195 pounds, Bethlehem Central rising sophomore Chris Tangora went 2-1 and will next take the mat against Montana grappler Matthew Welch, also 2-1.

The Empire State women’s team provided a number of highlights throughout the week, including three National Champions – Mary Westman (159 pounds, Junior Freestyle) and Alexis Porter (in both the Cadet and Junior divisions). In addition, the squad boasted five additional All-Americans.   On Wednesday, the team placed eighth in the Women’s Freestyle Duals.

 Full List of 2012 New York All-Americans – In All Competitions

Junior

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco

 

Cadet

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th

 

Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd

 

Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place