U-E Duals Recap: Wantagh Rallies to Capture the Title . . . Plus Other Dominant and Inspiring Performances

Wantagh entered the Union-Endicott Duals as the top team in the Empire State, and after two intense days of wrestling, the Warriors left with that number one ranking intact.

But it wasn’t easy.

After two blowout victories on Day 1 of the event, Sunday brought semifinal and final matches that came down to the wire.  Wantagh prevailed in both, rallying to defeat the number two seed, Sachem East, 35-27 for the championship.

“I’m really happy for our coaches, the guys and the fans,” said 220-pounder TJ Ragusa who has spent much of the season at 220 but wrestled at 285 at times this weekend. “A lot of times these duals are won by the guys who don’t get pinned; who don’t give up bonus. It was a total group effort.”

The finals began at 120 pounds and Sachem East controlled things early, winning six of the first eight bouts and earning a 24-10 lead after Zac Nobre’s decision at 170.

Despite trailing by a sizable margin, members of the team said they believed they would turn things around.

“Our confidence never wavered,” Ragusa said. “We never lost it. I was having a conversation with Danny McDevitt during the dual when we were losing and we were saying that we knew we’d keep fighting and win. One of the keys for our team is that we’re always confident.”

That appeared to be the case, as Wantagh took over from there, capturing six of the remaining seven matches, beginning with a pin from McDevitt at 182.

Afterwards, Wantagh received wins from James Corbett (195), Ragusa (285) and Jonathan Loew (99) to trail by just a point – 27-26.

The Section 8 power then regained the lead in emphatic fashion when 106-pounder Kyle Quinn earned a first period fall to push his squad ahead 32-27. Joe Hill then closed out the championship with a decision at 113.

“Before the match I was thinking I had to get a pin for the team,” Quinn said. “It means a lot for us to win – it gives us something to go home with. I think Wantagh just did a great job as a team.”

The excitement wasn’t limited to the finals.  The third place dual between Islip and Shenendehowa as well as both semifinals (Shenendehowa vs. Sachem East and Wantagh vs. Islip) all were decided in the very last bout.

In the battle for the bronze, the Plainsmen got out to a fast start and following a major decision for 195-pounder Levi Ashley, the Section 2 school was in front 31-15 with five matches to go.  However, Islip took the next four (including two by Shenendehowa forfeit and a huge pin at 106 pounds by Johnny DiPalma) to win 36-34.

Close matches were on tap in the semifinals as well, which started at 106 pounds. Going into the last match at 99, both duals had two point differentials – Sachem East led Shenendehowa 32-30 and Islip was ahead of Wantagh 27-25.

The wrestlers from Sachem East (Bobby Fazio) and Wantagh (Jonathan Loew) both trailed early in their respective matches.

Fazio was behind 4-1 in the second period before notching an escape and a takedown late in the stanza to tie things up going into the third. And he took over from there, earning a technical violation point, an escape, a takedown, near fall and eventually, the pin, to push his team to a 38-30 triumph.

Wantagh’s Loew faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the third but got on the board with a takedown early in that final stanza and rode his opponent out for the last minute and a half to force overtime.  In that extra session, Loew immediately went on the attack, getting the winning takedown and a 28-27 Warrior win.

In other placement matches, Clarence topped Monroe Woodbury for fifth, 34-28, and MacArthur beat Spencerport, 33-29, for seventh.

For full results from all 15 teams see:  Full results here.

A Few Additional (Random) Notes:

Dominance from the Binghamton Trio:  There was some talk at the event about who the most impressive wrestler was for the weekend.  While there was no absolute agreement, two names came up numerous times – Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa and Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks. Both cruised through the competition.

Their future Binghamton teammate, David Almaviva of the Plainsmen, also was outstanding, including controlling a 2-0 bout with the tough Jackson Mordente of Sachem East in the semifinals.

Long Island Looking Good: Suffolk squad Rocky Point, currently ranked #2 in the state Dual Meet poll, wasn’t at U-E this weekend, but Long Island did just fine, taking the top three spots at the event. In addition, MacArthur was seventh despite missing some key contributors such as Justin Cooksey.

Look Out for Clarence:  The Section 6 team didn’t come in as one of the tournament’s most talked about groups, but was very impressive in racking up a 4-1 record on the way to fifth place.  The Red Devils defeated the teams listed #4 and #5 in the first New York State Sportswriters Dual Meet rankings, North Rockland and Monroe Woodbury, by eight and six points, respectively.  (The one loss was to Sachem East).  The lineup’s bookends, heavyweight Nate Ward and 99-pounder Dylan Arena were among those who looked good over the weekend and the team is solid throughout.

And One Last Thing. . . : It’s always a pleasure to see such high level wrestling, but one of the standout performances came from Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa. Many New York wrestling fans know about Vespa’s fight with cancer this spring and summer. From the start, he and his family were confident that he would not only beat cancer, but also get back on the mat and win. Watching him do that in person was inspiring.

Top NY Teams to Battle at the Union-Endicott Duals – LIVE Coverage on Day 2

 

 

New York Wrestling News will provide LIVE blog and/or video coverage of Sunday’s semifinals/finals at the Union-Endicott Duals. 

The coverage page will be at this link.

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The outcome of the Union-Endicott Duals typically has a significant influence on the New York State dual rankings.  That seems very likely again this year, in the 30th edition of the event, as four of the top five in the NYS Sportswriters Dual Rankings are in the field.  In fact, 14 of the 15 squads set to compete at the event are either in the top 10 or are listed as honorable mention.

“We always get excited about it,” said Union-Endicott head coach Josh Ruff. “But this year is probably one of the best we’ve had in a while. We feel like we have the best teams and everyone is pretty tough. It should be a fun weekend of wrestling.”

Indeed, it should.

Wantagh, the returning Dual Meet State Champions in Division I, comes in as the top seed.  The Warriors are stocked with quality wrestlers throughout the lineup, including several who are ranked at the state level such as Kyle Quinn (106), Chris Araoz (126), Vinny Turano (132), James Corbett (182) and Dan McDevitt (170).

A year ago, in a contest that essentially decided the Empire State’s top dual team, Wantagh battled to a tie with Shenendehowa at the Civil War Duals and the Warriors were declared the winners on criteria.  A rematch between the two powers could happen this weekend, as the Plainsmen are the number three seed.

While Shenendehowa lost a meet earlier this year to Burnt Hills (with some starters out), the squad was back to dominant form at the Teike Bernabi tournament, with seven finalists and four champions, led by Binghamton bound seniors Nick Kelley (138) and David Almaviva (145), both ranked #1 in New York at their respective weights.

A battle between Wantagh and Shenendehowa would certainly be exciting, but there are a number of other teams traveling to Section 4 who have the ability to make the finals as well.  Among those are the #2 and 4 seeds, Sachem East and Monroe Woodbury.

Sachem East is undefeated and stands atop the current Suffolk rankings.  Undefeated 145-pounder Jackson Mordente has led the way for a lineup that is solid throughout.  The upperweight combination of Cristian Nunez (195), John Vigh (220) and Josh Edmondson (285) has gone a combined 38-4 and two more competitors, Conor O’Hara (132) and Michael Pistone (152) sit in the top two in Section 11.

Monroe Woodbury’s starting group has cruised through the competition. Vinny Vespa, Evan Barczak, JP Vandercliff and AJ Voelker have all made a big splash, including winning the Massapequa Holiday Tournament. Like the teams mentioned above, it’s difficult to find a weak spot in the Crusaders lineup.

The following is a look at each of the pools, including some individual matches of interest. To view the schedule, see here.

 

Pool A: #1 seed Wantagh, Spencerport and Chenango Forks

Spencerport is led by Jon Haas, Trent Egenlauf, Collin Pittman and Austin Coleman.  The first three are all included in the statewide rankings and 285-pounder Coleman was strongly considered. Chenango Forks features one of New York’s best, two-time state champion Kyle Kelly as well as another wrestler who will be in the mix in the postseason – Jake Green.

We expect Wantagh will come out on top of this group, and here are three of the individual matches we’re excited to see.

106 Pounds: Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) vs. Jon Haas (Spencerport) – Both are in the top eight of our first New York State rankings.  Quinn, an NHSCA All-American last year and Haas, a returning state qualifier, are both coming off tournament titles – Haas at the Teike Bernabi and Quinn at the Raider Invitational.

126 Pounds: Chris Araoz (Wantagh) vs. Jake Green (Chenango Forks) – Araoz is fresh off a Most Outstanding Wrestler performance at the Raider Invitational, while Green took third in a tough Windsor Christmas Tournament weight after capturing gold at the PSAL Holiday event.  Both are likely to be fighting for All-State honors in February.

182 Pounds: James Corbett (Wantagh) vs. Trent Egenlauf (Spencerport) – Both Egenlauf and Corbett are ranked in the top eight in New York and both have registered multiple quality victories this year.  (For example, Egenlauf topped Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South and Corbett beat All-Stater Gio Santiago of Sachem North).  Both are candidates to go far at the Times Union Center. Isaiah Zimmer of Chenango Forks, a bronze medalist at Windsor, shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

Pool B: #2 seed Sachem East plus Clarence, North Rockland and Brockport

Sachem East has faced a challenging slate of opponents and is 12-0.  The Suffolk squad will see more strong foes at the U-E Duals including 18-0 North Rockland, a balanced team led by Matt Caputo, Blaise Benderoth and the DiMarsicosJake and Derek; a Clarence group that comes off a runner up performance at the Teike Bernabi and always-tough Brockport, which has received standout showings from Jared Mesiti and Barton Peters.

Despite the stiff competition, we think Sachem East should live up to the second seed and earn a date in the semis. Here are three matches from this pool that we look forward to seeing.

113 Pounds: Barton Peters (Brockport) vs. Derek DiMarsico (North Rockland) – Peters won his first 15 matches after an appearance at the state tournament last year while DiMarsico already has around 20 wins.

126 Pounds: Brandon Glaubner (Clarence) vs. Anthony Messina (Sachem East) – Glaubner was the champion at the Teiki Bernabi Tournament while Messina has put together a very solid 15-1 season. His only setback was a one-point loss to returning state second placer Justin Cooksey of MacArthur.  Troy Feniger of North Rockland could have some interesting matches at this class as well.

145 Pounds: Jackson Mordente is unbeaten and in the top 8 in New York. Matt Caputo has just one loss and has been putting up a lot of bonus point victories. Should be a fun one to watch. [Caputo may wrestle at 138 pounds].

 

Pool C: #3 seed Shenendehowa plus MacArthur, Minisink Valley and Union-Endicott

MacArthur has already seen a number of top notch opponents this year and has solid wrestlers up and down the lineup. Minisink Valley has received strong contributions from returning state qualifier Mike Raccioppi as well as others such as Josh Bonneau (220) and Union-Endicott had six placers at the Windsor Christmas Tournament, including finalist Andrew Brinser at 285 and third placer Xavian Hughes at 132.

Still, at the end of the day, it will be difficult for any of the teams in the pool to overcome Shenendehowa.

Here are three matchups we look forward to:

120 Pounds: Chris Cataldo (MacArthur) vs. Kevin Parker (Shenendehowa) – Cataldo, 17-1, has won his last five bouts by pin or technical fall.  The Generals wrestler lost his opening contest of the campaign at 126 pounds and has been on a winning streak since.  Meanwhile, Parker pinned his way to the finals of the Teike Bernabi Tournament, where he finished second behind Steve Michel. He is a returning state qualifier.

Cooksey, Photo by BV

126 Pounds: Justin Cooksey (MacArthur) vs. Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley) – The two wrestled a year ago in the state tournament at 106 pounds where second-seeded Cooksey earned a 7-3 decision.  Will the match be similar months later and up several weights?

138 Pounds: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) vs. Rob Bennett (MacArthur) – Kelley is always fun to watch as he keeps pushing the pace for the entire duration of the match. Bennett sat on top of the Section 8 rankings at this weight, (although he did drop a match in the dual against Sachem East), and is a quality wrestler.

 

Pool D: #4 seed Monroe Woodbury plus Islip, Johnson City and Fulton

Section 9’s Monroe Woodbury has looked like one of the top dual teams in the state this year.  Islip has also excelled, with an 11-1 mark. (The loss was to Sachem East).  Johnson City boasts one of the state’s top wrestlers in 195-pounder Reggie Williams as well as other state qualifiers like Greg Kleinsmith and Zach Colgan.  Fulton, always one of the best in Section 3, has been propelled by a number of wrestlers, such as Mitchell Woodworth (106) and Thomas Hill (120) this year.

It looks like it should be a great battle between the Crusaders and the Buccaneers for a spot in the semifinals.

Here are three of the many matches of interest:

106 Pounds: Mitchell Woodworth (Fulton) vs. Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) – Both Woodworth and Barczak have made a habit out of making the finals of big tournaments. Woodworth, the top ranked wrestler at his weight in Section 3, finished second at both the Andersen and the Kenneth Haines Memorial while eighth grader Barczak recently won the Massapequa Tournament and is #1 in Section 9.  Johnson City’s Isiah Colgan may also make an impact at this weight.

170 Pounds: AJ Voelker (Monroe Woodbury) vs. Greg Kleinsmith (Johnson City) – Voelker stood on top of the podium at the Massapequa Holiday Tournament and has been a strong presence in the Monroe Woodbury lineup all season. Kleinsmith, a 2012 state qualifier as a freshman, recently returned to action at the Teike Bernabi event, where he took second place.

Williams, Photo by BV

195 Pounds: Reggie Williams (Johnson City) vs. Craig Hinrichs (Islip) – Williams is the top wrestler in New York at 195. Hinrichs has piled up wins this year, with a single loss – to the previously mentioned Nunez of Sachem East.

 

We will be providing blog and/or video coverage of the Union-Endicott Duals on Sunday. 

The coverage page will be at this link.

 

Section 6 Preview: 10 All-State Wrestlers from 2012 Return, Led by Finalists Hull and Rodriguez-Spencer

Division I

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

Anthony Orefice, Lockport, 106 Pounds, Fifth Place

Steve Michel, Lancaster, 120 Pounds, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Tyler Hartinger, Lancaster

113 Pounds: Ron Duguay, Kenmore West

113 Pounds: Kellen Devlin, Amherst

120 Pounds: Rocco Russo, Frontier

132 Pounds: Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster

160 Pounds: Jake Weber, Clarence

170 Pounds: Anthony Liberatore, Williamsville South

 

Seniors to Watch

Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster) – Lewandowski, who took second in New York as a 96-pound sophomore in 2010, had another strong year in 2011-12, registering a 43-10 record at 132 pounds.  He captured the Section 6 title with a 7-1 victory over eventual state runner up Dylan Cohen before going 2-2 in Albany with losses to champion Jamel Hudson and fourth place finisher Nick Mauriello.  He will look to return to the podium as a senior.

Anthony Liberatore (Williamsville South) – The senior cruised through Sectionals with a pair of falls and a major decision at 170 pounds.  In Albany, he picked up where he left off in his opening match, earning a first period pin against Cody Smith of Section 10.  He went 2-2 overall to cap off a 40-5 season, coming within one win of making All-State.  That will clearly be on his to-do list for 2013.

Ron Duguay, Photo by Boris V

Ron Duguay (Kenmore West) – After taking second in the Section, Duguay notched an impressive upset in the first round of the state tournament, defeating top-seeded Mark Raghunandan by a 5-3 score.  The road didn’t get much easier after that victory, as Duguay next took the mat against All-State wrestler Robert Person and number two seed Corey Jamison to end his run.  However, Duguay has a lot to build on, including his big victory and a 39-5 overall season.

 

Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Of course, the conversation has to start with two wrestlers who were on the medal stand in 2012 in the state capital – Lockport’s Anthony Orefice and Lancaster’s Steve Michel.   Orefice is very familiar with the podium.  In 2011, he took fourth at 96 pounds and last season he was fifth at 106 on the heels of a 40-2 campaign.  Orefice had wins over All-State wrestlers Drew Marra of Olean (twice), Freddie Dunau (a 2011 medalist from St. Anthony’s) and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush.  His only losses of the season were at the Times Union Center — 11-8 to state gold medalist Nick Piccininni and to Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser (by default).  Orefice’s accomplishments stretch beyond the Empire State.  He has been an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals multiple times.

Meanwhile, Michel began the state tournament with a pair of victories over Section 1 champion Jake DiMarsico and PSAL representative Keanu Thompson before losing to state champion Sean McCabe of Section 11 and forfeiting to sixth.  He will be looking for more in 2013.

Although he was a state placer, Michel didn’t win the Section 6 crown in 2012, dropping the title bout to Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Russo went 43-3 with his only regular season setback coming against Michel.  In Russo’s second appearance in Albany, he went 1-2 but stayed active in the offseason, including a trip to Fargo.

Jake Weber (Clarence) – As a sophomore, Weber was 35-6 at 160 pounds.  At the state tournament, he drew eventual runner up Tyler Grimaldi of Section 11 in round one and dropped his first wrestleback match.   However, he demonstrated the ability to put opponents on their backs, with 21 pins and just five regular decisions.  And he also has national credentials, having placed at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  With that experience, he can be expected to get his hand raised in Albany this year.

Austin Acquard (Iroquois) – Acquard won a match in Albany in 2011 at 96 pounds however he didn’t get a return trip back to the Times Union Center after a fourth place Sectional finish at 113.  According to Niagara County Community College coach Keith Maute, he was a small 113 pounder who was caught between weight classes.  Having grown into the weight more, he will have a chance to go back to the state capital.

 

Kellen Devlin had a lot of success as an eighth grader.  Who are some of the other young guns to watch?

Nate Schwab has to be near the top of the list.  As a freshman at 152 pounds, he went 38-9 with seven of his losses to seniors.  At the Section 6 tournament, Schwab lost to state qualifier Luke Falzone 1-0 and then came back to take third.  He has also made his presence felt beyond the New York borders, taking seventh at 152 pounds at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals tournament this past spring. Also worthy of mention is his teammate Ryan Burns, also a sophomore, who recently demonstrated his skills at one of the most challenging tournaments on the high school calendar – the Super 32 in North Carolina.  In a loaded 106-pound bracket, he compiled a 4-2 record after his 40-5 ninth grade campaign for the Red Devils.

Matt Kloc of Iroquois, another sophomore, took third in a tough 120-pound weight behind Michel and Russo.  He lost his first bout 1-0 and then captured three consecutive victories for third to complete a 33-10 season.  The younger brother of two-time state champion Jimmy (now wrestling at Buffalo), will look for his first bid to the state tournament.

Tyler Hartinger of Lancaster racked up a 36-9 mark as a freshman 99-pounder.  He had a difficult first match in his opener in Albany – losing to two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, but he came back to earn a victory in his next bout.   Hartinger was joined by a number of talented youngsters at 99 pounds a year ago, including fellow sophomore Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls, who was second in the Section and 34-7 overall (1-3 against Hartinger).

Hector and Tito Colom of Dunkirk are likely to both be at 99 pounds this year.  The brothers have earned some quality results, both making the finals at the Ohio Tournament of Champions while Hector took seventh at the Middle School Super 32 Classic. According to Maute, both will make an impact this year, with Tito having the potential to not only make it to Albany but win several matches there.

 

A Few More to Keep an Eye On . . .

Luke Catalano (Lake Shore) – As a tenth grader, Catalano was second in Section 6, compiling a 31-7 mark while splitting time between 220 and 285 pounds.

Marshall Taylor (Lockport) – As a 195 pounder a year ago, he was third in the Section, racking up close to 30 wins and recording over 20 pins.

Danny Graham (West Seneca East) – Graham has placed third in the Section multiple times.  He sported a 34-5 record in 2011-12, defeating All-State wrestler Cody McGregor and topping former state qualifier Austin Acquard three times.  According to Maute, Graham has a very good chance to make the trip to the state tournament this year, possibly up several weight classes at 138 or 145.

Jose Pagan (Lockport) – Pagan took second at 145 pounds in the Section 6 tournament last year, losing the title bout to two-time state champion Jimmy Kloc of Iroquois.  The Lockport grappler won over 30 matches a year ago and the wrestlers who handed him more than half of his losses (Jake Baer, Michael Roman, Luke Falzone and Kloc), all graduated.  Look for him to make an impact in the middleweights in his senior season.

William Brady (Williamsville East) – Brady is the highest returning placer in the 220 pound class after taking fourth as a junior.  He notched over 30 victories in 2011-12, including 21 by fall, and was mentioned as a wrestler to watch in the upperweights in the upcoming campaign.

 

Team Race:

Kenmore West won the title in 2012 by an eight-point margin over Lockport, with Clarence not far behind in third.  Those three squads look like they’ll once again be battling for the Division I crown.

While Clarence was the bronze team in February, Maute believes they may have the upper hand this time around, especially with seven returning team members that finished in the top 6 in the Section tournament a year ago.  While the Red Devils said goodbye to several placers, they return 160-pound runner up Jake Weber, 152-pound bronze medalist Nate Schwab, fourth placers Ryan Burns and Nate Ward as well as Brandan Glauber (fifth at 120), Austin Czaja (sixth at 113) and Austin Krawczyk (sixth at 126).

But, of course, last year’s top two teams, Lockport and Kenmore West, both bring back plenty of firepower.  Lockport has three finalists on the roster, led by All-State wrestler Anthony Orefice.  Section silver medalists Brad Feeney (126) and Jose Pagan (145) will look to move one step higher on the podium while Marshall Taylor (third at 195) and Marcellus Hinton (fifth at 285) will be threats as well.  Wrestlers such as Josh Steinman and Seth Anderson didn’t get on the medal stand a year ago, but will look to pick up some points to compensate for the losses of Mike Feeney (champion at 138) and Joe Sansone (third at 182).

While Lockport will miss Feeney and Sansone, Kenmore West will be without the services of graduates such as Section champions Dylan Caruana and Brandon Lathrop as well as second place finishers Zach Skiba and Nicolas Burgos.   Leading the way in 2012-13 will be 113-pound runner up Ron Duguay, fifth place medalist Christian Bauman (106) and sixth placers Anthony Argentieri (99) and Mark Stucke (138).   Adding some experience will be Shane Currey and Jon Szurczynksi in the upperweights.

Iroquois brings quite a few top notch wrestlers to the table, especially in the light and middleweights.  Returning placers Jacob Slade (third), Austin Acquard (fourth), Matt Kloc (third) and Eric McEvoy (fourth) will lead the charge for the Chiefs in the postseason.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

106 Pounds: Drew Marra, Olean, Fourth Place

113 Pounds: Cody McGregor, Tonawanda, Fifth Place

120 Pounds: Dakota Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

126 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga, Second Place

138 Pounds: Dan Reagan, Lewiston-Porter, Fourth Place

138 Pounds: Jude Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

145 Pounds: Drew Hull, Royalton-Hartland, Second Place

285 Pounds: Matt Montesanti, Medina, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Dylan Lundmark, Southwestern

113 Pounds: Pat McCarthy, Fredonia

113 Pounds: Ryan Kromer, Lewiston-Porter

120 Pounds: Andrew Lazickas, East Aurora

160 Pounds: Zach Buckley, Fredonia

 

Top Seniors

There’s no question that there are a large number of impact twelfth graders in Division II this year, including four returning All-State wrestlers.

Drew Hull, Photo by Boris V

Drew Hull has twice been on the podium in Albany.  Last year, he went all the way to the state finals, dropping a one-point decision to Tyler Button at 145 pounds.  He followed that up by competing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach where he was an All-American in the past.  Hull has been active in the offseason and is capable of not only making his third appearance on the medal stand, but standing on the top step.

Dan Reagan and Jude Gardner aren’t strangers on the mat.  They went 2-2 against each other as juniors in the midst of highly successful seasons.  (Gardner was 46-9 overall, while Reagan was 45-6).  They met twice in the postseason with Gardner winning by fall in the Section 6 championship bout and Reagan capturing a 4-1 victory at the state tournament on his way to fourth place.  Meanwhile, Gardner took sixth.   The two could battle a few more times in 2012-13.

Matt Montesanti, Photo by Boris V

Matt Montesanti was 30-3 with 17 pins entering the Times Union Center, where he won his first two bouts at 285 pounds.  The Medina senior then lost to eventual state champion Hayden Head of Beekmantown and forfeited his remaining two matches to take sixth.  One of only two placers to return at heavyweight, his sights are set on a title.

Fredonia teammates Zach Buckley and Pat McCarthy both went 1-2 in Albany to conclude seasons in which they won over 40 bouts and registered some quality victories over state qualifiers.  Joining them at the Times Union Center was East Aurora’s Andrew Lazickas, who also notched a win.  Can they end their careers with a few more wins in Albany?

 

Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Like in Division I, there are some obvious answers to this question as Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cody McGregor, Dakota Gardner and Drew Marra already demonstrated their ability to place last year.

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by Boris V

Rodriguez-Spencer was the silver medalist in a difficult weight featuring past state champions like Nick Tighe and Tristan Rifanburg as well as multiple-time placer Corey Dake.  He showed resolve, winning both his second round and semifinal matches in overtime (including an 8-6 win over Rifanburg).  He also shined in the spring and summer in the international styles, which he has done for years.  In 2012 alone, he placed in a number of elite Greco-Roman events, including Junior Nationals in Fargo, FILA Cadets and FILA Juniors.

Marra went 3-2 at the Times Union Center to cap off a 42-7 sophomore campaign in which he was fourth in New York at 106.  Cody McGregor, a fourth place finisher in 2011 as an eighth grader at 96 pounds, made his way onto the medal stand again, this time taking fifth at 113.   He’ll go for his third All-State showing this season, looking to climb his way up the podium.

An opponent McGregor was very familiar with is Lewiston Porter’s Ryan Kromer.  Kromer went to Albany as the Section 6 winner after beating McGregor 1-0 in the semifinals.  They met again at the Times Union Center and McGregor came out on top in the ultimate tiebreaker by the same 1-0 score to eliminate Kromer one victory shy of the podium.  It was Kromer’s second trip to Albany.  He’s looking for the third time to be a charm.

Like McGregor, Dakota Gardner was ready to wrestle some of the state’s best, capping off a strong season by grabbing sixth in the final tournament of the season. He followed that performance off with a third place showing at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals at 127 pounds.

As an eighth grader, Kellen Devlin of Amherst was impressive, notching a 34-5 record, including a dominant performance at the Section 6 tournament on his way to the title (in Division I).  He outscored his opponents 18-1 and defeated Duguay in the championship bout.  It looked like he was on his way to victory in his first match at the Times Union Center against All-Stater Robert Person of Nassau County, however, he was reversed to his back with less than 30 seconds left.  Devlin quickly rebounded after his 0-2 showing in the state capital, winning a number of spring and summer events, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.   He will be a lightweight to track closely this year, but according to Ross Conti, it will be in Division II this time.

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

DJ Marshall (Lewiston Porter) – Marshall went 33-10 at 120 pounds with a number of his setbacks at the hands of Section 6’s top wrestlers (Dylan Caruana, Dakota Gardner, Andrew Lazickas).  He rebounded from a loss to state qualifier Lazickas in the semifinals to take third place in the Section.

Eddie Hutschenreuter (Alden) – The junior enters the season as a two-time state qualifier who won a match at the state tournament in both 2010 and 2011.  However, he didn’t have an opportunity to make it three years in a row in Albany after he suffered a season-ending injury in December of 2011.  According to Maute, the Alden wrestler has returned to the mat and “is definitely a threat to place; in fact, I think he should place this year.”

Alex Smythe (Eden) – Smythe is familiar with the medal stand on the state level.  He took fifth at 125 pounds in 2011 at the Times Union Center.  Last year, he was fourth in the Section at 145 pounds after amassing a 31-7 mark, with two of the losses to an out of state wrestler and three others to All-State opponents.  Smythe will look to return to Albany.

Zach Bickle (Royalton Hartland) – Bickle is a two-time state qualifier, who came within one win of making All-State in 2011 at 103 pounds.  He will look for his third journey to Albany as a senior after winning more than 30 matches as a junior.  Bickle registered quality wins over Kellen Devlin, Pat McCarthy and Ryan Kromer a year ago.

Austin Lynn (Frewsburg) – Frewsburg’s Nick Mitchell had a terrific season a year ago, with his only loss coming in the state finals at 170 pounds.  Lynn is another Bears upperweight who is primed for a strong season.  He went 33-8 as a junior, taking second in the Sectionals at 182 pounds.

Andrew Shomers (Lewiston Porter) – Shomers, who wrestled at Niagara Falls last season, was second behind Anthony Orefice at 106 in the Section.  In fact, four of his six losses came against Orefice with one other against qualifier Bryan Ruggeri from Fairport.  Shomers certainly knows how to finish a match – he notched 29 victories with 21 of them coming by pin.  He should be an impact player for his new team.

Kyle Blake (Falconer) – Blake was 31-9 in 2011-12 at 99 pounds with a second place showing at the Section 6 tournament.

“He was really impressive last year,” said Ross Conti.  “He lost by a point in the [Section 6] finals and he really came on as the season went on.  He’s a kid that has the look of someone who will definitely do really well.”

Brandon Dallavia, who racked up a 35-4 record at 132 pounds for Lewiston Porter as an eighth grader, has left the Empire State for Blair Academy.  However, there are other young grapplers to watch, including Depew’s Philip Calandra, who according to Maute, has a good chance of winning Division II this year in the lightest weight class.  

 

Team Race

Lewiston Porter won the Division II race a year ago by an incredibly slim margin of 1.5 points over Fredonia.  The two teams look poised to be at the head of the class again with a slew of returning placers.

Fredonia’s lineup looks very tough heading into 2012-13 as the Hillbillies bring back six Section 6 medalists, including champions Dakota Gardner (120), Jude Gardner (138) and Zach Buckley (160).  In addition, Pat McCarthy returns for his senior year as do fourth placers Tyler Cassidy (132) and Christian Saden (195).

Dan Reagan, Photo by Boris V

Lewiston Porter will challenge, however, with 113-pound champion Ryan Kromer back, along with All-State wrestler Dan Reagan and Section bronze winner DJ Marshall (120).  Garrett Rath (fifth at 285) will look for a move up the podium to help offset the lost production of graduates Jason Kromer and Kevin McMurray and the departure of Brandon Dallavia.  The addition of Andrew Shomers will add another top wrestler to the mix.

Royalton Hartland, third in 2012, will put a number of wrestlers on the podium as well, beginning with Drew Hull who was the runner up in the Section as well as in the state.  Taking third a year ago were Garrett Baugher as an eighth grader at 99 pounds (who has since departed for St. Joseph’s of the CHSAA) and Alex Jensen at 220.  Cameron Swick and Zach Bickle also took top 5 spots for the Raiders.

According to Ross Conti, there are a few other teams to keep an eye on in Division II.  Conti said Falconer was the top ranked small school dual team a year ago and will be worth watching again.

“[Falconer] usually has a good wrestler in every weight class, although they don’t have a lot of stars,” he said.  “Fredonia sent four to states and had other kids on the bubble, yet Faulkner beat Fredonia in a dual meet.  They lost a few guys, but they always have solid numbers and a very good coaching staff.  Those kids seem to get better in a hurry.  They’ll be tough, especially in duals.”

Another team Conti mentioned was Ripley.

“I think Ripley might have been the smallest wrestling school in the whole state,” he said. “For years, Ripley’s been a good team with state representatives and placers.  But it’s hard to have depth as such a small school.  Now that they are merging with Westfield and Chautauqua Lake, I think they’ll be a team to watch out for.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Keith Maute and Ross Conti.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 10 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL 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