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.

1000 Islands Duals: Superior Wins the Jr High Event; Buffalo Wrestling Club Takes Second in the HS Division

It was a bit of deja vu for the Superior Wrestling Academy team at the 1000 Islands Duals – in a very good way.

A year after winning the Junior High title at the summer event, Superior did it again, capturing first place with a 4-0 record on the opening day of competition in Clayton, New York.

Superior Wrestling Academy, Courtesy of Gary Ferro

The team began with a pair of dominant performances – topping Lockport and Midlakes. The semifinals round was a bit of a different story, as Nazareth, Pennsylvania pushed the squad to the limit in a 31-28 battle.

According to Gary Ferro, who coached the team along with Ed Schafer, Superior trailed going into the last three weights.  However, back-to-back falls by David Crow and Brandon Cousino at 155 and 165 pounds provided an insurmountable lead going into heavyweight.  (Superior forfeited at the unlimited class throughout the event).

“We faced Nazareth last year too and both times it was definitely our toughest match,” Ferro said. “They have an excellent team and it went back and forth, but our guys came through at the end.  Those two pins were huge.  [David Crow] was losing 4-0 but came back to get the pin.  Then [Brandon Cousino] followed with another one.  It was a great win to get us to the finals.”

The championship bout was less suspenseful, with Superior putting together a double-digit victory over Delaware Valley to finish first.

“The kids enjoyed coming back and taking a second championship and it was definitely exciting for us coaches too,” Ferro said. “Ultimately, for us, it’s about putting the kids on the mat in the summer and seeing them continue to get better. 1000 Islands Duals is the place to go to do that.  It’s amazing to see the wrestlers dedicating their time at this time of year.  That’s something we get excited about.”

Leading the way for Superior were undefeated wrestlers Ethan Ferro (75), Brian Courtney (105) and Mike Venosa (119) as well as Michael Gonyea (82) and David Crow (155), who both finished with one loss.

“We really enjoyed the tournament,” Ferro said. “We’ll be ready for next year and we’ll be looking to three-peat.”

(It was a good weekend overall for Superior, as the High School squad went 4-1 with the lone loss coming in a 32-31 match versus Northeast Elite, a top 8 placer.  The squad, coached by Ferro and Mark Friske, won the Blue Bracket).

Buffalo Wrestling Club in the Finals Again

In the High School action, another New York team made the finals – Buffalo Wrestling Club.  According to coach Keith Maute, the squad just missed out on the title for the second consecutive year at the 1000 Islands Duals.

“We were second last year too,” Maute said. “Last year against Bound Brook (NJ), it came down to the last match.  This year, it came down to criteria.”

Indeed, the championship dual between Buffalo Wrestling Club and Doughboy ended in a 27-27 deadlock.  However, the Massachusetts team was declared the winner using the tiebreakers.

The Buffalo WC squad, which Maute said was made up of wrestlers from the Cobra Wrestling Academy, cruised through the first three meets of the event, losing just a handful of matches along the way.

In the semifinals, however, things got more difficult in an eight-point triumph over Northeast Elite.

According to Maute, his group jumped ahead in the lightweights, but the opposition fought back to within five heading into 195 pounds.  A victory by James Empfield at that weight in the ultimate tiebreaker was crucial, as was another win at 220 by Tyler Hall to clinch a spot in the title match.

That championship dual followed a similar pattern initially.  Once again, the Buffalo WC built up an early advantage.  In fact, the squad led 27-4 going into 160 pounds, fueled by a number of grapplers who went undefeated throughout the tournament – Dane Heberlein (100), Kellen Devlin (130), Cody McGregor (137) and Dakota Gardner (145/152).  In addition, Troy Keller (107), Tito Colom (115), Danny Graham (145/152) and the previously mentioned Empfield (195) each lost only one bout during the weekend, according to Maute.

However, Doughboy responded to 23-point deficit by capturing the remainder of the matches, resulting in the 27-27 score.

“Doughboy was a tough team,” Maute said. “We were winning big, but then we got beaten up top where they were very strong. It was tough, but the guys wrestled well and it was a good tournament overall.”

Superior Wrestling Academy – Jr High Championship Team (provided by G. Ferro)
75-Ethan Ferro
82-Michael Gonyea
90-Drew Schafer
98-Trent Nadaeu
105-Brian Courtney
112-Tanner Cook
119-Mike Venosa
127-Emerson Block
135-Josh Shamp
145-Jake Ginter
155-David Crow
165-Brandon Cousino
Unlimited- None
Buffalo Wrestling Club (Cobra) High School (provided by K. Maute)
100-Dane Heberlein
107-Troy Keller/Hector Colom
115-Tito Colom/Michael Wisniewski
123-Drew Marra
130-Kellen Devlin
137-Cody McGregor/Freddy Eckles/Maulo Wawior
145-Dakota Gardner
152-Danny Graham
160-Lucas McKeever/Garrett Smead
170-Richie Jones
185-Marques Buchanan
195-James Empfield/Tyler Hall
220-Alex Jones
285-Nick Jones
Superior Wrestling Academy High School (provided by G. Ferro)
100-Trent Nadeau
107-Tanner Cook
115-Mike Venosa
123-Dandre Norman
130-Blake Jackson
137-Freddy Eckles
145-Laken Cook
154-Vinny Romeo
162-Jordan Torbitt
172-James Lukaszonas
185-Mark Friske
197-Ben Honis
220-Landry Cook

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