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 (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.
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.
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
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 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 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.
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.
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).
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 11 Preview
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