New York State Rankings #1 for 2012-13 Season

Here we go . . . the first and probably most difficult rankings of the year.  Soon, wrestlers will settle into their weights, more top wrestlers will go head to head and others will be back from injuries. Rankings, especially at this time of year, are subjective and we’re sure there are some wrestlers not included who will make an impact.  They are the opinions of those who collaborated on this project and are meant to generate conversation. We will seriously consider all of your feedback . . . as long as it’s done respectfully.  So, have at it.

Special thanks to Mike Carey for his incredible work to make these rankings happen.

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

99 Pounds:

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. Peter Pappas, Plainview (8)
  5. Ryan Hetrick, Southwestern (6)
  6. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  7. John Busiello, Eastport South Manor (11)
  8. Vinny Vespa, Monroe Woodbury (9)

A Few Notes: There are some terrific young wrestlers in this weight, but #1 is Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who has been extremely impressive not only on the mat for Hilton thus far but all over the country over the past several months.  Before this high school campaign began, he captured the Junior High Championship at the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina. On his way to that title, Diakomihalis defeated Syosset eighth grader Vito Arujau (who took third). Arujau has been dominant thus far, both at 106 and 99. Suffolk county will have quite a battle in this class.  Over the holidays, Jesse Dellevecchia edged John Busiello in a very close and entertaining match while Arceri won the Windsor Christmas Tournament with a technical fall in the title bout.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  3. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
  4. Andrew Flanagan, Holley (5)
  5. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  6. Jake Yankloski, Wayne (5)
  7. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  8. Steven Lee, West Babylon (11)
A Few Notes: Tanzman took bronze at 99 a year ago, and started the season up at 113 (where he dropped a decision to state champion Nick Piccininni). Overhiser took fourth at this weight a year ago and has picked up where he left off, including a title at the Windsor Christmas Tournament.  Recco, a state champion in 2012, and Flanagan, a placer, have done well up a weight after competing at 99 a year ago. Yankloski caught our attention when he defeated qualifier Bryan Ruggeri of Fairport by technical fall early in the year.  He won his first 16 bouts.

 

Piccininni, Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Anthony Orefice, Lockport (6)
  4. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  5. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  6. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  7. Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush (9)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: This is one of two weights where there was a lot of back and forth on who is #1 and who is essentially 1A. We expect Piccininni and Kelly to settle things on the mat in the finals at the Times Union Center.  Two years ago, Kelly defeated Piccininni in the state semifinals and neither has lost in the state of New York since.  The Ward Melville wrestler’s outstanding performances against top competition outside the state, and a victory over the nation’s top sophomore, Zahid Valencia, gave him the edge.  Of course, Kelly’s many achievements are extremely impressive, including two state titles and placements at Fargo and Virginia Beach.  Anthony Orefice also has had a lot of success both inside and outside of the Empire State.  He was 40-2 a year ago, with his losses coming to Piccininni and Jimmy Overhiser (by default) and he registered a solid 7-1 win over Stowell over the holidays. Like Orefice, Bryan Lantry was fifth in 2012 in the state capital.  After a slow start at the Madison Square Garden title bout, Ndiaye gave Kelly a tough match a few weeks ago, dropping a two point decision.

Person, Photo by BV

120 Pounds:

  1. Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (8)
  2. Rocco Russo, Frontier (6)
  3. Steve Michel, Lancaster (6)
  4. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  5. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)
  6. Trey Aslanian, Edgemont (1)
  7. Kellen Devlin, Amherst (6)
  8. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)

A Few Notes: Person, a two-time placer out of Section 8 is looking to make the finals for the first time after placing multiple times in the past. A number of these wrestlers have met this year.  Russo defeated Michel early on and then Michel beat Peacock.  Meanwhile, in last year’s state finals at 113, Peacock topped Aslanian.  The Edgemont grappler, headed to Princeton, is on a mission to win a state title after two runner up finishes in Albany.  Mike D’Angelo may not be a familiar name to those outside of Long Island but he suffered only three losses last year – all to Nick Piccininni.  In fact, Piccininni had only four regular decisions prior to Albany and three were against D’Angelo.  Truthfully, D’Angelo won’t have an easy time in Section 11 this year, because a pair of wrestlers who made it to the Round of 12 at the Super 32, Connetquot’s Steven Bulzomi and Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro, are also very strong.

Realbuto, Photo by BV

126 Pounds:

  1. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  2. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  5. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  6. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  7. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  8. Antonio DeLuco, Rome Free Academy (3)

A Few Notes:  Realbuto captured a state title a year ago and will have a challenging group to beat to repeat. Fabian took fourth last season at a deep 120 pound weight and has impressed so far for Shoreham Wading River, as he did while winning seven straight after an opening round loss at the Super 32.  Chris Araoz knows about long winning streaks at national events as he took the 120 pound NHSCA National title last spring. Meanwhile, former state gold medalist William Koll has made the move up a few weights.  He took second this weekend at the Windsor Christmas Tournament behind Corey Jamison, who came into Albany as the number two seed last year but didn’t compete the second day.

Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by BV

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  3. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  4. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  5. Cody McGregor, Tonawanda (6)
  6. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  7. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  8. Ben Ettlinger, Fox Lane (1)

A Few Notes: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer is currently ranked nationally at this weight and has a boatload of achievements in the international styles. Last year, he took second in Albany behind Nick Tighe in an entertaining, back and forth, match. Future Columbia Lion Matt Leshinger of Sayville, a returning bronze medalist, went through one of the state’s toughest brackets (Section 11, 120 pounds) just to get to the Times Union Center last season.  Rifanburg, McGregor and Lapi have made a number of appearances on the medal stand and Melikian came within one match of joining them a year ago.

Kelley, Photo by BV

138 Pounds:

  1. Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Nick Tighe, Phoenix (3)
  3. Connor Lapresi, Lansing (4)
  4. Tom Dutton, Rocky Point (11)
  5. Vincent DePrez, Hilton (5)
  6. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  7. Codie Gillette, Saranac (7)
  8. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)

A Few Notes: A pair of Binghamton-bound wrestlers are the favorites to capture titles at this weight in 2013. On the Division I side it’s Kelley, who is looking for his first crown to cap off a terrific career. On the other hand, Tighe is aiming for his third straight championship in Albany. Tighe may have to battle returning 132 pound gold medalist Connor Lapresi, who will wrestle for Bucknell in the future. On the large school side, Tom Dutton had a stellar offseason, placing at both the NHSCA Nationals and Fargo after a successful regular season in Section 11. DePrez and Lewandowski have both competed in the Saturday night finals in the past and will look to get back there this February.

Almaviva, Photo courtesy of Anthony Almaviva

145 Pounds:

  1. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  3. Isaiah Riccio, Beaver River (3)
  4. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  5. Jude Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  6. Joey Butler, Burnt Hills (2)
  7. Jackson Mordente, Sachem East (11)
  8. Colby Kash, Clarkstown North (1)

A Few Notes: Almaviva, an All-American, lost some matches this year but did so while making the Round of 12 at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions. After taking bronze in Albany last year, he’ll be looking to get to the finals this time. A number of other wrestlers on this list have solid experience at the Times Union Center, such as All-Staters Riccio, Reagan and Gardner. Hernandez made the trip to the state capital last year and wrestled with a severe injury. Now back in form, he dominated tough competition in and outside of the Empire State in the offseason and is looking for big things in a return trip.

Rasheed, Photo by BV

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  5. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  6. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  7. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  8. Kyle Halliday, Chenango Valley (4)

A Few Notes: Rasheed is a three-time placer and two-time runner up going into his junior year.  He took second at 145 in D-I last season while Drew Hull, a two-time medal winner, was the silver placer in the small school tournament.  Tom Grippi handed our #1 at 145 David Almaviva his only loss in Albany last year and finished one match from placing.  He already has over 20 wins.  Kress pinned his way through the PSAL Holiday tournament and racked up a number of wins in offseason events in the international styles. At the state tournament last season, he lost to nationally ranked Nicky Hall in the opening round before winning three straight in the consolations.  Chris Koo has been an All-American twice in Virginia Beach but has yet to travel to the state capital.  He has the ability to not only qualify but go far at the Times Union Center. He most recently was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Massapequa Holiday Tournament. Prior had a 32-3 season last year but two of his setbacks came in the Section 3 tournament (including to Spann).  He has been on fire this year thus far.

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

160 Pounds:

  1. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  2. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  3. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  4. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  5. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  6. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)
  7. Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (3)
  8. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)

A Few Notes: Speaking of 1 and 1A back at 113, Grimaldi and Paddock are both in the national rankings.  Some have Grimaldi higher and some have the reverse. We expect both to stand on top of the podium in Albany in their respective divisions.  Why do we have Grimaldi higher?  He defeated Paddock at the New York State Freestyle championships this year and placed at Fargo while both were in the same bracket. Needless to say, Paddock has a plethora of achievements over the years and will be difficult to beat. Mike Beckwith encountered a number of setbacks a year ago but with very little practice under his belt won Section 4 and a match in Albany.  He has blistered through the competition this year. Silverthorn was one of the few non-senior medalists in either division at 160 in 2012. Gallo came within a bout of the podium as a freshman and Goldup, a former All-Stater, is off to a great start. Weigel was one bout from the All-State status at 170 and will be a handful down at 160. [Dale White has been out injured].

170 Pounds:

  1. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  2. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  3. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  4. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  5. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  6. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  7. Joe Piccolo, Half Hollow Hills West (11)
  8. Andrew Voelker, Monroe Woodbury (9)

Seymour, a national runner up and fourth placer at the state tournament last year, stands on top of 170.  Behind him are a number of talented competitors, none of whom have tasted the podium yet at 170.  However, McDevitt was on the medal stand as a fifth placer in 2012 — down at 138. After a growth spurt, he is up several classes and after beating some tough customers this summer, he’s looking like a solid bet to medal again. Johnny Vrasidas made it to the top 8 in Albany in February.  Toribio has started off the year on fire in Section 11, beating All-Stater Gio Santiago and returning qualifier Matt Roberts, both while wrestling up a weight. He also handled Piccolo this past week at the Long Island Challenge. An interesting wildcard is Deitrich, who medaled at 152 as a seventh grader in 2011 and who looked overpowering as he cruised to the Windsor Christmas Tournament title.

Zupan, Photo by BV

182 Pounds:

  1. Zack Zupan, Canastota (3)
  2. Shayne Brady, Carthage (3)
  3. Tim Schaefer, Warsaw (5)
  4. James Corbett, Wantagh (8)
  5. James Benjamin, Vestal (4)
  6. Trent Egenlauf, Spencerport (5)
  7. Gio Santiago, Sachem North (11)
  8. Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (2)

A Few Notes: Zack Zupan, the top ranked recruit in New York, stands at #1 while fellow Section 3 wrestler Shayne Brady, the Division I runner up a year ago comes in at #2.  The two met in the finals of the Herkimer Invitational, which ended quickly after some good early action when Brady injury defaulted.  Tim Schaefer, a multi-time state placer, is off to another great start for Warsaw after taking third at this weight in 2012.  Benjamin is back after his All-State showing out of Section 4 and fellow medalist Gio Santiago returns to the rankings. Above him is Wantagh’s James Corbett, who has impressed during his undefeated start, including a solid win over the Sachem North wrestler. Egenlauf has won multiple tournaments so far this campaign including the Teike Bernabi.

Williams, Photo by BV

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Dan Choi, Syosset (8)
  4. Tyler Smith, Midlakes (5)
  5. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  6. Tyler Morris, Salem (2)
  7. Collin Pittman, Spencerport (5)
  8. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)

A Few Notes: Reggie Williams conquered all challengers as a sophomore at 195 with the exception of four losses to state champion (and now graduated) Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. Williams is the favorite to win his first state title.  Next up is another state silver medalist, Bryce Mazurowski of Avon, a future member of the Binghamton Bearcats.  Two 2012 fourth placers also sit here, Tyler Smith of Midlakes (at 195) and Tyler Morris of Salem (at 182). Colton Kells finished in the top 8 in Division I at 195 a year ago while Choi did the same at 182. Pittman gave Williams a lot to handle in the finals of the Teike Bernabi tournament despite a previous setback.

 

Bacon, Photo by BV

220 Pounds:

  1. Zack Bacon, Hornell (5)
  2. Ryan Wolcott, Waverly (4)
  3. Mike Silvis, Holley (5)
  4. Nick Lupi, Huntington (11)
  5. Dan Breit, Nanuet (1)
  6. Chris Saden, Fredonia (6)
  7. Joe Sprung, Berne Knox (2)
  8. Richard Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (C)

A Few Notes: Zack Bacon of Hornell, currently ranked #16 in the country by Intermat, leads the way. Bacon is familiar with Silvis and they are sure to meet this year again. Lupi also earned a spot in the national polls (by Amateur Wrestling News). The Huntington wrestler was upset in the Windsor Christmas Tournament finals by Ryan Wolcott, a returning Top 8 wrestler (at 170). Breit, Sprung and Sisti all made appearances at the Times Union Center in 2012.

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

285 Pounds:

  1. El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (2)
  2. Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (11)
  3. Matt Montesanti, Medina (6)
  4. Alex Soutiere, Ravena (2)
  5. Brandon Fayle, Lowville (3)
  6. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  7. David Varian, Yorktown (1)
  8. Anthony Puca, Huntington (11)

El Shaddai Van Hoesen earns the top spot with his absolute dominance thus far as a senior after taking second in 2012.  Another silver medalist, Alex Soutiere, has followed up his run at the Times Union Center with an unbeaten start.  A pair of sixth place finishers are also included, with Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes and Medina’s Matt Montesanti in control just about every time they’ve stepped on the mat.  Brandon Fayle of Lowville fell one bout short of placing in 2012 and has put up solid results again, with the one blemish on his record via disqualification.  Rounding out the rankings are Seaford’s James O’Hagan, an NHSCA Nationals third place finisher who went 31-3 last year and who has lost only to Hughes this campaign (the only match Hughes hasn’t won by fall).  Anthony Puca of Huntington and David Varian of Yorktown, a qualifier out of Section 1, round things out.

* Results based on NWCA Scorebook

Somers State Champion Dylan Realbuto Selects Cornell

Dylan Realbuto, Photo by Boris V

The 2012-13 Cornell wrestling roster has three sets of brothers – the Bosaks, the Davids and the Scotts.  In the future, there will be at least one more to add as state champion Dylan Realbuto committed to join his brother Brian with the Big Red.  (Brian is currently taking a greyshirt year with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club).

“Having Brian there was a big factor for me,” Dylan Realbuto said. “He never pushed me towards Cornell – he let me make my own decision.  But he always made sure to tell me that he would like if I came to Cornell too.  There were a lot of reasons for my decision.   I really like the school and the campus.  The entire feel I get when I’m there is great – it reminds me of home.  I also know that the training set up is really good.  There are so many good wrestlers between 125 and 141 to train with.”

Realbuto, who chose Cornell over Columbia and North Carolina State, said he plans to compete at either 133 or 141 pounds in college.

As for this season, Realbuto is shooting for a third straight appearance in the state finals in Albany.  As a 96-pound sophomore, he was the runner up to two-time champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  This past February, he grabbed the gold medal at 113 pounds in what might have been the tournament’s most dramatic ending.   Realbuto earned a takedown as time expired in the third period against previously undefeated Vincent Deprez of Hilton High to capture an 8-7 victory.

“There were four seconds left on the clock and we had a restart.  I remember thinking that I just couldn’t lose,” he said. “When we got on the starting line, I was nervous but I never doubted myself.  I thought I could win that title.”

He attributes part of that belief to Max Askren, who has coached him closely over the past few years.

“Max has helped me tremendously,” he said. “Before he got here, I talked about winning a state championship, but he made me believe it was really possible.  He inspired me to take my wrestling to the next level.”

He’s now striving to make it two titles in a row, either at 126 or 132 pounds.  Then, he looks forward to moving up to Ithaca.

“I’ve gone to visit Brian a couple of times,” he said.  “I was actually there this past weekend and then went up to Buffalo with him [for the Buffalo Invitational, where Brian took third, dominating in his victories and losing only to champion Josh Demas of Ohio State in multiple overtimes].  I think he wrestled well. Brian’s style hasn’t really changed much, but he’s improved so much over the past few months.”

Dylan Realbuto feels that he’s improved as well.  He looks to prove it not only at the Times Union Center in late February but at several events in the spring and summer.

“I want to win states again this year,” he said.  “But I also want to go to NHSCAs in Virginia Beach for the first time and win a title there.  Then I want to go and win Fargo.  I want to end my career ranked and as an All-American before I go to Cornell.”

For more on Dylan Realbuto, see this story, from earlier in the fall.

State Champion Realbuto and Returning Placers White, Barbaria and Aslanian Lead the Way for Section 1 in 2012-13 (Season Preview)

New York Wrestling Newswill be taking a look at the Sections across the state over the next few weeks.  We began with a story on Section 1 stars Dylan Realbuto and Trey Aslanian, which can be found here.

In addition to returning state champion Realbuto and runner up Aslanian, Section 1 welcomes back two other placewinners from 2012 and more than 15 additional qualifiers.  The following takes a look at some wrestlers to keep an eye on this year, some potential breakout stars and the teams to beat for the 2013 campaign in Section 1. 

 

Division I

 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

State Champion: Dylan Realbuto (12) Somers, 113 Pounds

Fifth Place: Dale White (12) John Jay East Fishkill, 145 Pounds

Sixth Place: Nick Barbaria (11) New Rochelle, 99 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

113 Pounds: Alex Delacruz (11), Ossining

120 Pounds: Jake DeMarsico (12), North Rockland

126 Pounds: Matt Caputo (11), North Rockland

138 Pounds: Tom Grippi (12), Fox Lane

170 Pounds: Steven Sabella (12) Yorktown

285 Pounds: David Varian (12) Yorktown

 

Seniors to Watch

Dylan Realbuto (Somers) – Realbuto won his first state championship in dramatic fashion, taking Hilton’s Vincent DePrez down as the buzzer sounded in the third to capture an 8-7 decision.  He’ll try to add a second title in his last year, which would bring his family’s total to five (older brother Brian captured championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012).

Dale White (John Jay East Fishkill) – White showed he was a contender for All-State honors last year at the Eastern States where he pushed two-time New York champion Jimmy Kloc in the finals before losing 7-6.  White had only five other setbacks during his junior season, four of which were by one point (and another by two points).  He looks to climb higher on the podium than his fifth place showing in 2012.

Tom Grippi (Fox Lane) – A returning Section champion, Grippi began his run in Albany last season by defeating eventual third-place finisher David Almaviva of Shenendehowa.  Grippi went on to a 2-2 record at the state tournament, falling one win short of placing.  He posted a 45-6 mark as a junior while splitting time between 138 and 145 pounds and will be a strong candidate to earn All-State honors in Feburary.

Steven Sabella (Yorktown) – Sabella went 42-4 in 2011-12 at 170 pounds with 21 pins.  He won a pair of matches at the state tournament, coming within one round of medaling in Albany.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Nick Barbaria (New Rochelle) – Barbaria stood sixth on the podium at 99 pounds as a sophomore following a 36-7 season.  He defeated All-State wrestlers Cheick Ndiaye (the Division II runner up) and notched a pair of victories over fourth place finisher Joe Calderone and a win over Bryan Lantry. (Both Calderone and Lantry also both avenged those results).  In January, Barbaria had a strong run to the silver medal at the Eastern States Classic. Barbaria has been active in the offseason, competing at events such as the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat and the Journeymen Classic.

Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland) – As a ninth grader, the North Rockland wrestler went 36-6 at 106 pounds and made the podium at the prestigious Eastern States Classic.  Benderoth had several quality victories, including wins over state placer Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle and a pair of triumphs against qualifier Vinny Skokos of Nanuet.  However, he missed the state tournament after he dropped the Section 1 final to Michael Parise of Brewster 3-2, who eventually came within one match of getting on the podium in Albany.  Benderoth made the trip upstate for the postseason as an eighth grader and looks to do it again in 2013.

Alex Delacruz, Photo by Boris V

Alex Delacruz (Ossining) – Delacruz earned a ticket to Albany last year after upsetting eventual state champion Dylan Realbuto during the Section 1 tournament, avenging an earlier loss to the Somers grappler.  Although he went 1-2 at the Times Union Center, Delacruz had a strong 36-6 season in which he defeated another state finalist – Division I runner up Justin Cooksey of MacArthur.  With big victories like that one, he will be expected to have a big year in 2012-13.

Of those who haven’t been to the state tournament before, keep tabs on Thomas Murray of Yorktown who lost in the Section 1 final to eventual state runner up Jacob Berkowitz of Scarsdale.  “Tom’s been working really hard and I think if he’d gone to state last year, he could have placed,” coach Max Askren said.

Also working hard and ready to take another step forward is Byram Hills freshman John Errico.  As a 99-pound eighth grader, Errico took third in the Section and was 34-4 overall.  He also tested himself against some of the Northeast’s best at the recent Journeymen Classic.

Team Race

In 2012, Fox Lane took the Division I title, sending longtime coach Joe Amuso out with a flourish.   The Foxes went into the last session of the Sectionals needing all four of their finalists to win in order to grab the team title and they all delivered.  Three of those wrestlers, Sam Speno, Matt Pasqualini and Dan Ventura graduated.  However, Tom Grippi returns and the new coach has talent at his disposal, including a pair of juniors who won over 30 matches last season and placed at the Sectionals – Ben Ettlinger and Brendon Fay.

Last year’s second place team, North Rockland and 2012’s fifth-place group from Yorktown return a handful of Section placewinners and look to be leading contenders for the championship.

North Rockland, which was edged by just 3.5 points by Fox Lane in February, boasts three returning finalists – Jake DiMarsico (Champion at 120), Blaise Benderoth (2nd at 106) and Matt Caputo (2nd at 126).  In addition, new head coach Jeff Swick can expect to pick up points from a trio of grapplers who were fourth a year ago — Derek DiMarsico, Troy Feniger and Conner Reigotti.

Yorktown also has significant firepower scheduled to come back, including 2012 Section 1 champions Steven Sabella (170) and David Varian (285) as well as runner up Thomas Murray (182).   Fellow senior Joseph Mastro was 40-3 last campaign, with two of his losses to state placers (Mike Caputo and Dale White).  Mastro is coming off a silver medal in the Sections at 145 while classmate James Kaishian earned 36 wins at 120 and a fifth place showing at Pace University.

The teams that took third and fourth last year, New Rochelle and Somers, both have some standouts, but suffered heavy losses to graduation.  The Huguenots feature All-State wrestler Nick Barbaria in the lightweights as well as Justin Douglas, who was a runner up in the Sectionals, but graduated placers Aaron Butler, Jonathan Stokes, Tyler Lilly and Bryan Ferrandi.  Somers will have Albany title threat Dylan Realbuto in the lineup although his brother Brian and Dom DeVita are among the highly successful wrestlers who completed their Tuskers careers.

Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

Second Place: Trey Aslanian (12) Edgemont, 113 Pounds

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Tyler Aslanian (11) Edgemont

99 Pounds: Joe Dillon (11) Nanuet

106 Pounds: Vinny Skokos (10) Nanuet

120 Pounds: Anthony Calvano (12) Nanuet

126 Pounds: Drew Longo (12) Ardsley

138 Pounds: Matt Dillon (12) Nanuet

145 Pounds: Brett Pastore (12) Irvington

170 Pounds: John Messinger (12) Putnam Valley

195 Pounds: Dan Breit (12) Nanuet

220 Pounds: Matt Acevedo (11) Pawling

 

Seniors to Watch

Trey Aslanian (Edgemont) – The three-time state placer hopes this will be the year.  Aslanian qualified for the finals the past two seasons in Albany but came away with runner up status at 103 in 2011 and 113 last year.  He looked tough over the summer, registering a 7-1 record for the Empire State at Junior Duals in Freestyle and competing at Fargo.

Drew Longo (Ardsley) – In 2012 he found himself out of the medals at a loaded 126-pound bracket at the state tournament, but he’s been on the stand before.  In fact, as a freshman, Longo was the runner up at 96 pounds and he followed that up with a fifth place finish in 2011.  He looks for one more drive to the podium in his last campaign for Ardsley.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Tyler Aslanian (Edgemont) –  The second of three Aslanian brothers currently wrestling for Edgemont, Tyler went 30-8 as a sophomore at 99 pounds.  He notched a pair of victories over fellow Section 1 state qualifier Joe Dillon and came within one bout of making All-State at the Times Union Center.

“Tyler was just short of placing last year and he has worked tremendously hard since the end of the season,” Edgemont coach Peter Jacobson said.  “Our hope is that he makes All-State this year – he’s definitely an All-State caliber wrestler.”

Vinny Skokos (Nanuet) – Skokos had a strong ninth grade campaign for the Golden Knights, earning 32 victories and a Section title.  He topped All-State wrestlers Nick Barbaria and Cody Carbery as well as NHSCA All-American Kyle Quinn of Wantagh.

“Skokos has a track record for working hard and making big improvements,” Jacobson said.  “He had a tremendous freshman year and works year round.  I would expect him to make a big jump this year and turn some heads.

Anthony Calvano (Nanuet) – Calvano went 16-5 a year ago and made a dominant run through the Section tournament with a pin and two decisions in which he outscored his opponents by a combined 16-3 tally.  He went 0-2 in Albany but at least one opposing coach thinks he’ll be far better this time.

“I thought his showing at the state tournament last year was not at all reflective of the wrestler that he is.  I believe he will place at the state level this year,” Jacobson said.

 

Team Race

In Division II, Nanuet won the crown by over 40 points a year ago and has a slew of contributors back.  In addition to Section champions Vinny Skokos (106), Anthony Calvano (120) and Dan Breit (195), the team offers four more finalists in Joe Dillon (99), Matt Dillon (138), Mike Buhlmann (160) and Kevin Brundage (182).  But that’s not all. Nanuet has several other wrestlers who were in the top six in 2012 on its roster, including three bronze winners.

Mounting a strong challenge will be Edgemont, led by the Aslanian brothers. Three-time state placer Trey was the Section titlist at 113 a year ago after defeating teammate Skylar KorekTyler Aslanian was the Panthers’ other Section 1 victor at 99 pounds, where sibling Kyle also wrestled as an eighth grader (and won 18 bouts).  Silver medalists Colin Hopkins, Jack McCormack and Chris Kim will once again be in the mix, as could Will Graybeal and Ross Kantor, who were both top four.

“We both have a lot of returning finalists and placefinishers,” Jacobson said. “A lot will depend on who ends up going what weight — matchups will be key.  But none of it on paper means that much. It’s going to be a product of what guys have done for the past nine months and will do for the next few months and who has a better weekend. [Nanuet] is the team to beat.  They do a great job, consistently developing their athletes and that isn’t going to change.  But I think the team title could go either way.”

Overcoming those squads will be difficult, but 2012’s bronze team Putnam Valley aims to put some wrestlers on the podium.  One grappler to watch is John Messinger, the 170-pound titlewinner who pinned his way through the event last season.

 

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article.

All results from the NWCA Scorebook.

Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Photos by Boris V

Over the next few weeks, New York Wrestling News will previewing New York’s high school Sections. We begin in Section 1 with a look at two of the top lightweights the Empire State has to offer.

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The 113-pound finals at the state tournament in February presented a bit of a pleasant challenge for Section 1 fans.  Two of the area’s best, John “Trey” Aslanian of Edgemont and Dylan Realbuto of Somers, were on the mats at the same time, each battling to win the championship against a Section 5 opponent a year after finishing second in Albany.

Having both wrestlers make the title bout at the Times Union Center two years in a row wasn’t an accident.  In fact, they helped each other get there.  Although Edgemont and Somers are at least 30 minutes away from each other, the two wrestlers have trained together since fifth grade and have continued to work out quite a bit, often at the Askren Wrestling Academy.

“I feel lucky because it’s such a good situation for both of us,” Aslanian said. “Dylan’s one of my best friends.  Since he’s big school and I’m small school, we know we won’t have to compete with each other at states, so it’s ideal.  Dylan is incredibly hard to score on with his funk, so if I can score on him, I feel like I can score on anyone in the state.  I think we push each other so much because we’re such different wrestlers and seeing a totally different style is never a bad thing.”

Not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it’s a really good thing, according to coach Max Askren.

“They are almost exactly opposite in their styles,” Askren said. “But it’s totally complementary.  Both are very, very technical wrestlers. But Trey wrestles from ties, likes to control things that way.  Dylan really wrestles from out in the open. So it works to have them train together.  If these guys want to wrestle in college, they should be wrestling together.”

Both Realbuto and Aslanian do plan to compete at the Division I level, with Aslanian considering Penn, Princeton and Harvard.  However, they first have some business to take care of at the high school level.

For Aslanian, that means a first state title.  He took fifth as a freshman and second the last two seasons at 103 and 113, respectively.

“Finishing second the last two years was obviously disappointing,” Aslanian said. “I go into every year wanting to win a state championship and when you come so close but don’t get it, it’s really difficult.  Last year, I was more confident because I had already been in the finals before, so I think I was that much more disappointed not to get the job done.”

Aslanian felt he dropped the title bout to Sean Peacock of Midlakes because he was focused too much on his opponent and not on himself.

“I didn’t get to my gameplan and most importantly, I didn’t get to my offense,” he said. “I needed to force my offense – my shots and my takedowns – and instead I was thinking too much about what he was doing and lost sight of what I do well.”

Since stepping off the mat in Albany, Edgemont coach Peter Jacobson believes Aslanian has made significant improvements, partially due to his offseason wrestling.

The outstanding student made a smooth transition to freestyle, getting his hand raised often. At the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City, Aslanian went 7-1 for Team New York and he won four matches at Fargo. (He was an All-American in North Dakota in 2011).

“There’s great translation from strong freestyle skills to folkstyle skills and Trey has taken that to heart,” Jacobson said.  “He wrestled some really strong matches at the Junior Duals and at Fargo went up against some very high level competition.  I know he feels that he didn’t wrestle as well as he could have, but I can see already that the experience has made him better.”

“I think I grew a lot as a wrestler,” Aslanian added. “I got to wrestle some of the best kids in the country and I think I grew, just getting to see that national competition. I hoped to place or possibly win Fargo and I didn’t have my best performance.  But I know I’ve gotten better.”

In addition to the top-notch opposition and additional practices in places like Vougar’s Honors Wrestling on Long Island, Aslanian’s improvement stems from significant time invested in video study.

“I love watching John Smith,” Aslanian said of the multiple-time NCAA and World Champion who now coaches at Oklahoma State. “He’s always attacking and pushing his offense. I also watch a lot of Ben and Max Askren.  They’re so entertaining with their funk.  Not too many people use the techniques they use.  I learn so much by watching.”

“I think Trey’s biggest strength is the amount of time he puts into honing his craft,” Jacobson added.  “He’s very much a student of the sport.  He watches films of himself and standout wrestlers from around the world.  If you line him up against the best in the state, he won’t be the strongest kid or the best natural athlete.   He’s achieved what he has by working hard to play to his strengths.”

Helping him do that are two other members of his family and team – younger brothers Tyler and Kyle.  Tyler, a junior, was one match from placing a year ago in Albany, while Kyle competed at 99 pounds as an eighth grader.

“It really benefits them to be pretty close in weight.  They can work out at home or can drill whenever and wherever they want,” Jacobson said of the three Aslanians.  “It’s not like the 190-pound older brother wrestling the 120-pound younger brother and expecting it to be beneficial.  Having them all in the room couldn’t be better – they’re supportive of each other with totally different personalities.  Tyler has the ability to make the podium this year and Kyle will make a huge jump.  He’s the best natural athlete of the group and most of the matches he lost last year were size and strength related. He’ll be a full-sized 99 pounder this year and will see more success.”

Trey Aslanian believes more success is in the cards for all of the Aslanian brothers in 2013. (A fourth brother, Wyatt, is in elementary school).

“Last year’s Sectional tournament was probably the most memorable moment for me in my career, with Tyler and I both winning titles,” he said. “That’s probably the best I ever felt in wrestling.  The plan for this year is for all three of us to win.”

But that’s only part of the plan.  Trey Aslanian said he hopes to go undefeated after a 39-2 campaign in 2012, but even that isn’t most important.  There’s one thing he can’t get out of his mind.

“I want to be a state champion,” he said.  “I’ve wanted that ever since I started in this sport in fifth grade.  I think about it every second of every day.”

He’s come close twice before and he knows this is the final opportunity before he heads off to the Ivy League.

“This season is the last of a lot of things,” he said. “I really enjoy wrestling with my brothers and it’s the last time to compete with them.  It’s such a unique situation and I’ll miss it. I want to win states and I know there’s a lot of pressure because it’s now or never.”

Now or never was the situation Realbuto was in during last year’s state finals bout. He trailed by a point with just a few seconds left and it looked like he was going to get the silver again.  But in dramatic fashion, he took Hilton’s Vincent DePrez down as time expired to win.

“I thought it was over just the same as everyone else thought it was,” Askren said. “Some people said Dylan was lucky, but if that’s true then he put himself in the position to be lucky.”

Realbuto and his frequent training partner Aslanian will try to put themselves in that gold medal position in February.  Realbuto will make another leap in weight, according to Askren, going either 126 or 132.  Aslanian, according to Jacobson, is still growing and will be at 120 or 126.

If both are at 126, Section 1 fans hope to have to divide their attention between the mats during the state finals, as they did in 2012, to watch Aslanian and Realbuto both try to complete their careers with a state championship.