It's Almost Tournament Time: Division I State Tournament Preview

First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division I state tournament in Albany.  We will be posting a similar article on Division II. The votes have been rolling in, but if you haven’t already, feel free to give us your thoughts on who will win the titles by participating in our prediction contests.

For the Division I contest, click on this link.

For the Division II contest, click on this link.

 

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

Huntington’s John Arceri got the top seed, but it’s far from an easy road for him. In a 35-2 season (one of his losses was at 106), he defeated five of the grapplers in this bracket, including the number two, three and four seeds. His reward? A possible meeting with the undefeated Vito Arujau of Syosset if both make the quarterfinals. An intriguing first round bout pits CHSAA winner Garrett Baugher, who has been a force throughout the campaign, against NHSCA Middle School National Champion Kelan McKenna of Section 3.

On the bottom of the bracket, we’re excited to see Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip against Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury in the opening round. Having Vespa back on the mat this year has been an amazing story after his well-documented battle with cancer. But beyond that, it is always interesting to watch two medal contenders clash early in the event. Speaking of Section 9 wrestlers, number two seed Chris Cuccolo recovered from some early season setbacks to win the Eastern States and breezed through the remainder of the year (other than a loss to Arceri). He could have a meeting with Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the Round of 8. Diakomihalis has won just about every event he’s entered in the past year and is nationally ranked.

So . . . We’ve had Diakomihalis at #1 and Arujau at #2 for the entire season at this weight. While 99 is often unpredictable at the state tournament, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those two put on a show in the finals as they did in the Super 32 Middle School tournament in the fall when Diakomihalis came out on top and took the title.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (Third at 99)
Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (Fourth at 106)
Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (Sixth at 99)

Alex Tanzman, the top seed, has followed up a stellar junior season with an even better senior campaign. He has a 32-1 mark, with the only loss coming at the hands of state champion Nick Piccininni up a weight at 113. Fellow Section 11 grappler Steven Lee is back in Albany after coming within one win of placing last year. He’ll be part of an intriguing first round bout against Colonie’s Golan Cohen, a wrestler who stood out with a fourth place showing at the Eastern States Classic.

On the bottom half, a number of wrestlers with experience at the Times Union Center will take the mat. Spencerport’s Jon Haas was one bout from making All-State last year and has been on a roll, winning 14 matches in a row since a loss to Diakomihalis. If he gets to the quarters, he could face Nick Barbaria, who made the medal stand a year ago and has an unblemished record (40-0) this year. On the way to the Eastern States Classic title this season, Barbaria topped Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser in an overtime bout and Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the championship match. Those two wrestlers are also very much in the mix for titles and could collide in the Round of 8 if they both advance there. (Quinn’s only two losses are to Barbaria).

So . . . This should be a very interesting class, but in the end, we expect Tanzman, the senior from Section 11, to end his career on a high note on Saturday night against the very tough Barbaria.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (Champion at 99)
Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (Champion at 106)
Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (Fourth at 99)
Bryan Lantry, Wayne (Fifth at 99)
John Stramiello, Pine Bush (Sixth at 106)

It’s clear that there are many very good wrestlers at this weight, especially considering how many returning state placers are in the bracket. Bryan Lantry of Wayne and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush competed for third at the Eastern States and have both been on the state podium before. Corey Ali of Shenendehowa and Thomas Hill of Fulton have won multiple Section 2 and 3 championships, respectively. Joe Calderone also was All-State last year.

So . . . Despite the obvious quality throughout the field, if anyone other than Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni and Chenango Forks’s Kyle Kelly takes the mat in the Saturday night finals, it will be a huge upset. It’s a match that fans in Sections 4 and 11 have been talking about all season and one that both Piccininni and Kelly have expressed excitement about in interviews we did with them prior to the season. Both are nationally ranked by at least one publication and both were undefeated state champions in 2012 (Kelly at 99 and Piccininni at 106). The last time Piccininni lost a match in New York, it was to Kelly in the 2011 99-pound semifinals when Kelly went on to win his first state crown. How similar will this match be to that close decision? We expect it to be an absolute battle between two of the very best wrestlers the Empire State has to offer. We’ve had Piccininni in the top spot in the rankings all year . . . we’ll see if we were right.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Anthony Orefice, Lockport (Fifth at 106)
Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (Fifth at 113)
Steve Michel, Lancaster (Sixth at 120)

We go from two state champions, Kelly and Piccininni, to a field full of grapplers who can make the finals. Who will win at 120 Pounds? Great question. Recently, I asked a handful of people and, predictably, I got a handful of different answers.

Will it be Steve Michel, the top seed? He is a returning placer and has had a strong season, including wins over Division II state champion Sean Peacock, three victories over multi-time placer Anthony Orefice and a pair of triumphs against Kellen Devlin of Amherst. At Eastern States, however, where a sizable number of wrestlers in this bracket competed, Michel didn’t place. Neither did another returning All-Stater, Robert Person. However, the Nassau County wrestler seems to be back to form. After all, he lost to MacArthur’s Chris Cataldo at SUNY Sullivan but responded with a commanding major against the same opponent in the Section 8 final.

Ok, but if those guys didn’t place in Loch Sheldrake – who did? The answer: lots of wrestlers who will compete in Albany. John Muldoon of Pearl River took second, Blaise Benderoth was third, Travis Passaro grabbed fourth, Blake Retell picked up seventh and Santo Curatolo took eighth. Alex Delacruz was in the semis before being disqualified.

Let’s face it, everyone mentioned above is capable of being on the podium. As is Mike D’Angelo, who has a win over Muldoon. And Orefice, who has been a placer before. Only one thing seems safe to say – there shouldn’t be a dull match at this weight.

So . . . The winner here will have navigated tough customers in every round. Who will it be? We’ll put forward the wrestler who got the most votes in our informal poll – John Muldoon.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Dylan Realbuto, Somers (Champion at 113)
TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (Fourth at 120)

Fabian, Photo by Josh Conklin

There are so many good story lines here. One that we’ll definitely be watching is how seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield fares in his first state tournament appearance. He sure hasn’t looked at all intimidated so far, including during his seventh place finish at Eastern States in a very challenging class. He sits in the top part of the bracket, along with a number of accomplished wrestlers. The #1 seed is Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a returning placer who was upset in the Section 11 tournament but came back for bronze. The match that many thought would be the Suffolk finals – Fabian vs. Hauppauge’s Mark West, didn’t come to fruition last weekend. However, it could be a semifinal showdown. Both Section 11 grapplers have plenty to contend with early on, however. For example, West gets Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s a former state placer, in Round 1.

The lower half is no cakewalk, either. Returning state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers begins with upstart Owen Bachelder of Hewlett, who starred in the Nassau County event, including a pin against NHSCA National Champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh. Aroaz, however, will be in the field in Albany for the first time and will start off in another excellent opening round contest as he takes on Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Both Jacob Green of Chenengo Forks and Keanu Thompson have significant Times Union Center experience and will be a challenging matchup for anyone.

So . . . Realbuto has been in the finals for two consecutive years and we think he’ll leverage that experience to get back for the third time, where we could see a rematch of the Eastern States title bout with Fabian. Fabian beat Realbuto on a third period reversal at SUNY Sullivan this year. Realbuto won his state title last year on a last second takedown. With a late charge, Realbuto may do it again.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Matt Leshinger, Sayville (Third at 120)
Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (Fourth at 113)

Matt Leshinger, the top seed, looks to move up a few spots on the ladder after taking third as a junior. He has wrestled well all year, avenging his one loss against Vinny Turano by beating the Wantagh wrestler the next day to grab bronze at Eastern States. There could be a third meeting in the semis but plenty of wrestlers are capable of stopping that from happening. Turano will have an immediate challenge from freshman Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge.

Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam, the #2 seed, has been on the podium multiple times but will be tested right away by returning qualifier Richie Burke of Ithaca, who has put together a 38-3 season. Also sitting in the bottom half is Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian, the Eastern States runner up. The CHSAA champion has blitzed through the season.

So . . . Leshinger was the top seed last year at 120 and took third. This time, as the top seed, we think he’ll finish with the gold against Melikian.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (Third at 132)
Vincent DePrez, Hilton (Second at 113)

Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley and Hilton’s Vincent DePrez had one thing in common last year – both only lost once, and it was at the Times Union Center. Kelley was edged in the semifinals by eventual champion Jamel Hudson while DePrez lost in the waning seconds of the title bout against Dylan Realbuto.

They are the top seeds at 138 (Kelley is at #1). Among the wrestlers on the top half of the bracket to watch are Derrick Gray of Indian River, a five-time Sectional champion, who came within a bout of placing last year and North Rockland’s Matt Caputo, who has over 50 wins according to the NWCA Scorebook.

There are some first round matchups in the bottom half that we’re excited about. One is Rocky Point’s Tommy Dutton, who has been dominant nearly the entire season, against undefeated Danny Graham of West Seneca East. In addition, Isaiah Perry of Massena, who has been at this tournament for many years, will give it one last shot to make the podium, beginning against Joey Butler of Burnt Hills, a returning qualifier who gave Kelley his closest match against a New York wrestler this year in an 8-6 loss.

So . . . Kelley, one of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in New York and a regular in Albany since seventh grade, has been waiting for the chance to get on top of the podium. We think he’ll get there this time, with a challenge from Dutton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (Third at 138)

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

When David Almaviva of Shenendehowa and Louis Hernandez of Mepham squared off in the quarterfinals of the Eastern States, a fan sitting nearby told me it was a preview of the state finals. It could be. Hernandez won that day, 4-2, and went on to win the tournament.

A number of wrestlers will provide very formidable challenges to those two, however. In the top half, where Hernandez sits as the #1 seed, he could see a wrestler such as Anthony DePrez of Hilton, who has just a single loss this year and has been impressive. In addition, Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi is a big threat. He handed Almaviva his only loss at the Times Union Center last year. Jackson Mordente of Sachem East is yet another to keep tabs on.

In the bottom half, Brendan Dent may be under the radar for those outside of Long Island, but he has been strong all year and has yet to lose. In addition, Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster is a very dangerous wrestler who has been to the finals before and is on a mission to get back. Trevor Hoffmier is a formidable first round foe for Almaviva as well.

So . . . We believe the fan at the Eastern States had the title bout pegged. The stage is brighter, but we expect a similar match in Hernandez vs. Almaviva II to what we saw in the Eastern States quarters.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Corey Rasheed, Longwood (Second at 145)

Longwood’s Corey Rasheed is a three-time state placer, including two runner up finishes. If he wrestles the way he has all year, he will be extremely difficult to beat. Eastern States provided a great example of that. In a solid bracket, he pinned his first three foes and then outscored the opposition 28-4 in the semis and finals to earn the crown. He could face some of the other medalists from that event as both Joe Mastro of Yorktown and Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis sit in the top of the bracket.

Columbia’s Angelo Kress is the number two seed and has topped the wrestler in the number three spot, Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa, twice by a single point in February. For them to meet again, they will have to overcome a number of very strong wrestlers, among them, returning qualifier Zach Colgan of Johnson City, Section 3’s Tommy Quinlan and two-time NHSCA All-American Chris Koo.

So . . . Rasheed has been unbelievable this season. He’s been close to a state title twice before and this time takes gold instead of silver against the very solid (and currently unbeaten) Koo.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (Second at 160)
Dale White, John Jay East Fishkill (Fifth at 145)

Tyler Grimaldi was the runner up in this class last year. He has dedicated himself to making sure he gets that elusive last victory in 2013 before heading to Harvard. Who stands in his way? Clarence’s Jake Weber has put together a good season in Section 6 as has Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley, an NHSCA All-American. Holcomb will have an interesting first match as he faces returning medalist Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill, a wrestler who missed the bulk of the season with an injury but has looked solid upon his return.

Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell announced his presence among the state’s elite with his fourth place showing at the Eastern States. In the bronze bout, he lost to MacArthur’s Steve Schneider. The Nassau County champion has appeared to get better and better as the season progressed and is the #2 seed.

So . . . Grimaldi and Schneider have already faced off twice this season with the Hills West senior getting his hand raised both times. The finals may give us a third battle. Harvard thinks they found a champion.  We agree.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Danny McDevitt, Wantagh (Fifth at 138)

McDevitt, Photo by http://www.phototrens.com

Wantagh’s Danny McDevitt is familiar with being the number one seed in Albany as he was on the top line of the 138-pound bracket a year ago, and took fifth. His senior campaign has been nothing short of spectacular as he has seamlessly adjusted to wrestling four weight classes higher. On the way to his Eastern States crown, McDevitt saw (and defeated) some of his challengers, including Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Piccolo, who is the fourth seed. A number of other grapplers who have appeared in the state rankings are in the top part of the bracket, such as St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas and Monroe Woodbury’s AJ Voelker.

Another one of McDevitt’s victories at SUNY Sullivan was against John Jay East Fishkill’s Brett Perry, who resides in the bottom of the bracket. Perry will have a very tough opening battle with Brockport’s Jared Mesiti, a returning qualifier who is 36-2 this season. Carlos Toribio of Brentwood has suffered just one setback in his senior campaign – against Piccolo by fall. However, he beat Piccolo twice, including a dominant victory in the Suffolk finals in which Toribio looked like he was healthy again after an injury.

So . . . McDevitt completes the perfect season before he begins his Ivy League career as a Quaker at Penn with a squeaker against the impressive Toribio.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Shayne Brady, Carthage (Second at 170)
James Benjamin, Vestal (Fifth at 182)
Gio Santiago, Sachem North (Sixth at 182)

Shayne Brady went all the way to the championship bout last year at 170. After placing at the Super 32 Classic and going 32-1, he’s on top of the bracket this time. A couple of returning placers with a tendency to pin could be in his path. Vestal’s James Benjamin notched four pins at the state tournament last year and 28 overall this campaign. Gio Santiago also knows how to throw opponents to their backs, with 30 falls. Don’t forget about Thomas Murray of Yorktown. At the beginning of the year, when asking about potential sleepers in Section 1, we were told to watch out for Murray and he has delivered with a good season.

James Corbett of Wantagh and Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South both lost 6-4 decisions to Trent Egenlauf of Spencerport. It was Liberatore’s only setback of the year, while Corbett had only one more (to Zack Zupan). There are a number of other tough wrestlers in the bottom half, but one of these three is likely to get a shot in the finals.

So . . . Finals experience helps Brady get back to the Saturday night main event, but in an upset, we’ll pick Egenlauf to stay undefeated for the title with very close decisions in the semis and finals.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Reggie Williams, Johnson City (Second at 195)

Reggie Williams has been among the best upperweights in the state for years now. As a freshman, he took sixth and last year he was second with all of his losses coming to state champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. He has been focused on one thing since stepping off the mat in Albany last February and that’s winning it all. So far, he has an unblemished record in 2012-13 and sits as the top seed. Will he get that crown? There will certainly be some obstacles for him. Before the brackets came out, we considered some possible finals opponents for Williams. Among those were Dan Choi of Syosset, undefeated pinning machine Chris Chambers of East Islip and Steven Sabella of Yorktown. (Williams beat Sabella with very late points, 7-5, at Eastern States). Guess what? A finals meeting between any of those guys won’t happen because they’re all on the top half.

So, who will emerge from the bottom? Colton Kells has marched through his senior year with an unblemished record. If he wins his first contest, he’ll certainly be tested by either Deon Edmond of Kingston, who came within one bout of placing last year or the tough Nick Weber of Kings Park. After earning All-American status in Fargo, Ben Honis has put together a nice resume with wins over several top 195 pounders and he’ll have a chance to add to that list when he faces Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley in Round 1.

So . . . All in all, it’s an impressive group of big guys. But despite the many obstacles in his way, Williams has been here before and knows what it takes. We think he’ll get it done in a tight bout over Kells, who came within a match of placing last year and has improved on his feet.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Nick Lupi, Huntington (Fifth at 220)

We were ready to go with a finals prediction of Nick Lupi of Huntington (31-1 after a fifth place showing in this class a year ago) against Rich Sisti of Monsignor Farrell (25-0, 20 pins). With the way the seeds fell, that won’t happen. There are candidates to upset either of those wrestlers, however. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau showed resilience when he came back from a first round loss at Eastern States to take third. In addition, the winner of the first round tilt between Section 8 champion Tom Sinclair of Island Trees and Marshall Taylor of Lockport could certainly go far.

On the bottom, there are many wrestlers with finals potential. John Hartnett of Tappan Zee and Jason Johnson of Colonie put together solid seasons. We think both Steven Mills of Sachem North and Matt Mott of Lynbrook have been somewhat under the radar this year. Our prediction is that one or both won’t be after the weekend.

So . . . Sisti will make it difficult, but we’ll say Lupi’s experience at this tournament leads him to a crown, over a tough fellow Long Islander.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (Second at 285)
Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (Sixth at 285)

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Our rankings have showcased El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia at #1 and Mike Hughes of Smithtown West at #2 for the whole season. Van Hoesen, a silver medalist in 2012, has been nothing short of dominant as a senior, going 37-0 with 24 pins and only two regular decisions. “Nothing short of dominant” could be used to describe Hughes as well. His numbers read: 38-0, 29 pins, 1 regular decision (over qualifier James O’Hagan). If Van Hoesen and Hughes continue to wrestle the way they have all year, the two returning medalists would battle in the semis.

Like Van Hoesen and Hughes, Mike Manni of Tappan Zee is unbeaten this year. He defeated returning qualifier David Varian of Yorktown in the Section 1 finals and a rematch could happen in the semis. However, there are several wrestlers who could stand in the way. Austin Coleman of Spencerport has over 35 wins, as does Newburgh’s Terrence Cheeks, who has exchanged wins with Varian this year.

So . . . The top half winner gets the gold. We’ll say that will be Van Hoesen, who will add a few more pins to his collection before the weekend’s over. After testing himself throughout the year, we’ll say Cheeks gets through the bottom.

New York State High School Rankings #3 – Where Things Stand As The Postseason Really Begins

The postseason is finally here.  Soon, we’ll find out who will have the opportunity to battle for a state title in Albany.  But before the Sectional championships get underway, here’s a look at where our panel thinks things stand across the weights in New York State.  There are sure to be some surprises and some great performances in the coming weeks by these wrestlers and by others.  Please feel free to provide comments or suggestions and we’ll consider them as long as they are done respectfully.

Good luck to all . . .

99 Pounds:

Photo by BV

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  5. Chris Cuccolo, Pine Bush (9)
  6. Garrett Baugher, St. Joseph’s Collegiate (C)
  7. John Busiello, Eastport South Manor (11)
  8. Andrew Flanagan, Holley (5)

A Few Notes: Busiello re-enters the rankings after splitting matches with John Arceri, although the Huntington wrestler came out on top in their bout this past weekend.  The Suffolk tournament will no doubt be tough at this weight with those two wrestlers and Jesse Dellevecchia all in the top 8.  Holley’s Andrew Flanagan also joins the list after edging Jake Yankloski of Wayne.  Flanagan looks to improve upon last year’s fourth place finish in this class in Albany.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  3. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  4. James Szymanski, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  5. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  6. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  7. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
  8. Luis Weirebach, Hoosick Falls (2)

A Few Notes: Golan Cohen of Colonie looked great at Eastern States and will likely be in the mix at the state tournament.  However, Luis Weirebach‘s recent decision against Cohen vaults him into the rankings, a year after placing at 99 pounds for Hoosick Falls.

Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  4. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  5. Tyler Walsh, West Islip (11)
  6. Andrew Shomers, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (11)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: The departure of Anthony Orefice to 120 pounds moved several wrestlers up a few slots from the last time.  In addition, Tyler Walsh of West Islip joins the rankings after his victory over Walt Whitman’s Joe Calderone, a returning fourth placer, in last weekend’s qualifier.  Andrew Shomers has been solid all year long with a 42-1 record, including wins over All-State wrestlers Orefice and Drew Marra.

120 Pounds:

  1. Alex Delacruz, Ossining (1)
  2. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  3. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)
  4. Blaise Benderoth, North Rockland (1)
  5. Travis Passaro, Eastport South Manor (11)
  6. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  7. Steve Michel, Lancaster (6)
  8. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)

A Few Notes:  The top five hasn’t changed since the last version of the rankings. Muldoon did lose a match in overtime to Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano (who has a number of solid wins), but Muldoon avenged that loss shortly thereafter. The injury to Nick Tolli of Arlington moved him off the list and Steve Michel re-entered. The returning state placer from Lancaster has several quality wins this year including over Sean Peacock, Anthony Orefice (twice) and Kellen Devlin of Amherst (twice).  We expect to see strong surges from proven postseason performers such as Robert Person and Trey Aslanian.

Photo by Josh Conklin

126 Pounds:

  1. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  2. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Mark West, Hauppauge (11)
  5. Brad Wade, Islip (11)
  6. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  7. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  8. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)

A Few Notes: The top four remain the same as last time at 126.  However, there is a bit of a shake-up afterwards. Islip’s Brad Wade moves into the rankings.  He has been impressive, beating Corey Jamison twice and state runner up Justin Cooksey. Honestly, eight slots don’t seem to be enough in this class.  Wrestlers such as Mike Raccioppi of Minisink Valley, Rocco Russo of Frontier, Laken Cook of Ilion, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo and Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s, among others, could do a lot of damage in Albany.

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  3. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  4. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  5. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  6. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  7. Conor O’Hara, Sachem East (11)
  8. Sam Ward, Locust Valley (8)

A Few Notes: Sam Ward of Locust Valley will be someone to watch in the Division II ranks. He upended Vinny Turano shortly after Eastern States and also had a win over Conor O’Hara in early December.  Two wrestlers that may be under the radar for those outside of Section 5, Jacob Sepor of Pavilion and Clyde Carey of Addison, are ones to keep tabs on as well.

Photo by Josh Conklin

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. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)
  8. Skylar Kropman, Penfield (5)

A Few Notes: Nothing has changed here. However, one wrestler we will be following the rest of the way is Danny Graham of West Seneca East.  Before the season, he was mentioned to us by a Section 6 coach as someone who could have a breakout year.  Thus far, he is undefeated.

145 Pounds:

  1. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  2. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  5. Brendan Dent, Connetquot (11)
  6. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  7. Jordan Torbitt, Whitney Point (4)
  8. Nick Koelmel, Immaculate Heart Central (3)

A Few Notes: Louis Hernandez holds the top spot and Eric Lewandowski remains in the rankings, although both dropped a match since our last update.  Hernandez’s only setback of the year came up a weight at 152 against the tough Michael Marrero. However, Hernandez’s run through some of New York’s best at Eastern States kept him in the same position. Tom Grippi has been on a tear since dropping a close one to Lewandowski at Eastern States.

Brendan Dent enters the rankings after an impressive campaign, including a win over Sachem East’s Jackson Mordente, while Jordan Torbitt blanked Norwich’s Frank Garcia, a wrestler who came within one win of placing in Albany last year. Nick Koelmel of Immaculate Heart Central handed Derrick Gray of Indian River (see 138 pound rankings) his only loss early in the season and has remained undefeated. Fredonia’s Jude Gardner placed in the Times Union Center last year and has only lost to Drew Hull this season (twice).  He may get another shot at Hull this weekend.

Photo by Josh Conklin

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  3. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  4. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  5. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  6. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  7. Joe Mastro, Yorktown (1)
  8. Alex Smythe, Eden (6)

A Few Notes: The small school tournament in Section 3 will be extremely tough this weekend at 152 pounds.  Tyler Spann, Rowdy Prior and two-time state placer Isaiah Riccio of Beaver River will fight it out for the  title.  Riccio has taken third and fifth the past two years in Albany and knows how to perform on the biggest stage. Rasheed and Koo keep cruising to victories.

160 Pounds:

  1. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  2. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  3. Steven Schneider, MacArthur (8)
  4. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  5. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  6. Andrew Psomas, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  7. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)
  8. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)

A Few Notes: There haven’t been any changes here.  Staying on our radar is General Brown’s Tyler Silverthorn, a placer in Albany last year, who seems to be picking up some steam as the most important matches of the year approach. In addition, returning All-Stater Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill is back after injuries kept him on the sideline for much of the season.  He’ll be someone to watch as well.

Photo by Josh Conklin

170 Pounds:

  1. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  2. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  3. Joe Piccolo, HHHW (11)
  4. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  5. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  6. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  7. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  8. Mike Green, Cobleskill-Richmondville (2)

A Few Notes: Joe Piccolo goes to third after pinning Carlos Toribio at the Islip Cup.  Previously, Toribio had notched a 5-0 decision over Piccolo.  The rubber match could happen in a few days.  Mike Green makes his debut in the rankings. The Section 2 wrestler is 40-1 with his loss coming against Vrasidas.  He has defeated state placer Brad Burns and previously ranked Brett Perry of John Jay East Fishkill.  Brockport’s Jared Mesiti is another wrestler who could made a big impact at the state tournament.

182 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: Williamsville South’s Anthony Liberatore, who won multiple matches in the state capital last season, comes in at number eight.  He has put together an impressive season with a single loss (to Egenlauf).  Thomas Murray of Yorktown is also a medal contender.

Photo by Josh Conklin

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  4. Chris Chambers, East Islip (11)
  5. Steven Sabella, Yorktown (1)
  6. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)
  7. Ben Honis, CBA/Jamesville-Dewitt (3)
  8. Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (2)

A Few Notes: Ben Honis made the podium at Fargo this summer and has followed up with a strong season, including wins over wrestlers like Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur, Tyler Smith of Midlakes and Scott Wymbs of Horace Greeley.  He also recently beat Joe Nasoni of Baldwinsville, who was in the last set of rankings.  The two could meet again for the Section 3 crown. Joining this list at 195 is Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa, who has moved up after spending much of the campaign at 182. Syosset’s Dan Choi has been dominant and should be a contender in Albany.

220 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: Matt Mott of Lynbrook enters the rankings after his undefeated campaign.  He will definitely be tested this weekend, however, as he wrestles a very tough group in Section 8. Steven Mills of Sachem North will look to top Nick Lupi in Section 11 after a 34-1 season.

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. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  6. Terrence Cheeks, NFA (9)
  7. Austin DiCerbo, Colonie (2)
  8. David Varian, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: There was some movement here.  The trio of Austin DiCerbo of Colonie, David Varian of Yorktown and Terrence Cheeks of Newburgh have taken turns beating each other with Cheeks coming out on top of recent meetings.  Brandon Fayle of Lowville was upset last weekend, while Austin Coleman of Spencerport looks to be peaking at the right time and will be a tough matchup in the postseason.

————

Special thanks to Mike Carey.

2 weeks to go until the state tournament!

High School Round Up: Weekend News and Notes from the Road to Albany

It’s February and that means the road to the state championships has begun.  On Saturday and Sunday, a number of postseason events took place across the state, helping to shape the brackets for this weekend’s Sectional qualifiers.

There were too many big matches and results to recap, but here are just a few of the things that caught our eye.  The countdown to the first whistle at the Times Union Center is now just about two and a half weeks away!

In Section 1, Yorktown has had a strong presence in our individual rankings this season with Joe Mastro, Steven Sabella and David Varian included in the last version and Thomas Murray falling just outside our top 8 at 182.  Those wrestlers continued their winning ways this weekend, with Sabella having a tough match with another high quality wrestler – Scott Wymbs of Horace Greeley.  Both of those wrestlers have what it takes to make some noise later this month.

Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill made the medal stand at 145 a year ago and was someone we were tracking as a potential state title contender coming into the campaign.  However, he didn’t compete due to injury until January.  This weekend, he picked up a title and is undefeated in limited action thus far at 160.  Perhaps his time off will benefit him down the stretch run.

Ashley, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 2, Levi Ashley spent a bulk of the season at 182 pounds for Shenendehowa where he took fourth at the Eastern States Classic and nearly placed at the Reno Tournament of Champions against some of the nation’s best.  For the past few weeks, however, he has been up at 195 pounds and has gone undefeated there.  That run includes multiple wins over the tough Wayne Burt of Colonie, including a major decision in the finals over the weekend.  He seems primed for a strong postseason.

Meanwhile, El Shaddai Van Hoesen continued his total dominance, quickly pinning Colonie’s Austin DiCerbo, a wrestler who could contend for the medal stand in Albany if he earns the opportunity.

In Section 3, a few wrestlers ranked in the state were upset. At heavyweight, Canastota’s Jacob Morris beat Brandon Fayle of Lowville 3-2 in the semifinals of the Class C tournament before topping Brandon Yager of Ilion for the championship.  Fayle pinned Morris to win the Class title a year ago.

In addition, Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack (ranked at 99), fell at 106 pounds to Hunter Owen of Sherburne-Earlville while Ben Honis, who was in the honorable mention section of the rankings, continued his strong season with a 3-2 win over Baldwinsville’s Joe Nasoni.  It was Nasoni’s first loss at 195 this year.

In Section 4, Jordan Torbitt of Whitney Point took center stage at the Class B Championships. Last year as an eighth grader, Torbitt won more than 25 matches and took second at the Sectional tournament at 152 pounds behind All-Stater Dan Dickman of Greene.  He has continued to shine as a freshman, bringing a 33-1 mark into the weekend after avenging his only loss to Newark Valley’s Trevor Hoffmeir.  Torbitt impressed again on Saturday, beating Norwich’s Frank Garcia, a returning state qualifier who was ranked in New York.

Dietrich, Photo by Josh Conklin

The Greene middle/upper weights looked solid with Mike Beckwith and Christian Dietrich grabbing first place. Teammate Joel Roselle missed some time in the lineup but returned at 182 pounds where he took second behind Unatego’s Ryan Marszal.

In Section 5, a pair of wrestlers ranked in New York squared off in the finals of the Class A tournament at 99 pounds, with #1 Yianni Diakomihalis pinning Wayne’s Jake Yankloski.  It was a good day for a number of Diakomihalis’s teammates as well, as brothers Vincent, Anthony and Lou Deprez all won Class A crowns.

In that same tournament, Yankloski’s teammate Bryan Lantry picked up a major decision over Brockport’s Barton Peters, who had come in with a 22-2 mark.

Like Diakomihalis, Hornell’s Zack Bacon sat atop our last set of individual New York State rankings.  The 220 pounder has rarely been challenged this season as he won by bonus points in his first 33 matches.  However, John Martisch presented an formidable obstacle as Bacon edged the Penn Yan wrestler 2-1.

In Section 6, in a battle of All-State wrestlers, Steve Michel of Lancaster pinned Anthony Orefice for his second victory over the Lockport wrestler this season at 120 pounds. (The first was a close decision). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the two of them square off again next weekend as they look to get back to Albany.

In another meeting of previous placers, returning state runner up Drew Hull of Royalton Hartland edged Jude Gardner at 145 pounds.  It was Hull’s second victory over the Fredonia wrestler this year.

Gardner’s teammate Chris Saden brought an unblemished record into the weekend, however, he was upended in the finals, as Steven Warthling of Tonawanda earned a 9-6 decision.  It should be an interesting weight at Sectionals.

Troy Seymour became the first-ever wrestler from Section 7 to reach 200 wins.  On Thursday night, the Peru senior pinned Hunter Bishop in the first period at 170 pounds to pick up the milestone victory.  In addition, Peru captured the Champlain Valley title over Saranac.

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 8, Mepham’s Jamie Dunn was an All-County wrestler in 2012 and figured to contend for the Nassau title this year.  However, he entered the qualifier with a 23-15 record.  He exited with a title, winning four straight matches, including avenging a loss to Matt Krause and beating top seeded Lucas Pincus in the finals.  His teammates Louis Hernandez and Dan Tracy breezed to championships as well with all bonus wins and look to return to the Times Union Center for the second straight time.

138 pounds will certainly be interesting in the Nassau tournament. Highly ranked wrestlers like Rob Bennett of MacArthur, Quinn Knauer of Baldwin and Rob Rosenberg of Hewlett were among those upset and new contenders emerged, such as Brian Quiroz of Valley Stream Central who came in with a 3-1 record with all four matches in December up at 152 pounds.

Also of note, returning state runner up Justin Cooksey of MacArthur didn’t compete.

Section 9 held its JV Championships over the weekend.  For full results, see here.

In Section 10, Gouverneur closed out another undefeated conference season with a home victory over Massena.  Senior Dillon Stowell collected his 150th career victory and will try for his first state title in a few weeks after placing multiple times.

In Section 11, there were a number of rematches between wrestlers ranked statewide. At 99 pounds, John Arceri of Huntington avenged a loss by fall to John Busiello by edging the Eastport South Manor wrestler 3-2 on Saturday.

In another rematch between two of the top grapplers in New York, Alex Tanzman defeated James Szymanski again, this time by pin. The two had recently wrestled a close bout at 106.

In addition, Islip’s Brad Wade topped Huntington’s Corey Jamison at 126 pounds by a 2-1 score for the second time this season. Wade has been on a very impressive run after a few early losses and looks like a threat to win some matches in Albany – if he can get through the challenging 126-pound Suffolk bracket.

Tyler Walsh of West Islip lost 9-4 to returning fourth placer Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman earlier in the campaign.  This weekend, he prevailed by the same score against Calderone.  Walsh has quietly had a very strong 32-2 year with his only other setback coming against Danbury’s Kevin Jack, the Eastern States Champion at 120.

An article on the PSAL Dual Championship won by Brooklyn Tech, can be found here.

In CHSAA action, Monsignor Farrell crowned seven champions in the New York City qualifier and at least 19 wrestlers from the squad will compete in the Catholic States next weekend.  In the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA League Finals, St. Anthony’s Johnny Vrasidas was named Most Outstanding Wrestler while teammate Joe Russ earned Champion of Champion accolades.

The following is a compilation of some of this weekend’s results. More will be added when available.  That countdown to Albany continues . . .

 

Section 1, Divisional Results

Section 2 Class Results

Section 3 Results

Section 4 Results

Section 5, Class A

Section 5, Class AA

Section 5, Class B

Section 5, Class BB

Section 5, Class BBB

Section 6, Class A

Section 6, Class AA

Section 6, Class C

Section 6, Class D

Section 8, Division I at Mepham

Section 11 Results

Catholic Qualifier (Upstate)

Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA

 

New York State Rankings #2 for 2012-13 Season

We said the first set of rankings of the year would probably be the toughest. We were wrong. These were much tougher.

However, after much discussion and debate, here are the current opinions of those who collaborated on this project. We will once again consider all of your feedback . . . as long as it’s done respectfully.

So, here you go . . .

Photo by BV

99 Pounds:

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. Ryan O’Rourke, Adirondack (3)
  5. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  6. Chris Cuccolo, Pine Bush (9)
  7. Jake Yankloski, Wayne (5)
  8. Garrett Baugher, St. Joseph’s Collegiate (C)

A Few Notes: Diakomihalis remains at number one despite winning a tournament title up at 106 over Jonathan Haas this weekend.  The Eastern States Classic featured some close bouts at this weight, including Cuccolo’s overtime triumph over Yankloski for the title. That came one round after Yankloski’s extra time victory over Eastport South Manor’s John Busiello in the semis. There’s no doubt that Busiello will be heard from in the postseason as well.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  3. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  4. James Szymanski, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  5. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  6. Golan Cohen, Colonie (2)
  7. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  8. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
A Few Notes: Tanzman remains in the top spot, followed by Barbaria. The New Rochelle wrestler had an impressive Eastern States, earning the crown with victories over Overhiser and Quinn in tight matches in the semis and finals. Szymanski and Cohen enter the rankings after taking third and fourth at that event, featuring several quality victories.

Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: The makeup of the top 8 here hasn’t undergone too much change since the last rankings. (Barbaria, previously here, moved down to 106 and Calderone joined the list while Orefice has spent some time up at 120).  Piccininni dominated at the Eastern States while Kelly did the same the previous week at the Union-Endicott Duals.

120 Pounds:

  1. Alex Delacruz, Ossining (1)
  2. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  3. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)
  4. Blaise Benderoth, North Rockland (1)
  5. Travis Passaro, Eastport South Manor (11)
  6. Nick Tolli, Arlington (1)
  7. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  8. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)

A Few Notes: This weight took more time than most of the others combined. What has changed? Honestly, what hasn’t? The Eastern States tournament was loaded at this class and a number of highly accomplished wrestlers, including the #2, 3, 4 and 5 seeds at the event didn’t place. Why this arrangement? Yes, Delacruz was disqualified while trailing during his semis bout with Muldoon. However, looking at the matches that have taken place among these wrestlers this season, Delacruz pinned D’Angelo, who in turn beat Muldoon earlier this year.  Muldoon topped Benderoth, who defeated Passaro for bronze at SUNY Sullivan. (Passaro won their meeting the previous day by fall).

Tolli and Retell turned in strong performances in Loch Sheldrake as well, with Tolli topping Steve Michel and Chris Cataldo on his way to fifth while Retell also placed after beating Santo Curatolo, Cataldo and two-time state runner up Trey Aslanian.

Photo by Josh Conklin

126 Pounds:

  1. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  2. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Mark West, Hauppauge (11)
  5. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  6. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  7. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  8. Mike Raccioppi, Minisink Valley (9)

A Few Notes:  Most of the names are the same here with the order slightly rearranged. Fabian’s championship over the weekend, in which he defeated Realbuto and Koll, puts him on top. Realbuto beat Araoz, who topped Koll.  One of the new additions to the list is Mark West, a former state champion who was fourth at Eastern States and will be no doubt be a factor in the postseason. Islip’s Brad Wade is among the many others to keep an eye on.  He recently avenged two early season losses and has solid wins over Jamison and state runner up Justin Cooksey.

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  3. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  4. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  5. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  6. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  7. Conor O’Hara, Sachem East (11)
  8. Jacob Sepor, Pavilion (5)

A Few Notes: Rodriguez-Spencer has continued to roll but there was a little shakeup behind him. Two-time state finalist Rifanburg takes the second slot after winning Eastern States this weekend, while the wrestler he defeated for the title, Melikian, is next. Then comes bronze finisher Leshinger, who split contests with Turano at SUNY Sullivan. O’Hara has been on a tear since moving down to 132 pounds.

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. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)
  8. Skylar Kropman, Penfield (5)

A Few Notes: While the match many were hoping to see, Kelley vs. Tighe, didn’t materialize (Tighe forfeited in the semis), Kelley reinforced his hold on #1 with his outstanding showing. Joining the fray is Penfield’s Skylar Kropman after making the medal stand from an unseeded spot in the bracket at Eastern States.

145 Pounds:

  1. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  2. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  5. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  6. Jackson Mordente, Sachem East (11)
  7. Frank Garcia, Norwich (4)
  8. Jude Gardner, Fredonia (6)

A Few Notes: Hernandez is the new #1 here after leading the way at the Eastern States. The Mepham wrestler was in great form over the weekend, beating Almaviva in the semifinals before taking out the tournament’s top seed in the finals. State runner up Hull enters the 145 pound rankings after moving down from 152.  Garcia missed a portion of the season with an injury but has made an effective return, including a podium showing at the Eastern States. While not presently included, Anthony DePrez is putting together a very solid season for Hilton.

Photo by BV

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  3. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  4. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  5. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  6. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  7. Dan DeCarlo, Port Jervis (9)
  8. Joe Mastro, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: Corey Rasheed made a strong statement about who the best in New York is at 152 by rolling through the tournament at SUNY Sullivan, which included a number of ranked opponents. DeCarlo and Mastro made the list after their performances over the weekend as well. Kyle Halliday of Chenango Valley also continues to have a strong campaign, with his only loss coming up a weight to Vestal’s Alex Francik, a wrestler who was strongly considered at 160.

160 Pounds:

  1. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  2. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  3. Steven Schneider, MacArthur (8)
  4. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  5. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  6. Andrew Psomas, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  7. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)
  8. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)

A Few Notes: Paddock captured the battle of the top wrestlers at this weight over Grimaldi. Two of the fastest risers in the rankings were MacArthur’s Schneider and Monsignor Farrell’s Psomas, who battled for third at the Eastern States. Schneider also beat Weber the previous week at the Union-Endicott Duals.

170 Pounds:

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

 A Few Notes: Another weight with a new #1. McDevitt takes over after coming out on top in a field full of stellar wrestlers and keeping his unbeaten streak as an upperweight alive. Dietrich and Piccolo both defeated Seymour on Saturday while Toribio, Buckley and Vrasidas have continued to wrestle well. Perry got the nod for the eighth spot but Brockport’s Jared Mesiti is also one to look out for at this weight class as is Mike Green of Cobleskill-Richmondville and the previously ranked AJ Voelker of Monroe Woodbury.

182 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: Zupan does have some blemishes on his record – a loss while wrestling up at 195 (he was winning at the time of the fall) and a disqualification. However, the former state champion demonstrated that he is the wrestler to beat with his showing at the Eastern States, including a championship win over Schaefer. Egenlauf defeated Corbett at Union-Endicott duals while the Wantagh wrestler responded at SUNY Sullivan by taking third with a win over Ashley. Section 6’s Anthony Liberatore, who wrestled well in Albany last year, continues to impress.

Photo by BV

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  4. Chris Chambers, East Islip (11)
  5. Steven Sabella, Yorktown (1)
  6. Joe Nasoni, Baldwinsville (3)
  7. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)
  8. Dan Choi, Syosset (8)

A Few Notes: Sabella and Nasoni enter after picking up some solid victories as does Chambers after beating Weber (who beat Choi). According to the NWCA Scorebook, Chambers has won every match this year by bonus points (and has 17 first period falls). Reggie Williams stays on top after his weekend title while Mazurowski remains in the second slot as the favorite in Division II. Both Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur and Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt/CBA put on strong showings at the Eastern States and will be threats in February along with Collin Pittman of Spencerport and Tyler Morris of Salem.

220 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: Breit and Silvis traded positions after the Nanuet wrestler defeated the Holley grappler for the Eastern States crown. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau made a statement with his bronze placement at the same tournament and is one we will keep close tabs on, along with Islip’s Ryan Hughes.

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. Austin DiCerbo, Colonie (2)
  8. David Varian, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: The top six didn’t change after the last set of rankings, however, DiCerbo makes his debut after pinning Varian for the bronze at Eastern States. It was one of four falls for the Colonie wrestler at the tournament.

Special thanks to Mike Carey for his tremendous work on these rankings.

* Results based on NWCA Scorebook

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

Columbia's El Shaddai VanHoesen: By "Almighty", Refuse to Lose

When your name translates to “God Almighty”, high expectations have been set from birth.

New York’s top high school heavyweight, El Shaddai VanHoesen, isn’t intimidated.

VanHoesen, Photo by BV

“I have ‘God Almighty’ tattooed on my forearm,” VanHoesen said. “My mom is very religious and always instilled me with confidence. My mom and dad said they were thinking of a bunch of names and that’s the one they felt was right for me.  They wanted me to live up to it.”

The Columbia High School senior, who was second at the state tournament in 2012 and who has earned accolades in competitions both in the Empire State and nationally over the years, is pushed by more than living up to his name.

In fact, he draws a lot of his strength from his 13-year old sibling.

“When my brother was younger, he needed a liver transplant,” VanHoesen said. “He was living a normal life for a couple of years after that.  But right before the postseason last year, his liver failed again. He needed another transplant and not just for his liver. He had to go out to a hospital in Nebraska and before he left he told me wanted to see me keep winning. He gave me inspiration.”

That inspiration helped VanHoesen go on a tremendous run in the season’s most important event. After taking third at the Section 2 championships, VanHoesen earned the last wildcard spot in the 285-pound draw for the state tournament.  He wanted to make the most of it, despite dealing with a high ankle sprain.

“It’s rare that three wrestlers get in from the Section,” said Columbia head coach Anthony Servidone, noting that Section 2 champion Cory Quintana and All-State wrestler Cole Lampman got bids as well. “We felt that [Van Hoesen] had a great opportunity and he took advantage.”

After wins in his first two matches, VanHoesen was set to face a familiar foe, Lampman, in the semifinals.  Earlier in the season, the Shenendehowa wrestler (now starting at Princeton), defeated VanHoesen, 5-1.

It was a different story at the Times Union Center as VanHoesen came out on top, 4-2, in what he called the biggest win of his wrestling career.

“Beating Lampman made me realize what I could do if I put my mind to it,” VanHoesen said. “I was wrestling to the level of my competition before, wrestling not to lose. When you go out there, you need to fully believe that you’re the better guy. The coaches have always pounded into my head that I work hard and I should win. I realized that I am a top level guy and I need to wrestle like a top level wrestler.”

So while he fell a point short in the New York title bout against Syosset’s Evan Kappatos, his belief carried through to the offseason where he earned All-America status for the third straight year at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and also registered quality victories at the Disney Duals in Florida and at the Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.

“After the state tournament, he took just one day off,” Servidone said. “On Monday, he wanted to drill. He wanted a partner to start getting ready for nationals.  That’s when I knew he was really focused.  I see a big difference in him this year all the way around from work ethic to overall attitude toward the sport. He committed to wrestling this past spring, summer and fall.”

And he’s committed to having wrestling as a part of his future. He is being pursued by four Division I programs, but hasn’t completed his official visits yet. VanHoesen said he isn’t sure on the timetable for his college decision as he’s focused on making the most of this season first.

That focus has been significantly enhanced by the addition of a new workout partner in the Columbia wrestling room — former New York state champion and Sacred Heart grappler Brandon Lapp.

“Bringing [Lapp] in has really paid dividends,” Servidone said. “Last year [VanHoesen] was wrestling guys half his size sometimes. It was difficult to find anyone who was big enough and could challenge him.”

“It’s probably made the biggest difference of anything in my career,” VanHoesen added. “[Lapp] is the perfect size where he forces me to move and work on my speed, positioning and leverage.  I wrestled with a lot of smaller guys before who couldn’t really push me. Having a partner like this is huge for me.”

With that extra push in practice on a daily basis and a boost from feeling better at around 270 pounds, VanHoesen expects to not only win every time he takes the mat, but to win with dominance.

VanHoesen, Photo by BV

So far, he’s done just that, capturing all but one of his matches this season by pin.  (The other victory was by technical fall).

In fact, this past weekend, VanHoesen pinned his way through the PSAL Holiday Tournament and only had to wrestle into the second period once.

The title in New York City was significant for a number of reasons.  First, he collected a milestone win and second, he became the first-ever high school wrestling champion crowned at Madison Square Garden. (The finals of the event started at heavyweight).

“It definitely wasn’t a bad place to get my 100th win,” VanHoesen said with a laugh. “I tend not to let big stages get to me.  I just try to focus and take care of business. So before the match, I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that I was wrestling at Madison Square Garden.  But after the match, it was like, ‘wow’.  It really hit me that I was the first person to win a high school tournament there.”

It’s likely that there will be a number of other titles for VanHoesen this year, however, the senior’s accolades on the mat aren’t the only things that impress Servidone.

“With his brother in the hospital in Nebraska, his mother has to spend a lot of time there,” Servidone said. “He’s a high school student living a young adult life.”

“My mom spends a lot of time out there [Nebraska],” VanHoesen added. “It’s tough for my little brother and two younger sisters who are here.  But we have a strong support system with my grandmother and I feel like I stepped up as the older brother. We all take on a lot of roles and a lot of responsibilities.  But along with that comes a lot of rewards too.  And I feel like I have two families. Columbia wrestling has been with me the whole way. Coach Servidone takes care of all of us and the Columbia parents show me every bit of love they can. Everyone is so supportive.”

That support will continue. In February of 2013, VanHoesen expects that a special guest will help him in his quest to get to the top of the podium at the Times Union Center.

“I think my brother will be back from Nebraska for the state tournament this year — I’m confident about that,” he said. “He’s making progress, getting better every day. He’s the toughest kid on the planet. With the transplants and everything going on, he’s always positive and he refuses to give up.  That’s my mentality in wrestling – refuse to lose. It’s sad that he can’t wrestle because he has the spirit for it.  So I feel like I’ll keep doing it for him.”

And he’ll keep working to live up to his name.

Section 2 Overview: Kelley and Almaviva Lead Nationally-Ranked Shenendehowa; Finalists Van Hoesen and Soutiere Look for Titles

 

By Mike Carey

 

Division I

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

285 Pounds:  El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia, Second Place

132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa, Third Place

138 Pounds: David Almaviva, Shenendehowa, Third Place

113 Pounds: Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam, Fourth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Kevin Parker, Shenendehowa

106 Pounds: Corey Ali, Shenendehowa

106 Pounds: Dominic Inzana, Saratoga

113 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Shenendehowa

120 Pounds: Zach Joseph, Shenendehowa

132 Pounds: Joey Butler, Burnt Hills

152 Pounds: Angelo Kress, Columbia

 

Top Seniors

Nick Kelley, Photo by BV

Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) – Arguably the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the state, Kelley will have laser focus this season as he attempts to claim an elusive state title.  His only loss last season came at the hands of state champion Jamel Hudson in the state tournament semifinals.  Kelley has had a busy offseason highlighted by his fourth place finish at the Freestyle Junior Nationals in Fargo.  In August, Kelley gave a verbal commitment to continue his career at Binghamton.

David Almaviva (Shenendehowa) – At last year’s state tournament, Almaviva lost his opening match to Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi . . . and then reeled off five straight victories and took home third place honors. Like Kelley, Almaviva placed in the prestigious tournament at Fargo, earning eighth place honors at 145 pounds. He will also be continuing his academic and wrestling careers at Binghamton.

El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

El Shaddai VanHoesen (Columbia) – The heavyweight was one takedown away from a state title last year.  The Columbia senior lost his “all-wildcard” final bout against Evan Kappatos of Syosset by a score of 3-2.  His team’s competitive schedule affords the 285 pounder the opportunity to grapple against many of the top wrestlers in the state.  Of his seven losses last year, five were at the hands of foes who finished in the top four in New York.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . . (Juniors and Seniors)

Corey Ali, Levi Ashley and Zach Joseph (Shenendehowa) – Seven Plainsmen competed at the state tournament a year ago and the Section 2 power will likely send a large group again. Ali, the defending Section 2 champion, is expected to be among them.  He was not able to compete at the state tournament last year, but prior to the event, he posted victories over some impressive foes, including qualifiers Dominic Inzana and Kyler Harrington and All-State wrestler Johnny Stramiello from Section 9.  Ali is motivated to make a run at a state title this year and it won’t be surprising if he does.  Teammate Ashley didn’t get a bid to states last year after taking second in Section 2 behind Matt Lashway, who was the number two seed at the Times Union Center.  However, he went 34-7 in 2011-12 including quality victories over wrestlers such as state placers Rrok Ndokaj, Andrew Jones and Tyler Morris (twice).  Frank Popolizio said he believes Ashley “will shock some people” in 2012-13.  Joseph is looking for a return trip to the state capital after going 1-2 in Albany after a season with over 30 wins.

Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam) – Without question, Lapi is extremely talented.  He finished last season with a 50-4 record, with two of his losses coming in Albany to state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers and third place finisher Patrick Skinner, who now wrestles for Rider.  Both of those matches were tight, with a 4-3 decision against Realbuto and a 4-2 margin versus Skinner. It is likely that he’ll be high on the podium again in the state capital.

Angelo Kress (Columbia) – In a 41-6 sophomore season, Kress registered 26 pins and came within one win of making All-State at 152 pounds.  He dropped his opening round match in Albany to eventual runner up Nicky Hall of Longwood but responded with a pair of victories in the wrestlebacks.  The Columbia wrestler’s achievements go beyond the state borders, as he was an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals in both 2010 and 2011.  He also showed his prowess in the international styles, going a combined 13-1 at the Cadet Freestyle and Greco Duals for Team New York in Florida. He will be a podium threat in February of 2013.

Blake Retell (Shaker) – After winning Section 2 titles in 2010 and 2011, Retell missed the postseason a year ago while injured.  Up to that point, he had been impressive, notching a 28-2 record at 120 pounds, including a victory over Jesse Porter.  He captured his bracket at the Journeymen Classic earlier this fall and after winning one match in each of his two visits to the state tournament, he’ll be looking to get back and win some more as a junior.

Joey Butler (Burnt Hills) – Butler racked up a 41-6 mark with 29 pins.  He took second in the Section behind Kelley and got his hand raised once in Albany after receiving a wildcard bid.  Now a junior, Butler is looking to go further in a follow up trip to the state capital.  He is off to a 4-0 start.

Frank Nassivera (Queensbury) – Nassivera won over 30 matches as a sophomore at 160 pounds.  A few weeks after the season was over, he earned All-America status at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  At that tournament, he lost his first round match but responded with five straight victories in the wrestlebacks.  After a loss, he came out on top in overtime in the fifth place bout.  That performance could propel him to a breakthrough year in Section 2 in 2012-13.

Brendan Goldup (La Salle) – Goldup took sixth at 112 pounds as a ninth grader in 2010 at the state tournament.  He’s also made an impact in the international styles, including taking fifth nationally in Greco Roman at Fargo this summer at 152 pounds. According to Columbia head coach Anthony Servidone, Goldup has what it takes not only to get back to the state tournament but to do some damage there.

John McHugh (Columbia) – McHugh took third at the Section 2 event a year ago to cap off a 42-8 campaign for Columbia.  Servidone believes he’s primed for a breakout year.  His younger brother Matt has earned All-America honors in Schoolboy events and is another wrestler to monitor after earning 20 wins as a seventh grader.

 

And A Few More to Keep Tabs On . . . (Sophomores and Younger)

Dominic Inzana (Saratoga) – Inzana went 44-8, primarily at 106 pounds as a ninth grader.  Five of his losses were to New York placers, including a pair in Albany, where he came within one win of earning All-State honors.

Chris Tangora (Bethlehem Central) – As a freshman 182 pounder, Tangora won 26 matches with 18 pins for Bethlehem Central.  His offseason work put him on the radar of wrestlers to watch when he earned All-America status at 195 pounds at the Cadet Nationals in Fargo.

Kevin Parker and Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa) – Parker won more than 30 matches as an eighth grader at 99 pounds, including solid wins over Division II placer Luis Weirebach and qualifier Tyler Hartinger.  He earned a trip to Albany, where he went 0-2.  Also making an appearance in the state capital was Porter after a 36-7 campaign at 113 pounds.  Porter had a successful summer in the international styles, taking fourth in Greco Roman in Fargo at 132 pounds.

Kyle Greene (Columbia) – Greene went 41-7 as a freshman at 120 pounds in 2011-12, including a win over Zach Joseph. According to Servidone, he’s ready to take the next step this year and will be a contender in the lightweights.

 

Team Talk

Shenendehowa is currently the only Empire State squad in Intermat’s national rankings.  There is little doubt that the Plainsmen will be a force.  Servidone said simply, “Shenendehowa has an exceptional team.”

While the Plainsmen will be difficult to beat not only in Section 2 but statewide, there are several other large school teams to keep tabs on in Section II this year, according to Servidone, including Columbia, Burnt Hills, Queensbury and Averill Park.

Columbia did part with high quality wrestlers such as Evan Wallace, Matt Greene and Brendan Morgan, however the squad returns a pair of qualifiers from 2012 in state runner up Van Hoesen and Kress and several others ready to make an impact this season.

“We lost quite a lot of guys to graduation, but we still have a very good team,” Servidone said. “We’ll have some guys do very well this year.”

Burnt Hills welcomes back state qualifier Joey Butler as well as bronze medalist Race Viedt, fourth placer Jake Ashcraft and several other medalists, including Christian Gramuglia, Nolan Hale and Jack Hatton.

“I think Burnt Hills will be a very good and consistent dual team,” Servidone said.  “They return almost everyone.”

Queensbury said goodbye to Section champion Matt Lashway and second placers Casey Jones, Josh St. John, Mike Hewitt and Alex Pontiff as well as medalists Tyler Wood and Nick Rouse. However, the squad returns plenty of talent and experience with bronze winners Evan Myers and Frank Nassivera as well as additional medalists Nick Robbins, Brandon Winchip and Brian Stevens.

“Queensbury graduated a number of guys, but they always put a lot of good guys out there. I expect they will again this year.  I also think there will several other good teams in the mix, including Averill Park.”

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

285 Pounds: Alex Soutiere, Ravena CS, Second Place

182 Pounds: Tyler Morris, Salem, Fourth Place

99 Pounds: Luis Weierbach, Hoosick Falls, Fifth Place

170 Pounds: Brad Burns, Hoosick Falls, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Alexis Bleau, Schoharie

106 Pounds: Carter Merecki, Salem

106 Pounds: Jerome Gladney, Ravena CS

113 Pounds: Kyler Harrington, Hudson Falls

120 Pounds: Al Aubin, Whitehall

138 Pounds: John Diekel, Whitehall

145 Pounds: Geno Brancati, Hudson Falls

145 Pounds: Connor Lawrence, Duanesburg

152 Pounds: Nick Gallo, Schalmont

170 Pounds: Mike Green, Colbeskill-Richmondville

220 Pounds: Joe Sprung, Berne-Knox Westerlo

 

Top Seniors

Alex Soutiere, Photo by BV

Alex Soutiere (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) – Soutiere had a good regular season and an outstanding state tournament.  In the semifinals, he pulled of one of the bigger upsets of the tournament when he upended Section 5 standout Kacee Sauer by a score of 5-3.  Do not be surprised if Soutiere uses the momentum of last season’s finale to propel him to his ultimate goal, the state title.

Brad Burns (Hoosick Falls) – Burns had a 27-4 record last year, with all four of his losses coming to wrestlers who placed in the top 6 in New York.  Expect Burns to have another stellar year and improve upon his sixth place finish in Albany.

Tyler Morris (Salem) – Morris earned fourth in New York in 2012 at 182 pounds for Salem.  He began the state tournament with a loss in his opening bout but bounced back with four straight wins before dropping the bronze contest to Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer. With only three of the top eight finishers back in the bracket, Morris will look to move up the podium.  Looking to join him on the stand is teammate Carter Merecki, a junior, who came within one victory over making All-State last year when he went 33-4 at 106 pounds.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . . (Juniors and Seniors)

Brandon Lapi, Photo by BV

Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls) – Weirebach won over 30 matches at 99 pounds and took fifth place in New York State.  Now a junior, Weirebach will aim to move a bit higher on the podium in the lightweights.

John Diekel (Whitehall) Diekel had over 30 wins at 138 pounds, with a Section 2 championship and a 2-2 performance at the state tournament. He’ll try to make the medal stand in his final year of high school wrestling. Trying to do the same is Diekel’s teammate Al Aubin, who went to Albany as well after a 25-win campaign.

Mike Green (Cobleskill-Richmondville) – Green went 39-6 in his junior campaign at 170 pounds.  In the Section 2 final, he dropped a one-point decision to All-State wrestler Brad Burns.  He followed that up by going 1-2 at the Times Union Center and is looking for a return trip.

Joe Sprung (Berne-Knox Waterlo) – Sprung and teammate Matt Casullo were the first wrestlers in their school’s history to make the New York state tournament.  Sprung lost a match the first weekend of the season and then reeled off over 30 straight victories to win the Section 2 title at 220 pounds.  In Albany, Sprung came within one match of placing and will look to make more history for his school as a senior.

 

Youth Movement (Sophomores and Younger)

Nick Gallo (Schalmont) – As a freshman 152 pounder, Gallo went 41-7, including a pair of victories at the state tournament, which left him one victory short of making All-State.  His losses were to the third (Tristan Hamner) and fourth place finishers (Dan Dickman, by a 4-3 score).

Geno Brancati (Hudson Falls) – Brancati recorded a 31-8 mark as a freshman at 145 pounds, earning the Section 2 title and a trip to Albany.  He won a match at the state tournament, defeating fellow Section 2 grappler Connor Lawrence of Duanesburg 3-2.  It was the second time Brancati had topped Lawrence by one point in a matter of weeks.  Lawrence is also one to watch, as he went 39-8 as a ninth grader, and also made the journey to the Times Union Center. Brancati’s teammate Kyler Harrington, a senior had over 40 wins at 113 pounds a year ago and went to the state capital.  His opening bout was a loss to eventual state champion Sean Peacock, but he rebounded with a win by fall in his next match, which he will look to build on in 2012-13.

Alexis Bleau (Schoharie) – As an eighth grader, Bleau registered a 41-5 record at 99 pounds, taking second in the Section tournament and earning a wildcard spot at the Times Union Center.  The first state qualifier in school history, Bleau will be looking for more in 2013.

Jason Hoffman (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George) – Hoffman is a wrestler we were told to keep an eye on over the next few years. He competed at 126 pounds as a seventh grader, winning 24 matches, and remained active in the offseason, including recent trips to Las Vegas and California to wrestle some of the West Coast’s best.

 

Thank you to Frank Popolizio and Anthony Servidone.

Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 6 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

 

 

Overcoming Forfeits and Wrangling Snakes: NY Kong Represents the Empire State at Disney Duals

 

Team NY Kong, Photo courtesy of Steve Hromada/Anthony Ciolino


There were some twists and turns along the way, but the Empire State’s debut in the All-Star division at the AAU Scholastic Duals (aka Disney Duals) was a success, as Team New York Kong took eighth place in Orlando in a competition that featured teams from all over the country.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” said coach Anthony Ciolino.  “What they did was awesome. To go to a national tournament, one of the toughest I’ve been to, and get to the All-American round is unbelievable, especially when you’re giving up as many points as we had to.”

According to Ciolino, who hadn’t participated in an AAU event before, the rules of the organization in New York limited the number of scoring team members by region of the state.  When he arrived in Florida, Ciolino was informed that some of the grapplers who had made the trip would not be allowed to figure into the scoring and therefore, every dual meet essentially began with a 12-0 deficit.

“We brought a great team – every one of the guys was an All-State wrestler,” Ciolino said. “I couldn’t believe we had to tell wrestlers like [state second placer finishers] Jacob Berkowitz, El Shaddai Van Hoesen and Nicky Hall that they could wrestle but their matches would be scored as forfeits for the other team.  Those guys wrestled very well, but every dual, 182 and 285 didn’t count.”

Early on, that didn’t matter.  The squad opened with four blowout victories over opponents from Ohio, Michigan and Delaware and went 6-1 overall in pool action, with the one setback against Pennsylvania’s Team Diesel, which was the eventual runner up.

The team then won its next two meets against teams from Missouri and Georgia before dropping its final two contests to Keystone Elite (PA) and Michigan’s MYWA Blue, bouts both Ciolino and Cornell-recruit Dylan Palacio felt would have gone differently with a full strength side.

“Looking at it, I think we were the third-best team there,” Palacio said.  “Diesel beat us, no question.  They were just really, really good.  But the other duals we could have won.  At that level, with nationally ranked kids everywhere, giving up 12 points in a dual [and 18 against Michigan with one team member having to leave], there’s no way to come back.  We took the challenge with a grain of salt and made the top eight.”

In the process of making the top eight, many individuals stood out.  Among them was a pair of undefeated wrestlers – Palacio and Frewsburg’s Nick Mitchell.

Palacio topped multiple nationally-ranked foes, including Pennsylvania state champion Garrett Peppelman, in his only close bout.  In fact, Peppelman took an early 5-0 lead, but Palacio chipped away at the deficit, eventually notching back points very late in the third period to get the victory.

“I wasn’t happy with how I wrestled in that match,” Palacio said. “I had to claw my way back.  There was a point in the match where I had to ask myself if I believed I could win.  But there was no going back. I wasn’t tired. I believed I should win every time I wrestled and I got it done.”

Nick Mitchell, Photo by Boris Veysman

Mitchell, who will attend Edinboro in the fall, got the job done as well.

“Nick Mitchell is one of the slickest kids in New York State.  He was really, really good,” Palacio said. “People like to talk about who’s better, D1 or D2 [Division 1 or 2] in New York.  After this weekend, I know that D2 kids are for real.  I might have been skeptical, but they shut me up really quickly.”

According to Ciolino, several other wrestlers registered seven or more victories for NY Kong during the event in addition to Mitchell and Palacio, including Marathon’s Lucas Malmberg, Lansing’s William Koll, Wayne’s Alec Dierna, Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley, Williamsville East’s Dylan Cohen, Longwood’s Corey Rasheed, Medina’s Tristan Hamner and Niagara Wheatfield’s Max Antone.

“Hamner really battled and beat some very good kids,” Palacio said. “Antone surprised me. He was so athletic, doing flips and cartwheels.  I was in a state of shock.”

A similar state of shock may have been felt by a crowd at the team’s hotel as they saw a large snake on the premises. According to Ciolino, there was Palacio, standing near the lizard, speaking in an Australian accent, instructing people and trying to keep them calm.

“I was acting like the snake wrangler,” he said. “Everyone was listening to me.  That was a funny time, and there were so many others.  There was stuff like that all week. Everyone was funny and laid back.  We became really close – it was like wrestling with my friends and wrestling with family and there’s nothing better than that.”

“I couldn’t believe how the team jelled,” Ciolino agreed. “It didn’t feel like I brought a team from every corner of the state, even though that’s what I did.  It felt like the team was a bunch of guys who went to high school together.  They had a great time at the pool, at Disney World, playing jokes on each other. It was unbelievable.”

Despite some of the initial issues, it’s an experience Ciolino is hoping to repeat again in 2013.

“A lot of the juniors already told me they want to come back,” he said.  “It’s not a hard sell.  It’s a great place to be and you know the kind of competition you’ll see here.  The national exposure is great.  I had college coaches asking me about some of the guys. Now I know the rules and we want to do it again.”

That was a sentiment echoed by Palacio, although he’s headed to college.

“I went with a North Carolina team last year but this was way better,” he said. “I would love to do it all over again.  We took the good with the bad but in the end, I think we showed everyone that New York is for real.”

 

[Ciolino wished to thank Steve Hromada and Kim McClaugherty for all their work during the trip].

Team Members:

Lucas Malmberg, Marathon

Justin Cooksey, MacArthur

Jimmy Overhiser, Corning

William Koll, Lansing

Alec Dierna, Wayne

Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa

Dylan Cohen, Williamsville East

Corey Rasheed, Longwood

Tristan Hamner, Medina

Nicky Hall, Longwood

Dylan Palacio, Long Beach

Nick Mitchell, Frewsburg

Jacob Berkowitz, Scarsdale

Austyn Hayes, Phoenix

Max Antone, Niagara Wheatfield

El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia