2013 Fargo Preview for New York: Who Will Shine in the Summer's Biggest Tournament?

The eyes of wrestling fans will turn to Fargo, North Dakota over the next several days as many of the best competitors in the country will take the mat to crown Freestyle and Greco Roman national champions.  Who from the Empire State will shine in the biggest tournament of the summer?  There are always some surprises, but the following is a look at some of those who could make an impact for Team New York. 

Will there be repeat champions?

Alexis Porter

A year ago, New York had over 25 All-Americans at Fargo, with three national championships.  Those titles came from the women’s competition where Shenendehowa’s Alexis Porter took top honors in both the Cadet (143 pounds) and Junior (139 pounds) brackets and Mary Westman collected gold at Junior 159.

Porter, who will represent the USA at the World championships later this summer, will have the chance to add to her trophy collection.  Also looking to be a gold medalist at this event again is Rosemary Flores, a double champion in 2011 who was third a year ago at 130 pounds.

 

Who Will Excel at the Junior Level for New York?

In addition to the strong women’s contingent, the men’s side features a number of wrestlers who have the ability to win it all.  Among them are nationally-ranked grapplers who captured crowns in both Freestyle and Greco at the New York championships in Binghamton back in May.

Photo by BV

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (138) is one of them.  The Cheektowoga standout was third in Greco last summer at the Fargodome and after another impressive performance at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma a few weeks ago (9-0 in Freestyle, 6-1 in Greco), he looks poised to challenge for the biggest prize.  Also starring for Team New York in the Sooner State were former Fargo placers Burke Paddock (160) and Reggie Williams (195).  Paddock, who recently committed to the University of Iowa, was a combined 15-1 at the Junior Duals, while Williams, who notched fifth at 215 in Cadet Freestyle two years ago, is ready to get on the medal stand again. (Perhaps also keep an eye out for Roland Zilberman, who went unbeaten at the Junior Duals across both styles at 195 and 220 pounds).

Another one of the Empire State’s top seniors, William Koll of Lansing, was dominant in winning double New York titles for the second consecutive year and after a strong showing at the Western Regional in April and at the Disney Duals, will look to pick up hardware in North Dakota at 126.

Like Koll, Adis Radoncic (170) and Matt Abbott (285) earned New York state folkstyle titles this February in Albany. Both will compete in Fargo, as will a bevy of other placers from the Times Union Center in 2013, including silver medalist Chris Koo and third placers Troy Seymour and Alex Smythe.  Koo, Seymour and Smythe will all wrestle at 160 pounds. Additional high school medalists from 2013 will represent the Empire State, such as Golan Cohen (113), Cheick Ndiaye (120), Freddie Dunau (132), Ryan Snow (132), Konstantin Parfiryev (170), Andrew Psomas (170), Nick Weber (195) and Sam Eagan (220).

Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush, who was an All-American in 2011 and 2012 at Fargo will see action at 106, while another returning placer, Ben Honis, moves up from the Cadet ranks.  Matthew Morris, who grabbed first place in both styles at the New York championships and wrestled well at the Junior Duals, will be at 120.

 

Who Will Lead the Way in the Cadet Tournaments?

While there were a number of double New York champions in the Junior division, as discussed previously, there were more in the Cadet brackets, with 10 wrestlers grabbing titles in both Freestyle and Greco.

Two of those grapplers – Locust Valley’s Sam Ward (138) and Shenendehowa’s Jesse Porter (152) – placed at the Fargodome in 2012 in Greco Roman action and are threats to repeat as All-Americans.

A host of other Cadets look for breakthrough performances in the next week.  Leonard Merkin of Poly Prep and James Bethel are a strong candidates, as they impressed with undefeated showings at the Cadet Duals in Daytona Beach.  Meanwhile, Empire State champions in both international styles such as Nick Casella (120), Ian Lupole (126), Gino Titone (145), Jacob Woolson (170), Aidan Mathews (195) and Peter Strassfield (285) all look to make their marks.  Also keep an eye on state placer Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury, who will make his Fargo debut at 106.

———————–

It all begins on Saturday afternoon with Women’s Cadet action.

Who will take advantage of the opportunity to face and beat some of the nation’s best over the next week or so at Fargo?  Stay tuned and check back for updates on New York wrestlers throughout the tournament.

(All the above wrestlers were listed as part of Team New York as of Thursday night).

Here’s the list of last year’s (2012) New York All-Americans at Fargo:

Junior Greco

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place

 Junior Freestyle

132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place

138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place

145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place

152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place

160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place

160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi, 6th Place

Cadet Greco

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, 7th

 Cadet Freestyle

138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place

195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place

Cadet Women

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings,6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 3rd

Junior Women

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

 

New York Crowns Six Junior Freestyle All-Americans; Quinton Murphy to Wrestle for the Championship

New York crowned six All-Americans in Junior Freestyle on Friday.  The placement matches will take place on Saturday as the tournament comes to a close.  The Empire State All-Americans are:

Wrestling for the Championship: Quinton Murphy (Holley), 138 Pounds (Took 2nd)

Wrestling for 3rd: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa), 132 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 3rd: Brian Realbuto (Somers), 152 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 3rd: Dylan Palacio (Long Beach), 160 Pounds (Took 4th)

Wrestling for 5th: Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West), 160 Pounds (Took 6th)

Wrestling for 7th: David Almaviva (Shenendehowa), 145 Pounds (Took 8th)

————————————–

Quinton Murphy finished third at Fargo in Junior Freestyle last year and was looking to cap off his high school career this July with a National Championship.  But after losing a match on Thursday, he knew he would have to go on a long winning streak to reach that goal.

He was able to do just that, reeling off five straight victories on Friday to earn his spot in the finals against Bryce Brill of Illinois at 138 pounds.

Friday began on the right foot for Murphy as he pinned Walker Damewood of Oregon in less than 30 seconds.  However, in his next contest, he dropped the first period 6-0 to Davey Dolan of Oklahoma before responding with a fall midway through the next stanza for another win.

From there, Murphy defeated the other three All-Americans in his pool, Darick LaPaglia of Missouri, Justin Arthur of West Virginia and Hayden Tuma of Idaho to reach the title bout.  Against Tuma in the decisive match, Murphy lost the initial period 8-0 before taking the next two by the scores of 5-3 and 5-1.

Last year, Murphy handed eventual champion Ben Whitford a loss in pool action and then watched the Michigan grappler take the title.  This time, Murphy hopes to be the one holding the trophy before beginning his college career at Indiana.

Beginning their college careers soon in Ithaca, NY will be Brian Realbuto and Dylan Palacio.  But before they do, they will look to pick up third place medals at Fargo.

Realbuto won the crown in North Dakota last summer and breezed through the early stages of the tournament, recording two pins and two technical falls in his first five matches.  In his sixth bout against Keilan Torres of Oklahoma, Realbuto dropped the first period 1-0 and fell behind 4-0 in the second while aggravating an injury sustained at the Junior Duals.  However, he was able to overcome the deficit to eventually win the middle stanza 6-5 and then wasted little time in racking up seven points in the third to end the match quickly.

The Somers graduate then defeated California’s Jake Elliott and won the first period against Yoanse Mejia of Florida 4-0 before taking a full injury timeout.  After the action resumed, Mejia grabbed a 0-4, 5-0, 6-0 decision.

On Saturday, Realbuto is slated to meet Oliver Pierce of Texas for third place.

Realbuto’s future teammate with the Big Red, Dylan Palacio will also battle for the bronze.  Palacio was in total control of his first seven bouts during which he didn’t lose a single period and yielded more than one point in just one match (his 2-0, 6-2 triumph over Seth Williams of Ohio).

“He just looks phenomenal,” said coach Craig Vitagliano of Ascend Wrestling in Long Island, after Palacio moved to 7-0 on Friday afternoon. “He had a tough draw, but he kept rising to the occasion.  He’s shown everything.  He can handfight, he wears people down, he works the line and knows when to go offensive and when to go defensive.  He’s such a gamer.”

The “gamer” went undefeated during the high school season, won the NHSCA Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach and went unbeaten at the Disney Duals.  His streak came to an end on Friday night when he lost a battle to California’s Isaiah Martinez, one of the nation’s top rising seniors.

Palacio will square off against Matt Gray of Wisconsin on Saturday for third.

Joining Palacio as an All-American in the 160-pound bracket is Tyler Grimaldi, who will compete for fifth.  The Half Hollow Hills West wrestler showed his composure throughout the tournament, coming back from deficits on numerous occasions.

Grimaldi cruised to wins in his initial two bouts, but then lost the first period in his next four matches.  All four times, he bounced back to take the last two stanzas, outscoring his opponents 33-11 over the last two periods in those bouts.

“Tyler isn’t as experienced in freestyle as a lot of other guys, but he makes up for it with mental toughness,” Vitagliano said on Friday afternoon.  “He’s totally coachable and fights tooth and nail for every point.  He lost some of those first periods but he is so good at making adjustments mid-match.  He’s also so well conditioned so he wears guys down.  If you’re not as experienced in freestyle but you’re good on your feet and you understand par terre defense, you can do well here.  All those things have put Tyler in the position he’s in now.”

That position is a battle for fifth with Idaho’s Austin Dewey on Saturday after Grimaldi topped Chris Lattner and lost to Gray and Nick Wanzek on Friday evening.

More Medals for Shenendehowa

Earlier in the week, Shenendehowa was well represented on the podium as Alexis Porter earned a pair of national titles and Jesse Porter placed in Greco.  Now, the Plainsmen have another two All-Americans to add to an impressive 2012 Fargo event – training partners Nick Kelley (132) and David Almaviva (145).

Kelley compiled an impressive 7-1 mark to earn a slot in the third place bout against Robbie Mathers of Arizona.  The 132 pounder started the day with a hard fought win over California’s Ali Naser.  Although Naser won the first period 4-0, Kelley grabbed the next two, 5-0 and 1-1 to move forward.  The multi-time state placer from Section 2 then defeated George Fisher of Illinois and Jared McKinley of Indiana to run his record to 7-0 before dropping a bout against finalist Zain Retherford of Pennsylvania.

Almaviva went 5-0 on Thursday and added another victory over Phil Downing to begin day two in a three period match.  He was then defeated by Brandon Sorensen and Austin Eads but will meet Brian Murphy of Illinois, a runner up at this weight a year ago, for seventh.

Placement matches begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

The Conclusion of Cadet Freestyle

A pair of rising sophomores earned eighth place medals for New York on Friday afternoon as the Cadet Freestyle event came to an end.

Thomas Dutton captured the first period of the seventh place tilt by a 6-2 tally against Pennsylvania’s Chris Weiler, but his opponent came back to pin him in the second.  Dutton will return to Rocky Point next year after winning over 40 matches as a freshman 132 pounder in 2011-12.

Chris Tangora, a student at Bethlehem Central, also took eighth after losing to Matthew Olauson of Maryland in his final bout.  Tangora won more than 25 matches during the 2011-12 campaign at 182 pounds.

The Full List of New York All-Americans in All Competitions at Fargo

Junior

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco

 

132 Pounds: Nick Kelley, 4th Place Freestyle

138 Pounds: Quinton Murphy, 2nd Place Freestyle

145 Pounds: David Almaviva, 8th Place Freestyle

152 Pounds: Brian Realbuto, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Dylan Palacio, 4th Place Freestyle

160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi 6th Place Freestyle

 

Cadet

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th

 

138 Pounds: Thomas Dutton, 8th Place Freestyle

195 Pounds: Chris Tangora, 8th Place Freestyle

 

Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd

 

Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

Honis, Dutton, Vines and Tangora Move On in Cadet Freestyle on Day 5 at Fargo

On Wednesday, the fifth day of competition at Fargo, the Men’s Cadet Freestyle tournament began and four New York wrestlers remained in medal contention after the first day of action.

  • At 138 pounds, Rocky Point’s Thomas Dutton went 4-1 with three pins to advance.  He will face Miguel Barreras of New Mexico, who also went 4-1, in his first bout on Thursday.
  • At 145 pounds, Nick Vines of Wantagh won three of his four matches and will take on Weston Dobler of North Dakota in the next round.
  • At 182 pounds, Jamesville-Dewitt’s Benjamin Honis won all three of his bouts and will have a bye in Round 4 on Thursday.  Honis earned All-America honors in the Cadet Greco event earlier in the week.
  • At 195 pounds, Bethlehem Central rising sophomore Chris Tangora went 2-1 and will next take the mat against Montana grappler Matthew Welch, also 2-1.

The Empire State women’s team provided a number of highlights throughout the week, including three National Champions – Mary Westman (159 pounds, Junior Freestyle) and Alexis Porter (in both the Cadet and Junior divisions). In addition, the squad boasted five additional All-Americans.   On Wednesday, the team placed eighth in the Women’s Freestyle Duals.

 Full List of 2012 New York All-Americans – In All Competitions

Junior

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco

 

Cadet

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th

 

Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd

 

Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place