Commanding Presence, Future of Service: State Champion Luis Weierbach Pledges to Army

It was summer break, but Hoosick Falls state champion Luis Weierbach was up before 6:00 in the morning and running by 6:30.  At the Ranger Intensive wrestling camp at West Point in July, that was just the start of the day’s exercise, which also included three practices per day.

“I got an inside look at Cadet life,” Weierbach said of the experience. “The counselors were Cadets, so they gave us inside knowledge on what to expect and I got to know the coaching staff.  It was intense. The atmosphere there reaffirmed what I already thought I wanted for my future and told me that West Point was where I needed to go.”

Weierbach captured the attention of the Army staff during his time on campus and a few days ago he made things official, as he gave a verbal commitment to head coach Joe Heskett and the Black Knights.

The decision wasn’t a surprise to those familiar with the Section 2 star.  Weierbach has known for quite some time that the military would be an important part of his life. (He also considered the Naval and Merchant Marine Academies).

“At a very young age, I knew I wanted to serve,” Weierbach said.  “My grandfather was a Marine. He left service life behind when he passed, and I felt that legacy was left to me.  I realized early on that service academies have a lot to offer.”

He saw a lot more of what the United States Military Academy offers during his time at the Ranger camp.

“We ran a lot, so I had a chance to see a lot of the campus,” Weierbach said. “Additionally, there were leadership seminars, where we learned about West Point and the military.  The speakers talked about qualities common among Cadets and also general life lessons. I really took a lot from these leadership seminars – it was really insightful information.”

While Weierbach was the recipient of insightful information at those presentations, he also has experience on the other side of leadership seminars – as the teacher.

Earlier this year, the senior was a keynote speaker at the “Life of An Athlete” conference in Lake Placid along with his school’s superintendent.  The audiences included students from various parts of the country as well as school administrators and staff.

“The conference in general was about how an athlete should live including nutrition, fitness and a healthy lifestyle,” Weierbach said. “We talked about our Hoosick Falls Code of Conduct and how implementing it has impacted our sports performance over the past few years.”

Weierbach knows plenty about successful performance in sports.

As a freshman, he qualified for the state tournament and went 2-2, just missing All-State status.  As a tenth grader, he moved up the ladder, earning fifth place at 99 pounds.  Then, in 2012-13, Weierbach made another leap, putting together a perfect 37-0 campaign at 106 pounds in which he won 30 bouts by bonus points.

What helped him get to that next level?

“The mental game changed for me,” he said. “I realized that while this sport is largely defined by athleticism, strength, speed and technique, a lot of it comes down to the mental aspect. It’s one of the things my coach, Landon Nelson, has helped me with – being mentally prepared, envisioning possible scenarios and taking no opponent lightly.  Whether it’s the first match of the season at a small tournament or the state finals match, you need to have the same mentality.”

That approach definitely came in handy in Albany, in his third appearance at the biggest event of the New York high school season.

“The atmosphere at the state tournament can make or break any wrestler,” Weierbach said. “Having that experience before was definitely an advantage.  I was nervous my freshman year, but by last year, I was used to it.  I would go so far as to say that having my supporters there empowered me and motivated me to do better.”

He began strong, pinning Brody Sheppard in just over three minutes in his opening contest before recording a pair of shutout decisions in rounds two and three.  And then, wearing a “throwback” Hoosick Falls singlet, Weierbach defeated Dolgeville’s Danny Fox 3-1 in the title bout to strike gold.

“The state title was the product of so many hours of hard work, so in that regard, I appreciate it more than anything else in my career,” he said. “But what was most special about the state title was that it was the first one in my school’s history. More exciting than hearing them say ‘Weierbach’ when they were announcing the winners was when they said ‘Hoosick Falls’.  I wore the throwback singlet to show that I represent Hoosick Falls.  I would not have accomplished it without the support of my team, my coach and the whole community.”

That’s a theme that’s very important to the future Army 125 pounder. Weierbach emphasized on a number of occasions that his championship was the product of the efforts of many around him.

“We set the goal of bringing home a state title at the beginning of the season – myself, my coach and my team – not just me,” he said. “I think in wrestling it’s often misunderstood that it’s an individual sport because you’re the only one on the mat.  I’ve played football, baseball and soccer and I think wrestling is just as much a team sport. In the room, behind the scenes, when the opponent isn’t watching, there’s a team effort to develop the speed, technique and toughness to go out on the mat alone.  Nolan Foster was my main workout partner and he really stepped up his game this year.  He was excellent.  He pushed me and I wouldn’t have done what I did without him, my other partners or my coach.”

So what’s next?

Weierbach said his offseason regimen “isn’t typical of a state champion.” He wrestles with Journeymen at some tournaments, trying to get in around 20 matches.  But he also has a lot of other things on his plate, including working at his high school doing maintenance and being a lifeguard at the town pool.

“I try to stay active all the time,” he said. “I drill with the New York National Guard, so that certainly keeps me in shape. Right now, I’m playing varsity soccer, which I love too. But once the wrestling season starts, it’s game on and wrestling gets my attention.”

It’s had his attention in the winter season since he first discovered the sport upon arriving in Hoosick Falls as a seventh grader.

“I grew up in New York City and I never knew about the sport of wrestling until I moved,” he said. “I never even heard of it outside of what we see on TV [in the WWE].  I’m certainly glad that I got involved.  I never would have thought I’d end up where I am now with wrestling.”

He did, however, think he’d end up serving his country.  That journey begins next fall when he moves to West Point.  For now, though, he has a few more things left to achieve.

“I haven’t decided on what weight I’ll wrestle next year, but one thing’s for sure,” he said. “We will work harder than anyone in New York State and refine and perfect and do whatever is necessary to win another state title.”

———————————————–

Luis Weierbach said that there were so many people who have helped him behind the scenes that he couldn’t mention them all by name and didn’t want to leave anyone out. He wanted to thank Hoosick Falls – a community that has supported him over the years and made his accomplishments possible.

 

Youth Champions Crowned at the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini Men Nationals

 
 
The poster for the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini-Men Nationals says it is “where the young guns come to settle their differences.”

There were definitely a lot of young guns on hand on Saturday at Union College for the event, which featured hundreds of wrestlers across the Bantam, Midget, Junior and Intermediate competitions.

“It was an awesome tournament,” said G2 World Wrestling Academy’s Adam Burgos. “The competition was phenomenal and with 10 mats, it was very efficient. The certified officials were great and it was easy to watch and follow. It’s a tournament that our club will definitely have on our calendar in the future.”

The top finishers in each class received prizes such as Brute singlets, Forever Fierce hoodies and trophies. 

For the first through fourth placers in each bracket, see below. 

(Please comment with changes or additions).
 

BANTAM

43:
Aidan Shufelt (FLWC)
Seach Park Hibler (Apex)
Jeffrey Ellert (Underground)
Kaden Rice (Wawc)

48:
Gianni Silvestri (Tioga Central)
Ashton Seymour (Mike’s Garage Grapplers)
Davis Motyka (Rock Solid)
Rylan Padelford (Colonie)

53:
August West Hibler (Apex)
Nicky Callaghan (G2)
Luca Manfredi (Newtown Youth)
Ryder Machado (Underground)

60:
William Henckel (Newtown Youth)
Zak Ryder (Underground)
Luca Duva (Iowa Style)
Andrew Reall (Predator Wrestling)

70:
Sonny Sasso (Dark Knights)
Andrew Filip (Underground)
Jack Richardson (Marcaurele)
Benjamin Shue (Basement Boyz)

95:
Ethan Gallo (Underground)
Eddie Terreri (Njac)

 
MIDGET

50:
Jaden Pepe (Rock Solid)
Isiac Paulino (NE Elite CT)
Evan Kinney (Doughboy)
TJ Morton (NJ Scorpions)

60:
Nicholas Palso Jr (Journeymen)
Carlson Porter (Smitty’s Barn)
Daniel Wask (Scorpions)
Nate Chandler (Doughboy)

65:
Ryan Defoney (Intensity)
Cooper Price (Rock Solid)
Jimmy Harrington (Doughboy)
Will Fish (Dark Knights)

70:
Jayden Scott (G2)
Joshua Sharron (Newport Rec)
Nicky Fea (Goshen)
Hayden Rabideau (Catamount)

75:
Caleb Galloway (Hornell)
Luca Pirozzolo (G2)
Stefan Wade (Hoosick Falls)
Ian Burke (Smitty’s Barn)

80:
Preston Machado (Underground)
Sean Kinney (Dark Knights)
Justin Onello (Olympic)
Mark Thomas (Doughboy)

90:
Cooper Kropman (Penfield)
Jeffrey Crooks (Journeymen)
Tylynn Lukens (Team Dynamic)
Brady Roux (Salem Bulldogs)

100:
Hunter McKenna (Journeymen)
Jamikael Boutin (NE Elite)

 
JUNIOR

60:
Zachary Soda (Doughboy)
Joe Scheeren (Journeymen)
Braeden O’Brien (NE Elite)
Nate Chandler (Doughboy)

65:
JJ White (Rock Solid)
Nico Provo (Team Tugman)
Dylan Cedeno (Scorpions)
Greg Diakomihalis (G2)

70:
Drew Munch (Dark Knights)
Zachary Martinez (Olympic)
Aidan Canfield (Iowa Style)
Gregory Hotaling (Journeymen)

75:
Tyler Sung (Apex)
Ryan Burgos (G2)
David Krokowski (Rock Solid)
Max Kropman (Penfield)

80:
Brock Delsignore (Journeymen)
John Worthing (Tioga)
Dean Shambo (Mexico)
Andrew Laubach (Tioga)

85:
Jackson Erb (Sepa)
Malachy Farrell (G2)
Joseph Simons (Farmingdale)
Keenan Taylor (Catamount)

90:
Julian Chlebove (Dark Knights)
Corey Connolly (Longwood)
Ryan Burgbacher (631 Elite)
Hunter Adams (Fisheye)

95:
Zachary Lawrence (Journeymen)
Reid Colella (Olympic)
Dylan Batlle (Newtown Youth)
Shaun Allen (Cobra)

100:
Noah Call (Catamount)
Stefan Major (631 Elite)
Carson Licastri (Iowa Style)
Bassam Qasrawi (Wobum)

110:
Harrison Shapiro (Mercury Rising)
Sampson Wilkins (Catamount)
Liam Mooney (Journeymen)
Jack Dardia (Delaware Valley)

135:
Shaine Luzietti (Newtown Youth)
Nolan Mcneill (Warrensburg)
Chris Charleston (Farmingdale)
Mason Lazorchak (Cannonball)

 
INTERMEDIATE

73:
Michael Gonyea (Journeymen)
Kevin DePalma (Team Evolution)
Jared Defoney (Intensity)
Zachary Cummings (Salem Central)

78:
Dylan Ryder (631 Elite)
Cameron Enriquez (Dark Knights)
Ruddy Paulino (NE Elite)

83:
Adam Busiello (631 Elite)
Jakob Camacho (Dywa)
Orion Anderson (Hoosick Falls)
Cole Wyman (Dungeon)

90:
Brian Kelly (631 Elite)
Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen)
Conor Thompson (NE Elite)
John DeRidder (VHW)

95:
Dane Heberlein (Alexander)
Ryan Luth (NE Elite)
James Trezza (631 Elite)
Jake Silverstein (631 Elite)

100:
Sam Sasso (Dark Knights)
Rowan Braga (Journeymen)
Tyler Mitchell (G2)
Thomas Leuci (Newtown)

105:
Hector Colom (Scorpion/Cobra)
Ben Tepperman (631 Elite)
Josh Stillings (Sepa)
Christian Gramuglia (Journeymen)

110:
Michael Venosa (Superior)
Anthony Sobotker (631 Elite)
Edward Lovely (Newtown Youth)
Andrei Steinjann (Newtown Youth)

115:
Tyler Delorenzo (Dark Knights)
Colin Hogan (Cellar Dwellers)
Michael Ross (NE Elite)
Shane Connolly (Olympic)

125:
Tyler Hazard (Journeymen)
Eoghan Sweeney (Journeymen)
Nicholas Robbins (Journeymen)
Darrin Simons (Farmingdale)

135:
Anthony Falbo (Newtown Youth)
Trent Goodman (Wrestlers Way)
Travis Stefanik (Dark Knights)
Tyler Barnes (Journeymen)

150:
Cade Moisey (Dark Knights)
Clifton Wang (ISW)
Jason Hoffman (Journeymen)
David Crow (Thorobred)

175:
Joseph Eiden (631 Elite)
Benton Whitley (NE Elite)
Daniel Knapp (Whitesboro)
Brandon Cousino (Vergennes)

230:
Ryan Pinkham (NE Elite)
Cole McKee (Cellar Dwellers)

"Riot" Recap: NY Wrestlers Excel, Superior Takes Second and Vinny Vespa Recognized at Northeast Youth Duals

The rain came down in buckets on the roof of the open-air venue in Hoosick Falls on Saturday.  But it didn’t stop the intensity of the wrestling for a second nor did it take away from the experience at the Third Annual Northeast Youth Duals, otherwise known as, “The Riot at the Rink.”

“It was like the end of the year bash,” said Superior Wrestling Academy coach Ed Schafer. “You couldn’t pick a better place and it had everything you need for a great tournament.”

According to event director Michael LaPorte, everyone remained dry and the 12-team dual meet competition featuring wrestlers from more than 10 states continued without interruption, with NJ Elite emerging as the championship squad.

The Garden State-based team swept its contests in convincing fashion.

“NJ Elite went undefeated and no one really even came close to them,” LaPorte said. “They were well coached, very deep and had no holes.  It was obvious that every one of those wrestlers has been on the mat for a long time. They were really tough.”

Also very tough was Superior Wrestling Academy, which finished in the runner up spot with a lineup full of wrestlers from the Empire State.

The top two teams met in the opening round on Saturday and it wasn’t quite the start Schafer and his team desired.

“We lost our first dual to NJ Elite right off the jump,” Schafer said.  “If you looked at the score, you’d think we got shellacked. But there were some overtime matches and a bunch of one-point matches that didn’t go our way.  A lot of kids that age could have bagged it mentally and said ‘we’re done.’  But they held their composure and responded.”

Indeed, the Superior wrestlers did.  That first loss was the only setback of the weekend, as they came back to take the silver medal.

“We felt we could make a run at the title coming into the event with the team we had,” Schafer said.  “The level of the competition was over and above what we expected.  But the way the kids competed after the first dual and took true second, that was the best part of the weekend for me.” (See team roster below).

Leading the charge for Superior was a trio of unbeaten wrestlers – Freddy Eckles, Bryce Bailey and Dakota Gardner.  Gardner took sixth place at 120 pounds at the New York state championships this year as an eighth grader.

“When that whistle blows, Gardner is like a little hand grenade out there,” LaPorte said.  “He’s an exceptional athlete.  He was one of many tremendous wrestlers on the mats this weekend.  I felt that the level of wrestling this year was unbelievable — some of the best youth wrestling I’ve ever seen.  The referees were telling me that they were in awe of the abilities of some of these kids.  Sometimes when I watched, I lost track of the fact that they are just young kids.” (The tournament was limited to wrestlers 14 and under).

Photo by Dave Gilchrest

The coaches mentioned a plethora of grapplers who impressed, including Joe Manno of Apex and Peter Del Gallo of Mercury Rising, who according to LaPorte, didn’t yield any points during the weekend.

In fact, when the coaches were asked to vote for the Most Outstanding Wrestler, there were many nominees.  But the trophy went to Brian Courtney of the New York-based G2 World Wrestling Academy for his outstanding efforts.

“Brian Courtney is a great young man in addition to being a great wrestler,” LaPorte said.

Photo by Dave Gilchrest

Courtney and his G2 teammates (see roster below) had a successful weekend, taking fourth place overall in the team race and according to coach Adam Burgos, they’ll be back for another run in 2013.

Superior and G2 were joined by a third Empire State squad in the championship pool.  Team New York, headed by LaPorte, took sixth.

“I couldn’t have been happier with the way our team wrestled,” LaPorte said. “We had at least four kids on our team that had just one loss.  That was tough to do here where there were so many champions and placers from state and national events.”

While the wrestling was the centerpiece of the weekend, the highlight for LaPorte came away from the action, during the awards ceremony.

Many New York wrestling fans are supporting Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa in his battle with cancer.  (For more on Vinny Vespa, see here). Vespa, a state qualifier in 2012, participated in Riot at the Rink for the Olympic Wrestling Club a year ago and returned this weekend to watch his team and his younger brother Marco.

However, Vespa became more than a spectator after the competition was over.  He was called to the mat to receive donations collected throughout the weekend as well as a card and “Riot at the Rink” banner signed by all of the athletes, coaches and fans.  And then, Vinny Vespa was asked to hand out an award, named after him, to a wrestler determined by the Olympic Club.  That recipient was Marco Vespa.

“I felt horrible that I couldn’t make it to the Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament a few weeks ago,” LaPorte said. “We were glad to do a small fundraiser and have everyone sign a card and banner for Vinny.  It was extremely surprising and gratifying that Vinny came to the event.  When he came out on to the middle of the mat, it was a little bit of a tearjearking moment.  I felt like we did a little bit to make a difference and that was the highlight of the weekend for me.”

It wasn’t the only highlight.  While the planned swimming, golf and live band on Saturday evening couldn’t take place due to the inclement weather, LaPorte found different ways to put smiles on people’s faces that night.

“On Sunday, we were able to get in the pool and there was a barbecue,” LaPorte said. “But on Saturday night when the rain was there, I brought a limousine as sort of a team bus, just for fun. We took some of the kids for a ride in the limo, which they got a big kick out of.  I kept telling them, ‘this is how we roll in New York’.  We definitely got some laughs.”

Photo by Dave Gilchrest

So it was a weekend with a high-end car and high-end wrestling. And both LaPorte and Schafer believed it was a good barometer of where New York wrestling is heading.

“To have that amount of talent show up in the middle of the summer to the middle of nowhere, that says something about the strength of our sport,” LaPorte said.  “It’s a good healthy sign that things are going in the right direction, as is the support we’re getting from the clubs, the schools, the community. I believe it shows that New York wrestling is going the right way. Now it’s time to see what we can do for 2013.  I can’t wait to see what next year brings.”

—————-

Check out more photos from the event at:  http://www.davegilchrestphotography.com

Team Results

Champion: NJ Elite

2nd Place: Superior

3rd Place: Olympic Gold

4th Place: G2 World Wrestling Academy

5th Place: Mass Maniacs

6th Place: Team NY

7th Place: Apex

8th Place: Marcaurelle

9th Place: Virginia Slaughter House Black

10th Place: Mercury Rising

11th Place: Olympic Black

12th Place: Virginia Slaughter House Blue

 

Superior Wrestling – 2nd Place Team:

Johnny Aceri

Bryce Bailey

Emerson Block

Jon DeRidder

Freddy Eckles

Ethan Ferro

Dakota Gardner

Myles Griffin

Nathaniel Grubham

Kyle Mock

Stevo Poulin

Theo Powers

JP Puca

Drew Schafer

Jace Schafer

Carter Schubert

Joey Sliowski

Mike Venosa

G2 World Wrestling Academy – 4th Place Team:

48 Pounds: Michael Santore

53 Pounds: Carson Alberti

58 Pounds: Andy Lucinski

63 Pounds: Greg Diakomihalis

68 Pounds: Ryan Burgos

73 Pounds: Max Kropman

78 Pounds: Cooper Kropman

85 Pounds: Brian Courtney

93 Pounds: Derek St. James

99 Pounds: Parker Kropman

105 Pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis

112 Pounds: Louie DePrez

119 Pounds: Charlie Kane

126 Pounds: Keith Penny

134 Pounds: Logan Smith