A year after winning the tournament championship, X-Cel once again made a strong impression at the Pop & Flo National Duals with a third place showing.
“I really feel that the kids showed tremendous heart to come back and win against a team full of PA studs to take third,” said X-Cel coach Nick Garone. “But we felt that we went up there with the best team and still feel that way. The guys are really disappointed, but to go out of the tournament with a win in our last match was nice, especially for all of our seniors.”
The squad opened with three consecutive triumphs on Saturday to make the semifinal round against Iron Horse, the eventual champions.
In the semis, the New Jersey club got off to a fast start, capturing four of the first six bouts, including two pins, to take a lead that would never be relinquished in a 30-25 result. (One of those falls for Iron Horse was by Section 1 star John Muldoon of Pearl River, who was joined by fellow New Yorker Dale White on the title-winning team).
In the bronze bout, X-Cel rebounded to defeat Pennsylvania’s Young Guns despite dropping the first four bouts to fall behind 14-0. (The dual began at 130 pounds).
However, X-Cel took over from there, beginning with a 7-3 win by Connetquot’s Brendan Dent at 152. It was the first of seven consecutive victories for the Long Islanders, as Corey Rasheed picked up a forfeit at 160 and Steven Schneider (170), Gio Santiago (182) and Steven Mills (225) notched decisions. Putting up key bonus points were Chris Chambers (195) and Mike Hughes (285), who both recorded falls. After the heavyweight bout, X-Cel had turned a large deficit into a 30-14 lead.
“Brendan Dent started us off with a win, and that was great,” Garone said. “All our guys stepped up. Chambers had a really nice throw to get the pin and Hughes just worked the kid, kept working and working. At the end of the second, he closed it out with a really big pin for us. We knew were in good shape going into the lower half, even if we lost a few. Travis Passaro (125) ended the match with a really big one, beating the NHSCA National champ Josh Patrick in overtime, 1-0.”
It was one of many quality wins Garone pointed to from the two-day event. Those triumphs and the overall experience had Garone already talking about the return trip to Lake Placid in 2014.
“Everyone played a key role for us,” Garone said. “It’s a great bunch of guys. To take third at that tournament – it’s nothing to sneeze at. But it’s not what we wanted. Trust me when I tell you that we’ll work all year to get back to the top of the national scene.”
X-Cel was the highest placing team from New York in the field, but many other Empire State squads had success over the weekend.
The 32 teams in the high school competition were split into four divisions after the opening round matches. Here’s a rundown of the results for New York:
X-Cel wasn’t the only New York team in the “A” bracket, as Journeymen Black took eighth. The host squad won its first two duals against Pioneer and Doughboy Black on Saturday to make the quarterfinals before falling to a pair of Pennsylvania groups – Young Guns and Dark Knights. In the seventh place dual, Smitty’s Barn came out on top 41-22.
“B” Bracket (For the teams that lost in the first round of the “A” Championship bracket)
631 Elite began the experience in Lake Placid with a setback against the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club 39-28, but then went on a winning streak, taking three in a row over Atlas, Razor and Catamount to earn a spot in the title bout of the “B” Bracket. During that run, the team’s smallest margin of victory was 22 points.
The Long Island-based group kept it going, besting Apex II for the top spot in the “B” Division and finished the weekend with a 4-1 record. Picking up wins in the final dual for 631 were Matteo Devincenzo (106), Jesse Dellavecchia (113), Joe Calderone (120), Jack Taddeo (130), Jimmy Leach (135), Dennis Ferro (152), Dylan Kane (160) and Vincent Feola (225).
Also placing in the same bracket were Iowa Style Black (fourth) and Razor (eighth). Iowa Style notched triumphs against Barre Wrestling Club and Doughboy Gold by a commanding combined score of 102-43 after an initial loss.
Razor was eighth, collecting a win over Metrowest United in Round 2, led by a pin by Chaz Leo at 225 and four major decisions.
“C” Bracket (For the teams that won in Round 1 and lost in Round 2 in the “A” Championship bracket)
In this bracket, Empire State teams claimed third through eighth places.
Cobra took the bronze after getting past Finger Lakes Wrestling Club 33-28, winning nine of the bouts. The contest featured a pair of two point decisions between All-State wrestlers as William Koll topped Kellen Devlin 2-0 at 125 and Vincent Deprez edged Connor Lapresi in sudden victory, 3-1, at 152. Both of those squads were 2-2 heading into their clash in the third place tilt.
Meanwhile, Ascend recorded fifth with a 55-9 victory over Journeymen Gold. It was the third dual win of the weekend for the Nassau County-based club, led by undefeated wrestlers Chris Koo and Jaison White.
In another battle of New Yorkers, Cellar Dwellers picked up seventh with a 53-10 decision over Iowa Style Gold. The Cellar Dweller squad began and ended the tournament with wins.
Port Jervis grabbed third, finishing with a 37-33 triumph over Metrowest United. The Section 9 squad also topped Powers Forty High 33-15 in its third meet of the weekend.
For full results, see tournaflex.com.