Videos from the Journeymen Classic: See State Champions and Finalists Battle

Numerous state finalists and champions took the mat at the Journeymen Classic on Sunday.  Here are a few videos of some top notch New York wrestlers from the event:

(For results, see here.  For a recap/summary, see this link).

Rematch of the 2013 99-pound state final (this time at 113) – Yianni Diakomihalis vs. Vito Arujau

 

National (and state) champion Corey Rasheed (Longwood) vs. Fargo Finalist Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa)

 

Nationally ranked (and state finalist) Christian Dietrich vs. Araad Sarrami of California

 

State champion Adis Radoncic vs. state finalist Steve Schneider (170)

 

Nassau County battle: State champion Kyle Quinn vs. state finalist Vito Arujau (113 third place bout)

 

All-American (NYS Third) Travis Passaro vs. State Placer Mike D’Angelo (Rematch of Section 11 finals)

 

Two State Finalists Wrestle at Journeymen: Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam vs. Frank Garcia of Norwich

 

 

Lapi vs. Garcia, Photo by BV

Permission to post videos granted by Journeymen.

 

Taking on the World: Shenendehowa's Alexis Porter Prepares to Make Her Mark at the Cadet World Championships

The summer is nearly over, and Alexis Porter hasn’t caught any waves or spent any time in the sand.  She simply hasn’t had the chance.

“This is definitely the busiest summer I’ve ever had,” she said. “I haven’t gotten to the beach yet, but everything I’ve missed isn’t that important.  I’ll stop when I win a World Championship.  I’ll be ready then.”

She’ll have that chance on August 22 when she takes the mat in Serbia for the Cadet World Championships at 65 kg/143.25 pounds.

It’s a goal she’s had in her mind for quite some time.

“My dad put it in my head a long time ago — way before I was even competing at this kind of a level,” she said.  “He always said that I could be a World Champion or an Olympic champion – even back when I was nine years old.”

When she was nine, Porter competed at the Body Bar FILA Cadet Nationals for the first time, taking second place.  She didn’t return to the event until May of 2013.  This time, the tournament was held in the Sunshine State and served as the qualifier for the World Team. And she had a little extra motivation to put on a show.

“My grandfather, who lives in Florida, came to support me,” she said. “It was the first time he saw me wrestle.  He had just gotten out of the hospital, but he was very adamant that he had to watch me. He was there, wheelchair and all. It kind of gave me an extra edge.”

She used that extra edge to perfection, blitzing through the competition.  Porter began with a 6-0, 8-2 victory before recording a trio of pins, each in less than two minutes.  She then finished things off with a 2-0, 7-0 triumph over Hannah Gladden in the championship contest.

That performance earned Porter spot in Serbia.  And that was just the beginning of an action-packed spring and summer.

“It didn’t hit me until I got back home,” she said of making the World Team. “I was really excited. It’s definitely my biggest accomplishment so far. I feel really lucky – it was a great experience for me. I realized there were a whole bunch of camps I would be going to and that I was about to start traveling.”

One of the places she traveled to was the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs.

“I was at a camp at the OTC and with the elevation, my conditioning got so much better,” she said. “We did a lot of conditioning and strength work.  It was really nice to be there competing.  Everybody was there – the top three in every weight class, pretty much. I was able to drill and train with Elena Pirozhkova, who was really nice and helpful.  I think it made a big difference before Fargo.”

Porter made quite a name for herself in Fargo in 2012, winning a pair of national titles – at both the Cadet and Junior levels.  She expected nothing less than another first place plaque this time around. (She competed only in the Junior division in 2013).

Her finals opponent, Jasmine Mendoza of California, was the same as in 2012.  And the result was the same – a championship for Porter. But her dominance was at another level.  She picked up an 11-2 technical fall in the title bout – and those were the only two points she surrendered.  Her other matches were a pin, 11-0, 10-0 and 12-0.

“Last year, I was conservative,” she said. “I was reserved – I wrestled safe and smart in the finals. I just wanted to make sure I won. This year, I felt like I could open up and make it a much bigger margin.  I wrestled a lot more active and aggressive.”

That individual achievement wasn’t necessarily the highlight of the tournament for Porter.  She was thrilled when Team New York made history, becoming the first squad other than California or Texas to win it all at Fargo in the Women’s Duals competition.

“I might have been more excited for that team win,” she said. “There are some pretty embarrassing pictures of me and how excited I was. A lot of my teammates hadn’t won a match or placed [during the individual competition] but [in the dual tournament] they beat people who were All-Americans. It was exciting to cheer for each other and show our support. Coach [Rob] Hirsch was adamant that no one trained harder than us. We showed everyone that New York is the best team in the country.”

That accomplishment was made more special for Porter because of the uniforms all New York wrestlers wore – with a picture of the late Jeff Blatnick on the back and the words “Dream Big”.

“I felt like Coach Blatnick was with us in spirit,” she said. “Wearing that singlet was a constant reminder of how much our state has gone through and why we deserved it as a team.”

Alexis and Jesse Porter, Courtesy of Porter Wrestling Facebook

Porter’s time in North Dakota was special for more reasons as well.  Her brother Jesse, a rising junior at Shenendehowa, was the only male wrestler from the Empire State to medal in both Greco Roman and Freestyle.  He took second and fifth, respectively, at 152 pounds after his high school campaign for the Plainsmen ended early with an injury.

“I definitely expected Jesse to do really well,” Alexis Porter said. “He didn’t have good luck during the season.  I thought he could win a state championship this year.  But having to sit out made him hungrier than ever.  When he came back, he went full steam, training harder than before.  He fell a little short of his goals in Fargo, but he did really well and I’m really proud of him.  For us, wrestling is a family affair.”

Indeed, Alexis Porter said that she and her brother are often practice partners.  They train at the Journeymen Wrestling Club, which Porter said has been a key component to her success.

She’s had her share of success on the national stage and she’s ready to take it to the global level.

“I haven’t done much international wrestling, but I’m pretty confident that no one in the weight can touch me,” she said. “I believe I should come back from Serbia as a world champion.”

And that won’t be all for Porter.  After the Worlds, she’ll be doing another development camp at the OTC and will prepare for her final year at Shenendehowa.

What happens after that?

“I’m really taking it one day at a time,” she said. “I know how fortunate I’ve been this year. I can’t thank my friends, family and coaches enough because I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.  I feel very blessed and lucky for the year I’ve had – staying healthy and staying successful.  This has been the busiest and craziest summer of my life but it will definitely also be the most fulfilling.”

Fargo Recap: Honoring Jeff Blatnick, the Porters, Bringing Home National Titles and More

The 2013 ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo have come and gone.  Here are some thoughts and observations on Team New York’s highlights in North Dakota. 

The singlets worn by Team New York at the tournament said “Dream Big” on the back.  Underneath that phrase was a picture of the late, great Jeff Blatnick.

There’s no question that Blatnick would have been excited about some of the performances put together, including that of a competitor he worked with at the Journeymen Wrestling Club – Jesse Porter.

Porter, who was a Section 2 champion as a freshman in 2012, didn’t get a chance to shine in the postseason last year.  The Shenendehowa wrestler suffered an injury and was only able to compete in November and December for the Plainsmen as a sophomore.

Now healthy, he made a huge impact at the summer’s biggest event.  A year after taking fourth in Cadet Greco Roman at Fargo, he went to the finals at 152 pounds in the same tournament, where he earned the silver medal.  Then, in freestyle, Porter nabbed a fifth place finish, running his overall record in North Dakota to 14-3 against top-notch competition.  During the Greco Roman finals, one of the announcers said he wasn’t that familiar with Porter before the event, but he knew now that “Porter is a stud.”  It’s clear he’ll be a middleweight to watch in the Albany area . . . and beyond in 2013-14.

The Champions

Jesse Porter wasn’t the only member of his family to stand out for the Empire State.  His sister Alexis Porter captured gold again, winning the 148-pound championship in Junior Women’s Freestyle a year after taking gold in both Cadet and Junior competitions.  She was joined on the top of the podium by Rachel Hale, who won it all at 121 pounds.

It wasn’t just individual glory for the women, however.  Team New York made history, becoming the first squad other than California or Texas to win the Women’s Duals at Fargo.  In appropriate fashion, the group captured the title by defeating the prior titlewinners, dominating the Texans in the first match of the championship bracket before topping the Californians, 39-17.

In pool play, the team faced California and decided to rest the starters for a big run at the crown.  The move paid off for coach Rob Hirsch and the squad.  Later in the day, the rematch was a completely different story.  New York won nine of the 12 bouts, including five straight at the end to seal the victory.

During that event, many contributed key performances.  That included Alexis Bleau, who was the only woman to earn trophies in both the Cadet and Junior tournaments, taking second and fourth, respectively.  It also included Kelsey Gray, who went undefeated in the dual portion of the event, despite not placing individually. Alexis Porter, Rachel Hale and Rosemary Flores also sported unblemished records during the dual tournament.  Flores collected an individual bronze as well, as did Destane Garrick.

Speaking of Bronze . . .

Speaking of bronze, William Koll picked up his first medal in Fargo when he took third in Junior Greco at 126 pounds.  The Lansing Bobcat just missed making the medal stand in both events, as he went 4-2 in Freestyle.  Another two-time state finalist, Nick Casella of Locust Valley, also made his debut on the medal stand in Fargo after grabbing seventh at 120 pounds in Greco.

Something About 220

New York had more All-Americans at 220 pounds than any other weight.   James Bethel followed up his undefeated run at the Cadet Duals with a third place showing in Greco.  He was dominant in his victories, with all coming by pin or technical fall. He was joined on the podium in that tournament by Garyn Huntley, a sixth placer coming off a 20+ win campaign for Oxford Academy as an eighth grader.  In the Junior division there was another 220 pound All-American – Rafal Rokosz of Southampton, who was sixth with three pins along the way.

It wasn’t just Greco.  In Cadet Freestyle, Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida won four matches by technical fall to capture seventh place at 220.  Looks like there are some candidates for breakout years in the heavier weight classes in 2013-14.

(Another upperweight who made his mark was Roland Zilberman, who after sporting a perfect record at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma, continued his hot streak with a fifth place medal in Junior Greco).

And the Middleweights Too . . .

In addition to Jesse Porter’s performances at 152, the middleweights had a number of strong showings, including at 145 pounds in Cadet Freestyle.  Jordan Bushey of Peru, Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East and Gino Titone of Connetquot all finished with 5-2 records in pool action.  Titone, who had a 25-5 mark last season, fell just short of placing.  However, Bushey, who came within one win of All-State status in Albany at 138 in 2013, was seventh in Fargo (with an injury default victory over Restrepo, who took eighth).  Look for all three to make a serious push for the medal stand at the Times Union Center next February.

Another Year, Another Medal

Pine Bush’s Chris Cuccolo is very familiar with the awards handed out at Fargo as he placed in both 2011 and 2012. This year was no different, as he picked up another plaque with a sixth place showing at 106 in Greco.  Alpha Diallo of the PSAL was also an All-American in that bracket, earning seventh.

In Summary . . .

So, in the end, a total of 25 All-Americans were crowned, with at least one medalist in all competitions except Junior Freestyle.

New York walked away with a pair of individual national titles and a team championship on the women’s side.  And every time a New York wrestler took the mat, the memory of Jeff Blatnick was honored for everyone in the Fargodome to see.

 

All-Americans from New York, Fargo 2013

Cadet Greco Roman

Jesse Porter, 2nd at 152

James Bethel, 3rd at 220

Garyn Huntley, 6th at 220

Nick Casella, 7th at 120

 

Cadet Freestyle

Jesse Porter, 5th at 152

Jordan Bushey, 7th at 145

Jakob Restrepo, 8th at 145

Youssif Hemida, 7th at 220

 

Junior Greco

William Koll, 3rd at 126

Roland Zilberman, 5th at 195

Rafal Rokosz, 6th at 220

Chris Cuccolo, 6th at 106

Alpha Diallo, 7th at 106

 

Women’s Cadet

Alexis Bleau, 2nd at 143

Jennifer Juarez, 3rd at 108

Vivian Vu, 6th at 154

 

Women’s Junior

Rachel Hale, Champion at 121

Alexis Porter, Champion at 148

Rosemary Flores, 3rd at 125

Destane Garrick, 3rd at 172

Alexis Bleau, 4th at 139

Yuneris Taveras, 6th at 198

Kim Cardenas, 7th at 97

Kennedi Eddins, 7th at 159

Mariana Olalde, 8th at 172

Cadet Freestyle Ends With Four NY All-Americans – Porter (5th), Bushey (7th), Restrepo (8th) and Hemida (7th)

On Friday, the final four All-Americans were crowned for New York at Fargo.  Jesse Porter collected his second medal of the week, this time in Cadet Freestyle, when he scored six points in the waning seconds of his last match to capture a 12-7 victory over Matt Ferraro of Illinois to grab fifth.

That performance came after the Shenendehowa wrestler took second at 152 in Greco earlier in the week. He compiled a stellar 14-3 record across the two competitions with his only two losses in Freestyle to the runner up (5-4 score) and the third placer (4-4 on criteria).

The Empire State took seventh and eighth in Cadet Freestyle at 145 pounds, with Peru’s Jordan Bushey and Sachem East’s Jakob Restrepo, respectively.  Bushey grabbed the seventh place bout over his state counterpart by injury default.  The Section 7 wrestler ended with a 6-2 record.

Youssif Hemida also earned a spot on the medal stand when he notched seventh at 220 pounds.  The upperweight earned a 13-1 triumph over Dustin Remer of Oklahoma that took just under a minute and a half for seventh place.  All four of his wins came by technical fall.

New York had eight grapplers begin the Junior Freestyle competition on Friday, however, none advanced to Saturday’s medal round.  Those wrestlers were:

113: John Twomey 4-2

120: Matthew Morris 3-2

126: William Koll 4-2

152: Trevor Hoffmier 3-2

160: Troy Seymour 5-2

160: Chris Koo 3-2

170: Andrew Psomas 3-2

182: Cedric Stephens 3-2

A full Fargo recap will follow in the next few days.

Porter, Restrepo and Bushey Clinch All-America Honors in Cadet FS; Hemida in Contention (Also See Who Survived Day 1 of Jr FS)

After the second day of Cadet Freestyle, three New York wrestlers clinched spots on the podium with another still in contention when action resumes on Friday.

Jesse Porter of Shenendehowa was the runner up in Cadet Greco earlier this week at 152 pounds and he assured himself two medals at Fargo in 2013 as he will compete for fifth place on Friday against Matt Ferraro of Illinois.  Porter compiled a 6-2 mark in Freestyle with five technical falls and a pin.  In his last match on Thursday, he came back from a late deficit to knot the score at 4, however, he lost on criteria.

Also earning All-America honors were a pair of Empire State grapplers who will take the mat against each other at 145 pounds.  Both Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East and Jordan Bushey of Peru racked up 5-2 records and will battle in the seventh place tilt on Friday. Also going 5-2 in that same bracket was Gino Titone of Connetquot, however, he fell just short of the medal stand.

Youssif Hemida stands at 3-1 and is one of five remaining wrestlers in his half of the 220 pound bracket. (Four of the five grapplers will make the podium).  Hemida’s victories have all been by technical fall and he’s looking for another when he squares off with Kyler Childers of Oklahoma in his next contest.

Also seeing action for New York on Thursday in the Cadet event, but finishing their runs at the tournament, were Ben Lamantia (who finished 4-2), Leonard Merkin (4-2), Gino Titone (5-2), Jacob Woolson (3-2), Tyler Hall (2-2), James Bethel (2-2) and Peter Strassfield (1-2).

JUNIOR FREESTYLE

Junior Freestyle got underway on Thursday and after the first two sessions, the following wrestlers are still alive for Team New York (with record in parenthesis):

113: John Twomey 3-0

120: Matthew Morris 3-1

126: William Koll 4-1

152: Trevor Hoffmier 3-1

160: Troy Seymour 4-0

160: Chris Koo 3-1

170: Andrew Psomas 3-1

182: Cedric Stephens 3-1

Porter, Titone, Bushey and Restepo Undefeated on Day 1 of Cadet Freestyle; NY Women Win Dual Meet Championship

With Greco Roman finished at Fargo for 2013, the Cadet Freestyle tournament got underway on Wednesday.  New York will be well represented as the competition continues on Thursday with more than 10 wrestlers remaining.

Cadet Greco Roman runner up Jesse Porter continued his strong run in North Dakota with a 5-0 record at 152 pounds.  The Shenendehowa grappler wasn’t the only unbeaten New Yorker, as Leonard Merkin won all four of his bouts at 132 and a trio of 145 pounders – Gino Titone, Jordan Bushey and Jakob Restrepo – all went undefeated.

The following is the list of Empire State wrestlers who are in the hunt for medals in Cadet Freestyle:

120: Ben Lamantia 4-1

132: Leonard Merkin 4-0

145: Gino Titone 5-0

145: Jordan Bushey 4-0

145: Jakob Restrepo 4-0

152: Jesse Porter 5-0

170: Jacob Woolson 2-1

195: Tyler Hall 2-1

220: Youssif Hemida 2-0

220: James Bethel 2-1

285: Peter Strassfield 1-1

(To see the additional wrestlers that competed in Cadet Freestyle, see the end of this page).

New York – Dual Meet Champions

In addition to boasting a pair of national champions (Alexis Porter and Rachel Hale), Team New York celebrated an additional title on Wednesday as the squad finished in first place in the Women’s Dual Meet event.

The team began with a 33-22 victory over Washington before losing to California while forfeiting seven bouts.

In the championship bracket, the team trounced Texas 49-8 while winning 10 of 12 matches. In the title meet, New York faced the Golden State group for the second time of the day and came out on top 39-17.  After California captured the opening bout, New York grabbed four consecutive matches, including two technical falls and a pin, to take control.  The West Coast group rebounded with two wins, but New York sealed the crown with triumphs in the final five contests.

Going undefeated on the day were Kelsey Gray (112), Rachel Hale (121), Rosemary Flores (125) and Alexis Porter (148).

 

The following wrestlers also took the mat for New York in Cadet Freestyle action on Wednesday:

88: Drew Schafer, Justin Lopez, Oscar Lainez

106: John Luke DeStefano, Vinny Vespa, Johnathan Lauricella, Sean Miller

113: Evan Barczak, Taylor Picciano

120: Nick Casella

126: Christian Briody, Michael Berkowitz, Ian Lupole

138: Zachery Bendick, Wyatt DeMarree, Sam Ward, Frank Jilling

145: Kevin Parker

152: William Marcil, Brandon Aviles, Collin LaBombard, John Vouzonis

160: Zafar Iskandarov, Andrew Cummings, Vance Cuffie, Logan Burnick

182: Colby Stayley, Joseph Sabia

195: Aidan Mathews, Nick McShea

220: Garyn Huntley

285: Alex Gonzolez

 

Cadet Greco Roman Recap: Jesse Porter Takes Second; James Bethel, Garyn Huntley and Nick Casella Earn All-America Status

Jesse Porter was an All-American at Fargo a year ago in Greco Roman action when he grabbed fourth at 132.  In 2013, Porter moved up several weight classes and up a few spots higher on the podium as he earned second place at 152 pounds behind Nick Reenan of Texas, the same opponent he faced in the medal round in 2012.

It was a back and forth affair with a number of flurries in the title bout. After the first period, the score was knotted at 3.  Then Porter got off to a good start in the second with a body lock and throw that led to a 6-3 advantage.  However, his opponent responded with a takedown and exposure with just under a minute and a half to go on the path to a 9-6 triumph.

Courtesy of Shenendehowa wrestling website

Porter, a Shenendehowa and Journeymen wrestler, simply dominated in his pool, capturing all seven of his matches by pin or technical fall and giving up just two total points. He will try to pick up even more hardware when the Cadet Freestyle event commences later in the week. (At the New York State championships in Binghamton back in May, Porter cruised to titles in both international styles).

Also high on the podium for the Empire State was James Bethel, who took third.  After dropping his first contest in Fargo to eventual runner up Jordan Wood by one point, Bethel went on a six-match winning streak, including a pin over fifth placer Kyler Childers and a 7-0 technical fall over Shane Coombs in the bronze bout.

Joining Bethel on the medal stand at 220 was Garyn Huntley, who grabbed sixth after picking up four victories at the event.  He notched two pins and two technical falls.

One more All-American was crowned from New York – Nassau County’s Nick Casella at 120 pounds.  Casella began Day 2 the same way he finished the first day of competition – with a victory (over Roshaun Cooley of Pennsylvania).  He concluded pool action with a 6-2 record, earning a spot in medal round against Raul Nevarez of Idaho in the 75-person 120 pound bracket.  The Section 8 wrestler trailed 8-2 in the opening period but took over from there on the way to a 13-8 final and seventh place.

Coming within one win of the podium was Leonard Merkin of Poly Prep, who went 4-1 on the opening day of the event, but lost his first contest on Monday to Conner Noonan of Oregon at 132 pounds.

Updates from the Junior Greco Roman tournament, which began on Monday, will be coming later.

Other Participants from New York in the Cadet Greco Roman tournament were:

88: Drew Schafer, Justin Lopez, Oscar Lainez

106: Sean Miller, John Luke Destefano

113: Taylor Picciano, Evan Barczak

126: Ian Lupole, Christian Briody, Michael Berkowitz

138: Frank Jilling, Zachery Bendick, Sam Ward

145: Kevin Parker, Gino Titone, Jordan Bushey, Logan Brunick

152: John Vouzonis, William Marcil

160: Vance Cuffie, Collin LaBombard, Zafar Iskandarov, Andrew Cummings

170: Jacob Woolson

182: Joseph Sabia, Colby Stayley

195: Aidan Mathews

285: Peter Strassfield