The New York state high school season has come to an end. 30 wrestlers walked out of the Times Union Center as champions on Saturday night and many others fought to become All-State.
(This article focuses on the Division II tournament. The Division I recap can be found here.)
In Division II, it was a tight race, but in the end Section 5 reigned supreme, led by the top two schools in the standings – Midlakes and Warsaw. Midlakes featured five All-State wrestlers – 120-pound runner up Sean Peacock, sixth placer Tyler Smith (195) and a trio of grapplers in the fifth position – Jason Charlette (106), Ralph Mateo (113) and Collin Fox (170).
Just five points behind was Section 6, propelled by the third place squad – Fredonia. The Hillbillies boasted four medalists, led by the Gardners – Dakota (second at 126) and Jude (third at 145). Also making the podium for head coach Alex Conti’s squad were Tyler Cassidy and Chris Saden.
Only one team had more than one champion over the weekend, and it was Gouverneur. Seniors Dillon Stowell (113) and Hunter Ayen (195) made their final high school matches count as they brought a pair of titles back to Section 10.
Speaking of titles, Most Outstanding Wrestler Nick Tighe added another to his collection. For the third consecutive year, the Phoenix grappler stood on top of the podium. Joining him was Adis Radoncic, who made history of his own when he became the first-ever state champion from the PSAL.
The Champion: Derek Spann of Adirondack came in as the number three seed but went all the way to the top, utilizing his solid mat skills to get there. In the finals, he was trailing after giving up a pair of takedowns to his opponent, Matteo Devincenzo, in the first period, but when Devincenzo took down to start the second, the complexion of the match changed. Spann used back points there and then again in the third when he chose the top position to seal the title.
And Also . . . Devincenzo was Section 11’s highest placer in the Division II tournament. He had only one loss coming into the weekend (to Division I runner up Vito Arujau) and although not highly seeded, he looked strong throughout the tournament and will be someone to watch in the coming years.
The Champion: Top-seeded Luis Weirebach opened with a pin and then registered a trio of two-point wins the rest of the way, concluding with a 3-1 victory over Danny Fox in the finals. The junior, who took fifth in 2012, became the first-ever state champion from his school.
And Also . . . Maple Grove’s Brad Bihler is pretty stingy with points. Other than his 2-0 loss to Weirebach in the semis, he outscored his foes 31-0 (and added a pin) on the path to third place. The Section 6 wrestler entered the tournament on a nine-match winning streak and continued to wrestle well in Albany.
The Champion: Dillon Stowell has significant experience at the Times Union Center, having placed numerous times in the past. In his last chance as a senior, he reached the top of the podium after beating Nick Casella in the title bout. In the semis, Stowell topped another veteran of the state tournament, Warsaw’s Austin Keough, by the same score (4-2) as their bout at Eastern States.
And Also . . . Casella knows how to make it to Saturday night. Last year as an unseeded wrestler, he competed for the 99-pound crown, losing a close decision. This weekend he was on a mission to finish higher and once again reached the title bout after defeating the #4 and #1 wrestlers in the bracket. As a junior, he’ll no doubt be back for another crack at a championship.
The Champion: The third time was definitely a charm for Trey Aslanian of Edgemont. In 2011, he led 5-0 before falling to William Koll in the state title match at 103 pounds. In 2012, he dropped a decision to Sean Peacock of Midlakes for the 113 crown. But on Saturday night, in a rematch with Peacock, Aslanian came out on top, 4-2, in his final high school contest. The Section 1 grappler leaves as a champion, with his next destination Princeton University.
And Also . . . The finale against Peacock was a tough, close match but it wasn’t the only one for Aslanian. In the quarters, the Edgemont standout trailed super freshman Kellen Devlin for much of the match. (Aslanian won 4-3). Devlin, who came back to take the bronze, completed the year with just three losses and will be among the favorites for the next three seasons.
The Champion: William Koll, a state champion in 2011, said he was disappointed with his third place showing last season. He got back to the top of the medal stand over the weekend, cruising through the event with his closest match a 6-2 victory over Dakota Gardner in the last bout.
And Also . . . After medaling as an eighth grader in 2012, Gardner had only one setback during the season, in the Section 6 final against Brandon Muntz. That result likely dropped him to the sixth seed in the bracket, however, he overcame that to get to the title bout as a freshman. With three campaigns left for Fredonia, New York fans will certainly see Gardner on the podium a few more times.
The Champion: In last year’s quarterfinals, Renaldo-Rodriguez-Spencer topped Tristan Rifanburg in overtime, a victory that propelled the Cheektowoga wrestler to the silver medal. This year, the duo met again, but this time it was in the finals and both came in undefeated. Rifanburg led 1-0 late into the third period on the strength of an escape and a rideout in the second. However, Rodriguez-Spencer stayed aggressive on his feet and notched the winning takedown with time winding down.
And Also . . . Rifanburg is now a three-time state finalist (2010 champion) and a four-time placer . . . and he still has two years of high school left. Clyde Carey, on the other hand, has now completed his career at Addison. However, he finished on a high note. A year ago, he wrestled with a significant injury in Albany and came within one match of a medal. His road wasn’t easy over the weekend as he faced (and topped) returning All-Stater Zach Ayen in round one. After losing to Rodriguez-Spencer, he captured four straight in the consolations to grab third place.
The Champion: Upstate fans were excited about a potential clash between then two-time state champion Nick Tighe and 2012 titlewinner Connor Lapresi at the Eastern States. It didn’t happen there, but it did occur on Saturday night. Tighe broke a 1-1 tie in the third with a takedown to pick up his third consecutive crown for Phoenix. CAA wrestling at Binghamton is next for him.
And Also . . . Lapresi leaves Lansing with another All-State showing as he prepares to take on Division I wrestling at Bucknell. Also concluding his career with multiple medals was Lewiston Porter’s Dan Reagan. After taking fourth in this class last year, he moved up to third as a senior.
The Champion: Royalton Hartland’s Drew Hull outscored his opponents 22-5 on his title run. Last year, he lost a tight bout in the finals to take second. This time, he got his hand raised in a 2-0 victory over Norwich’s Frank Garcia.
And Also . . . Garcia, a sophomore, opened with a pin and then won two close matches, in overtime in the quarters and 3-2 in the semis. After jumping from the top 8 in 2012 to second in 2013, he’ll return looking for more as a junior.
The bronze finisher Jude Gardner of Fredonia had a stellar senior campaign. He suffered just four losses – and all four were to state champion Hull, including in the semifinals on Saturday morning. With Hull, Gardner and Eric Lewandowski (second in Division I), there’s no doubt Section 6 was strong at this weight this year.
The Champion: At the Section 4 championships, where he took second, Kevin Thayer had an incredible 18-16 victory over returning state placer Dan Dickman of Greene. His finals victory over Rowdy Prior on Saturday was similarly action-packed. Prior, a prolific pinner, chose top for the third while trailing and locked up a cradle that seemed likely to give him the gold medal. Somehow, however, Thayer not only avoided the fall but also got the reversal to seal the title.
And Also . . . Prior provided an exciting semifinal victory. He was behind 4-2 late in the match but got the pin over Alex Smythe. Smythe’s tournament is worthy of mention as well. After taking fifth at the state tournament in 2011, he didn’t get a bid last year. However, he moved up several weights and had a solid season, coming into the Times Union Center with just two losses (to the previously mentioned Hull and Lewandowski). One of only two medalists in the bracket not graduating (fifth placer Trey Duvall of Addison is the other), Smythe will look to make a run in 2013-14.
The Champion: In the semifinals, Mike Beckwith of Greene lasted over three minutes before getting pinned by Burke Paddock. Beckwith was the only wrestler to stay on the mat with Paddock for that long. The Warsaw junior stuck all four of his opponents to conclude a tremendous season and collect his first state championship.
And Also . . . Sophomore Nick Gallo fell one victory shy of place on the podium a year ago. This year, he took several steps forward with a runner up showing. The Section 2 wrestler defeated third placer Matt Fisher as well as returning medalist Tyler Silverthorn to earn his slot in the title bout. He should be a force as a junior.
The Champion: Coming into the tournament, some were pegging last year’s runner up Cheick Ndiaye, the top seed at 113, as someone who could give the PSAL its first-ever state champion. Instead, it was Adis Radoncic of Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy who was the first to stand on top of the podium. The junior did it the hard way – defeating the top two seeds in the bracket. In fact, it appeared he might be in for an uphill battle in the title bout as he faced #1 Christian Dietrich once before this season at Eastern States and lost that bout 13-4. However, Radoncic was undaunted and fought off a number of deep shots by the Greene grappler to take a 4-3 decision. Radoncic now has his sights set on being the PSAL’s first two-time champion.
And Also . . . It’s easy to forget that Dietrich is just a freshman, especially given the way he performed all year. He amazed many when he placed at 152 pounds as a seventh grader and looked very good all year at a higher weight. Keeping him out of the top spot over the next several seasons will be a tall order for the rest of the field.
Dietrich’s first round opponent, John Messinger of Putnam Valley, fought back to take fourth. Winning four in a row to get to the bronze match is an accomplishment, but the way he did it was even more impressive. He trailed late in nearly all of his wrestleback matches and found a way to come out on top, multiple times in the waning seconds. In one bout, he tied the match up with two points dangerously close to the third period buzzer and then picked up a takedown a few seconds into overtime to move forward.
The Champion: Zack Zupan had his eye on a repeat championship all year long and he finished the job. The future Binghamton Bearcat had little trouble making the title bout as he racked up bonus points in his first three contests before controlling the finale, a 3-2 victory over Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer. He joined future teammates Nick Kelley and Nick Tighe as titlewinners on Saturday night.
And Also . . . Schaefer finishes high school with a plethora of accolades. He made the podium five times during his career, beginning with a sixth place finish as a seventh grader.
Hoosick Falls had its first champion in Luis Weirebach at 106 and added a third placer in Brad Burns at 182. The Section 2 grappler was beaten in double overtime in the quarters but bounced back with four in a row to grab bronze.
The Champion: Gouverneur had Dillon Stowell win it all at 113. And then, the Wildcats crowned a second champion at 195 pounds when Hunter Ayen sent Bryce Mazurowski to his second consecutive silver medal. Ayen fell behind 6-0 in the match, but climbed back into the bout when he threw the Avon wrestler onto his back. When he was close to the pin, the referee stopped the action for blood time, but Ayen was unfazed as he added another takedown to win 9-6. The Gouverneur senior had pinned his first three opponents.
And Also . . . One of those foes for Ayen was Matt Booth. The Section 6 wrestler excelled in the consolation bracket, outscoring his opponents 30-5 to take third. In the bronze match he topped Dusty Lewis of Salamanca, the wrestler he beat to qualify for the tournament a few weeks ago.
The Champion: A pair of undefeated wrestlers marched through the tournament and faced off in the finals with Hornell’s Zack Bacon utilizing strong mat wrestling to take the title 1-0 over Ryan Wolcott. Bacon came back after a silver medal a year ago to end his career in the top spot.
And Also . . . Wolcott made a smooth transition from 170 pounds, where he won two matches in Albany in 2012, up to 220. He pinned his way to the championship bout and the 1-0 loss to Bacon was his only setback all season long. In 2013-14, he’ll look to go from second to first the same way Bacon did in his senior campaign.
The Champion: Windsor’s Matt Abbott came into the tournament with a 33-1 mark and 19 pins. (The sole loss was to the previously mentioned Wolcott). He exited the Times Union Center as a champion. Heavyweight matches are often low scoring but Abbott put a lot of points on the board, including 11 in the semis and eight in the finals.
And Also . . . Alex Soutiere, last year’s runner up in this class, took third after winning five wrestleback bouts. In 2012, Soutiere upset top-seeded Kacee Sauer. The tables turned this year as Soutiere (the #1 seed) was upended in the opening round by junior Connor Calkins of Section 5. Calkins wound up fifth and as the only non-senior placer, will be in the mix for top honors in 2014.
For all the brackets, see this link.
Congratulations to the Division II wrestlers on a great season.